Three Windows, a Thunderstorm, and a Smile.

A few years ago I was working a security gig that involved looking out a large window and waiting for trucks to roll in so I could get their driver information and the haul they brought with them. It was an easy job. It was so easy, in fact, that it allowed my imagination to run free on more than one lonely occasion. I had several ideas come to me while I sat there watching the night sky with nothing else better to do. Here is one:

I haven’t sat down for over three hours. I haven’t moved an inch of my body. My eyes have been locked in one singular spot for almost the entire night. Rain splattered the windows around me and the only thing I can remotely hope for is the sun to rise before I blink.

The night began like any other. I stumbled, half-awake, into a ten by ten brick shack. This was our post behind the factory that pumped out nothing but smog and the broken dreams of people who wanted more out of life. I never interacted with the crowd inside often; I would just watch them drive off every morning when I was at the post in front of the building. I wonder if the other guard is experiencing something similar to what I am right now. If he is I sincerely hope he has a braver poker face than my own.

The guard I relieved of his shift left my mind wondering how bored he must have been to make the entire shack smell like he used it as his personal gym. The night was warm with a few gusty winds so the smell would be washed out after an hour or two of having the two sliding windows in the shack opened all the way. They were mainly used for gathering paperwork from the trucks that drove up to them so they didn’t have to get out of their vehicle. Since it wasn’t raining yet it worked to my advantage to keep them open as wide as possible, even if the smell of the factory seeped in a bit. By now I was used to that. Him? God no. With a few spritzes of air freshener we were in business and I looked forward to a long night of playing my handheld gaming device and maybe seeing four or five trucks before the sun even poked its head over the horizon in the morning.

In the next hour I met a man who felt most free in nothing but a pair of suspenders and another who had a hard time speaking English. He was polite enough and I figured in the fact his trucking company and trailer were from our neighbors to the north had something to do with his demeanor. He understood well enough what had to be done and he surprised me by following my hand directions pretty well. The stench of the previous co-worker had dissipated by that point and I was free to shut the two side windows until another truck came barreling through. The timing was perfect since moments later a few drops of rain splattered against the front window.

When you sit in a box for nights on end you come to appreciate a good thunderstorm.

A few splatters turned into a constant stream of raindrops against the windows. I sat back and kicked my legs up on the desk and took stock of the scenery around me. While the night didn’t allow for much sight outside of the many light poles strewn across the trailer lot and fence perimeter, the flashes of lightning afforded me a second or two worth of the stretches of grassland between the factory and homes that existed about a mile away. Before long I caught the twin beams of a semi coming down the road.

Another crack of lightning revealed something else up the road but only for a split second. I thought it was my eyes playing tricks on me and that the shadows from the light poles and gates had created something that wasn’t there but another bolt confirmed that something else was out on the road and standing right in the middle lane.

It looked like someone was standing about thirty yards away from shack I was in. Maybe it was forty. The light from the top of the guardhouse barely touched the figure and thanks to the downpour it was harder to see who was out there. Without the added light of the storm above I never would have seen it to begin with. The truck that had been rolling down the road much further away finally turned onto the strip that lead to my little outside office.

I was momentarily distracted  by the beams of light turning towards me and looked towards the truck instead of the figure in the middle of the road. When the lightning flashed again my eyes darted back to the black figure that was closer to my booth now and completely visible thanks in part to the large floodlight on top of my guard shack. It was a man, a lanky, tall man in what looked like a tuxedo or business suit. The rain made it hard to tell. He was pale, I knew that much and his eyes were a bright green. They were so bright I was surprised I couldn’t see them back when he was further away. The most striking of his features was a completely bald head and a smile on his face that looked impossibly wide. It was far wider than anyone who ever grinned from ear to ear.

Without thinking I reached my hand over to the phone to notify personal. I glanced down at the numbers available and then back up at the man standing in the middle of the road. In that split second he had gone from thirty yards to fifteen and was pressed against the middle of the chain length fence in front of my guardhouse.

I dropped the phone immediately and sprang from my chair. If it hadn’t been on wheels I know I would have knocked it over. The gate he pressed himself against was eight feet away from the large, rectangular window which was my biggest source of vision for everything in front of the guardhouse and that was when I remembered the semi-truck lights. The driver was getting closer.

I started waving my arms, screaming to no avail at the person who had a load to bring into the factory. The semi rolled to a stop between the middle fencing area. The issue wasn’t that there was a man standing in front of the guard shack. The issue was I didn’t want to have to do paperwork or have to explain why some trucker either ran a guy over or there was some altercation that could have been prevented. No one, and I mean no one enjoys paperwork. Regardless the man with the eerie smile didn’t move a muscle or react to the door of the semi opening.

What popped out of the driver’s side seat was a large man. Not large in the sense his staple was ho-ho’s but rather large in the sense that if I could call a guy large when I am well over six feet tall then this guy was no one to mess with. He had a rain poncho on and a cowboy hat sticking out from that. It was a neon green rain slick and the man began hollering at the creepy man that wasn’t blocking his way, necessarily, but was an issue I had to deal with first before I could get the trucker in.

The man at the gate didn’t waver. He didn’t move his head, didn’t move his eyes. His smile never broke.

I reached for the phone again and kept my eyes on the man. I tried shouting at the trucker to get back in his vehicle but chances were he couldn’t hear me. I could barely hear him. The large trucker stood there a moment longer, gave the figure that paid him no attention a single finger salute, and then turned away to get back into the truck.

As soon as the trucker took his eyes off the man that stood facing me down at the gate the man’s demeanor changed. His smile grew wider and my mind told me that it was impossible that his mouth could get any larger. Slowly it turned its head towards the trucker who walked back towards the truck but kept one eye on me the entire time. The man’s mouth opened and my heart stopped. Rows upon rows of teeth burst forth from the man’s lips and that wide smile turned into a gaping maw. The man’s upper body elongated, stretched itself and the clothing it wore until it stood nearly ten feet in the air and whipped to my left.

I couldn’t scream. I couldn’t say anything. I was frozen in my place as I watched that enormous mouth encompass the trucker whole. Lightning flashed and thunder struck as the trucker was cut clean in two. The thing struck so fast that I only saw a flash of the man’s lower half falling to the ground before it disappeared into the mouth of whatever the hell stood in front of me.

It happened in an instant and I am still frozen hours later. My eyes have not left the gaze of the man who stands at the gate. He hasn’t moved since he chomped that trucker in half and disposed of all the evidence into what I can fathom is a bottomless pit for a stomach. There is blood around the pale man’s mouth but he hasn’t moved. He hasn’t given an inch since I kept my gaze on him. I haven’t blinked for hours and the storm had already passed. I tried to call out on the phone dozens of times since then, calling for 9-1-1 out of muscle memory alone but I get nothing on the other end.

I pray that daylight will be my salvation. That whatever that thing is can only survive at night. I don’t know what I will do if the sun cannot save me because there is a fourth window in the guard shack. A small square window in the thick door that leads into the guard house.

And in the reflection of the large glass window I can see a smiling face looking in at me from outside of that door.

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. The events and people mentioned are of my own creation.

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