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Every night, when I’m on my rounds, giant, orange clouds suddenly roll across the sky until all the stars are hidden from view. I can tell they’re orange because the constant flashes of lightning make them glow bright as day. If I weren’t so frightened, I could appreciate the eerie beauty of it, but soon, the clouds begin turning black, and the booming thunder rattles my bones.
That’s when the portal opens; it’s too perfect to be formed by nature, but I watch as the clouds break apart to leave a large void in the center, and strange, white strands pour forth to create this… hole. It’s darker than black inside, and in the back of my mind, I know it’s the gateway to Oblivion; that’s when I wake up soaked in a cold sweat.
I have one goal in life – to be content. I don’t care about riches, fame, or success – only paying rent. Why the universe chooses me for its random acts of chaos is a question I ask myself each night while lying awake. I’m a lot of things, but crazy isn’t one of them; my luck isn’t just bad – it’s statistically impossible. Most of the time, I feel like my life has been scripted for a movie – like I only exist to entertain some faceless audience.
I suppose context would be useful in this situation – sorry about that… I’ve never been much on writing. Anyways, I’m Luke – a thirty-year-old security guard with a proclivity for random trouble; nice to meet you.
The company I work for doesn’t like having their name thrown around, but I’m paid a very nice salary to babysit a warehouse full of shipping containers. I’m not sure what’s in them, but I have a pretty good guess. From everything I’ve seen over the past three years, I’m almost positive this is a holding facility for patent pending technology.
Honestly, even if they’re holding dead bodies, proof of aliens, or some other shocking conspiracy – I don’t give a damn. There’s only three things I gotta do to stay away from bartending:
- Complete my rounds every two hours
- Don’t leave before your relief shows up
- Never open a container
As long as I follow those rules – I get a cozy job with benefits and tons of downtime. The night shift can get a little spooky since the building makes strange noises, but it’s only settling; being alone in the middle of nowhere just makes it feel a little sinister. It bothers a couple of the other guys, but I don’t mind.
Until last week, there were six of us working solo eight-hour shifts. We only see each other at the time-clock, but I knew something terrible happened when I came in that day. Our boss was here instead of Brian, and none of us had seen Mr. Cabrini since the day we were hired.
I understand some people are curious, but losing a gig like this because you couldn’t resist looking into a box is plain pathetic. Plus, they have cameras everywhere; Brian knew that, but the idiot thought he could erase the tape and blame a malfunction. Needless to say, he was fired on the spot. I focused on appearing outraged and disgusted while yessir’ing my heart out, but a few things didn’t add up.
When Mr. Cabrini seemed content that I wouldn’t make the same mistake – he hopped in his helicopter and flew away; the man doesn’t even trust pilots. That’s when my mind really started going into overdrive. I shouldn’t care, but the logistics of this just aren’t making sense.
We’re over an hour from the nearest gas station, and the closest town is almost two hours further. How early did Brian look in that container? Let’s assume someone is monitoring our cameras around the clock and spotted him right away… What happened from there? Even if Cabrini hopped into a helicopter immediately, it would have taken hours to reach the warehouse. Did they let him snoop around until they could catch him red-handed; did they call him and say, “freeze, buster”? I had to know.
When my shift finally ended, John was the one to relieve me, and he already knew about Brian. We were careful of what was said on site, but soon, we were all in a group chat discussing – not what could be in the container, but – management’s reaction; if that makes us sound like a bunch of women, so be it.
In the beginning, we thought it was funny how offended these rich guys were over a dumbass seeing one of their toys; Brian probably has no clue what he saw. Don’t get me wrong – he deserved to be fired – I just think the dramatics were a touch over the top.
We all tried contacting him over the next few days. A couple of the others were growing curious, but I was prepared to hang up if he tried to say what he saw; I simply wanted to know how they fired him… But he never answered…
I wasn’t surprised at first; I wouldn’t have been in a chatty mood, either, and we weren’t exactly close. Eventually, John drove to Brian’s house hoping to corner the man and be done with it… We thought he was just embarrassed… I know that sounds terrible, but we never dreamed he might be dead!
He was killed in a car crash on his way home from the warehouse… His wife and two sons are still in shock, and his parents are staying in town for the foreseeable future to help as best they can; the rest of us pitched in for a donation towards funeral expenses, but I wish we could do more. Obviously, we didn’t ask about work; we wouldn’t have even if we thought she had answers… It’s a hell of a coincidence though, isn’t it?
The place where it occurred isn’t a high traffic area. The only witness is a corner-store’s low quality security footage, and the police say a white van clearly ran a stop sign. It collided with the driver’s side of Brian’s small car, and both vehicles came to a stop outside of the camera’s view. Thirteen minutes later, a truck pulled onto the scene and dialed 911. First responders arrived soon after, but they were too late to save Brian; meanwhile, the abandoned van was filled with paint and tequila.
The police are investigating this as a hit and run, but we think that’s how it was meant to look. The detective didn’t care about the circumstances from work; in his mind, a van full of illegal immigrants fled the scene of an accident to avoid deportation. His only concern is finding the driver – which yea – that’s obviously the place to start, but it might not end there! Maybe we are jumping to conclusions – maybe this is a mother of coincidences – but they should at least look into the possibility there’s more!
Well, that’s it; that’s my story. I guess I’m asking if you guys think we’re overreacting or if I should get the hell out of dodge. It’s really hard to see myself letting go of this place… I mean… even if they are murderers – everything was fine until Brian peeked…
Ugh, see? This is why I need help!
Two days later:
Hey again, this is Luke the security guard… I hope you remember me because I don’t have time to retype my first post. I’m on a new account because Reddit has decided my other one doesn’t exist anymore; it’s over five-years-old, yet I can’t even get through the Forgot Password options. I wanted to link the first post and see the new comments, but I can’t find it, either! How could my entire profile have been deleted?!
Unfortunately, I don’t have time to dwell on that mystery. So much has happened, I don’t know where to begin… The company hired a man to replace Brian, and we think he’s a spy. So far, Romero has met John, Tobin, and myself; during the shift change, he asked each of us a ton of personal questions. Maybe he’s a curious guy who tries too hard when it comes to making friends, but it doesn’t feel that way when a six-foot-two, three-hundred pound man is looming over you; it feels like he’s deciding whether you get to live or die. Needless to say, we didn’t add him to the group chat.
Tonight, I’m on the midnight to 8:00 shift; I listen to true crime podcasts when I work nights, and it’s especially enjoyable when there’s a good storm for ambience. It’s been raining all day, but the weather turned severe an hour ago. The lightning is near constant, the thunder shakes the ground, and the wind sounds like it’s trying to tear the building in half. Mr. Cabrini obviously cares a great deal for whatever we’re guarding, and I don’t see him storing it in something that would fall apart easily.
As for the electricity – there are enough generators here to power the warehouse for 48 hours after an outage; that’s why I’m extremely surprised to be typing this in the dark. Everything went black after the loudest boom of the night; I’m fairly certain a transformer blew, but I don’t understand why the generators aren’t working.
One thing is for sure, though; Someone is definitely monitoring those cameras 24/7. The second we lost power, my phone rang. “What in the hell is going on over there?!” A loud, gruff voice screamed in my ear. “Why aren’t the generators doing their damn jobs?!”
Thank goodness he could see those as well, or he would probably think I sabotaged them. A team of technicians will be here soon, but there’s absolutely no way to monitor me before they arrive. Mr. Cabrini’s voice remained confident, but he was clearly terrified of what I might do.
With his arsenal of threats rendered useless, he turned to flattery. “I’m glad it happened while our best man was on the job; it’s about time we look into getting you a raise! I feel a little guilty over the whole thing… He didn’t need to bribe me; I was never planning to snoop… It happened by accident…
I was excited about the raise and decided a power outage was no excuse to skip rounds – especially when I have a flashlight. A few minutes later, I was in the holding area with my heart plummeting into my stomach like an Olympic diver. A blue container’s door was open, and I felt like someone kicked my feet out from under me. What was I supposed to do? How could someone have opened it without being seen? If they were lucky enough to get away with it, how could they forget to close it?! How does this happen the one time the cameras are off? I stood there for a solid five minutes, terrified the power would kick on the moment I was in front of the box.
I eventually forced myself forward, but instead of approaching the door from behind and slamming it shut like an intelligent person might have – I walked directly to the opening. Before my hand could reach the door, a bright, orange light flashed from within the container. Though it nearly blinded me, I caught a glimpse of the contents before my vision flooded with spots; there was nothing…
Would anyone believe I found it that way? Would it matter if they did? Should I keep my mouth shut? What if it’s all a test? What could have made that flash if not a camera?! I’m not sure what kind of camera has an orange flash, but something made that light! Oh well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough; it won’t be too much longer before I hear the helicopter…
Ok, now, I’m scared; my phone has no service – I can’t even get these posts to upload – the storm is down to a steady rain, but the technicians never arrived, and Rick is over an hour late to relieve me. I feel a little better since the sun rose, but I don’t know what to do; I can’t sit here all day trying to call Mr. Cabrini… I’m absolutely terrified of what he must think… Not one word of this bullshit is believable! Where the fuck is Rick! How could he and the technicians just not show up?!
You know what? I’m screwed no matter what; I’m at least going to find out what it was all for. I should probably be conserving my battery, anyway.
If I don’t calm down, I really am going to die here… I had no clue how desperate my situation actually is until I walked through the rest of the warehouse… I hadn’t made it past the first few containers before, but now…
I knew something was wrong the moment I stepped through those double-doors; the boxes have never been moved since I started working here, yet suddenly, their numbers have doubled, and some are black! They’re only supposed to be blue and red! It’s like I’m in an entirely different building. I’m not sure how I worked up the courage to open a container after that, but I wish I hadn’t.
Maybe I should have tried another blue one, but I went straight for a black. It was caked in thick layers of dust, and the door was nearly rusted shut. I thought it was locked at first, but it finally began to creak open a little more with each pull. Inside was a sleek, metal box I couldn’t help but relate to a coffin. The lid was much heavier than it looked and crashed to the floor with an ear-splitting echo loud enough to drown out my scream.
Inside was a… shit, how do I describe that thing? It was humanoid in the sense it had two arms, legs, eyes, and ears… but everything else was just… wrong. Its skin was a pasty gray/green covered in a strange pattern that was either scales or a tattoo, but I wasn’t going to touch it to find out which. The eye lids split vertically, and the nose was only two small slits in its face. A cloth was covering it from chest to thighs, and I had no desire to see beneath it.
It must be an alien, right? I mean, I’m in Nevada, so what the fuck else is it going to be? I’m suddenly much less concerned with people figuring out where this place is; if I make it out of here – there’s no way I’m ever coming back. Bartending wasn’t that bad. Maybe I’ll check myself into a psych ward and spend the rest of my days in a padded room… That kinda sounds like heaven…
So, this is the part where you’re wondering, “why the hell are you still there?! Hit the road, dumbass!” Right? Well, I ran outside to do just that only to find my car gone! What am I going to do? I can’t call anyone, I can’t go wandering through the desert, but I have to face it; no one is coming…
Maybe I should do myself a favor and—
Shit, shit, shit… I was writing in the office area, but now I’m hiding in the bathroom. I clearly heard a metal door creaking – it was unmistakable. Those doors are way too heavy for one to randomly open by itself. Why? Why the hell is this happening?!
Oh god no, please, no! I can hear footsteps out there… It doesn’t sound like shoes on concrete; it’s closer to the slap of bare, wet feet. There’s no entrance where it came from… only those damn boxes… Oh god, it’s getting closer; I really am going to die here…
That was the longest thirty minutes of my life. There’s no way I’m spending another night in that warehouse; I don’t care what’s in the desert or how far I walk. Who— or what— ever was walking around stopped right outside the bathroom and stood there for several minutes – sniffing. It sounded like a congested dog trying to get the scent of its meal. If it was the same thing as I saw in the container, I’m sure that’s exactly what it would think of me as – food.
The door doesn’t lock; all I could do was sit with my feet against it while bracing my back to the wall. My eyes were glued to the knob, waiting for it to turn… but, it didn’t. The wet feet returned to the containers, and that was it. As I pulled the door open to a crack, I worried it was a trap; that the alien was only pretending to leave. This time, I was halfway right. The main room was empty, but the double-doors leading to the storage area were wide open, and four sets of glowing, yellow eyes watched me from the darkness.
I didn’t wait around to see how they reacted; I ran outside and just kept going. When I got this job, I had to be driven to the location for the first week because the road ends twenty miles before reaching the warehouse; a series of landmarks gets you the rest of the way. Running into the desert was probably suicide, but I would rather be here than locked in a dark building with those things. I was hoping to find a camera crew that would tell me I’m on Scare Tactics, but I think I ran far enough to disprove that theory.
It was just after 2:00 when I hid in the bathroom, and it’s almost 6:00 now; this is the first time I’ve stopped, and I don’t think I can go one step further. I wasn’t able to find the first two landmarks, but I’ve found the third. It’s a giant rock formation and huge relief; I almost turned back several times, but now I’m positive I’m heading towards the road. If I survive this, I never want to be near sand again. The wind blows constantly, and thousands of tiny grains shoot through my clothes and into my skin; these rocks are the only shelter I’ve seen since coming outside.
The sun is setting, and while I’m desperate to find help, I feel like wandering through a desert at night would be extremely dangerous. I’m frightened of sleeping in the open, but I’ve been awake for twenty-four hours; I’m so exhausted my eyes won’t stay open much longer regardless of how I feel—
Fuck my life, what now?!
Either I’m hallucinating or several figures are walking towards me… they aren’t coming from the warehouse… they’re coming from the opposite direction! They must be hikers or campers! I want to call out, but with everything that’s happened, that may not be a good idea. They haven’t seen me yet – I’ll wait to see their faces before they see mine…
Five days later…
I don’t have much time; I’m escaping tonight, and my battery is down to fifteen percent, but I’m surprised it turned on at all. I want there to be a record in case I don’t survive; hopefully, it will find its way back to my world even if I’m not the one to deliver it…
There’s no way to say this without sounding crazy, but the multiverse theory is true! I’m in an alternate universe right now; the people of this world have created doorways to other realities, and I’ve been trapped here ever since approaching that open container the night of the storm.
I was right about that group in the desert; they weren’t people! They wore scarves around their faces – exactly like someone in the desert needs to wear. When I saw those, I thought they must be humans… But my mind only saw what it wanted to see…
They spoke kindly… sympathized with my situation… had a camp nearby… and a phone with signal! I didn’t even notice them surround me when we started walking, but there was nowhere to run, anyway. I realized something was wrong when their camp was actually a large, stone tower looming in the distance. I stopped in my tracks and was immediately grabbed from behind. Two of them dragged me the rest of the way. Their bodies were unnaturally hard and solid; it was like struggling against a steel straight jacket.
After that, they didn’t speak kindly anymore – in fact, they didn’t speak at all. No matter what I said or how I struggled – I was still dragged to the top of the tower. What I thought was a solid wall was actually a doorway; it split down the middle and slid open at our approach just like at a supermarket. None of the escorts followed me into the new room, but someone in a black robe and faceless, white mask already stood waiting inside.
The doors slid shut behind me, and I knew I wouldn’t be able to open them again. The figure remained so still, I was beginning to wonder if it was a statue when it suddenly stepped forward. Every instinct within me wanted to shrink back into a corner, but I forced myself to stand in place; there was no chance of escape, and I hoped to die with some form of dignity.
When we were only six feet apart, the figure asked, “have you figured it out yet?” I shook my head. The man sounded very familiar; I was positive I knew his voice, but my mind wouldn’t let me accept it until his mask was removed.
He was me, and he greatly enjoyed my reaction to seeing him. “Be honest, could you recognize my voice? Most think it’s familiar, but people don’t understand how different they sound outside their own head until they hear a recording… or meet an alternate universe’s version of themselves!” He laughed.
I barely understood what he told me about this place and what’s going on, but I’ll do my best to explain it. Everyone needs to know about this before it’s too late.
There was a vast difference between this world and our own when the Dinosaurs went extinct. In this world – not all of them died. A cluster of Raptors were able to survive, and just as we evolved from apes – another species evolved from the Raptors. I can’t pronounce what they call themselves, and I wouldn’t know how to spell it if I could, but the first half of the word sounds like Retarious.
They thrived as the alpha species and continued evolving to become what I saw in that coffin. When the cavemen finally came along, the Retarious enslaved what they saw as an inferior race; over the centuries, humans continued to evolve and eventually rebelled against their overlords. The wars lasted for centuries and millions died until a tenuous truce was finally called.
The peace lasted for a short time, but new wars were always started and the cycle would go on to repeat itself throughout their history. Only in the last century have the Retarious pushed humanity to their final breaking point. Most humans live under peaceful subjugation – like Fake Me – and are provided with comfortable lives in return. Their problem is the planet itself.
Global warming has had a major impact on the Retarious; the last thirty years have been especially brutal. They’ve lost a quarter of their population since 1990, and their numbers are still dropping rapidly. I believe this universe is in even worse shape than our own. I tried not to show surprise when Fake Me mentioned three volcano eruptions in the last year; I don’t want him to think ours is any better.
Apparently, I’m a brilliant scientist in this universe; when he got going with the technical talk I couldn’t follow half of what he said, but I understood enough to know how important it is to escape. Fake Me has dedicated his life to studying the multiverse theory and believes this world is too far gone to save; their only hope is to find a better one in another universe.
Now that he knows how to open portals between worlds, he only needs to keep checking them one after another. He says I can go home as soon as I’m willing to show him which container I came from. The ones in the old warehouse were thought to be duds, so he was especially fascinated by me. Overall, he questioned me for what felt like hours before finally leaving, but I wasn’t going to waste battery just to see the clock. Speaking of which, I’m down to five percent – fuck.
They feed me once a day – when Fake Me comes in for evening chats and asks if I’m ready to cooperate. I always refuse, and then I’m left alone for another twenty-four hours. My bathroom is a bucket that hasn’t been emptied since day one, and I’m so used to the stench I don’t smell it anymore. Most of my time is spent pacing, and even though the doors seem to open automatically for Fake Me, they haven’t budged at all for Real Me… until tonight.
I learned it by accident – I paced by like always, only this time, it started to open! I leapt back so fast I fell on my ass; if they realize they left it unlocked I’ll never get a chance like this again. I’m hoping their sleep schedule is similar to humans, and they don’t feel the need to leave guards outside. If they do…
The next morning…
I’m home, guys! Holy shit, I’m really home; I can’t believe I made it! Or how easy it was! I kept finding reasons to procrastinate – leaving this record, writing letters to my family – but when my phone finally died I didn’t have any more excuses! I marched right out of the tower and into the dark desert without seeing a soul. I worried about finding my way back, but it was a clear, beautiful night with a full moon, and the moment I saw that ugly warehouse in the distance – I ran for it. I didn’t care what was inside. I mentally mapped out where my container was, but I didn’t need the extra seconds; it was completely silent inside – no monsters, no footsteps, no open containers.
When I opened the blue one, I saw more of the portal form this time; it’s exactly like a miniature version of what I saw in my dreams. If I weren’t so exhausted – I would have a lot of questions about how that’s possible, but my brain feels like mush. As badly as I want this to be over – deep down – I know it’s not. There’s no one at the warehouse in my world, either, and the power is still out… But this is definitely my universe because my Reddit account and car exist once again.
I drove for twenty minutes – just far enough to be away from the warehouse but still have a clear view in every direction. I want to get this story posted before anything else has a chance to happen… especially since I’ve just realized something terrifying…
My escape really was easy… Do you guys think maybe it was too easy… could I have been followed? If you live in Nevada, please consider getting out of the area for a while; I sure am.