Friday, 20 October 2017

Five Nights at Furries, Night 2

TUESDAY, 5:53 ᴘᴍ

There’s nothing near me, so I slam the right door shut, and let out a sigh of relief, only to see that the light is still on. I don’t want the power to run out before the end of the night, so carefully, I open the door and check to make sure I’m still alone. When I see no one is around, I switch off the light and close the door again.
Last time I left my headlights on, I had to call home for someone to come give me a jumpstart, and was left waiting for hours inside a useless car on the side of the road. It’s bad enough that being in the city makes me nervous, but getting stuck here in the dark would really suck. I double-check that the doors are locked,  then begin to jog up the street.
Yesterday, I parked under the building, but because it's meant for customers, it cost me $30. It's bad enough that my secondhand car has crappy fuel economy without having to pay to park at work. Unfortunately, all the roads in front of the centre have no parking,  so I have to park down a suburban street l, then run. Especially on a day like today, when I'm running late.
I glance at the street sign to remember where I've parked - Duke Street - then head down the road, and across the way to work.
Walking up to the Doomben Convention Centre at night, it's a beautiful sight to behold. Bright colours of red and blue, smooth and geometric concrete and tinted, polished glass all moulded into a modern three-storey building. However, running towards the same building when you're late for work, those colours stand out to taunt you how far you have to go; the stiff, square concrete looks cold and unforgiving & those dark glass windows stare at you like cruel, judgemental eyes.
Huffing and heaving, catching my breath, I run up the front steps of the convention centre, where there are several convention attendees chatting, gathered around one person in a red rabbit costume. I give them a wide berth, and head inside. I see the short, dark haired, female guard standing by the door.
  “Hey,” I say, still catching my breath.
  “Good evenin’,” she says with a thick, Irish accent, nodding curtly.
I run straight up the escalator, and head around, through the room of chairs, and knock on the door.
After a few seconds, I hear a click. After realizing that the door was unlocked, I grab the doorhandle, and open it. I see Phone guy, sitting at the monitor, watching it intently.
  “Uh, good afternoon?” I say, clearing my throat and slowing my breathing.
  “Hey, come here, check this out,” says Phone guy, pointing at the monitor. I step closer, and see he has Camera 10, the ballroom full of sellers and tables, up on the centre screen. He is pointing at a teenaged girl, standing next to a table. She’s quite thin and tall, with tidy hair.
  “Uhh . . . what are we looking at?” I ask.
  “Oh, yeah, I’ve got you baby . . .” he mumbles to himself, and he zooms the camera in. “THERE! Look, she still hasn’t put the doll back!”
The girl turns from the table, and sure enough, I see she’s carrying something dark, hanging her hand by her side. Phone guy grabs the radio on the desk.
  “Operator to Tower, do you copy? Over.”
  “Tower. Copy. Over,” says a Kiwi accent.
  “In the dealer’s den, there’s a teenaged girl on her own, brown hair in a cream-coloured hoodie. She’s stolen a dark orange . . . teddy bear? A plush toy. Can you handle that? Over.”
  “Roger, I’ll handle it. Over and out.
The guy takes a logbook out of the desk, opens it up, and quickly writes in the timecode and details, then closes it up.
  “Right,” he says, looking at me, “all good.”
  “Do we need to call the police now?” I ask, and I turn around to look for a telephone. I see a motionless cat head sitting on the table by the desk, staring at me.
  “WHAT THE HELL?!” I scream and instinctively jump back, slamming into the door.
  “Whoa, hey hey, are you okay?” says the guy, standing up. I stare at the head. It’s the headpiece of a fursuit, mostly black fur, but with a bright, neon green nose; patches around the eyes and inner ear.
  “What the hell is that thing doing in here?!” I ask, pointing.
  “Oh, damn. You really are scared of them, aren’t you?” he says, smirking. “That’s lost property, mate. We found it in one of the rooms yesterday. Someone will turn up for it eventually.”
  “Okay . . .” I say, staring at the cat head. It’s bright and cartoony, but the slit-like eyes seem to follow me as I move.
  “Look, don’t worry about the head, man,” says Phone guy. He steps to the mask, and using one hand he turns it around the face the wall. But I get chills watching as it turns, the eyes following me and glancing out the corner of the eye to stare at me, before turning completely around. “There. Now, get changed and get started.”
It takes me a moment to move, still frozen and tense on the other side of the room, but by looking away, I head into the little locker room, and close the door.

I change into the dark pants and blue shirt, and I head back into the room, forcing myself to stare ahead, so I don’t glance at the cat head.
  “All done?” says the guy, glancing back. “Great. We’re good to go. Anything you need?”
  “Yeah, actually,” I say. “Uh, I don’t really know anyone’s name yet. It feels a bit weird. I mean, I only know your callsign.”
  “Oh, yeah yeah yeah, right . . .” he says. “Well, you already know mine, but Kelly, on the door downstairs? She’s ‘Doorman’. Om, the big guy outside the Headless Lounge, his callsign is ‘Bouncer’ . . . self-explanatory. There’s also the Kiwi downstairs, Peter, he’s called ‘Hightower’.”
  “Okay, Kelly, Peter, Om . . .” I say, and I realize that’s only three names.
  “Oh, it’s short for ‘Omeo’. I think it’s Japanese or something,” says Phone guy. “And before I forget, you were asking about the police before. Remember, we don’t ever call the police.”
  “. . . what? Wait, what if there’s a cri-”
  “Look, down here . . .” says Phone guy, and he gestures to me as he kneels down and points under the desk. “This is our panic button, if there’s any emergency that needs the police, press that.”
There’s a little, grey box screwed into the side of the drawer section under the desk, with a big, bright red button on it that says ‘PUSH’.
  “So, you push that if you see a crime?” I ask.
  “Well . . . yes and no,” he says, getting to his feet again. “Not any crime. Like, the thief before? Tower took her to the shopkeeper, and they call the police if they want to press charges. We don’t call the police on the victim’s behalf, unless someone is in immediate danger.”
  “Like yesterday?” I say as I stand up again, rubbing the back of my neck. “Does that mean I should have pressed the button when that guy attacked people?”
  “Look, maybe . . .” he shrugs as he sighs softly. “I’d need to check the tapes. You were calling in a blacklist, not an assault. And you did good under pressure, kid, don’t forget that. But in future, as soon as anyone is in danger, or it looks like something is going to be more than we can handle? Hit that button.”
  “Okay, got it. Danger, hit the button,” I say.
  “Exactly,” he says, as I stand up. “Oh, one more thing. I spoke to your dragon lady again-”
  “-who?” I say
  “ . . . you remember? Cranky chica? Called you a moron.”
  “Ohhh, right. Dragon costume, yeah.”
  “Right, well, in my follow-up, she told me that her attacker wasn’t wearing a horse mask, it was more like a dog. So, we’re still looking for our mismatched attacker.”
  “So, there were two guys in mixed up costumes.”
  “I don’t know,” he says. “He still had a purple tail. Guy could’ve just switched, y’know? Anyway, I gotta hit the floor . . .”
He steps outside and closes the door behind him. I lock the door behind him, then sit down at the monitors.
I quickly check through all the cameras, to be sure there’s nothing weird going on. All I see is that Peter is watching that girl as she talks animatedly to a shop owner, probably pleading for leniency, but of course, I can’t hear since there’s no sound.
Other than that, there’s a panel going on in the First Exhibition Hall about writing, I can tell because three people out of costume are sitting at a table with a banner across the front that reads: How to Write a Tail
Other than that, it seems pretty mild. So, I switch the monitor to Tour through the cameras, and try to relax.
I hear a light tapping sound, and when I lean back in my chair, I realize it’s my leg. My foot is bouncing, restlessly. I step forward with both feet, so they can’t bounce, but I still feel tense. I use the controller to flick through the cameras again, but there are dull images of people standing around chatting, browsing toys, pictures and products, sitting and listening to a presentation. There’s nothing going on, but I still feel tense.
I push back in my chair, and sigh. I feel like I’ve been running. I glance around, and I get chills when I look at the black furry headpiece, facing the wall behind me. It’s the head . . . I’m still wound up because of this stupid phobia of this stupid costume and it’s stupid, plastic eyes. I stand up from the chair, and walk up to the head. The coffee table it’s sitting on is only as tall as my ankles, so I bend over and poke it.
It squishes under my finger, making me step back and shake my finger.
  “Ughk, it’s soft . . .” I cry out. I was expecting it to be hard, like a safety helmet with fur on top. I reach out again and poke it. It actually morphs a bit under my hand, and squishes, kind of like a couch cushion. I poke at the ears, and they are a bit harder, like the plastic from a cheap, plastic folder. So, it moves, but it’s rigid enough to keep the ears upright.
I place my hand on top of the head, and I’m surprised by how soft the fur is. I expected it to be a bit rough, and feel scratchy and artificial, but it’s as soft as a fluffy teddy bear.
I exhale softly, and put my palm on top of the head, then I turn it around slowly. As soon as I see the eye, peering at me from the corner of the socket, I stop and even more slowly, I lean down and turn the head around. The eyes follow me, looking right at me as I turn it around.
  “How do you do that . . .” I mumble. I slowly move my hand towards one of the eyes, but as I do my heart begins to race. I feel like, any second, it’s going to get mad at me and bite me. I feel the plastic whiskers scratch my hand and I flinch. Sighing heavily, I stop, stand up and walk away, facing the other wall.
  “No, stupid stupid,” I say to myself. I glance back at the head, which from this high angle, looks like it’s frowning up at me. “It’s just a mask . . . it’s just a mask . . .”
I quickly head over and kneel down, and I place my fingers inside the socket, created by the furry cheek and brow of the cat face. I run my finger against the inside of the eye, and I feel a soft, thin material, but when I touch the eye, it’s actually concave. A plastic cup, with a slit-eye iris shape cut into it, showing thin, see-through green material behind it.
  “Oh wow . . .” I mumble to myself. There’s no life or electronics inside, it’s just concave, so as the angle changes, it appears to follow you, the same as the ‘hollow mask’ illusion. “That’s clever.”
I find my chair and sit in it again, staring at the mask. It’s still a bit weird, and I’m not calm, but I don’t feel as anxious anymore. But, I wonder how hard it is to see through those eyes.
Beside me, I hear the radio crackle.
  “Operator to Central, copy, over.
I wheel the chair closer and pick up the radio.
  “Central to Operator, what’s the issue? over,” I reply.
  “We’ve got a lost kid, five years old, wearing a yellow-” suddenly someone else with a panicked voice speaks, and I can’t understand, then the radio clicks.
  “Operator, can you repeat that? Did not copy, over.” I say.
  “Six years old, yellow shirt, shorts, dark hair, Caucasian. Last seen in reception. Do you have eyes on that? Over.
  “Give me a moment,” I say into the radio. I grab the controller, before I grab the radio again. “Over.”
I check the cameras, and most of the people on the camera are adults, since it’s so late, so, after checking through the first few cameras, the little girl standing by a stall with lots of videogames, sticks out like a sore thumb. She fits the description.
  “Operator, this is Central, there’s a girl on her own near one of the stalls, just ten metres or so from the . . . left door. Over.”
  “Roger that, over and out.
I watch as, after about twenty seconds, Phone guy, leading two men, enters the view on the camera. One of the men grabs the girl in a hug, then picks her up to carry her on his hip, the other man talks to the shop owner, before shaking his hand. The two guys thank Phone guy, the one with empty hands even gives him a hug, then they head out the door. I watch as he grabs the radio.
  “We’ve found the lost girl. It’s all sorted, over and out.”
  “I saw that. I should hug you myself, over.”
  “Ha. Ha. Ha. Out.” he replies. He turns and sees the camera that I'm watching him from and, facing me, he flips me the forks, then wanders off camera.
It’s a pretty dull night. After the panel finishes, they pack up all the chairs and open up the partition between the two exhibition hall spaces. Then, after setting up the stage, they dim the lights slightly, and play music loud enough that I can hear the muffled, electro through the carpet under my feet. Then they open the doors, and about fifty people head inside and dance or chat, many in costume.
The room is too big for the number that show up, but nonetheless they spread out and dance, some even throwing moves in costume while twirling glowsticks. The “dealer’s den” even begins to pack up, with people closing their stalls, as people go dance, leaving just that group from the night before, playing board games, but this time the group is a lot larger, and every now and then Phone guy wanders past them, to make suer nobody is harassing them. So, I basically switch between Cameras 06 and 07, watching the dancers in the conjoined exhibit halls, occasionally glancing at the other monitor for the entrances and exits to the reception area.
After almost an hour of watching people dance, I start to wish I’d brought a sandwich or something. I didn’t eat dinner, since I was running late, I just drank a can of cola. I thought work would distract me, but there’s nothing to do. The music downstairs is playing some electro ‘Thriller’ remix, and on the camera, I see dozens of people in costume do the ‘Thriller’ dance, in unison.
I wonder how the heck all those people can see in costume, and not bump into one another. I mean, how can they enjoy wearing those things on their faces all the time?
I glance back at the green and black cat head on the table beside me. Because of those following eyes, it looks like it’s giving me a sidelong glance from where it’s sitting on the table.
I roll backwards on the study chair, and pick up the head in my hands. It’s not as heavy as I thought it would be, but still close to five kilos.
  “How do they see through you?” I ask the head. I peer closely at the eye, but it’s totally black inside, through that material. I turn the head around in my hands, consider putting it on, to see, but quickly baulk at the idea. I don’t know who wore this before me, they might have nits or dandruff for all I know. Not to mention, they wouldn’t want my head in there. I did shower today, but still . . .
I lift the head up and hold it at an angle, to peer through the neck hole. There’s a piece of t-shirt material around the hole, which I assume is made to hide the wearer’s neck when in full costume, so I lift the material up and try to hold the head at an angle, to see through the eyes from underneath. Because of the monitors in front of me, I can kind of see the light shining through, lighting up some of the foam inside the head, but I can’t see the eyes. I pull the neck-material as far as I can without risking breaking it, and peer in as closely as I can. I can sort of see the top part of the eye, it looks a bit like a fly screen net. I take a breath to peer closer, then nearly drop the head. I retch as the smell of salty, old garbage fills my nostrils.
I chuck the head onto the table, then deliberately fall out of my chair to get away from it, gasping for air, as my throat seems to shorten, trying to throw my stomach out of my mouth. I don’t throw up, probably because my stomach is practically empty  but I feel a burn at the back of my throat as I lie on the carpet.
  “Ugh, geez . . .” I groan, putting a hand to my stomach as I sit up then wipe my face. The inside of the head smells rotten, like old meat or like something had died in there a week ago. I take a deep breath several times, and swallow spit until the acidic burn in my throat starts to fade.
I look up at the head, which I threw at the table, it’s sitting on its side, with the neck-hole still facing towards me.
  “What kind of freak would wear that?” I say, as I get back on my feet. “That’s disgusting.”
I stand up and, holding my breath, I place the head upright and sit back down in my chair.
The acrid taste in the back of my throat is still glowing, so I quickly check the cameras on the second floor, then unlock the door and head outside.
I saw a water fountain across from the elevator, so I head into the empty room, the thumping sound of muffled techno resonating through the air, and drink from the refrigerated bubbler, to cool my throat.
I sigh heavily and head back to the security office. I open the door, and hear the radio.
  “-said, Do. You. Copy?
I pick up the radio, knocking the keyring on the desk as I do, making the metal clatter and tinkle.
  “This is Central, please repeat.”
  “Tower to Central. I’ve just heard a report of another attack, this time a gentleman was grabbed from behind, and tripped. Same description, brown dog head, purple tail, mismatched feet and a tiger suit. Over.
  “Copy that, Tower. Where was this? Over.”
  “Dancefloor in the exhibit halls. Over.
  “Copy that, I'll keep my eyes open. Over and out.”
I put the radio down, sit down in the chair and select Camera 06 on the monitor, looking around the dancing people.
  “Central . . . uh, you didn’t see it on the monitor at all? Over.” asks the radio. I pick it up again.
  “Negative. Over and out.”
I pan left and right, but most people are dancing near the centre of the second hall, so I switch the Camera 07. I don’t even have to move the camera, everyone is in frame, and everyone in a fursuit is either one or two distinct colour, pink, orange, green, white, a lot of black and grey, even some red, yellow and blue. But I don’t see any purple tails that are attached to a person wearing a brown head or tiger stripes at all.
I switch to the view of reception on Camera 05 and see someone heading across the floor, disappearing off the edge of the screen. I quickly grab the joystick and pan the camera to the left, as far as it can go, just in time to see a strange, short orange suit heading into the bathroom. I don’t see them for long, but it is impossible to miss that neon-bright, purple foxtail.
  “Central to Security, our target just entered the bathroom! I repeat, our blacklisted attacker is in the bathroom! Over!”
As the door closes I see the word ‘Gents’ on the door.
  “Men’s Room, first floor, over.”
I pan right again to see Phone guy jogging into the reception area, heading for the bathroom. I follow him with the camera, and see Kelly, the security guard at the door. She doesn’t move, but braces herself by stepping one foot behind herself as she turns and watches Phone guy closely. He pushes open the door and steps inside. After a moment, I see Peter, the tall security guard, enter the frame of the camera as well, standing near the centre of the reception area. We’ve got him surrounded. Suddenly, the door slams open, and a mismatched, orangey blur sprints out of the door. Peter steps directly in their path, but gets shoved to the side and the mismatched attacker nearly trips, hopping on one leg, with a ratty sneaker as they regain their balance, then run towards the exhibit hall. They run at amazing speed despite the suit, as they run towards the dancefloor. I switch back to Camera Six, and see them enter the mostly-empty space of the first exhibit hall, heading for the centre of the room before turning back towards the door. As they stand there, puffing, I see that they have one sneaker and a green, plush claw on the other foot; a white, puffy cartoon-style glove and a grey bearclaw; a striped, orange tiger body with ragged, pants that look like they belong to a pirate & a brown head like a dog. As the doors burst open, Phone guy and Peter run in together. Phone guy runs in an arc towards the dancers, trying to cordon the guy away from them as Peter runs directly at the guy.
Mismatch just sprints right towards the dancers. I switch camera and watch as he runs between several people. I wonder if he’s going to hurt anyone, when I remember what Phone guy said. I push back in my chair and reach under the desk to the big, red button. There’s a satisfying thunk as I push it. I look up at the screen to see that the runaway attacker is running through the middle of the dancers, jumping over legs as people throw dance moves. He doesn’t shove anyone or push, instead he seems to zigzag and run around people. Creating as many human obstacles as he can between himself and the guards. When he gets to the far wall, he runs full-tilt in a straight line along the wall, towards the other door. Peter raises both arms as he approaches the dancers, trying to get past without bumping into people, but Phone guy just turns back, heading for the first door he came in.
Mismatch slams, heavily, into the door, making several people look in his direction. But, he grabs the handle, pulls it towards him, then runs back towards reception.
I switch to Camera 05 once again, but it’s still looking at the bathroom, so I pan the camera back to look towards the doors for the exhibit halls. As I do, I see Phone guy grabbing at the mismatched fursuit. He grabs them by the hand, but they just jump to the side, wrenching their hand out of the glove, and Phone guy is left holding a silly, white glove as Mismatch runs past him, heading for the front entrance.
I tilt the camera down as he makes it to the front door. He hestitates as he sees Kelly. She is standing with both hands held up, aggresively. He looks left and right, then turns around and heads up the escalator.
I flick through the cameras, settling on Camera 02, the room full of chairs with a view of the escalator. As I watch the running guy, heading up the stairs, slowed down considerably, either from exhaustion or the pain of slamming into a door at full pace. As he staggers at the top step, I also see the water cooler, and remember getting my drink of water earlier . . .
  “Did I lock the door?” I mumble. I turn back, and see the little latch is horizontal - unlocked. I reach back, and flick the latch, exhaling heavily.
I look at the monitor again and see Mismatch being met by Om, the big guy, blocking his path to the other escalator. Mismatch turns and tries to run, but Omeo grabs the neon-purple tail with one hand, stopping him short, nearly making him fall over. Omeo grabs the tail with his other hand, then reaches forward to grab the short, mismatched costume by the shoulder, but suddenly the kid breaks free, falling over onto the carpet. Om is left holding the fluffy, purple tail, with the ripped, daggy material of the shorts hanging from the stump.
Mismatch then runs around the room of chairs and down the hallway. BANG!
I jump as the door behind me gets slammed bodily by the running fursuiter.
I turn around and hear them struggle with the doorknob, rattling at the lock. Instinctively, I back away from the door and watch the doorknob jiggling desperately.
After a moment, I hear a deep, throaty voice.
  “You ain’t get back here!” they say. The door stops rattling, and I hear a struggling noise from the other side. I turn back to the monitor and flick to Camera 01, just outside the door. I see that Omeo has grabbed the kid from behind, both his arms up in the air as he has him held in a security hold up under his armpits. As I watch him, I feel a slight pain in my chest and realize I’ve been holding my breath. I exhale deeply as I see Peter and Phone guy, puffing and wheezing, enter the frame and walk towards Omeo. Peter grabs his radio, and I hear it on the desk beside me.
  “Big Guy got him . . .” there’s a crackly wheeze, “All clear. Over.
Phone guy doubles over, catching his breath, then he stands up and walks around Omeo, and knocks on the door.
  “Jerry?” he says.
I roll back in my chair, unlock and open the door.
  “Yeah?” I say.
  “All good in here?” he says, still breathing heavily.
  “Yeah. I pressed the button.”
Phone guy nods, and gives me a thumbs up as he clears his throat, trying to catch his breath.
  “Great, just . . . stand up for a sec, will you?” I stand up and look him in the eye, but he just reaches past me, grabs the chair, then sits on it himself, moaning loudly. He raises his left hand, still holding the puffy, white glove. It looks like the kind of gloves that animals wear in Disney cartoons. Phone guy lazily chucks it onto the desk. “Count yourself lucky you’re not chasing perps yet, yeah?”

Omeo brings the guy in the mismatched costume into the security office, and we sit him on the study chair, facing away from the desk. I stand in the corner as Peter stands in front of the guy, and Omeo stands in the doorway, blocking any escape. They make him remove the headpiece, and I’m surprised to see a kid that looks younger than me. He’s covered in a layer of sweat, his brown hair messed up from the suit and smells like severe body odour.
  “How old are you, kid?” asks Peter.
The kid just glances around. He’s frowning, but he still looks very nervous.
  “Do you have any idea how much trouble you’re in?” asks Peter.
  “I dunn’ have to talk to you,” says the kid, in a slightly scratchy voice. “Yuh not cops.”
  “No, but you’ve broken several laws,” says Peter. “We have the right to hold you until the police arrive.”
  “I din’ break a law!” the kid yells. “Yuh NOT cops! I’m allowed to run when you chase me.”
  “It’s not the running, kid,” says Peter, matter-of-factly. “At the very least: Unlawful entry with intent; sexual assault; regular assault & I’m no expert, but I’m guessing you didn’t pay for that suit you’ve cobbled together, so that’s probably theft on top of that. With all that, you’d be tried as an adult, you could be looking at prison. Should I go on?”
  “I din’t have sex with anyone!”
  “You grabbed a woman by the breast,” says Peter.
  “I din’ know it was a girl before I grabbed ‘er!” says the kid, his voice getting high-pitched, he sounds like he wants to cry.
  “She wants to press charges.”
  “No!” screams the kid, pointing at the door. “What about those faggots?!”
Peter slowly breathes in then out.
  “Insulting us won’t make this any easier on you,” says Peter, calmly.
  “No, the shitpackers! Screwin’ each other in those suits! Arrest them!”
  “Nobody has broken a law, except you,” says Peter, sternly.
  “They’re the ones rapin’ kids! That’s what the suits are for!” he says, his voice full of anger and bile. “They lure in unsuspectin’ kids with mascot suits! Why else would they wear ‘em?”
Peter doesn’t answer, he just sighs and shakes his head.
  “They grope an’ grab each other all day, but you chase me! It’s not fair! Catch them!” he says, his eyes watery and his voice breaking.
  “Operator to Tower,” says the radio. “The police are here. I’m bringing them up now. Over.
The kid shakes his head, then he sees the cat head on the desk beside him, sitting in ‘Lost Property’. Then he looks at me, directly.
  “You’re one of them, aren’t you?” he says, accusingly, staring daggers at me.
  “Hey, you’re talking to me,” says Peter, and he steps in front of me. Blocking the line of sight.
  “Are you protectin’ them?” says the kid.
  “That’s Lost Property,” says Peter. “We’ve had a few reports of costume parts like this going missing. Do you care to explain that to us?”
But the kid refuses to respond. I think he’s decided that we’re not worth talking to.

The police take the kid into custody, and walk him downstairs. He complies with them, so they don’t even need to cuff him as they take him down to the car. Omeo heads back to his place, leaving just myself and Peter in the security office.
  “Well, that’s that done,” says Peter.
  “He was so young . . .” I say.
  “What can I say? Too many videogames,” says Peter.
Suddenly, the Westminster Chimes goes off in my pocket. I grab out my phone.
  “What’s that?” asks Peter.
  “My alarm,” I say. And I show him the screen:
12:00 ᴀᴍ -  End of Shift
  “Damn, that late already?” he says. “We got all tied up with this. Now, we’ve gotta close everything off downstairs. Why does all the excitement happen at the end of the day?”
  “Dunno,” I say with a shrug.
  “Well, you can probably go. There’s nothing to see here,” says Peter, waving at the monitors. “See you tomoz, yeah?”
  “Yeah,” I say, and I head into the little locker room.
As I do, I can’t help but wonder about that kid, though. So young, but he’s so angry and full of hate. What could have done that to him? What does he know that I don’t . . .?