Chapter 12: Shining in the Darkness
Have you ever spent six hours straight on the phone? That’s exactly what I did after my breakthrough. Kara and I inspected the details surrounding my fake death like FBI agents, looking at the situation from every possible angle. Had sinister aliens landed and abducted me as I lay dying after my brutal beating? While that would account for all the missing time before I got home, it wouldn’t help us resolve my current dilemma. Perhaps there was a vampire conspiracy to ruin me for always helping to halt their blasphemous attacks. But what did orphans have to do with that? Could everything be linked somehow? After much deliberation, Kara and I agreed that it was most likely a random act of violence.
That only left the obituary.
“Did you ever call your job to tell them you weren’t dead?” Kara asked.
“Well… no. I never thought of it,” I said. “I was so devastated after the Santa thing didn’t work out that all I did was try to convince Mom I hadn’t died, play some Resident Hill, and then go to bed. I guess it was so simple I just didn’t…”
Kara interrupted me mid sentence. “Wait a minute. You played a video game after all that?”
“Why wouldn’t I?”
I’m not sure, but I thought I heard Kara beating her head against a table.
“Never mind Resident Hill. What you need to do to call the Wappingers Falls Tribune and see if you can get them to print a retraction. This might be the answer to all of our problems!”
I thanked Kara for all of her wonderful help and hung up the phone. Swiftly, I dialed my job.
I wasn’t expecting what happened next; or rather, what didn’t happen. I allowed the phone to ring for a good five minutes. With so many people in the office during normal business hours, someone should have heard the phone. Something was definitely amiss, but it could have been anything from my boss working on something very important and not wanting to be bothered to someone hitting the wrong button and silencing all the phones in the building by accident.
At any rate, it looked like I’d have to go and talk to them in person. I knew that it was a dangerous proposition, but when you’re desperate, you’ll resort to a lot of things you wouldn’t do normally. Even if I were once again suspected of being a ghost, or worse, a zombie, at least I’d have done something about it. Besides, then the new Dynamite Barslut game and I could get better acquainted without me feeling like a jerk.
I grabbed my mother’s keys and hopped into her car, speeding off towards the Wappingers Falls Tribune headquarters. I vowed that something was going to happen in the office that day, whether it be good, bad, or indifferent, and I was going to go home feeling like I accomplished something.
But I could never have anticipated… (Note: This is foreshadowing.)
* * *
When I arrived outside my place of employment, the small driveway was full of cars as usual. It had always been difficult to find a spot and today was no different. I slowly pulled into the last space, the one next to a stone wall that separates the newspaper parking lot from the other, higher parking lot. It was a tight fit, but I was used to it by then.
I stepped out of the car and readied myself to enter the building for the first time in… well, today was Jan. 21, so it had been exactly a month to the day that I was attacked by the unholy trinity of orphans. It sent a clichéd shiver down my spine. As I proceeded to the door, I noticed that the shades had been pulled down. Sometimes this was done if the sun blinded too many employees, but most of the time, everyone was so absorbed in what they were doing no one would notice. Still, it was enough for me to hesitate before placing my hand on the shiny golden doorknob. I took a deep breath and pushed it open.
I was immediately plunged into darkness. The office was silent; not even the electric hum of a computer emanated from my boss’s office.
“Hello?” I called, my eyes still adjusting to the blackness. The only light came from the open door behind me. Daylight seeped in and let me see just enough to proceed.
I was pretty sure at that point that something was a little off. The smell of coffee placated me a little, but it was faint, meaning that it must have been brewed at least a few hours ago. I took another couple of steps in. I looked in each cubicle as I proceeded, checking for anyone hiding under a desk or a chair, waiting to jump out and yell “surprise!” Maybe this whole false death thing had just been a ploy to throw me a really rockin’ birthday party, even though my birthday was in November. I listened, but all I heard was my own muffled footsteps on the carpet.
Suddenly, the door slammed shut behind me. I heard an unmistakable click and I knew it was locked. I was blind in the pitch blackness. My heart beat so hard I could feel it in my legs. I hate to admit it, but I was just a little spooked.
I wasn’t about to go and investigate what had closed the door, so my only option was to continue forward, towards my boss’s office. I had a gut feeling that if any answers were to be found, they’d be there.
I was wondering how I’d know when I had reached my boss’s office, but as it turned out, it wasn’t a problem – a small light protruded from the door, a beacon in my world of darkness. I slowly stalked up to the open door and readied myself for the worst.
I jumped into the room, prepared to take out any number of ninjas, aliens, pirates or janitorial staff. Yet there was nothing but an open window – the source of the faint light. I immediately knew what I was up against.
“Nicesss of you to finally arrive,” hissed a voice from the void.
And you laughed at me when I told you about vampires and open windows.