Monday, June 16, 2014

Story Time - The Vault

Copyright  June 15, 2014 SB-TFC
All rights reserved. This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

The Vault

Quinn had been driving on county road 25 for almost an hour after turning off from the main highway. Nothing but dense clusters of Spruce and Pine spread out across the hills and valleys for miles. Nestled between the evergreens all the Maple and Birch trees had already shed their autumn coats leaving them looking exposed and vulnerable. Briefly the thick forest receded for a field of brambles and overgrown weeds, set back from the field a derelict farmhouse sagged to one side on its crumbling foundation looking like a forlorn sentinel banished to isolation for eternity. 

Quinn began to wonder where in the hell they were sending her as she glanced down at the Google map print out sitting next to her on the seat while considering the possibility that she might of made a wrong turn. This was her first assignment and cringed at the thought of having to call the office saying she was lost. The abandoned farmhouse faded from view as she crested a small hill and caught site of a small building tucked back from the road about 200 feet to her right. As the road flattened out she seen the wooden sign nailed to a weathered fence post at the beginning of a gravel laneway lined with tangles of sumac bushes. Slowing down, the faded red letters proclaimed she had finally made it to her destination, WHOLESALE FOOD DISTRIBUTION.  

Thin layers of sooty cloud moved across the deepening magenta sky as the last hour of sunlight began to fade. Quinn pulled her old Daytona next to a black Ford Explorer in the otherwise deserted parking area. Grabbing her backpack she got out of her car and made her way up to the building taking in her surroundings. 
The concrete structure was only about 1000 square feet and rectangular in shape. The front had a large corrugated metal shipping door and ten feet to the right, a plain grey metal man door. Hanging on the man door was a tattered orange plastic sign, in white block letters the words ‘CLOSED’. Quinn’s stomach knotted as she noted that the there were no windows on the front of the building, she hoped there would at least be one at the back. 

The door handle felt cold beneath her hand as it yielded easily when she pressed down on the lever and poked her head in. A buzzing like a thousands bees in a tin can assaulted her ears as the fluorescents flickered above, casting a peculiar greenish glow in the room. Quinn called out “Hello? Anyone here?” To the right stood a single cashier checkout and beyond that a few rows of drab metal shelving filled the rest of the small space. On the shelf closest to her a few super-sized cans of vegetables, ketchup, and mustard were scattered along one of the upper shelving units, but for the most part, at least what she could see the rest of the shelving stood empty. 

To her left about ten feet from where she stood she noticed a set of double swinging doors and made her way in that direction. Thinking to herself “What an strange set up for a food distributor” as she crossed into the stock room. The stock room was large enough to comfortably fit a small delivery truck. Towards the back to her right, three rows of heavy-duty blue metal shelving. The shelves in here were stacked to the ceiling with various canned goods that had been loaded on pallets and sealed in a thick layer of plastic. To the left was the large shipping door she had seen from the outside. She headed towards a door inset with a window directly across from her. The blinds were lowered but light filtered around its edges. Just as she lifted her hand to knock on it, the door flew inward. Jumping back, she swore under her breath, gritting her teeth.  

“Sorry to startle you. I just realized the time and thought I better check to see if you had made it, and here you are” he thrust out his massive hand. 
“The names Jake, Jake Grimmes. So glad they could send a security guard out on such short notice.”

His muscular frame took up most of the entryway. His short dark hair was slicked back giving him that sexy just got out of the shower look, while the shadow that played across his chin and up his cheeks lent to the rugged outdoors man. A slight musky scent drifted towards her tingling her senses. As soon as his green shimmering eyes fixed on hers, she was immediately lost in his gaze. A few seconds later she managed to compose herself, cleared her throat and grasping his hand she said “Um, Quinn, Quinn Sparks from Tweed Security” His hand swallowed hers as he shook it. In his firm grip her head started to throb while an icy trickle of sweat slipped down her spine, then as quickly as the sensation began it vanished when he let go. All Quinn could think of to say next was, “You can depend on Tweed Security, we are on call 24/7 even at a moments notice, Sir” As soon as the words left her mouth a flush heated her cheeks.  

A smile broadened across his face “You don’t need to be so serious and call me Jake. So how long have you been a security guard Quinn?”

The heat within her cheeks remained as Quinn self-consciously said, “To tell you the truth, I just started, and you’re my first.” 

Jake let out a loud burst of laughter and winked “Your first, well I am honoured.
You really think you are up for this challenge?”

“Challenge? I may be a rookie, but I certainly know how to handle myself.” Quinn said feeling slightly annoyed at his comment. 

“You would be surprised what kind of trouble can be stirred up way out here.” Jake said as he flipped off the light and locked his office door. He steered her towards the back of the stock room. “Let me give you a quick tour, but there really is not much to see other than a washroom that is back here behind these shelving units. The alarm company will be here first thing in the morning to fix the alarm system, the room is locked, but they already have a key for it.” As they passed he pointed to a utility room door next to the washroom. They were back in the store area heading towards the entrance door when he added “That’s it, hope you don’t get too lonely out here. Any questions?” 

“No, I think I got it, thanks” Quinn said as she held the door open. Watching him leave an internal shutter resonated through her body and her chest tightened realizing that there were no windows in whole place. The structure was just a solid mass of concrete reminding her of a vault. She had always managed to avoid places involving enclosed windowless spaces. She never considered herself as being claustrophobic; she just needed to be able to see outside that was all. Now, it looked like she was going to spend an entire night entombed in this concrete vault. “Could my luck get any worse?” she thought.

As soon as he was out of sight, Quinn stepped out into the twilight taking in a deep breath of fresh air. Grabbing her folding beach chair and portable radio from her car her thoughts turned to Jake and the unsettled feeling she had gotten when he shook her hand and the odd conversation they had. Something was off about that guy, but she couldn’t put her finger on it. She decided to grab her thicker security coat when the wind picked up making the temperature drop a few degrees. The road was completely deserted, as it had been all the way here. The only sound was a chorus of crickets starting up their nightly serenade and a protesting crow screeching as it passed overhead heading home to bunk down for the night. Locking the main door she glanced around the tomblike room when the idea of opening the shipping door came to mind. 

Pushing a big green button on the door panel, the metal door began to rattle and whine as it slowly rose up on its chain pulley system. Two feet up, she pushed a red button bringing it to an abrupt halt. A swoosh of cool evening air rushed in giving her a shiver. Next she set up her beach chair about ten feet from the opening to keep it far enough from the draft yet still be in full view to see out from a sitting position. Adjusting the aerial on her radio, static was gradually replaced with ‘We gotta get out of this place’ by the Animals. Quinn set the volume just loud enough so that it would drown out the constant hum of the fluorescents. Glancing outside the tightness in her chest loosened while she draped her thicker coat over her shoulders as she sat down. A faint yellowish glow started to pool along the threshold of the open shipping door from the outside security light, it stretched halfway across the bottom edge leaving the rest of the space in murky shadows as the rest of the day slipped away. 

Quietly singing along with the classic tune playing on the radio she reached into her backpack and pulled out a Ziplock baggie containing a ham and cheese sandwich and a can of Sprite. Taking a bite of the sandwich, she rummaged through the pack again and found a book, opting for a mystery rather than her usual horror and began to read. It was nearing midnight when her head started to bob and her eyelids fluttered like shutters opening and closing. Soon she was drifting on a cloud of semi consciousness. Walking through a delightful forest, a fresh pine scent filled the air, spent pungent leaves crunched under foot, while golden rays filtered through the bare branches of Maple trees. Stepping on a twig it made a snapping noise like cracking knuckles. When the next twig snapped under her foot the bright sunlight gave way to a murky gloom, fading the forest from view and replacing it with a cement room. A dim light began to filter through a narrow opening far off in the distance; then a soft scraping sound started gradually and kept getting louder and louder. 

Quinn’s eyes flung open “Oh crap” she muttered. 

As she tried to focus there appeared to be a raccoon just inside the shipping door. Its nose twitching, claws clicking on the cement floor as it made its way towards her. “Shoo, shoo, get out of here” waving her hands in the air, figuring that if she made enough noise it would scare the thing away. But so far it seemed to have little affect. 

 “Shoo” she said again raising her voice. Glancing down, noticing her half eaten sandwich she flung it across the room and yelled, “Here, have this, now git”
The creature sprung up on its haunches and snatched it in mid air, swallowed it in one gulp then continued towards her. Quinn’s blood started pumping quickly through her veins making her heart pound like a bass drum as she sprung to her feet thinking maybe it was rabid. Her only protection was dangling at her side, a Maglite.  Her supervisor had recommended that she buy the standard heavy-duty flashlight as part of her gear, she wondered how effective it was on rabid animals. She unclipped it from her belt hoping that by shining the light in its eyes the light might frighten it away. Thinking that right about now a nice illegal can of Pepper spray or better yet a Taser would come in handy. Flicking on the flashlight she shined it directly into the creatures eyes.

A low growl erupted from its throat, its pointy ears pressed flat along its head. Course black hair stood straight up on the beasts back, then it gradually transformed, changing into something, something she had never seen before. Glossy black eyes rimmed in red flashed with pure evil as foamy wet drool slid from the gleaming pointy shards in its gaping mouth. It grew to a height just over six feet and stood erect on its hind legs. As it advanced it started to lick at its snout excited for the main course. Quinn was transfixed with horror as it became a raging beast, she uttered in disbelief “What the f…” her eyes darted around the room looking for an escape, remembering that Jake had locked the office door. Maybe she could make it through the store and to her car. “Move it!” her mind screamed. She started to back up slowly then quickly turning on her heel she darted towards the swinging doors. With one leap the beast blocked the way. Quickly doing an about face she headed toward the back where the washroom was. The second she turned to run the beast reached out with its sharp dagger like claw and snagged the collar of her coat enabling her to keep running full tilt as the coat just fell off her shoulders. 

Throwing back its head a piercing howl erupted from the beast. Not looking back Quinn raced between the metal shelves heading towards the washroom. She was within inches of the door when the beast grabbed for her once more and this time it connected with its target grabbing her by the neck, spinning her around, and lifting her feet off the ground. Squeezing her throat, one claw pierced her flesh and a small drop of warm crimson trickled down her neck. Gasping for air, 
she could only stare into its bottomless dark orbs. As the beast sunk its razor sharp fang into her she caught a faint scent of musk emanating from it. A brief moment of recognition flashed through her mind as she slipped into unconscious bliss, Jake?

Gossamer clouds backlit in a reddish glow spread across the early ashen sky as a white van with ACE ALARM COMPANY written on the side pulled into the parking area between Quinn’s Daytona and a black Ford Explorer. A lanky young man with curly brown hair stepped out and gathered his tools. He sauntered up to the entrance of the building and tried the handle, the lever opened. When he stepped across the threshold Quinn attacked.

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