Night Shift

(Originally written: April 5, 2020)

Doyle drank his coffee. Deathly bitter. Just the way he hated it. Like it was the case for many, hate keeps him awake. This is important as he works as a security guard. Find me a sleeping security guard that does their job well and I will show you someone that is lying to you.

We’re joining Doyle near the end of his shift. The employees that worked for the Company had left hours ago and there wasn’t anyone else in the building. The computers in front of Doyle that were streaming live camera feeds would tell you the same. The computers illuminated Doyle’s pockmarked skin with an unnatural white. It didn’t do his looks any favors but it’s not the light’s fault. It’d take a favor from a genie to make Doyle attractive on any level. He was aware of that and didn’t care. He didn’t need to be good looking to be a security guard. Nor had he needed to be good looking to get married. He’s divorced, of course. That’s not the point. He had convinced a woman – who wasn’t a model by any measure of the word, but was compared to him – to date him for a year or two and then convinced her to marry him. And he had done it while looking like the face of the moon – if the face of the moon desperately needed Accutane. 

I’d like to take this moment to tell you that I’m a security guard that can do my job while sleeping. And I do it well.

He scanned the screens, saw nothing, then went back to reading. It was a self help book telling him how he could make millions. All he’d have to do is follow seven simple steps. Like his bowels, Doyle knew this book was full of shit. But he had forgotten the book he was actually reading at home and had borrowed the book the last security guard was reading. Doyle passed the time reading the book and chuckling at the idea that someone could fall for this nonsense. Doyle didn’t possess the compassion necessary to think that someone desperate would fall for it. That someone desperate could know that it was likely a scam but maybe, just maybe, it would bring them out of the pit they were in. Doyle assumed they were all stupid and just stupid. Doyle sucks.

I don’t like Doyle. I dislike him enough to break my role as a narrator and tell you directly that I don’t like Doyle instead of hinting at it by sharing as many undesirable qualities about him as possible. Such as telling you that he voted for the opposition of whoever you voted for. He also finds truck nuts funny. Don’t get me wrong. Truck nuts can be funny. But when someone like Doyle likes truck nuts, it’s not funny. The woman he married was desperate. Don’t be like Doyle. Have some compassion and take pity on her. 

He scanned the screens, saw nothing, and put the open book face down to save his page while he went on his rounds. The portion of the building that he was required by the Company to do rounds on wasn’t very large but it would occupy thirty minutes of his shift. During those thirty minutes his mind is not occupied by anything that is worth telling you. So I won’t.

The Company requires all lights to remain off in the interior sections of the building, forcing Doyle to use his flashlight. He flashed it here and there – not hither and thither like he would do if he was a fan of older English. The Company also required all its security personnel, even night shift guards like Doyle, to be armed with a gun. Because it’s always a good idea to give a man like Doyle a gun. Especially since Doyle’s knowledge of gun usage was limited to knowing that pressing the trigger made the hole go bang. His aim with it is only slightly better than a urinating drunk man and though he was taught trigger discipline, he never remembered it. Whenever he brought his gun out to show off to his friends, his finger would be right against the trigger. It’s too bad that he never had an accident while doing that. His friends are worse than him and Doyle has a better chance of surviving in prison than he does by working here.

The Company requires all individuals who are in the building after business hours to stop moving every ten minutes if they were anywhere except the security kiosk. They would have to remain perfectly still for thirty seconds. When he had first been hired and got briefed on the various Rules, Doyle had questioned them. His boss told him that violation of any of the Rules would result in him getting fired. Doyle followed all the Rules diligently since he had child support to neglect paying. Including right now, at the first ten minute mark. He didn’t even scratch himself or pick his nose like it was common for him to do so. Just stood completely still in the minimal lighting of his flashlight while looking at his watch.

Too bad.

The Company requires night shift security guards to check room 981-S once every two hours by tapping the door three times. If there is a noise similar to a large snake slithering across gravel, the guard is to resume their rounds. If there is silence for 15 seconds followed by the aforementioned noise, the guard is to resume their rounds. If there is silence for 15 seconds followed by more silence, the guard is to sprint to the security kiosk and press the blue button. In that situation, the guard is to remain in their kiosk until help – in the form of men with big guns – arrives. Doyle taps the door three times and counts. Silence for 14 seconds before he hears the slithering noise. This part always bothered Doyle. But he never asked questions. 

The Company requires night shift security guards to remain perfectly still for thirty seconds after checking room 981-S. Once that is done, they are to return to the security kiosk and remain there until their shift ends or it is time for another round. Whatever comes first. Doyle begins his walk back and even stops for thirty seconds when ten minutes passes from when he checked room 981-S. He really was doing a good job as a security guard that night, as he normally did. Even I will admit that he’s good at his job. But a monkey is good at throwing its shit. Expected? Yes. Impressive? No. 

Please note that I said “was”.

Instead of remaining perfectly still as he was supposed to do, Doyle caved to the ticklish feeling in his ear and scratched it. He notices his transgression immediately and freezes, staring down the hall nervously. When he didn’t see anything, he looked up at the camera on the ceiling. The red light blinked at him. He attempted an apologetic smile, figuring that they check the footage every morning and that’s how they knew to fire someone that didn’t follow the Rules at night. Remember how I said Doyle isn’t very attractive? It’s mainly because he’s not good at smiling. His attempt at an apologetic smile was pathetic. Not pathetic in a way that makes you feel pity for him. Pathetic in a way that makes you wish that he’s fired for not following the Rules.

Doyle hears a sharp, repetitive tapping behind him, like a dog walking on tiles. This tapping is louder and, considering the setting, much less friendly. The Rules stated that if someone ever hears that noise, they are to turn off their flashlight immediately and sit down. They are to remain in that position until help arrives in the form of men with swords. They are also told to pray to whatever god they believe in. Doyle, of course, does not believe in any god. He prays anyway since prayers of desperation are more common than prayers of faith. He hears the clicking sound again and this time it’s closer. He begins praying louder and it makes me laugh. He’s saying the most basic one out loud and he’s not even doing it right. 

“It’s hallowed be thy name. Idiot.” I said, crouching down in front of him. “Not hollowed.”

He screamed and lunged away from me. He fired his gun and since even drunk men occasionally aim true, he managed to hit me. Shame. For him that is. The gun is for my friend in 981-S. They don’t do much to me.

“You can run if you want.” I smile and molten drool drips from my maw, causing the tile to burn. “You’re still getting fired.”