My parking space was in the lower level of the garage, so the elevator was out of the question (it only ascended to the top ten floors). I would not have taken the lift anyway, as I was struck with an irrational fear that I might be trapped in there with some madman, or dark force of nature.
As it was, an iron portal, painted dark gray—except where the rust shone through in blood red stains—stood between me and the way down. The ingress was labeled in black numbers and letters, 1. DOWN. But, the “D” had fallen away some time in the past and it appeared to me as if it read, I OWN. I forced a nervous laugh, and wondered, what did it own? My life? My Soul?
Instinctively, I checked my brief bag and made sure I was still carrying the MINATAUR, INC. file—a new client—owned by some real estate mogul from Eastern Europe. Old money. Real old money. Byzantine old. I was taking the file home to do some work tonight. Something about it weighed heavily on me too. Something about that company—and its invisible owner—was as strange as the energy in this night.
My imagination was definitely playing tricks on me, running away with thoughts better suited for a six-year-old’s boogey man. I forced a laugh again, this time out loud, and listened (in an attempt to comfort myself) to my own voice, muffled and dull in the night. I squared my shoulders to the heavy doorway and pushed it open.
The old iron door scraped loudly, grinding against the concrete and resonating like a ghastly shriek down the stairwell. The stairs stretched down into the guts of the place, steel and decrepit and lit only by a few faint emergency lights. As I descended into its throat, the sound of my hard-soled shoes rang off the steel steps like the peel of an old church bell calling me to judgment.
And then, the lights flickered once, twice, thrice and then went out.