“A little “author’s note” about me, I’m not a hero in this little memoir of mine. I’m just an honest guy trying to make a not-so-honest living. I’ve broken into countless storage units over the past few years. Call me a criminal, but I got my karma. Incidentally by someone much more fucked up than I.
You see some unusual things poking around in someone’s personal junk closet. Not to say that you can’t find anything valuable (I made a living off of it, remember?). I look at it as a garage sale, or maybe a dusty old attic. The best part being that all the shit’s free. Every now and then you get real lucky, and you come across some ancient family heirlooms worth more than a few bucks. I’ve drifted place to place, pillaging those rusty-lookin’ lockups next to highways. Sometimes I hit some suburban lock box, but that can be more trouble than it’s worth (had more than one close call with the occasional jumpy rent-a-guard). The point is, its become a routine to me. I’ve grown accustom to my routine, making it more of a craft or skill. But sometimes you open the wrong doors.
Some nights I follow the highway, others I maneuver the avenues and the drives until something catches my eye. A quick once-over of the parking lot is enough to deem whether or not I make this easy and just park up front. Ballsy, I know, but you’d be surprised how many times this has worked for me. When I hit the highway-side lockups, most people who work at these eyesores don’t care enough about their employment to bother with such things as door locks. There is nary a time where I’ve had to force my way into the front office. This gives way to manifests and keys of all kinds, absent-mindedly laid out for me.
That fucking night went a lot like that.
I was on some interstate coming from a bigger town with a mall. I don’t pay attention to city names or highway names anymore. My trip went from minivan-crowded intersections to trucker-inhabited highway in the blink of an eye. The interstate seemed to be a scar of civilization on an otherwise unblemished wasteland. Grass for miles under a grey sky, with the occasional treeline. What was more unsettling was the abandoned houses that looked like shipwrecks in an ocean of grassland. They were a small distance from the road compared to the emptiness behind them.
Then, I saw the lockup. The interstate eventually came to a more closed in position, as if the wilderness slowly crept up on you. The storage facility was barely visible through the tall grass and elevated position, very easy to miss. Oh how I wish I could’ve missed it. I took a small exit and a few backroads and there I was. It didn’t look like anybody had checked up on that place in quite some time, but a dim light on the inside of the front office was on. I wanted to get this over with so I parked up front and grabbed my crowbar.
The door to the office was unlocked (of course) and I was greeted by a creak as I opened it. The office was normal looking, not the best I’ve seen, but surprisingly well taken care of, contrary to the building’s outside. There was a manifest and a keybox (easily opened by my crowbar) and a hot cup of black coffee sitting on the desk. I could still see steam rising from the top of the pristine, white porcelain mug. One of many red flags I shouldn’t have ignored.
The manifest didn’t have all that big of a story to tell. A few average joes with a few vague content descriptions of their lockups. Nothing really caught my eye on the sheet. Looking back, whoever left that fucked up... thing, did an amazing job of keeping it a secret. Either that or it didn’t exist to anyone else but me and I really am out of my mind. Anyways. I wandered the paved aisles of the garage-maze, tapping each door with my tool of choice. A beautiful fall night silently fell upon this place, despite the unsettling atmosphere that has been lingering about since I hit this highway.
I had unlocked and pried my way into two lockups, with little to show for it. But the real “prize” of this treasure hunt was in the third.
What really drew me to this locker was that it had no matching key or place on the manifest. There wasn’t even a number on the locker. I was overcome by intrigue and curiosity. I wedged the flathead of my rusty crowbar between the cold asphalt and the aged steel of the door, and worked my magic. In my experience, the doors are general older and more fragile. The lock is easily scrambled and, in turn, the door lifted. It took me a good 5 minutes, this door was unusually fragile.
I rolled the door up and was faced with a thick plastic curtain.
At this point, I was veritably hesitant. I know, for a fact, that the other lockers didn’t have this. I reassured myself that something interesting is most definitely beyond this threshold, and I should just cross it. The curtain was ice-cold to the touch. As I opened it, I noticed that it was on a rail that traced the perimeter of the ceiling. The curtain went all the way around, as if creating an inner shell to the small garage. It was relatively dim in the space, but the streetlights dotting the facility’s aisles granted some illumination to the locker. There was a pull string and a lightbulb towards the center.
How I didn’t notice the statuesque figure dead-center in the room was beyond me. I had noticed the curtain, the cold cement floor, the light bulb. The space existing somewhere between all of these things had eluded me.
I steadily stepped towards the pull string. The sound of my feet contacting the cement floor faintly echoed throughout the room.
I grabbed the string, and pulled.
I was eye level with the grinning face of the figure who had eluded my vision standing in the most obvious part of the room.
I stumbled backwards and let out an embarrassingly high-pitched cry. My eyes could not leave the man before me. He had an equally maniacal stare as his gruesome grin. His eyelids were pinned to his lower brow with safety pins. I noticed profuse bleeding in the corners of his mouth. Dry blood at least. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the reflective surface of a very fine wire at each corner of his mouth running all the way to a series of rafters. The other containers didn’t have the wooden structures this one does.
No matter how much I wanted to run to my car and drive to a different state, I just couldn’t move. I was paralyzed by this dead(?) man’s stare. My eyes wandered to the rest of his body. His bare body was covered in scars vaguely resembling letters, as if someone tried spelling something on him. This poor man’s body was held up in an awkward position like a mannequin in a cheap department store by more of these threads. They were all over him. The slight glimmer of the threads contrasted bare flesh and blood.
Then I heard a loud clash of metal, and the room went dark. The door had fallen shut behind me.
Come this point in my story, I accepted imminent death. My wits were all over the room and I was bashing the door with bare hands and screaming. I just wanted someone to hear me, despite it most likely leading to my long overdue arrest. I would rather be in an actual prison cell than the one I walked into only moments before. I swear on my life that I felt breath over my shoulder.
The door creaked and came rolling back up. It was hardly a foot off the ground before I dropped to the floor and scrambled under it.
When I regained enough situational awareness to realize I was once again outside, I looked around.
Nobody else was there.
I now live in a motel down the road. I haven’t left my room in three days. I ran out of gas and I can't bring myself to leave this chair and do something about it. I still hear the same labored breathing over my shoulder ever since that night. I've been gripping the old double-barreled that I kept in my trunk. I only have the two shells that were loaded in it, and the thought of putting one of them through my head gets more and more appealing by the minute. There's an empty stillness, a void, in the middle of the room, reminiscent of that lockup. I can't tell if my mind isn't done seeing it, or it isn't done with me.
The breathing has been getting louder by the day. I swear I can feel it too. The coffee table that was once in front of me it now being used as a barricade and my chair is against the wall. The barrels of the shotgun are pointed towards the abysmal darkness.
(Writing becomes unintelligible)
I CANT DO THIS ANYMORE”
Notebook found in room 3 of Elk’s Motel, covered in an inordinate amount of blood. Buckshot had been dug out of the wall behind by a forensic team. Heavy blood spatter found on same wall. Primary ruling is suicide, yet the body has yet to be recovered.