By the end of my shift I was exhausted and still wet from the fire alarms going off. I started to wonder if I truly was losing my mind. Or had one too many drinks before work.
Neither idea gave me solace. In fact they only made me dread coming home to my presumably alive mother even more. I was so scared in fact after I put my things in my locker I went right to the phone.
As I was about to dial her number my boss came into the locker room. He shot a curious look my way which made me gulp.
As I started to dial the number he said, “Hey Jason.”
I retract my finger and look at him.
“I’m sorry about earlier. I know times are tough for you and I just gotta do my job you know.”
Words I never thought I would hear leaving his mouth
He looks down with a solemn stare.
”Anyways, I just wanted to apologize. I want to help you. Just know you’re better than that.”
”What do you mean?”
Unaware of my tone and the rapidness of my reply. I sounded more harsh than I wanted to.
”I mean, I know you drank before work today.”
We both notice a worker putting his things away look our way.
We both look at him.
“Mind your own business Micheal.”
He turns to his locker and continues to put his things away.
“Didn’t hear a thing boss.”
”Good, because I know you and Jason aren’t the best of friends.”
He turns to us.
”What do you mean boss? We’re best friends.”
He flashes a fake toothy grin, similar to the ones you see on billboards for toothpaste.
”Cut the shit Micheal.“
He slams his locker door shut and puts his backpack over his shoulders. As he is walking out he says.
”I was never here.”
The boss glares as he walks by.
He turns to me with an emotionless expression.
”I’m sorry boss.“
”It’s okay, but you’re better than that.“
My eyes start to well up.
”How? I’m not doing shit for her and she is dying.”
”But you are. You’re doing the best you can. Tell you what. Micheal can’t deal with the hours so if you want some overtime you can stay late tomorrow night.“
”Thanks boss. I really appreciate it.”
”Don’t mention it. Don’t mention the other thing either.”
He walks out of the locker room and I wait and stare at the vacant space he disappeared through.
I hear the front entrance door open and pray my boss wait for me before locking up.
I quickly dial the rest of her number for fear of this. It starts to ring and I lean over to stare down the corridor leading to the locker room.
It continues to ring for another moment. The lights above me start to flicker and my attention is drawn to them.
Suddenly, they stop.
The other end of the line is picked up.
“Mom, are you okay?”
I start to feel bad for calling then consider that she does in fact have a rotary phone by her bed so she didn’t have to go anywhere.
All I hear on the other end is heavy breathing which makes me even more concerned.
“Mom, please talk to me.”
Nothing but heavy breathing is on the other end.
“I’m headed home now. Please tell me if you are not okay and I can call an ambulance over and…”
”…You’re mother is gone”
The lights flicker again and I look up gulping. I look down at the ground. A tear trickles down my cheek.
”Who is this?”
The line goes dead and all I hear is the perpetual ring that sounds more like the death shrill I heard in my vision.
I throw the phone down on the table and sprint out of the training room. As expected, my boss is leaning against a stack of pallets.
”Jason, what’s up? You look as if you’ve seen a ghost.”
“I gotta go. Now.”
He leans forward and starts towards the door.
”Is everything okay?”
He opens the doors. Before sprinting though I say.
“I don’t know.”
The second layer of doors open for me automatically and before they open completely I squeeze my way through.
Once I am outside I sprint out into the parking lot and cannot see anything. It is as if I had suddenly went blind.
The mist engrossing me was thick as a cloud. It is as if the clouds lowered themselves to rest upon the earth.
I hear from in front of me.
I tilt my head out of curiosity but continue to remain petrified.
A few feet ahead of, barely penetrating the mist I see two lights and suddenly realize my mistake.
Seconds later, a truck emerges from out of the mist and I stare at it like a deer in headlights….
- Matt Gorrell (creator of mattgorrell.com)