Stanley was an average man. He worked at an office for a big company, and managed to make a few friends with. the men he worked with. Among these people were Tom, short for Thomas, Lou, short for Louie, and Sal. They have known each other for five years now, and made close bonds ever since. However, though, on one eventful day, a lot of things changed, and for the worse. All of these events have been transcribed from eyewitness accounts, and camera footage. It was just another work day for Stanley – he finished up some reports on what the company has been purchasing, how it affected profit and budget, the usual. As he wrapped up one of many, Lou got up and walked over towards him from a few feet.
“Hey, Stan.”, he said as he wrapped his knuckles on the walls of the cubicle. “Couple of guys just quit the night shift. Mind taking the job with Tom and Me? Should just be quiet, not too many people.”. Stanley thought on this for a bit. He did have plans for tonight, but he could get around to doing it later. Stanley just nodded in response to Lou, to which Lou gave a thumbs up, and walked off.
A few hours later, upon the clock chiming the usual time to go, Stan walked over towards Lou’s cubicle, meeting him there.
“Ready to head off and meet Tom?”, asked Stanley, as Lou gathered a few things from his desk.
Lou didn’t respond for a couple of seconds, preoccupied in organizing multiple things from his desk. His hair was ruffled up in a bit of a crazy way. Eventually, Lou just waved him off.
“Uh, yeah… In a couple minutes. Just head there without me – I’ll meet you there.”, replied Lou eventually. Stanley just shrugged it off, and began walking towards where Thomas would usually be, which wasn’t far off. After a minute, he got there, which he found Thomas hunched over his desk, tapping away on his computer, his dark hair matted tightly against his pale skin. Stanley knocked lightly on the cubicle wall, to which Thomas jumped lightly.
“…oh, hey, Stan. Startled me a bit there.”, said Thomas, visibly quite shocked at the sudden noise. Stanley eventually learned that was just how Tom was – easily startled, and didn’t care much for loud noises. He managed to startle himself a few times. Tom looked around, and asked, “Lou with you? I thought he was working the shift as well?”.
Stanley shook his head, and merely replied, “He’s not with me, but he is working the shift. He’s just doing… something at his desk. Don’t know what, he didn’t bother to tell me at all.”, to which Tom merely nodded in response.
Tom seemed surprised about something, then said, “Oh, did Lou not tell you? Sal’s working the shift as well. He mentioned something about ‘overtime’ and the word ‘yes’ when I asked him if he wanted to.”. Stanley nodded, understanding. Sal had been, as of late, been having trouble with money, either misplacing it or forgetting about it completely. Just as he finished this thought, somebody walked up behind him.
“So, Lou actually coming, or what?”, said a familiar voice. Stanley turned around, and saw Sal, a man with slightly blond, shaggy hair. Compared to Thomas, they looked like complete opposites – Sal was tan, blond, and shorter, while Thomas was pale, dark-haired, and tall.
Stanley nodded, and said, “Yes, he should- “
“I should what, Stan?”, rang the voice of Lou as he came around the corner, a slight smirk on his face. His brown hair was hastily matted down, with some parts still sticking up. Thomas waved lightly at him, and Lou looked at him, and asked, “So, what is it exactly we’re doing, now? You said we were just working the night shift, but you didn’t specify what we were doing. Same jobs, or what?”. To this, Thomas shook his head.
“No, we’re actually going to be monitoring the cameras tonight. Some are speculating that thievery may occur tonight, since a higher-up heard somebody mentioning coming in here at the dead of the night. Specifically, we’re watching the boss’ office, since it has information on everyone, and a few other spots, since we’re not sure if they want information or cash. Maybe both.”.
Everybody stood around for a bit in silence, then Stanley clapped his hands together and said, “Well, sounds great. Just staring at a screen for a few hours? Amazing. Where are the screens we’re supposed to be watching it all from?”. Thomas motioned for them to follow, and began to walk off towards an area Stanley rarely walked past. He had enough time to read the words ‘Security’ on the door before Thomas pulled the door open, letting everybody inside.
The first thing Stanley noticed about the room was as to how stuffy and humid it was, as if it never had air-conditioning installed in it. After looking around a bit, Stanley noted that this was actually true. There were no vents he could see around.
“Oh, the horror!”, Sal mock-screamed, “No air-conditioning!”. Lou laughed slowly, and lightly hit Sal in the arm. “What?” replied Sal to the punch, “No proper air-conditioning is pretty much a crime. A crime against us, anyway.”. As he said this, Stanley began taking in the rest of the room – It was not colored at all with any paint or posters, and was only lit by a decent amount of screens on the nearby wall, with lights turned off that Stanley could lightly see in the darkness, barely illuminated. On the screens were familiar images – the main lobby, a break room, and a few other rooms that Stanley knew.
“So,” said Stanley, pulling up a chair, “we just… watch different rooms, or what?”. Stanley sat in the chair he pulled up, and pulled one on his side open. “Well, I’m guessing it’s going to be all of us. Rest of you should pull up chairs as well.”.
“We’re watching a few specific rooms.” Thomas said, pointing towards the main lobby. “One of us watches the main lobby, since it would be the easiest to infiltrate the building through. Somebody else watches the CEO office, somebody else the server room, and the other… I guess just check around separate cameras. They only specified three rooms.”. As he said the name of these rooms, he pointed out which screens they were at. He was already sitting in front of the screen showing the main lobby.
Sal and Lou both pulled up a couple of chairs, and sat in front of designated screens. Stanley noticed that both of them, respectively, had the CEO office and the server room. That left Stanley to look around the building. Sal, however, did not seem to take it as seriously.
“Well, this is boring.”, said Sal, yawning loudly after the first two minutes. He stretched back in his chair, tipping it slightly. Stanley paid him little attention as he continued rambling on how boring the job was currently, for he saw something that intrigued him. He was monitoring exterior cameras, watching the parking lot, and he happened to notice that somebody – or something – was approaching the building. It seemed thin, lanky, and frail. It seemed human enough, but impossibly thin. It reminded Stanley on pictures he saw when he was younger about anorexia. It scared him, seeing how thin people could possibly be.
“Hey, guys?” Stanley said, cutting off what he guessed was paragraph three of fifty-seven of Sal’s rambling. “There’s somebody approaching the building… at least, I’m pretty sure there is.”. Upon finishing this sentence, Thomas leaned over, checking his screen. Stanley quickly pointed at where this… ‘person’… was. Thomas thought for a little bit, then sat back down in his seat, thinking.
“Well”, said Thomas after a few seconds. “…I can’t deny it’s approaching the building, but what even is it in the first place? I mean, sure – it does look human, but… it’s huge. It was standing next to a car, Stanley, and it towered over it.”. He reached to pull the screen up on his camera, but there was no need. It had appeared on his, shifting around in the main lobby. Its face was slightly illuminated, and unanimously, they all decided it wasn’t human. Sal and Lou looked got up and looked over to see what they were talking about, and it was clear they were revolted.
Where eyes would have gone, there were instead just empty sockets, filled with darkness and seemingly having no end at all. As Stanley said, it was impossibly thin, as thin as or thinner than a lamppost. It seemed to have no bones – at least, not in a human sense. It had no visible ribcage, and no bones seemed to pop out of its frail arms. Stanley would have guessed it consisted of less than a hundred bones. Where fingers would have been, there were just claws that seemed the color of the rest of it, but Stanley still couldn’t decide what it was. It seemed pitch black, as if it was sapping all the light out of the area. He would have been able to describe it more, but there seemed to be nothing else on it – no mouth, no ears, no nose. Just the blank, empty eyes, seemingly never closing, and those terrifying claws.
Sal clapped his hands together, and said, “Well, I’m out. Don’t want to mess with that, I’m just going to leave.” He proceeded to walk towards the door when he realized something – it was in the main lobby, which was essentially the only exit and entrance, unless you broke some windows. Sal sighed, and said, “Well – I’m just realizing we can’t leave as long as that thing is here. What do we do?”
Before anybody could respond, there seemed to be a faint, quiet noise emitting from the screen that showed the ‘person’. This would make sense, since all the screens captured audio, but this seemed clearer than the rest. It grew steady louder, going from the noise of static on a T.V. screen to what more-so resembled that of a loud ringing in the ears. After it was about to reach a level of what Stanley was sure it would rupture his eardrums, the screen shattered, leaving nothing but a crack in it as if somebody ran their fist straight towards it.
Lou, Sal, Thomas, and Stanley all looked at each other and seemed to think the same thing.
“What… was that? Did you guys hear that noise as well?”, said Stanley, rubbing his ear a bit as if it hurt.
Lou nodded, and said, “Yeah… head would’ve popped off if it didn’t stop, I’d guess.”
Thomas merely nodded, and turned towards the door. “We should probably try to leave. If that… thing… can tell exactly which screen we watched it with and exactly where the camera was… I don’t want to stay here.” To this, Sal nodded his head furiously as if he couldn’t have put it better himself. It was clear he was the most afraid of the four.
Thomas quickly rushed to open the door, and as he did so, a soft noise was heard. Thump, thump. Pause. Thump, thump. Pause. This continued, following the same speed. It got louder, but in the quietest and slowest way possible. Sal looked at everybody else, and he seemed a nervous wreck, his face running with sweat.
“O-Okay, I, uh… don’t particularly feel like dying. Can we, uh… leave? Like, right now? Please?”, said Sal, ruffling his hair a bit. Thomas nodded in response, but sighed a bit.
“The only way out is past it, and I’m assuming that the noise is coming from it. Best plan is to just hide, wait for it to pass by us, and run, as fast as we can.”, said Thomas, proceeding to hide underneath a desk. Sal followed suit, then Lou, then Stanley. However, Stanley realized something. It would go for them still, if it knew where they were. It would still attempt to kill them, no matter where they were hiding. Quickly, Stanley realized what must be done to ensure the other’s survival.
“Guys…”, said Stanley, his voice small. He cleared his throat, and said, “Guys, it knows where we are. It was able to know which camera to look through, which screen to destroy, which floor and area to come to. It will find us, no matter where we hide. I… I propose a distraction.”
It sounded like Thomas bumped his head – Stanley guessed he was trying to nod - and said, “Yes, I was thinking the same thing. It would hear us start to leave, so we should set up a computer to play a loud song or something, distract it.”
Stanley stood up, out from under the desk he was hiding. “No, I mean… a person. I’m guessing it can’t hear, since it doesn’t have ears. I’ll volunteer myself to distract it. It’s the only way.”.
Sal seemed to choke up a bit, and said shakily, “…okay. I see. When it comes here, get as far away from us as possible. Distract, yell at it, whatever. Just… try to join us, okay?”, and after saying this, he got ready to stand up from underneath his desk.
The noises got louder. THUMP, Thump. Pause. THUMP, Thump. Realizing this, Stanley stood on the opposite side of the room from where his friends were. They were positioned closest to the only hall that lead out of the, room, and Stanley the opposite side. Anybody walking down the hall would see him. Stanley stood straight, attempting his best not to freak out. It was slowly approaching, staring straight at him. After a few seconds, it passed into the room. When it got halfway into the room, halfway to Stanley, Stanley yelled.
“Run! Go, get out of here, now!”, he said, trying to make it as clear as possible. Quickly, he saw his friends emerge, all rush out, and could hear them rushing down the steps. The monster was still approaching him. It stared at him straight in the face, and Stanley saw no more.
“…and Thomas, Sal, and Lou all survived. They escaped the building, and the last thing they heard was the screams of Stanley.”, their grandfather finished, closing the story book.
His grandchildren applauded him as they sat on the floor, gathered around him. One of them, Stanford, said, “Wow! You sure do know how to tell scary stories, grandpa. Was I supposed to be Stanley?”.
His grandfather chuckled, and said, “No, no, Stanford. Name just popped up into my head. Didn’t mean to make it sound like you at all, buddy. Now, go on back to your parents – just don’t tell them I terrified ya, and you’ll ‘never sleep again’”. He let out another little laugh, and his five grandchildren all got up from their spots on the floor. After they left, the old man took a picture out from his pocket. It was a picture of faces he hadn’t seen in a while. The faces of Sal, Stanley, Lou, and him, Thomas. He sighed heavily, and said, “Thank you, Stanley.”.