Remote Control

It’s just a job. Any trained monkey can do it. I sit in a room and watch security monitors. That’s it. I don’t even have to get my ass out of my chair other than to head to the vending machine to grab some Mountain Dew.

I’m not even anywhere near the place. Collingwood Psychiatric Hospital is in rural Maryland. I’m in Vancouver, part of a security company that monitors large abandoned buildings in the hopes of keeping out squatters and vandals for the property owners until such time as they either restore, rebuild or demolish. Since the State of Maryland is responsible for Collingwood, I doubt if any of the three are going to happen anytime soon.

The State installed our security cameras after a TV crew disappeared while filming there in 2011. An extensive search of the building and grounds failed to find anything of them except for traces – a cooler full of rotting sandwiches, camera and audio equipment and a woman’s shirt. They haven’t turned up a trace of their bodies.

Night after night we watch, myself or other employees. We all rotate on different buildings – that way we keep fresh eyes on things. Tonight I was assigned Collingwood. I wasn’t looking forward to it. Sometimes weird shit happens – cameras blank out for no reason then just turn back on as if nothing had happened. It’s annoying as fuck. Also there are instances of pixilation in the feed. Digital distortions – ghosts in the machine my supervisor calls them. We’ve repaired and replaced the cameras there several times over with no improvement. We think there might be some sort of magnetic rock vein in the bedrock, but so far nothing tangible has been turned up.

Usually there are a lot of people here at night – that’s when we do most of our monitoring. However today was a little different. We’re moving into a new building near Stanley Park which suits me just fine. However not all of the stations were moved in time – some sort of scheduling fuck-up – so I’m alone in the old building. They haven’t moved the day shift’s stuff there yet – they won’t until the weekend – so I’m thankfully not in an empty office – but it’s still kind of creepy.

I stretch, looking at the various camera positions. All quiet on the Western Front. Part of me wants to find a place to curl up and sleep but if someone discovered me I’d be fired on the spot. So I just stretch and yawn and drink Mountain Dew, eating Snickers bars and Hot Pockets and texting my girlfriend on my iPhone. A 20th century job for a 21st century life.

I’m looking down at a particularly racy nude pic she’s sent me (she’s lonely, the little minx) when my eye is caught by some movement on the edge of my vision. I look up at the monitors. Nothing. Nothing on Camera 1. Nothing on Camera 2. Nothing on Camera 3. Nothing on Cameras 4,5,6,7,8….hell nothing on any cameras.

I stare for a bit then go back to perving on my baby’s picture. Then movement again. Like an itch I can’t scratch. I look up annoyed. Nothing. I keep my eyes on the monitors. Nothing happens. Nothing moves. Finally with a sigh, my girlfriend awaits me. I look down.

A door slams shut. Not like it was shut slowly – it was slammed. I saw it. No breeze through the hallway would have shut a door like that. It was like an angry child flinging the door shut. No way that was air pressure. I saw it.

I peer at the cameras. I see nobody. Nothing. Some digital distortions start to pop up. Then dozens . Then hundreds. I could hardly see the interior of Collingwood there were so many. Then, abruptly they were gone.

Everything was quiet again but I had an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach. Like this was the calm before the storm.

I hate it when I’m right. All the doors on all the cameras started to open and shut, open and shut, banging against the jams. They’re flapping like wings on some hideous bird. I stand up, my chair pushed back and rolling away. I think I might have even screamed. I’m not one to believe in ghosts but what else could be causing this? I go to my alert phone to call my boss and the line is dead. Figures. Just my luck that it’s going to get worse.

I saw them. Hideous humans, or maybe once they were human but they aren’t that now. Impossibly thin and spindly with legs that went on and on. Dead black eyes. Mottled skin. Open mouths, impossibly wide. And teeth. And teeth.

One comes right up to the camera I’m looking at, grinning at me maniacally. The eyes are wild and knowing, impossibly wise and incredibly old – and evil beyond measure. He reaches out and I am a deer in the headlights, unable to move. Unable to scream. My phone drops to the floor from nerveless fingers.

Hand reach through the monitor and grab me. Now I find my voice but it’s too late. I’m dragged closer to the monitors, closer and closer. I struggle, I dig in my heels but these hands are incredibly strong. He drags me closer and closer to the edge. I scream again in despair. I don’t want to go to Collingwood. I don’t want to go there. I’m afraid. I’m afraid. Mommyyyyyyyyyyyy and it all goes dark.

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