The Night Watchman

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Horror  |  House: Booksie Classic


Richard wasn't one to frighten easily but when he started as a night watchman on a building site he would see something that would terrify him.

Submitted: August 29, 2018

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Submitted: August 29, 2018

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Richard Waters crossed the building site. He swung his torch from side to side as he went, watching the yellow glow as it lit a small strip of the dark site. The first night working security on a new premises was always a bit unnerving. Working as a security guard alone at night wasn’t for everyone, but Richard didn’t mind too much once he’d got his bearings. He did his usual checks, looking for holes in the fencing, any disturbances, listening for alarming noises. The light from the street didn’t reach across the building site much, so the place was a large square of blackness that was only occasionally interrupted by the odd light. He placed one foot carefully in front of the other as he walked slowly around the site. In his briefing he’d been told to stick to the footpaths and not wander across the site. He’d been tempted to quote an early 80’s horror film where American tourists in Yorkshire were warned to ‘Stick to the path.’ And of course, they didn’t and were attacked by werewolves. Richard shook his head. Now wasn’t really the time to be going over horror films. He wasn’t easily spooked but sometimes your mind played tricks, especially alone at night. He whistled a tune and walked on.

Having done his first round of checks he headed to the safety of the porta cabin. He stepped out of the cold dark and into the electric heater warmth and lamp glow of the cabin. He rubbed his hands together and flicked the kettle on. He flopped into the ancient arm chair with a sigh. He tried not to pick at the stuffing seeping from a hole in one of the arms. He went through the stack of yellow paged paperback books on the coffee table. There were a few Stephen King novels. What kind of person would read a horror story alone at night? Still, he smiled, at least it would keep you from going to sleep. He settled for a spy thriller set in the Cold War. Nice and safe there, he decided.

 

Just before midnight it was time to do his checks again. He downed the last of his mug of tea and folded the page over in his book. He groaned and stretched as he got to his feet. He grabbed his torch and left the cabin. Again he trudged along, following the glow of the torch. He mulled over what he’d do with the upcoming weekend. A few beers and a curry with some of his friends perhaps. He walked along the path, through the darkness. He turned a corner, the torch beam sweeping ahead like car head lights.

Then he saw it. He gasped and stopped still. On the far side of the dark building site was a figure. The entire site was cloaked in darkness yet the figure was bathed in an unnatural eerie glow. The vision was that of a man. He wore a long dark overcoat that swayed in a gust of wind that Richard couldn’t feel. Richard had never seen a ghost or a spirit before but he knew that he was looking at the supernatural. The ghastly figure stood, unnaturally lit and, disturbingly, seemed to be staring right at him.

Ice cold panic gripped him. Heart pounding, he turned and ran back to the porta cabin. He slammed the door shut behind him and slid the bolts across the top and bottom of the door. He tried to catch his breath and calm down as he paced up and down the small cabin. He told himself it must have been either his mind playing tricks or some weird effect of the light. Maybe it was both those things. Maybe a car had gone by somewhere over that side, casting its beam over that area. Maybe it was a hi vis coat hanging up somewhere that was reflecting his torch light. There was, he insisted to his worried mind, a logical explanation for everything.

He turned on the transistor radio. The chatter of a late night phone in filled the cabin. The DJ asked his listeners to call in with their ghost stories. Richard swore and switched the radio off.

 

By the time he arrived on site the following evening, the strange events of the night before had faded in his mind. He had almost forgotten about it, having decided there must have been some logical explanation. Whenever it did pop in his mind he shut it down quickly, repeating to himself that it must have been a trick of the light or something. He made himself a cup of strong tea, and curled up in the armchair with his spy novel. He tried to lose himself in the novel, focusing on the protagonists escapades in the old East Germany. And when it was time he pulled his coat on and grabbed his torch and left the cabin. He walked along the path. He walked around the site, making his checks with his torch. He hummed to himself as he went along. He was a bit more used to the site and walked more confidently through the darkness. He turned the corner, his gaze following the torch beam.

What he saw took his breath away. Standing in the same spot as the previous night, again shrouded in bright light, was the figure in the long coat. Richard stared in shock. The sight of the figure struck him almost like a blow. The figure was again looking directly at him.

The figure wearing the overcoat was again bathed in a strange glow. He stared right at Richard from the other side of the building site. Then the figure moved. He waved with both hands above his head. Richard turned and ran, his torch beam bouncing as he fled.

Richard turned and rushed back towards the cabin. As he ran a low whisper called for him to ‘Wait! Stop!’ The apparition was quite a distance from him but the voice seemed to whisper in his ear as though he were beside him. There was something about the way that the figure called to him that terrified Richard. He knew the figure meant danger and harm.

Richard dashed back the way he had come and stormed into the cabin. Breathing hard and in utter terror he bolted the door behind him. He flicked the radio on and found an easy listening station. The calming songs and syrupy delivery of the DJ helped soothe him. He slowed his breathing and told himself everything was okay.

He spent the rest of the night pacing up and down the faded worn carpet. He just couldn’t keep still.  He was afraid but repeated to himself that he was okay, he was safe. He just had to sit it out until the morning.

When his shift was over and the morning sun had started to lighten the sky, Richard unlocked the door and walked quickly, deliberately, towards the gate. He did not look back towards the spot on the site the spectre had appeared.

 

On the third night Richard started his shift already in a state of panic. A sense of dread and doom seemed to hang over the building site. He knew what was coming. He knew he would see the vision once again. By the time he was going to do his checks he was already absolutely terrified. He walked slowly down the path. He walked like a prisoner being taken to be executed, fearing where they were being taken yet having no option. He turned the corner. His eyes went to the spot on the other side of the site. Sure enough, the figure was there as it had been the other nights. The figure waved and called out ‘Wait, stop!’

As he rushed to the safety of the porta cabin the voice called out.

‘For goodness sake, wait!’

With his heart pounding Richard locked the door behind him. He slumped into the arm chair. He lit a cigarette with trembling fingers. Again he heard the figure’s words. He shook his head. He told himself he didn’t believe in ghosts and reminded himself that ghost stories were for children. But the words rang hollow compared to what he was actually witnessing. He paced up and down the cabin. He had to do something. He couldn’t carry on like this. He wasn’t sure how much more of this he could take. The only option he had would be to speak to the site foreman when the dayshift arrived on site in a few hours.

And so, the next morning he hung around the site. He wanted to speak to the site foreman and ask if anyone has reported anything strange. He would explain about the nightly torment he was getting by the ghostly image. Maybe they had uncovered some bones and that had led to the haunting. Maybe they’ll get someone to stay behind with him to witness it too.

The morning was bright and sunny for the time of year. He looked upto the clear sky overhead. It was going to be a lovely day. He walked quickly across the building site, heading for the foreman’s office. In his hurry, he stepped off the path and cut under some scaffolding.

A voice called out ‘Wait! Stop!’ Richard walked on. The building surveyor shouted again, more urgently. ‘For goodness sake, wait!’ Richard ignored him and continued.

The surveyor waved his hands above his head in an attempt to get his attention. The surveyor, still in his office clothes, waved frantically. His long dark overcoat swayed on the breeze. Someone else yelled about the unsafe scaffolding. The last thing he saw was the surveyor waving at him, framed in the morning sunlight. As the scaffolding collapsed on top of him Richard finally realised that the vision had been not been a threatening spectre but a premonition trying to warn him of disaster.


© Copyright 2018 CTPlatt. All rights reserved.

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