Categories > Original > Fantasy > Tradewinds 09 - "The Building is Hungry!"


by shadesmaclean 0 reviews

Gary Berkowitz

Category: Fantasy - Rating: PG - Genres: Fantasy,Horror - Published: 2009-10-05 - Updated: 2009-10-05 - 826 words - Complete

In one of the Harken Building’s many institutional gold halls, George slept near a t-joint between hallways. Near that point was a nook with a couch and a small table. George lay sprawled out across it, left arm dangling to the floor, a thin trickle of drool slipping from the corner of his mouth.

Such a vulnerable position for such a dangerous place as this.

The faint squeak of a lone uncooperative wheel tugged as his consciousness, joined by a light jingling sound, and soft footfalls. After a moment, George opened his eyes, blinking away at the inexplicable drowsiness that had been pulling him down even before the carnival incident. Just thinking about that snapped him awake several more notches. On one hand, seeing his current surroundings calmed him somewhat, but the fact that he only vaguely remembered falling asleep here in the first place bothered him greatly.

It was seeing the figure pushing the cart, and remembering his sense of not being alone anymore, that reminded him of why he woke up in the first place.

The cart was of the janitorial variety, with shelves and racks loaded with cans and spray bottles and other cleaning items, a space on the front occupied by mop and bucket. The young man pushing it wore baggy cargo jeans, an untucked t-shirt, and a cap that, George saw as he drew nearer, read
Harken Facilities Services. Casually chewing gum, the young man stepped in time to whatever played on the sleek, compact earphones he was listening to. Next to a flashlight on a strap, a foot-and-a-half of chain dangled from his belt, ending in a knot of keys.

Which George now realized was the source of that jingling sound.

Upon seeing George sit up, the custodian stopped in his tracks. He blinked, but didn’t jump, didn’t seem as alarmed as George would have expected. Instead, he pulled off his earphones, hanging them around his neck.

“Um… hi…” the custodian said.

“Hi,” George replied, his voice quiet and even, strangely incongruous with his childish appearance.

“So what’s your story?” the custodian asked, with a sigh that sounded exasperated but not at all unfriendly. “Way too many doors in this place to check ’em all… I wish the department heads could just lock up after themselves every once in a while…”

“Well…” George hesitated, thinking for a moment that there was something wrong with this picture, but, being unable to figure out quite what it was, he continued. “A friend of mine came in here, and I went along with him. He went off on his own, and now I can’t find him anywhere.”

“Doesn’t sound like much of a friend to me,” the custodian remarked. “And who might you be?”

“Well, my real name is Gary Berkowitz,” he replied, again pausing with that sense that something was amiss, then resumed, “but my friends call me ‘George’. I try writing my name on a piece of paper,” all the while trying to remember why he would need to
write it, “and they just ask me, ‘Who the hell is Gary Berkowitz?’ And then they laugh. I can’t even tell if they’re being serious…” He sighed. “But I guess we get along okay most of the time.”

“That’s good,” the custodian said, “though you do kinda
look like a George…”

Then he turned to the restrooms across the hall from them. Between the two restroom doors was a closet. The custodian looked at his keys— and George was certain they had changed while he wasn’t looking— with a slightly befuddled look, then brightened as he found the key he was looking for.

As the young man opened the custodial closet and started restocking his cart, George asked him, “How can you work in here? Aren’t you scared of this place?”

“Yeah, I was,” the custodian replied. “Sometimes I still am. Even before I started, I was told it was going to be a big, spooky old building. Most of the time, I’m pretty sure I’m not alone in here, but I just remember what my supervisor told me.
Don’t let the building overwhelm you.

George had no reply to that. The idea this man put forward was overwhelming in and of itself.

“It’s good advice, Gary. Keep it in mind.”

“I’ll try,” George, who was once Gary Berkowitz, told him.

The custodian, meanwhile, had finished resupplying whatever he needed, having donned rubber gloves, and proceeded to enter the men’s room holding a small bucket in each hand. “Scrubby for sinks and scrungy for toilets.” Raising each one in turn. “ ’Fraid I’ve gotta get back to work, my friend. You’re really not supposed to be here, so please find your buddy and be on your way. Good luck.”

George was left just sitting there, wondering how he was going to do that.
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