I can’t stop shaking but as I step into the gloom there is no hissing or screams, instead everything remains the same. Breath explodes out of me as I realise that I have been holding it. Setting my sights on the door I walk forward. I don’t look around, I can’t. I only have a little while to get in, find the information and get out. There is no way I want to be trapped here in the dark. Not with those things. I reach the glass doors and cup my hands to peer inside. I can see the reception desk. There is no movement. I consider banging on the glass, but that might bring others and I want to be quiet and quick.
As I push on the door it swings quietly inward. I stand on the beige linoleum floor and shiver, not in fear but because the air is cold and damp. A bit like a morgue, a small voice in my head says. I sniff and try to tell myself that there are no such things as ghosts. No, says the same voice, but there are vampire zombie things. I wonder, and not for the first time, if I’m going a little mad. I’ve always talked to myself but only recently have I been answering back.
There is no time to stop though. I walk past the office and down toward the conference rooms. I’m not sure where I’m going but the sign says meeting rooms and has an arrow. What I need is a computer that doesn’t have a password. Normally they are the communal meeting rooms. The small voice laughs, like I’d know. I shush it and continue on. The hard floor gives way to a carpet.
These parts of the offices are obviously for show. There are soft chairs and all the meeting rooms are of glass. At least I’ll see the things coming. Going to the nearest I look inside. It would seat about ten and there is a large flat screen on the wall. Next to it on what resembles a wooden lectern is another monitor, this one a normal size. What transfixes me is the green light on the large screen. It’s on.
Pulling the door open I walk in. There is a soft hum that you only get when computers are sleeping. I pull the door closed and look around. I can see the lobby area and a little outside. It seems a slightly darker in here but I think the windows might be tinted and my anxiety is making night come early. I am so scared that I feel I want to curl into a ball and wake up.
Except there is no waking up. Not here.
Walking over I stand looking at the smaller monitor. I have to turn my back on the lobby to use it and that worries me. Partially turning I try to keep one eye on the computer and the other on the windows. I hit the power switch on the small monitor.
It starts and a password request pops up. I snarl at the damn thing. Then a conversation I had with a friend pops into my head. She’d been changing her password and she’d then flipped her keyboard over at work.
“What are you doing?” I’d asked.
“Passwords,” she’d said and then held up the keyboard. She used her hand to cover the actual passwords but I could see the labels. Things like ‘bank’ and ‘email’.
“Is that safe?” I’d asked.
“Oh, yes,” she said. “They are all long passwords with capitalisation and numbers and…”
I interrupted. “What about the keyboard?”
“What about it?”
“Well,” I said. “What if someone looks?”
“But it’s mine,” she said.
“Oh, okay,” I remember saying, but in my head I was berating her for being so silly.
Now, looking at the keyboard, I turn it over and there it is. On a sticky label.
I shake my head, but type it in. Windows chimes and I look around. Nothing moves, although to me those discordant notes were incredibly loud.
I turn back and allow the mouse to hover over the internet icon.
“Please work,” I whisper and click it.