Thursday, 19 October 2017

Five Nights at Furries, Night 1

MONDAY, 6:06 ᴘᴍ

Turning to the left, I press the button to close the door. Suddenly, the door in front of me slams shut with a metal clang making me jump.
  “Creepy old lift . . .” I mumble to myself, pressing the button for Level 1, labelled Boulevard, and I hold the railing as the cabin moves up from the parking level. The doors finally open, and I step out to see the bright, spacious entrance to the building with dozens of people wandering around. And I am caught off-guard by the sight of several people in what looks like mascot costumes. Stepping out and to the side of the elevator I reach into my pocket to pull out the folded up piece of paper inside, and read it:
HELP WANTED - Doomben Convention and Community Exhibition Centre looking for security guard to work the nightshift. Monitor cameras, ensure the safety of patrons and staff. $400 a week.To apply call: (07) 3268 . . .
  “Great,” I mumble, scrunching up the paper and putting it back in my pocket.
The ad doesn’t say where I’m supposed to go, or who I’m supposed to talk to, so what do I do now?
I see a customer service desk over to the side, a long, perfectly carved wooden bench with several uniformed people behind it, so I head over. There’s a queue of people, two of which are in animal costumes, a fluffy, pink squirrel and a white tiger. I stand back as they speak to the staff.
As the tiger nods and turns away, they turn towards me, and their green, plastic eyes seem to follow me as they walk, making me freeze on the spot, my muscles tensing up. The tiger gives a friendly wave, but I stand stiff until they walk away, then let out a sigh. Ever since I was a kid I always found mascot costumes creepy. I know it’s silly, but I can’t help but get the chills. After the squirrel speaks to them and hops away excitedly, I walk up to the desk.
  “How can I help you?” asks a young man with a thin, boyish face and styled hair.
  “Hey, uh, I’m here for the security guard job. I spoke to a guy on the phone, I don’t know what his name was, though . . .”
  “That’s fine, just head up to the Terrace, just up the escalator, there. Security office is to the left, you can’t miss it. They’ll sort you out.”
  “Okay, thank you,” I say, and turn back to see several people sitting cross-legged on the floor, creating a kind of alley through the place as more people in animal costumes walk about and wave at people. I could just take the lift, but I don’t want to get lost following the directions the guy gave me, so I step up beside some people who were sitting on the ground. After waiting for a gap in the group of marching mascots, I quickly crossed the room, between a panda and an unidentifiable, puffy pink thing, and head around to the other side of the escalator to head upstairs.
I get to the top of the escalator and I’m standing on a balcony overlooking the reception desk downstairs. I turn left, and I see the elevator, and some chairs like a kind of waiting room or an airport, but not much else.
So much for “you can’t miss it” . . . either that guy sucks at directions, or I’m stupid. I turn further left and see a little hallway, with a sign on a closed door marked “Security”.
  “It’s official, I’m stupid,” I say, walking up to the door. I give it a light courtesy knock, then grab the handle to open the door, but it doesn’t budge. The door is locked. “Hello?”
There’s a click and the door opens, revealing a middle-aged black man in a light-blue guard uniform and dark trousers. He looks me up and down.
  “Can I help you?” he says.
  “Yeah, uh . . . I’m here about the job. I was told to come in tonight?” I say, inflecting the statement like a question.
  “Oh, right, you must be Jerry! Come in, come in.” says the guy, smiling. He ushers me inside, then closes the door behind him and locks it. “It’s good to meet you. I’m the man you spoke with on the phone, earlier.”
I look around the security office. It’s barely bigger than my bedroom, with a coffee table to the side with a trash can and an archive box under it, some filing cabinets to the left, next to what looks like a closet, and to the right is a desk with three computer monitors and a desk fan.
  “Right,” I say, looking around “Like I said, I’m new to this, but uh . . . I’m excited about the opportunity.”
  “Hey, man, it’s fine, the interview is over. You’re on the team.” says the guy, sitting down on the study chair in the middle of the room. “I know it can be overwhelming, but trust me, there’s nothing to worry about.”
  “Okay . . . but, y’know, I’ve never done security before, only retail. And I’m not really that intimidating,” I say. Even sitting down, I’m barely a head taller than this guy.
  “That’s fine, that’s stuff you can get the hang of over time. but let’s just worry about getting you through your first week, okay?”
  “Okay,” I say, trying to sound confident.
  “Great, now . . . since you’re new, we won’t go putting you on the floor, you’re going to be doing camera surveillance. I just need you to keep an eye on these cameras. If you notice anything, radio one of the guys on the floor and we’ll do the rest. Then, you just write the incident with the time, here” - he points at the timestamp in the corner of one of the monitors, then he opens one of the drawers in the desk. “In this logbook here. That way we can report it to management, or contact the police, all that good stuff.”
  “Sounds simple enough,” I say.
  “Oh yeah, it’s a breeze,” says the guy. “Here, let me just show you how this works.”
He turns around and I step forward to watch as he puts his hands on what looks like a keyboard consisting of a numpad, direction keys and a little joystick.
  “So, this controls all the cameras?” I ask.
  “Well, not ‘all’. This is a PTZ Controller. Pan, Tilt, Zoom. It switches between the cameras that move. But we have a few fixed cameras, on these two monitors.” He points to the monitor on the right. It showed four different angles of a dimly-lit, wood-panelled room with ladders, plastic, dropsheets and wires scattered around. “Now, don’t worry too much about this. This is upstairs, the plaza level. It’s being renovated, putting in speakers and lighting, but the workers are only here during the day, it should be empty. Of course, if anyone IS up there, radio immediately, but for the most part you can ignore it.”
He turns to the monitor on the left.
“This always shows the front entrance, reception desk, elevator and the stairwell. That way you can always see who’s coming and going. Anyway . . . the controller. This controls cameras on the centre screen here. To select a camera, press ‘Cam’, then type in the number,” the guy taps ‘0’, ‘0’, ‘5’, then ‘Ent’ and the centre screen changes to show the middle of the first floor, with the people in costumes still dancing around. “Now, using this little controller, up and down tilts to the ceiling and floor, left and right pans left and right. And if you turn it like a dial, clockwise is zoom . . . and anti-clockwise is zoom out.”
  “Cool . . .” I say.
  “Now, you can play with this to get the hang of it. But, for the most part, we leave these scanning. On any camera, if you press ‘Pre’ then ‘Function 1’, it will automatically pan left and right. And if you press ‘Tour’, the monitor will go through all of its cameras one by one. Make sense?”
 “Yeah, absolutely,” I say.
  “There, see? I told you it was bang-up easy,” he said, standing up. “We just need to get you a uniform and a radio, and you can start. Any questions?”
  “Actually, yeah, uh . . .” I rub the back of my head, nervously, “What’s with all the animal suits downstairs?”
  “What, the furries?” says the guy with a chuckle.
  “Furries?” I ask.
  “Yeah, y’know, folks that like dressing up as animals to get their rocks off. You’ve never heard of furries?”
  “I have, but I thought it was a webcomic thing. I didn’t know they dressed up.”
  “Hey, people do all kinds of crazy things. I’m not here to judge. But yes, we’re hosting a furry convention this week. We’ve got furries from all around Australia tonight.”
  “It’s just, I have a thing about mascot costumes . . . they give me the heeby-jeebies.”
The guy laughs and puts a hand on my shoulder. “Hey, man, don’t worry. They’re kinda weird, but they’re totally harmless. Now, they may get a bit quirky at night, since the kids go home at five and the grown-ups can play together. But I don’t blame them. This is how they get their kicks. Everyone has their quirks.”
  “So, they’re here all week?” I say, my voice sounding weaker than I had meant it to be.
  “Hey, it’s cool, kid. We’re understaffed here, but we’d only call a newbie onto the floor in an emergency. You have nothing to worry about. Now, come on, let’s get you a uniform.”

The doorway which I had confused for a closet actually lead to a thin, little locker room. The guy gave me one of the lockers, found a shirt in my size, and left me alone to change into it. Once I was dressed, I opened the door and stepped back into the security office.
  “Neat,” said the guy. “Now, people can recognize you as a security guard. Okay, a few more things, you’ll need a set of keys and a radio . . .”
He searched around a little, opened the filing cabinet, looked in a locked cashbox under the coffee table, grabbing a keyring from inside, then checked different drawers in the desk, before finally grabbing a radio.
  “Oh, uh, I didn’t get your name,” I said, as he offered the radio and keys to me.
  “Here, take them,” he said, seeming a little impatient. I finally took them.
  “Can you tell me your name?” I said, assuming he didn’t hear me.
  “My name?” he said.
  “Yeah, what do I call you?” I said.
  “No no no, don’t use names on the radio. It’s a safety and privacy issue. Anyone here is called ‘Central’. If you need me specifically, my callsign is ‘Operator’, but I need to check on who else is here tonight, so for now, if you see something, just ask for ‘Security’. Okay?”
  “Uh, yeah . . .” I say.
  “The radio is already tuned in, you’ll be great. I have to get to work,” he said, opening the door of the security office. “Just check those cameras, lock the door. Oh, and don’t let anyone in here under any circumstances. Gotta keep the place secure . . .”
He smiled, then stepped out and closed the door.
After a moment, I stepped forward, locked the door, then turned back and dropped into the study chair with a sigh.
  “Crazy, man . . .” I say. I look at the radio and keys in my hand, turn and place them on the desk, then scoot my chair forward so I can see the security monitors.
Like he said, the third monitor is motionless. Just ladders, wires and sheets. The left monitor shows the different doorways. And the central monitor is still looking at the main floor downstairs, ‘Camera 005’, where the people in animal costumes - the furries - were now wandering around, with a few huddled in small groups, chatting.
I press ‘Cam’ then ‘0’, ‘0’, ‘1’. The image changes to show the open space full of chairs just outside the elevator, which I had walked through earlier. I also see the security guy I had just spoken to on the phone, standing outside, adjusting a hat onto his head.
  “The guy I spoke with on the phone . . .” I say to myself. I reach into my pocket and pull out the crumpled piece of paper. I re-read the advertisement. It just gave the number and the details. No names. He hired me, and I still don’t know his name.
I drop the paper on the desk in front of me, and look at the monitor again. The guy is gone.
  “Where did you go, Phone guy?” I say to myself, as I take the little joystick and move it around. The camera moves smoothly left and right as I move the controller. I even give it a little twist, and watch the picture zoom in and out. “Man, so cool . . .”
It’s like a kind of real-life videogame, moving the camera around.
I switch to Camera 002 with the keypad, and get another view of the waiting room, but from the opposite side, which has a good view of the escalators, as well as over the balcony. From this viewpoint, I easily see that Phone guy is travelling down the escalators.
I then try Camera 003.
The view changes drastically. It’s very dark around the edges, and I can tell that it’s outside, because I can see potted ferns which are blowing in the wind and streetlights over the dim railings. But the light is shining on some kind of terrace, with a dark, tinted-glass box glass in the middle. Moving the camera left and right, I see that the glass box is just a room with full-length windows on all sides with the blinds drawn, probably some kind of meeting room, and I can even see a glass door to the right of it, leading back into the blue carpet of the Terrace level.
I glance at the controller keypad, and I notice there is a little key marked ‘Next’. I press it, and the monitor immediately switched to Camera 004, showing a hallway with blue carpet and three closed doors. I tap ‘Next’ again, to Camera 005 again, facing the bottom of the escalators, showing several furries still chatting around the entrance of the building, not far from reception. Because all the cameras are high over the heads of everyone, and so are tilted down, I notice that the room is carpeted with dark, red carpet, and realize that there is a simple colour scheme, of red for the first floor, and blue for the second. I click ‘Next’, Camera 006, and actually get a view inside the first exhibit hall. It’s empty, but the view is from beside the stage, looking out upon a room of empty seats, but there are some people around the edges of the room, setting up tables and signs. Then I check Camera 007, it’s like a mirror image of the last room, with the camera in the opposite corner of the stage, but this room is full of people. The chairs are full, and some people are even standing on the side, facing the stage, but about a dozen people dotted throughout the audience are wearing animal costume. I turn the camera towards the stage, and although more than half of the stage is obscured from this angle, I do see a panel of people at the front of the stage, each wearing a colourful, furry costume.
  “It’s a wild world out there . . .” I say to myself.
There’s a knock at the door.
  “Guh!” I yelp, flinching violently. I was so focused on the screen, I forgot where I was. After exhaling heavily, I turn and stand up from the chair. I get up, open the door, and feel chills down the back of my neck. Instead of another security guard, there’s a girl there in a white costume with orange, plush wings and scales all the way down the tail. I know it’s a girl, because she’s removed the head of the suit and has it tucked under her arm, but the white dragon head has glowing orange eyes and teeth, and large striped horns clutched in the orange claws of her furry glove. It takes me a moment to take my eyes off the dragon head and look at the girl. She’s older than me, at least twenty, she looks Hispanic with lightly tan skin, and brown hair that’s a little scruffed up from having removed the fake head.
  “Uh, can I help you?” I ask.
  “Yes. I need to report a sexual assault,” says the girl, calmly and confidently.
  “. . . sexual assault?” I say, nervously inflecting my statement into a question. The Phone guy didn’t say anything about reporting sexual assault.
  “Yes. During the parade, someone groped me. I want to report him - or, them, I guess - they were wearing a fursuit.”
  “During the parade? While you were wearing the . . . dragon suit?”
  “Yes,” she says. “I don’t know who it was, but I can identify the fursuit they were wearing. It was made of mismatched pieces.”
  “But, isn’t that what the suit is for? Y’know . . .” I mime my hands in front of me rubbing the air, and as soon as I see what I’m doing, I feel like a complete moron. Not only does it sound absolutely wrong coming out of my mouth, but the look of dumbfounded shock on the girl’s face makes me wish the ground would open up and swallow me whole.
  “Costume. Is not. Consent,” says the girl, angrily. “A stranger grabbed me from behind and squeezed my breast. It hurt. I’m here for fun, not to get groped by strange men!”
  “I am . . . so sorry,” I say, and I shrink away to grab the radio, “Look, I’ve never done a report. I’ll just get my . . . manager,” I press the call button on the radio. “Central to Operator, over.”
  “ . . . Operator to Central, copy. Over.” says Phone guy.
  “Uh, Operator, I need help filing a report. One of the . . . conventioners needs to report an assault.” I say, before remembering to add. “Over.”
  “On my way. Out,” replies the radio. I place it on the table and turn to the girl
  “Look, I am really sorry. This is my first night working here, and I thought you were someone else, and the guy told me this was like, a fetish-or-something, and although I really didn’t know what that meant I just kind of assumed that this was meant to be some kind of, like, ‘Sexpo’ convention or something . . .” I finally remember to inhale,
“I really, really really didn’t mean to imply anything. I just wasn’t thinking, because you scared me when you knocked. I am so so-so-so sorry.”
Finally, I see the phone guy arrives and the lump in my throat stops feeling like it’s swelling.
  “I’m the head of security here,” says the guy, “what seems to be the problem?”
  “This guy is a moron,” says the girl pointing at me, not missing a beat.
  “Don’t worry about it. He’s new,” says the guy, “So, what is it you would like to report?”
The girl finally turns away, and I exhale heavily, slowly and shamefully closing the door to the office. I can hear them talking outside, about police and convention passes, but I walk towards the filing cabinet, and lightly bump my head on the edge, groaning softly.
That could not possibly have gone any worse . . .

After a few minutes, the door opens, and I turn to see the phone guy step inside.
  “Everything okay in here?” he asks.
  “Yeah, I guess . . .” I say, rubbing my head, nervously.
  “Man, that was one angry chica. What did you say to her?”
  “It was an accident,” I say. “I was nervous, just babbling, and I asked if she was asking for it. It was so stupid.”
  “Yeah . . . that’s pretty stupid,” says the guy, smirking.
  “It’s not funny!” I say, making him snort with laughter.
  “Look, just stick to procedure next time. But considering how pale you look right now, I don’t think that’s going to be a problem,” he said, and his smile dropped. “And I admit, I didn’t tell you about reporting. I didn’t think it would be a problem on your first night; that’s my bad. So, for next time, basically, we’re not cops. If there’s a serious crime, log it and call the police. We can detain people, deny entry or kick them out, but beyond that, we leave it to the boys in blue.”
  “Right. Okay.”
  “Speaking of - we've just added that lady’s attacker to the list, she wants to press charges. We only have the fursuit described - a mismatched suit; pink tail, tiger stripes, brown mask . . . - he’s on our blacklist. Let us know if you see him.” He said, pointing towards the monitors.
He turns towards the door, but stops and looks and me again.
“oh, and Jeremy? Remember: ‘Costume is not Consent’.”
He chuckles to himself as he steps out and closes the door.
I slump back in the study chair and groan.
  “Kill me now . . .”
I spend a good, long time toying with the cameras, learning more about them and the controller, over an hour testing and learning. I learn that in total, there are twelve moveable cameras: two upstairs, four on my floor and six downstairs. I assume there’s less upstairs because it’s mostly an open space, and the stationary cameras in two of the corners pretty much cover any angle as well as the elevator and two other rooms, with the two moveable ones inside of some empty presentation rooms at the end, each with a whiteboard on one side and chairs stacked in the corners.
But downstairs has the exhibit halls and the ballroom, which after toying with the cameras I learn is a huge two-storey space. The ballroom has been filled with tables and booths and stalls, converting it into a kind of marketplace full of cutesy merchandise. It’s not very busy with most tables unoccupied and covered with protective cloth to close up for the day, probably because it’s after nine o’clock. However, there are still a few smaller tables with people chatting or trying to sell, with less than thirty people wandering between them, and in one corner more than a dozen people have gathered around a few picnic-style tables. Using the zoom function, I see that they are playing a board game.
I even figure out some of the other keys on the controller. Because each key is the same size as a regular keyboard key, They have shortened titles, like ‘Mon’, ‘Pre’, ‘Set’, ‘Pat’ & ‘Alam’. I assume they stand for ‘Monitor’, ‘Present’ or ‘Preference’, ‘Settings’, ‘Pattern’ and ‘Alarm’. Monitor doesn’t do anything, except make the monitor go black for a moment and return to Camera 001. I use the Preference key, with ‘F1’ function key so that the cameras in the ballroom and in the reception area pan left and right, giving a good view of the large floorspace. Settings opens a menu on the small dot-matrix screen on the controller, with terms like ‘Speed’ and ‘IP Address’ which I quickly exit without changing anything. Pattern also enters a strange menu on the controller screen, talking about preset camera movement.
As for Alarm . . . I don’t know what exactly it does, since I decide against pressing it.
After learning about that, I set the camera to ‘Tour’, like the guy told me. It goes through every one of the cameras, one by one, pausing on each for about five seconds.
When I do that, I manage to find the other security guards. Even though he’s far from the camera, I don’t even need to use the zoom function to recognize Phone guy, on Camera 006. He’s standing at the back of the exhibition hall next to the door, keeping an eye on the people as they watch some presentation that looks like a silly stageplay using people in fursuits. The others, I only recognize by their uniforms, the light blue short-sleeved shirt and long pants. There’s a lanky security guy with glasses on Camera 008 who is near reception, and appears to be chatting up one of the girls, leaning on the desk.
There’s a short girl with dark hair wearing a baseball cap that I can see on Camera 005, who is near the entrance to the convention centre standing so still I can’t help but be impressed by her professionalism. I guess that’s why they put her by the entrance.
There’s also a big, Samoan-looking guy at the end of the hall on the second floor, that I can see on Camera 004, the hallway with the three closed doors. At first, I thought he might have been slacking off, wandering back and forth at the end of the hall, but I see that every now and then, people head upstairs by the lift or escalator and enter one of the rooms. I notice a lot of people in fursuits enter, and people out of costume, carrying crates or large bags, leave. So, clearly, he was just keeping an eye on some form of changing rooms. He even occasionally stops people out of costume, to speak with them. Everyone at the convention has some kind of pass, a card on a lanyard that most people hang around their neck, but some keep on their person in a bag or pocket.
I look around on the cameras more, but there are no more security guards. Phone guy meant it when he said ‘understaffed’. There’s no security in the ballroom-cum-marketplace; no security in the second exhibit hall as the people pack up chairs after the earlier panel; no security keeping an eye on the lifts, even though a lot of people are heading down to the carpark & no one on the terrace, even though I notice a blind spot from the cameras up there.
Well, that’s not actually true. There’s no security, except me. I may have been hired less than four hours ago, but I’m the one keeping an eye on all these areas.
The tour of the cameras starts again, returning to Camera 001, but when it does, I see something strange. Someone dressed up like some kind of dinosaur appears near the balcony. They are moving very quickly, not running, but walking with purpose, and disappear around the corner before I can make them out.
I press ‘Next’, flicking to Camera 002, and I see from the other side as the person steps onto the escalator and begins moving down it quickly, the mask on their head wobbling as they do, and I make out what I’m seeing.
The person isn’t dressed as a dinosaur, but rather wearing a horse mask, the kind of brown, plastic one I’d seen in stupid internet videos, and on their back is some kind of large, pink, plush dinosaur tail with purple scales. I lose sight of them as they disappear under the banister, down the escalator, so I click ‘Next’ until I get to the view of the lower part of the escalator on Camera 007. They appear to be wearing army boots and camo pants, with some design on a black shirt. They turn the corner, the cheap, pink tail flicking wildly as they turn and march towards the reception desk. At first, I’m confused, since clearly the head and tail don’t match, but as it dawns on me, I pick up the radio and call it in.
  “Security, Central to security, I think I see, uh, the guy . . . in front of reception, the man who attacked the dragon lady. Over.”
I watch as the man heads towards the doors of the ballroom. Brown mask, Purple tail, mismatched outfit. I think it’s him.
  “Tower to Central, please repeat, over,” says an unfamiliar, drawling New Zealand accent.
  “This is Central. We have a blacklisted person heading for the Ballroom. Over.”
I watch on the fixed camera by reception as he walks past it towards the ballroom, and heads through the door.
  “Operator to Central. Copy that, on my way. Out,” says Phone guy.
I switch to a view inside the ballroom, and watch from a high vantage point as the horse-masked guy walks through the maze of stalls. I can tell it’s a guy because he’s actually quite muscular, the dark shirt fitting tightly to him as he marches through. As he walks past some uncostumed people, he points an accusing finger at them. There’s no sound, but as he walks, the people move close to one of the nearby tables, as though to make some distance between them and the guy. He stops by one of the tables, and actually grabs it and pushes it over, sending several pieces of paper and pencils, as well as photos and toys that were on the table spilling onto the floor.
Then he moves past, and seems to make a bee-line around the tables, towards the group of people gaming in the far corner. I find myself tense, staring at the screen as he moves towards the group and only exhale when I see Phone guy and the lanky security guard walk into view as well.
But they’re still at least twenty metres away, as the guy interrupts the people playing boardgames. I don’t know if he’s talking or yelling, or maybe if those army boots are stomping loudly on the tiled, ballroom floor, but as soon as he can see them, a lot of the people look up to see what’s going on. A lot of people back away, but two of them stand between the guy and the group, They seem to be saying something, but the guy just steps forward and gives one of them a shove, sending him stumbling back into the table. The other person tries to kick him, but the man grabs them.
Before he can do anything else, Phone guy and the lanky guard grab him by both arms and pull him back. The guy yanks on his arms, and throws a punch at the tall guy, who lets go and collapses, but Phone guy grabs him from behind in what looks like a hug around the chest that leaves the guy struggling and kicking. After the taller guard finally recovers, he helps grab one of the arms, Phone guy grabs the other, and the two escort the man out. He is still kicking and struggling, but can’t do much with the two guys locking his arms.
They head out the nearest door to the ballroom, and as they do, I hear soft yelling behind me. I turn from the monitor and look at the door. I can hear the guy raving like a madman as they drag him through the reception area. I get up and creep over to the door, and unlocking it I open the door a crack.
  “. . . sick faggots! The whole fucking lot of you freaks! Goddamned pedo furverts! Disgusting pedo scum, all of you fags! Get off me you . . .
I close the door and listen as the yelling continues for a moment, before he gets dragged outside. I lock the door and sit back on the chair, stunned.
  “It’s a wild world out there . . .” I mumble to myself, shuffling towards the monitors again.

Most of the night wasn’t eventful. After the show in the exhibit hall came to an end, the convention centre emptied considerably, with patches of people huddled in groups, talking. A few also headed into the ballroom, with four dedicated people who put in the efforts to set upright the table the man in the horse mask had thrown over, and put the artwork and equipment back.
I was watching the cameras slowly flick through the different scenes, when there was a light knock on the door, and so I turn and stand up, unlocking the door. I recognize the lanky security guard. He’s two heads taller than me.
  “Hello,” I say.
  “Hey, bro,” says the guy in a New Zealand accent as he slips through the door. “You the new kid?”
  “Yeah, I’m Jeremy,” I say.
  “Peter,” he says, pointing at himself. “Is this your first day?”
  “Yeah, it is,”
  “Thought so. You were quick to see that fella, no one got hurt. Except me, slippery bastard . . .” he says, rubbing his cheek. “But next time, keep it short, yeah? Don’t chatter on the radio. Keep it short and snappy, yeah?”
  “Of course,” I say. “So, can I help you at all?”
  “No,” he says, looking at his watch. “Just getting ready to go home.”
  “Really?” I say, glancing at the time on the monitor. Sure enough, it’s almost midnight. “That was quick.”
  “Yeah, you should pack up too,” says Peter, heading for the little locker room. “Boss is downstairs, letting the stragglers know we’re locking up soon.”
As he heads into the lockers, I turn towards the monitors. I click ‘Next’ to switch through the cameras, and sure enough the exhibit hall cameras are dark except for the bright light of the open door at the far end, the lights having been switched off. In the ballroom, I see the Phone guy and the short lady are checking around the tables for any last people, and directing them towards the exits.
I hear Peter behind me as he walks through to the security office door.
  “See you tomorrow, man,” he says.
I look back at him, and see he’s wearing a sickly green t-shirt.
  “Yeah, see you,” I say.
As he heads out the door, I get up, stretching my legs. They’re a bit stiff, after sitting for so long. I close the door to the office, then head towards the locker, myself. Then I stop, and turn back. I’ve left the door unlocked. I consider for a moment if it’s worth locking it, but decide I’ll only be a moment. I step into the locker, and use the key in my pocket to unlock the padlock and I swing it open. There’s just my t-shirt inside. I take off my button up uniform, and lazily roll it up, dropping it into the locker.
I pick up the t-shirt, when suddenly I feel something on my leg. I flinch as the phone in my pocket goes off. The phone vibrates and plays a polyphonic version of Westminster Chimes, a ringtone I downloaded from the internet. I know what it’s for, but I take the phone out of my pocket to check the screen anyway:
12:00 ᴀᴍ -  End of Shift
I silence the alarm and put my shirt on, hoping, at least, that tomorrow’s shift would go better than tonight’s had.

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