With bated breath, I waited for Miguel’s answer. Even if these recordings go back far enough, what if there’s nothing that appears on the video? What if it’s actually a ghost? Or what if you’re just fucking crazy? I didn’t know if I’d like the answer to any of those questions, but the state of not knowing was far worse.
“How far back do these recordings go?” Miguel repeated. “Not far…just a few weeks. Anything older than that gets erased. Why do you ask?”
Shit…well, there goes that possible avenue. I guess that the case of the naked trainwreck stays a mystery. “Eh, it’s not a big deal. Never mind…”
Miguel, obviously intrigued by the expression on my face, was not about to relinquish this subject. “Wait, wait, not so fast. What’s this ghost that you’re chasing? Where’s the last place that you saw it?”
“Naw, it’s late, and we both should get going. And I don’t want to waste your time…though…okay, fuck it, show me the tape for my hallway during the last week.” Now I’m using the phrase ‘tape’ too…just two old fogies in a basement.
“Sure thing, boss,” drawled Miguel, as the monitor on the far right depicted the scene of my apartment’s hallway. With a quick selection, he began to play the footage backwards, rapidly showing the pedestrian traffic of this human hive. After one entire week passed within the span of a couple of minutes, I let out an exasperated sigh of disappointment as nothing of import was seen by either of us.
I turned to Miguel in one last gesture of desperation. “So, are there any cameras in these stairwells?”
“I’m afraid not, boss,” he replied, shaking his head. “Just the hallways, I think. But, we can check real quick if you want…”
Possessing the dexterous hands of a piano virtuoso, the adept super earned his title of excellence as his fingers quickly flew across the board and started to utilize each monitor, all in order to cycle through the roster of cameras positioned throughout the building. After perusing the perspective of every lens installed along our walls, the monitor on the far right showed the final available perspective: the narrow alley on the north side of the building. The one with the spooky hand in the wall. Man…that thing still creeps me out.
I shrugged. “Oh, well…we tried. Guess that it’s time to punch out. We’ll call it a day.”
“Okay. Well, if you ever see this ghost again, be sure to tell me. When you say ‘ghost’, are you serious? For real?”
“I don’t know what I saw,” I admitted. “But if I see it again, I’ll let you know.”
“Okay, boss. I’ll just turn this thing off for now…”
Attempting to select a menu option on the screen with a label “Log Off”, his usually deft digits failed him, and he instead clicked the Reverse option instead. With a quiet murmur that sounded something akin to whoops, he tried to access the menu once again while the footage of the alley traversed the chronology of the eerie, narrow passage. Raconte-moi une histoire, camera…don’t let the past hour be a waste. Unfortunately, the camera ignored my plea; the video seemed to be a boring one of nothing. Miguel was just about to log off when I noticed some blurred movement of figures in the alley. If I had taken my eyes away from the camera for only a second, I never would have seen it.
“Woah, woah! Hold on, Miguel! Replay the footage for the alley…did you see that? It looked like there were people in there. Play it again so we can see it. Yeah…right around there…there you go. Thanks…”
As if seeking redemption from his previous minor error, Miguel worked with precision in order to concisely bring the recording back to the point of interest.
“Can you play it slow, please?” I asked. “Yep, like that…thanks…”
Following my direction acutely, the recording showed two figures entering the alley in slow motion. One appeared to be a policeman, and the other one seemed to be in some kind of worker’s uniform. The policeman carried nothing, but the worker carried a large bag that was full and slung over one of his shoulders. Even though there was no sound available, the obviously loquacious lawman seemed to be instructing the worker. They made their way to the door for the boiler rooms and the electrical closet, and using a key possessed by the worker, they quickly looked over their shoulders like thieves and then absconded by forcing themselves into the cave’s exclusive possession. Without any needed prompt by me, Miguel increased the rate of the footage until the two men had finally tired of their sojourn and departed the gate to Hades. Unlike Orpheus, though, they didn’t look back with any ounce of doubt. Notably, the bag of the worker was slung over the shoulder once again, but it now appeared to be empty of any contents.
I turned to Miguel. “Hey, so what was that about? Is there something wrong with our boilers or our circuits?”
“I don’t think so. I haven’t heard anything…but, that’s normal. Usually, Raymond takes care of that kind of stuff on his own. I don’t have the keys to that room for this building or any of the other ones.”
“The other ones?” I questioned with waning curiosity. Hunger and the longing for tacos were beginning to gain the ground that was currently held by my love for subterranean environments.
“Yeah, the other buildings where I’m the super,” explained Miguel. “You’re not the first building that Richie and Raymond put up.”
I nodded. “Oh…I see. Well, when you see Raymond next time, can you get the story on what’s happening down there? I think that the board deserves to know if there’s something wrong in the building.”
Miguel made an ‘O’ with the thumb and forefinger of his right hand. “No problem, boss. Next time that I see him, I’ll pass on the message.” And with a quick flick of those two same fingers, he logged off the machine.
“Thanks…Okay then,” I concluded, “Let’s call it a night. I’ve got some tacos de lengua y chorizo with my name on them.”
I couldn’t quite say why, but there was something about that pair in the hallway that left me with an unsettled feeling. Unfortunately, in the future, I would eventually learn the full extent as to how perceptive my gut hunch can be.
Peter Bolton is the author of Blowing the Bridge: A Software Story and has also been known to be a grumpy bastard on occasion.