Job hunting can be tough, especially if you’re an idiot like me.
Now, I wasn’t exactly an idiot, but I didn’t have much of a qualification to do, well, anything. Even worse, my CV was riddled with blank spots, unemployment time and questionable positions.
As you can imagine, my chances in the competitive job market were pretty damn low.
The ever-lasting pandemic didn’t help. After trying my luck at finding a job for a few months, I gave up and spent my days sulking in front of Netflix.
It was my friend Robert who came to my rescue. He’d recently become a department manager at a wholesale company. After lamenting to him one evening, he told me that his department was understaffed and looking for new hires.
I was psyched, to say the least. I went to the job interview the next day with high aspirations of making it in the business world. In my mind, I already saw myself negotiating big time contracts with companies such as Mercedes or Porsche.
The moment I arrived at the office, I was already skeptical. It was a giant, old building complex, but Robert’s company was restricted to only one of its wings.
Even though I made my way inside and, after some confusion, found myself in the recruiter’s office. The man gave me a friendly smile, but I noticed his probing stare.
“Well, glad to have you here, Mr. Gerhardt. Mr. Richter already told us you’re interested in a position as a janitorial assistant. Before we start, I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
“Of course, I was informed that Mr. Richter already discussed the details of your position?”
He gave me a questioning look.
“Ah, yeah, he did, sorry about that,” I brought out when I’d gotten over the initial shock.
Robert, that stupid fucking Robert. He’d told me he’d become a manger, but he hadn’t told me he was a freaking facility manager!
And of course, the dumbass I was, I hadn’t even bothered of asking him or checking anything about the position.
As I answered question after question, I considered more than once to just tell the man I didn’t want to work as a freaking janitor, but did I really want to go back to living on welfare? Did I want to go back to sitting in my shitty apartment day after day doing nothing?
No, I decided, and so I went with it and did the best I could. A few days later, I was informed that I’d been officially hired as a janitorial assistant.
I stared at the letter with a mixture of proudness and disdain.
When Monday arrived, Robert greeted me right in front of the building with a big smile on his face.
“Well then, Mr. Gerhardt,” he started in a pompous voice. “It seems you’re my new assistant, so how about I show you-“
“Cut the crap man.”
“Mr. Gerhardt, I like to inform you, that behavior like this is not acceptable.”
“Come on man, knock it off, just show me the freaking janitor’s closet so we can get to work.”
“You mean the facility manager’s office,” he corrected me.
I groaned, but followed him inside as he led me to our ‘office.’
Needless to say, the job sucked, and working with Robert wasn’t as fun as I’d imagined.
He was, for all intents and purposes, my superior, and he made sure I knew it. Even when I confronted him about it, he told me it was all for my own good and so I’d learn the ins and outs of the job. Yeah, sure, scrubbing toilets is really hard to learn. Fuck, Robert, and fuck this job!
Still, I had to admit it didn’t feel half bad to be doing something.
It was a few days into the job when I learned of the worst part: supply deliveries.
Once a week, the company ordered office and packaging supplies in bulk. Every Wednesday morning stacks upon stacks of printing paper, printer cartridges, boxes and other packaging materials arrived.
Robert was quick to inform me it was our duty to get it all up to the second and third floor offices.
“All right, where’s the elevator?”
Robert gave me a look of misery.
“No elevator,” he said as he picked up the first of the many boxes and made his way to the stairs.
“Hold on, what do you mean, there’s no elevator?”
He shrugged. “Guess they never saw the need to install one.”
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” I cursed.
It took us almost all morning to bring everything up to the offices and once we were done, the only thing I felt about my legs and arms was a throbbing pain. Even worse, it was barely noon, and we still had to take care of all our regular duties.
When I fell asleep that night, I was more exhausted than I’d been in years. Even my dreams comprised nightmares about endless staircases.
I’d been working as a janitor for two months when I made a discovery that both surprised and infuriated me.
It was Friday afternoon. I’d just finished cleaning the first floor and was getting rid of some garbage when I decided to take a peak in one of the other parts of the building complex.
I walked up to a door and found that the general key actually worked.
This wing of the building had once been used by a different company, but had been abandoned a few years back.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I was just curious. As I made my way through a long, winding corridor and past empty offices, I couldn’t believe my eyes.
There was an elevator here, a fucking elevator!
“You’ve got to be freaking kidding me,” I cursed.
Well, there’s no way it’s working, I thought. The power had probably been disconnected a long time ago.
When I pressed the button, however, there was a loud ding, and the doors opened. I don’t know what I’d expected, but the elevator looked normal and in working condition.
I scanned the outside, then the inside, but there was no warning sign or anything. For all I knew, this building had a freaking elevator after all, and we’d been carrying boxes up the fucking stairs every single week.
After my discovery, I made my way back to the janitor’s closet to tell Robert about my findings.
I walked up to him and confronted him about the elevator, but he just started at me as if I was an idiot.
Instead of answering, I dragged him with me to the abandoned wing of the building and showed him what I’d found.
Robert looked at the elevator, then at me, and then shrugged.
“What’s the big deal? I bet it’s busted, anyway.”
Saying nothing, I pressed the button. The elevator’s doors opened with a ding.
“It’s probably busted anyway,” I imitated him.
“Fine, all right, it’s working. What’s the big deal?”
I sighed in frustration.
“Wednesday? The freaking supplies? Aren’t you tired of carrying that shit up the stairs every week?”
“Oh yeah, that’s actually not a bad idea. You’re smarter than you look!”
And you’re even dumber than you look, I added in my mind.
“So, you want to try it?” I asked.
Robert seemed apprehensive.
“You sure this is safe? We don’t know how long it’s been since this thing last moved.”
“Well, what’s the worst that can happen?” I asked.
“Only that we’ll crash down and die?”
“We’re at the ground floor anyway,” I said with a shrug and entered.
The elevator made no sound, the lights didn’t flicker, and all seemed normal.
“Come on, man.”
Robert stared at the elevator for another second before he joined me.
“I swear, if I die in here, I’ll freaking kill you!”
“That doesn’t even make sense!” I retorted.
“Hey, what’s up with all those numbers?” he asked, standing in front of the control panel.
“What do you mean?”
“There’s only three floors in this building. Why the hell does this thing go up to seven?”
I stepped up to him and couldn’t help but frown when I saw the various numbers and buttons.
“Might be a standard issue thing and they forgot to detach the other numbers?” I reasoned.
“Seen nothing like it,” Robert said. “Shit’s weird.”
“Sure is,” I said before I hit the number three.
The elevator went up with no problem, and we soon found ourselves on the building complex’s third floor. After we’d made sure a route to our company’s offices existed, we made our way back to the elevator.
As we entered, Robert eyed the various buttons curiously before he shrugged and hit the one labeled six.
“It won’t do a damn,” I started, but to my surprise, the elevator doors closed.
Soon after, it started to… ascend.
“Dude, what the fuck’s going on?”
Robert turned to me, looking at me in confusion.
“Haven’t gotten the slightest clue.”
“We both watched, as the elevator went up to floor number four, then five.
“Now many floors does-“
“Three!” Robert burst out, not even waiting for me to finish my question.
“So how the hell are we on our way to-?”
I was cut off when the elevator came to a rest and a loud ding announced that we’d made it to the building’s non-existent fifth floor.
When the doors opened, we found ourselves in an office, but it looked different from the rest of the building. The layout made no sense.
A giant, endless hallway spread out in front of us, one so long it wouldn’t even fit in the building.
There was an eerie atmosphere about it and a strange smell reached us. It was a mixture of sweat and an oppressively sweet odor.
As I looked down the hallway, my eyes hurt. The dimensions of this hallway made no sense. The same was true for the office doors.
It looked as if someone who’d never seen an office had tried to build one and had gotten it almost right, but at the same time, entirely wrong.
Suddenly, a muffled voice reached our ears. It was strangely high-pitched and indistinguishable. Robert almost jumped at the control panel and hit the button for the ground floor.
With each passing second, the voice grew louder and I could soon make out shuffling movements at one of the office doors in the distant. A twisted shadow pushed itself outside and began moving in our direction.
“Fucking close it already!” I cursed at Robert.
I shoved him aside and began hitting the button to close the doors repeatedly. Finally, with a ding, they closed.
“Freaking hell man, what the fuck was that?” Robert called out to me.
I slumped to the floor next to him and could only shake my head.
“No clue man, let’s just get the fuck out of this thing and never-“
My voice broke up as the elevator came to a halt on floor number five.
My eyes grew wide when the doors of the elevator opened.
This time there was no office. This time the only thing I saw was the grinning face of a man. It was so close to the doors, he must’ve pressed it against them.
This guy looked wrong. His eyes were wide open, his face comically long, and his smile was impossibly wide.
“A little room, friend?” he asked.
For a moment, I couldn’t do anything. I sat there on the floor, staring at the nightmarish figure in front of me.
With each passing second, his eyes grew wider and his smile seemed to grow bigger.
Then he pushed long, dangling arms into the elevator and saw him raise hands that were too bigger than any I’d ever seen. Their fingers were long and emaciated. He spread them out, pushing them towards me, and was about to touch my shoulders.
Almost by instinct, I pushed myself to my feet and retreated.
“Ah, yes, of course,” I stammered as I pushed myself against the back of the elevator.
The man was still staring at me as he pushed his lanky body into the elevator. He was wearing a tight suit, and I realized only now that he was hunched over. If he’d stand up straight, he’d be far taller than either of us, far taller than any normal person.
Once he’d entered, he turned his massive back to me and just… stood there in front of me, not doing anything.
In the back of the elevator, I clenched my mouth shut. In my mind I screamed at myself not to move, not to do a thing. For a second, I considered throwing myself at the man, pushing him outside. But after seeing how tall he was, after seeing those huge hands and his ghastly wide mouth, I just couldn’t move.
Eventually, Robert, who’d stood frozen in the corner next to the control panel, had enough. He reached out a shaking hand and was about to push the button to close the doors.
Before he could, though, one of the man’s giant hands shot forward and closed around Robert’s wrist.
He gave a terrified yelp, and I saw him pull back, trying to free himself. Yet, the man didn’t let go. Instead, he slowly turned his face towards Robert.
“I must insist, friend,” the man said, bringing his face ever closer to Robert before he pressed the button himself.
“Please, I don’t,” Robert started, but within a moment the man pushed his face so close to Robert’s they almost touched.
“Did you say anything, friend?” he asked.
And in that moment, his lips retreated, revealing rows of huge, misshapen teeth.
In the back of the elevator, I pushed myself as far away as I could. The man’s head, I saw now, was almost twice the size of Robert’s and for a moment I thought he’d attack him, tear him apart or bite his head off. And Robert, he just stood there, shaking in fear, his eyes closed. As the elevator descended, the only sound was that of Robert’s bladder emptying.
After what felt like an eternity, we arrived on the ground floor. The man was still grinning, but finally let go of Robert’s wrist.
His face turned from Robert to me before he spoke again.
“Thank you, friends, without you, I’d have never made it out of there.”
And with that he gave us the briefest of bows, stepped out of the elevator and skipped away down the hallway and eventually into the outside world.
As I stood there, I stared after him. His movement, his gait, his size. Nothing about him was normal. His legs moved jerkily, as if they had too many joints in them, and for the first time, I saw how long his neck was.
No, whatever was below that suit, it was no man, it wasn’t human at all.
And as I stood there, as I heard Robert slump down into a puddle of his own piss, I realized the most important thing.
It wasn’t what this thing was or where it had come from.
No, it was that thanks to us, it had been released into the world.