Straight ahead, the faint light from before was the next thing in sight. Now only a few feet away, I could tell what was blocking out the light. On the wall, hanging from a small nail a few feet up on the back wall, was a blue mesh construction vest. The light was coming from the chest pocket of the vest. Just underneath the pocket was a sewn-on name tag that. Seeing the name that was on it sent a cold shiver down my spine and a sinking feeling in the center of my gut.
So many different ideas started running through my mind, many of them having an undesirable ending. Part of me wanted to believe that this was just the horrible punchline to an even darker prank on me. Surely, when I’ve let my guard down and hesitating about what was going on, the basement would flood with light and my entire construction crew would jump out and surprise me, laughing at me being all worked up for nothing. My brain begged for that to be the case, but the empty silence in the basement would have given away any kind of snickering or muffled laughter, if anybody really was hiding in the dark.
Thinking that this would give me the upper-hand in the situation, I decided to call Darren again. If he was nearby, his phone would give away his hiding spot. Again it took a moment for the connection to go through before the ringing started.
“Come on, Darren, pick up,” I mumbled with frustration. “This isn’t funny now, answer the fucking phone.”
There was a loud ringing coming from nearby again, like a phone’s ringtone going off. With my phone to my ear, I couldn’t properly look around in the dark. I put the phone on speaker, allowing me to use it like a flashlight while waiting for Darren to pick up. However, after seeing the blue mesh vest now lit up in a bright, white light, I knew that he wouldn’t pick up the phone.
This can’t be happened, was all I could think. There’s no way something like this could possibly be happening. Stuff like this only happened in horror television shows, dark novels, slasher films, only in things what were made-up—this was real life, it shouldn’t be happening at all. I couldn’t control myself as I walked towards the vest on the wall, my hand trembling as I reached into the chest pocket. I grabbed at what was inside and looked at it: a gold-colored cellphone. I tapped on the screen and a bright light came on, displaying a number of messages and notifications. Two missed calls and an unread text message, all of them from me.
In a desperate attempt, I called out to everybody, “Nice try, everybody. You can’t get one over on me. This is baby level stuff.”
Nothing. No cheers, to laughter, no snickering, the only person who was here was me. And I just found Darren’s belongings.
I couldn’t take my eyes off of the hanging vest, my mind going through new possibilities and scenarios about what happened to him, all of them ending with a grim fate. The air in the basement seemed to grow thick, the smell of rust growing intensely as it approached me. My lungs struggled to breath in and out. No outside noises reached me, the unsettling sound of my heartbeat ringing in my ears. Something was taking over my senses, and whatever it was, I just wanted it to end. I turned around and faced the hatch to the vents.
I need to get out of here, get some fresh air before I make any moves.