Storage Facility 12-B. Short Story.

“And remember, don’t look in the mirrors.”
“If we’re not supposed to look in them, why do we have them?”
Tony looked at James, as though he was about to explain something extremely complicated to someone extremely slow. “They’re used in the research.”
“Yeah, I get that but surely they could be placed somewhere else. Where they aren’t a danger to us?”
“Just follow the rules and you’ll be fine. For the most part.”
“For the most part?”
“Well, there’s accidents. Every work place has them but we do our best to ensure that everyone is safe.”
James nodded, already regretting signing the contract. Of course he hadn’t known all this before he started, he had to sign a NDA to even enter the building.

Tony smiled at him, “Besides, nine out of ten employees make it through their first day just fine.”
James looked back, “It’s a joke.”
“Oh. Ha.”

An hour in and James was bored. It really was an easy job, once you followed the rules. So far all he had to do was walk around the building and make sure that everything looked okay. If anything looked strange or suspicious he was to call it in. He would have someone with him tomorrow, Tony had told him the first day was always a bit of baptism by fire. If he had any concerns, all he had to do was radio it in and someone would be with him in a few minutes. He had met a few of the people he was going to be working with, but they were cold to him, grouped together they dismissed him as soon as the introduction was over. They all seemed friendly enough amongst themselves, he hoped it was just because he was new, that once he could prove himself capable they’d warm up to him.

At 2 P.M. exactly an alarm started blaring. James jumped and scrambled to grab out his walkie, he shouted into it over the blare, “What’s happening?” No one responded. The halls were deserted and the alarm just kept going, drilling its way into his brain, pressing in on him. There was no such thing as silence, it was a myth, the only thing that existed was the siren, it always had existed and it always would. And just like that it was gone. He was shaky and pale, his skin felt clammy. He tried the walkie again. “What the hell was that?”
“Oh shit. Didn’t anyone tell you?”
“Tell me what? What’s going on?”
“Sorry. That always happens at two. You should have been given some ear protectors.”
“Well I wasn’t.”
“OK. Tell me where you are and have a sit down, I’ll send someone.”

A moment later a woman rounded the corner, she looked angry. James was sitting on the ground, back propped up against the wall. He felt so tired, the woman looked down at him, sighed then handed him a can of coke. “You’re lucky you were this far out. Goddamn I’m going to kill Tony. Just breath and take it easy for a few minutes. You should be fine. If you still feel woozy we’ll go get you checked out ok?”
“What was that?”
“Feeding time for one of our…guests. We have the sound the alarm otherwise it’s too much for us. There’s a few seconds grace period in case you forgot the time. Most of the rooms are soundproofed though, so if you get caught out next time duck into one of the rooms. Should help.”

The coke was cold and the sugar rush was already making him feel better. “You doing any better?”
“Yeah. Much, thanks.”
“Thank god, I did not want to go to the infirmary. I hate that place.”
“Why? Creepy doctors?”
“No, I just hate medical stuff. Needles and all that stuff freaks me out and don’t even get me started on the smell. All cleaning fluids and bleach.” She stopped talking for a second, going pale herself. “Even the thought of it makes me feel a bit sick.”

“If you don’t like hospitals so much why are you working here?”
She gave him a look, “This isn’t a hospital.”
“Yeah, but they do medical stuff here too right?”
“They do, but I don’t have to look at it or be around it. I’m Laura by the way.”

“Welcome aboard. How’s the first day going?”
“Ok. Well up until that alarm thing.”
“Yeah, here either nothing is happening or everything is.”
“So what was being fed?”
“You’ll find out soon enough, don’t worry about that. You’re going to by cycled through the building. I’m sure Tony told you?”
“Not really. He said to patrol the hallways and give a call if I saw anything weird.”
“Of course he did. Well don’t worry whoever you have next will probably be more hands on. Once you get a feel for the place you can choose where you want to go.”
James frowned. “How does that work? Wouldn’t everyone just choose to take the easy jobs?”
Laura shrugged, “It evens out. Don’t ask me how. You’ll find a place you like everyone always does.”
James stood up from the floor and drained the last few dregs of coke from the can. “Thanks, for the coke.”
“No worries. We have to look out for each other here. It’s too easy to make a mistake otherwise.”
Laura glanced at her watch, “I should be heading back. If you need anything call, I’ll be nearby too and don’t pull any of that “Oh I don’t want to bother anyone” shit. It’s dangerous ok? Remember that, no matter how long you’ve been here, no matter how familiar everything is, it’s dangerous.”

James sat into his car, he first day was over and as strange as it was he found he was looking forward to going back tomorrow. He could feel it, right in his very being, a strange draw, not to the job, but the building itself. As he drove away he caught one last glimpse of it in his mirror and he knew he never wanted to work anywhere else.

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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