You walk along the dark corridor, the only light that isn’t from your torch filters through the factory windows in fractured patterns. Moonlight. It took you so damn long to find the place that the sun started to set just as you entered the tired iron gates.
Underfoot are crisp wrappers from candy long abandoned, the noise akin to that of autumn leaves. The delicious crunching brings forth warm memories of hats and scarfs, allowing a feeling of safety to settle in your system.
There’s a noise that isn’t you. A something that could easily be child’s laughter.
Maybe it’s just the rats, maybe it’s part of that soft music filtering through the factory, echoing around the bare walls once full of noise and life. It sounds like a worn out tape, the music warping in places, stretching notes and voices. It’s probably been on loop since it was abandoned.
You’re only here for the documents.
You’re a detective damnit, with a gun and a badge. You’re not afraid of some factory, of shadows, of buildings long left to nature. You’re not afraid of the animal noises that fill the night.
A shadow flits across your periphery, and the noise that could be children’s laughter rings out again. You turn ready to draw your weapon. Shaking your head you relent the need for the gun. Pass the shadow off as a rat, the noise tinnitus or at very least some figment of your imagination.
There’s a breeze, a rustle behind you and you realise you’ve been so busy focusing forward, that you haven’t been covering all bases.
You don’t need to, you tell yourself.
You hear the noise again. Finally a tiny sliver of fear seeps through the shell of denial, you’ve been trying to hold up since you opened those creaking gates in the moonlight. The sliver bleeds into your consciousness and fighting the fear and adrenaline has just become much harder. The shadows are suddenly worrying, the dark a terrible threat, the rats the size of Rottweilers.
You roll your shoulders trying to ignore the warning rushing around your system, the accelerated heartbeat.
This isn’t a horror movie dammit and this isn’t fiction.
”All the world’s a stage and all the men and women merely players.”
The quote echoes in your mind and you curse the meddlesome thought for deciding the best place to surface is right now in this dark, dank, tinny almost silence. You chastise your own brain, no Shakespeare quotes around when you need them but now, now, in this empty, middle-of-nowhere warehouse, suddenly your mind if rife with them.
By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes.
Hell is empty and all the devils are here.
You roll your shoulders trying to physically shake away the invasive thoughts, lest they take hold entirely.
The music is louder now and the shadow, the one that scurries across your periphery seems much, much bigger. You refuse to give in to fear, keeping your torch steady you press on, pace unchanged, limbs stiffer than they were on entry.
Wrappers continue to crunch underfoot along with whatever else has gathered on this god forsaken floor. The office is just up ahead, metal steps with a rail that you’re not entirely sure you want to touch, let alone climb.
There’s no light, a bulb long broken glistens in moonlight that seems to be lacking the closer you get.
The door to the office is ajar and there’s that creepy sound again, the laughing.
It’s not laughing, it can’t be.
It has to be the animals; rats, foxes, birds or bats. The echo’s simply distorting due to space and imagination. It has to be part of the music, though it’s not any louder or quieter in here.
You take note but try not to dwell on the fact mostly everything is covered in dust, save for the tape player. The tape player looks like it was put down only moments ago.
On entering the office you walk to the tape player. You press a button and the music stops. The silence, well mostly silence is calming. You breathe in, expanding your lungs to capacity and taking the air all the way into what feels like your shoulders, raising them up around your ears. You let them drop, exhale and the tension eases down and out from your finger tips.
As you rifle through the filing cabinet a feeling of unease begins to creep back up your spine. There is a need to turn around slipping icy fingers up into the base of your hairline. You ignore it. You will not turn around. You will not be beholden to your imagination, to a mind that won’t behave when it needs too.
You start to make more noise to fill the silence as your heart rate increases. Resisting the fear makes your muscles stiffen, it makes the adrenaline start to jog.
You rifle the pages louder, slam the filing cabinet drawers shut. You avoid the reflective surfaces, refuse to turn back towards the door. You start to hum a tune, there’s a need in you to fill the silence.
With no music you’re hyper aware of every creak, every thud, every scurry and every whisper of the wind that travels through the empty factory.
Every, single, sound.
There’s a change in the air. Not like a breeze or sudden chill. This is something else, something that sets the hairs on the back of your neck rigid. Something that makes the unease move from creeping to speeding. Something that makes adrenaline flood your system and your own pulse thump in your ears.
Your hand is on your gun.
There’s the unmistakable sound of a high pitched giggle. Distorted like the tape in it’s ancient player.
Time has stopped.
Music begins to play again. A twisted remix of what once blared through the halls of this factory.
You hover. Even your thoughts have given pause as you stand caught, dangling on a moment. A single moment between turning around and not.
A distorted voice sounds behind you.
“Hi there, what’s your name?”