Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Short Story-The Fading Moon

What they don’t tell you about working the graveyard shift at a seminary is how incredibly creepy it is. When I stroll through the campus at night making my rounds I feel as though I am the only person left alive in the world. Especially on a seminary where it’s quiet to begin with during the day, at night the loudest voices you hear are your own thoughts.
My shift starts at 11:00 P.M. I always show up 15 minutes early and I relieve the guard from the previous shift. His name is John Preeper. He is an old man well into his 50’s. When I walk into the break room there is a light fog from the odors which are leaking out of every crevice of his body. They have seeped deep into the walls and his scent keeps me company well into the night.
His glasses which look more like windows, cover up most of his worn down and wrinkled face. He has five pieces of shoestring hair which look like they are glued to his scalp, I count them every time I see him just for kicks. As every bone in his body squeaks when he rises from his chair, I wonder how it is that he is able to make it through his rounds at night and check all of the buildings which stand on this campus. He talks to me about Las Vegas as he does every night for a good 10 minutes. He always tells me the warmest stories, usually about some Vegas mobster who cuts people in little pieces and buries them in the desert. Talk about your bedtime stories huh? He grabs his large blue gym bag and heads out the door. I lift up the shade on the shop window and watch his light blue shirt disappear into the night. His night has ended and my night has just begun.
The first thing I do is grab this security device called a Deggy which is about an eight inch wand that looks a whole lot like a dildo. Throughout the various buildings on campus there are markers which must be scanned with the Deggy. When it scans it makes a reassuring sound to let you know you are doing a good job. The security company downloads information from the computerized dildo and downloads into their system to make sure you’re doing your rounds. I have to go through this process once every two hours from 11 P.M. to 7 A.M.
I’m off to making my first round. I have to go into dorm buildings, a cafeteria, a church, a library, the administration building and the faculty building. Most of these buildings have dates on them in the time frame of the1800’s chiseled into the stone work. During the day their architecture is something to marvel at, but once the sun is replaced by the moon, these are buildings which look like they were purposely constructed for a horror videogame.
As I’m on my way to my first building, the cafeteria, crickets are hidden in the shadows laughing at my trained way of life. My keychain with about 50 different keys on it clanks as I reach the front door of the cafeteria. The cafeteria is the most modern of the buildings and it is definitely the building that scares me the least, that’s why I always chose to go there first.
This particular building, Washburn Hall, has been closed to the public for months after a ceiling collapsed and injured some churchgoers. If that isn’t a sign from God, I don’t know what is. Immediately as I open the door I hear a bird chirping. Being a security guard, one of the superhuman senses you develop is hearing, I knew right away that the bird was trapped somewhere in the building. I closed my eyes for a moment to more accurately tell in which the direction the chirping was coming from. I stepped as if I were a thief not a security guard until I discovered the small baby bird still as a rock near a large glass window. The baby bird appeared so sad as it looked out into a world it knew it might not ever get a chance to return to.
I found plastic gloves inside of cabinets in the kitchen area and proceeded to confidently snap them on my hands like a doctor preparing for surgery. I approached the baby bird who has still not moved a feather, I kneeled down and slowly reached out my hands. I did not want to grab the bird, but rather guide it into the palm of my hand. The bird’s wings fluttered as my fingers made contact with it. Startled, I jumped back for a moment to catch my breath. I tried again. Even more slowly this time, I placed down my left palm onto the cold floor and with my right hand I began to guide the baby bird. I got em.
I walked slowly to the back door of the cafeteria and placed the bird onto the cigarette butt covered loading dock. Frightened, the bird glanced at his new surroundings. I watched it for a moment, then looked at my watch and realized that I needed to get a move on. I went to lock up the back door of the loading dock and scan the Deggy. I turned around and the baby bird was gone. I felt sad as though my best had just died because I realized I had just lost my only company of the long night. I headed down the loading dock stairs, next up, the library.
The library is a slightly older building than the cafeteria and is the largest building which I will venture into tonight. There are five floors, all of which are cluttered with thousands of theology books. The hallways are long and look more like tunnels than they do corridors. At the end of the tunnels are red lights that give me the eerie feeling that I am aboard a spaceship trying to find my way out. In this building there are a whole lot of noises that make you whip your head with the quickness to see if there is anybody or anything there, including an annoying hiccupping smoke detector which has needed to be changed for weeks.
They turn power off in the library when they leave for the night which shuts down access to the elevators, that means that I have to hike up and down the staircases. I really don’t mind walking though, I consider myself an active person and see any type of exercise not as a burden, but as a reward.
The last Deggy stop that I make on this trip is the one in the basement. The staircase leading into the basement has a gigantic 3D metal sculpture of Jesus hanging inside of a bunch of thorns which seem like they are reaching out and trying to prick everyone who walks by.
The spot which I have to hit last is located inside of a machine room that houses the huge air conditioner which cools the entire building as well as other little machines which seem to been out of service for some time. I walk past some half-drunken Coke bottles and a abandoned construction helmet which sits upside down staring at the ceiling. If you look closely enough, on the concrete floor there are tiny pieces of toilet paper which look like stars on the sky. A while back on my shift, the drain pipes got clogged up from a heavy downpour and all the shit that fell out of people’s asses that day returned from the depths of hell to see light once again.
Ready to explode from the scent of machinery, dust, must and shit, I inhale huge gasps of air as I slam the machine door behind me. I pass Jesus again giving him a nod on the way up the basement stairs. I quickly head for the front door of the Library. I check my celly, just as I suspected, I am running behind on my rounds. It’s already 11:50 P.M. As I leave the library it begins to drizzle.
I make my way through the faculty and administration building pretty quickly. Walking with a purpose, I have my Deggy in hand and I am swinging it like a nun chuck towards my targets. “Beep, beep, beep.” I’m in the zone now and finish up both of these buildings by 12:15 P.M. Everything is going as planned.
On my way to the church I make a quick pit stop at the bathroom. I strain my eyes staring through the night as I have to be on the lookout for the pain in the ass supervisor who makes surprise visits throughout the week. He usually just stops by to make sure I’m not sleeping and shit like that.
I rush into the bathroom. I take a quick glance at myself in the mirror as I undo my belt buckle and pull down my pants. I pull my underwear down and do not hesitate to sit down on the yellow stained toilet seat. The cold from the seat travels through my butt all the way up to my shoulders as I quiver. Piss shoots out of me like a laser beam as I can feel tiny sprinkles bouncing off the bottom of my butt. I let out a sigh of relief as I pull my underwear and pants back up and buckle my belt all the way to the furthest hole on the leather.
Before I leave, I stop in front of the mirror again. I take my cap off, undo my ponytail and shake my head to relieve stress and tension. I look at my oily skin, swollen eyes and crevices that have formed on my forehead from always slanting my brows. I dream about going home and taking a shower, but home has not been a peaceful place lately.
My mom has been arguing a lot with her new boyfriend, even more than usual. He drinks a lot and roughs her up sometimes. He has even tried to hit on me a few times while my mom was out shopping. That’s why I have been working so many hours lately, especially the overnight hours. It freaks me out too much to hear the squeaking of the bed and the moans. The thought of that hairy tattooed bastard having sex with my mom disgusts me to death. My mom has been struggling with heroine for a good portion of her life and was real lonely before she met him, but sometimes I wish he would just end up back in jail where he belongs.
I splash some cold water on my face, put my hair back up into a ponytail and put my cap back on, lowering it just enough so a shadow covers half my face. I exit the bathroom and make my way to the church. The rain is falling hard enough so that when it hits me, it paints tiny dark circles on my light blue shirt. As I approach it, I stare at the cross that sits up hundreds of feet into the air. I put my key in the lock, grunting while I pull the heavy wooden door towards me. Walking into this church always makes me think of what it might be like before you enter the gates of Heaven. On both sides of me, there are numerous stained glass windows. The moon shines through them creating tiny rays of light which all seem to be aimed at me like a large spotlight.
I proceed down the aisle towards the alter, the difference being for this bride there is no man of my dreams waiting and ready to commit to spending the rest of his life with me, only a Deggy marker I must scan. I finish the three markers in this building and check the time, 1:05 A.M. The night is almost over. I put the Deggy back in my pocket and breathe a sigh of relief as I won’t need it again for a while.
I enter a little side room that is mostly used for mediation. In the back of the tiny room is an extremely old spiral staircase which slithers all the way to the top of the steeple that stands tall in the night sky. I creep up the skinny staircase as I blow spider webs away which stick to my face. Sweat drips from my temples as I pop the brim of my hat up with my index finger to keep it from sticking to my forehead. The winding stairs seem like they are never going to end as I am now using my shoulders to propel myself up further.
I finally make it to the top. There is one lonely window up here. I take my hand and place it on the dusty glass and in a waving motion, make just enough of a streak so that I can see the moon. The moon looks so much more imposing and beautiful from up here. The window makes a hideous noise as I swing it open. There is a small platform which I slowly crawl onto.
Sitting down comfortably with my knees bent, I take my hat and throw it off the top of the church. I watch it slowly float down until it falls out of sight. I take my ponytail down and let my hair free. One by one, I start from the top and un-pop every button on my shirt. I bend my shoulders back and remove both arms out from the sleeves at the same time. I twirl it around in the air a few times before I toss it too. As it floats down, I wonder, that if a could ever fell from the sky, it would look a whole lot like my shirt which appeared as though it never wanted to land. It had stopped raining and the warm summer breeze gently dried my clammy and sweaty arms making those invisible hairs on my body stand up. I now sat comfortably in my black beater and black pants.
Slowly, I stood up and balanced myself on the ledge. I look up at the cross above me that is still out of my reach. I glance at my watch, 1:56 A.M. As I stare at the ground, I am only able to see the left sleeve of my shirt and only thing I can think about is whether or not they are going to pay me for the whole night?

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