One of seven stories From Shadow Harvest
by James Buchanan
buy it here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B002BMIYJO
Security guard Blae is pretty happy working the night shift at a factory, even if he is on duty on Halloween. He gets a little lonely sometimes, though, so he’s glad to meet Jack, the extra man the company has hired to keep an eye out on the biggest night for mischief all year. He thinks Jack is the hottest thing going, but is Jack going to be more than Blake bargains for?
Blake switched off the light in the office and made his way down toward the factory floor. Break time; now he could head to the lunchroom and whatever the vending machines might hold. The metal stairs boomed across the cavernous expanse of disintegrating deco. Built in an era when even functional spaces served as art, the building now moldered in a graveyard of skid-row disrepair. A quick glance at the alien green glow from his LED watch told him it was eleven at night. Shit, everyone he knew was out partying, dancing through the streets of West Hollywood decked out in makeup and not much else. And he was stuck working factory security on Halloween instead of watching the parade of eye candy.
Not that he really liked the fluffy bunny kids who turned out in force. Strong, silent, mysterious types were more his thing. Older guys who knew what life had to offer. Blake’s friends claimed he’d been born ten years older than he was. Whatever. Someone had to be responsible. Still, he’d like someone who could be a little responsible with him, understand why he busted his butt doing swing-shift security and missing out on “the good life.” The good life wouldn’t stay good forever.
He walked out onto the landing. Half a dozen plastic Jack-o-Lanterns shed their electric glow on the walkway. He shook his head at the fanciful grimaces before taking the stairs two at a time. Halfway down the risers it hit him hard. It really hit him.
Autumn had arrived.
Not in an intellectual gee-it’s-the-right-time-of-year kinda way, but a visceral reaction of Blake’s senses. Maybe there was something different about the quality of the moonlight filtering through the dingy, sagging windows high above him. Souls drifted in dust motes, their fleeting dances picked up by wan shafts raining to the floor. The smell of the air took on a faint copper edge. It seemed in an instant that the air dropped degree or six cooler then it really should have been. Maybe it was all or none of these things, but his body knew that fall had come. That was strange. Southern California and fall didn’t mix much. Usually, the change of seasons was signaled an abrupt shift from hot as hell days right into freeze your butt off wet winter.
Not like he was going to meet someone who could snuggle warm by a fire while working this gig. That came later, after college and after his car was paid off. Still it would be nice. Blake couldn’t remember the last time he’d gone on a date, much less gotten laid. Was it five months back, when he’d had an early summer a hook up in a bar on the beach?
Below, cloaked in shifting shadows, bulky outlines marched in rows. Consciously, Blake knew they were industrial sewing machines. Yet, with everything so empty and hollow he conjured up visions of hulking wolf-things girding up for war. Bangs and groans from beyond the wall filtered into to swell in his mind as their voices. They yammered for his attention with murmurs.
Holding his breath, Blake cut through their ranks, lest he rouse them further. The only presence sounded in his rubber soled footsteps across cement. A dank chill seeped up from the floor, nipping his toes and ankles. Just ahead loomed steel double doors; huge hinges and studded surfaces belonged more to a mausoleum than the plant where they rusted. Twisting flights of concrete cast angels, demons, maidens and skeletal knights supported a broad lintel. Etched into its surface, Men are mortal, only their bones and their works survive them. The saying always creeped Blake out. He guessed that some long dead manager thought it might inspire his workers to care. Probably didn’t succeed it any better than the motivational posters tacked to the walls of the office upstairs.