Monday, January 12, 2015

Re: Help Find Danny!!

I found this letter in my email spam folder, I don't really know what to make of it so I figured I could maybe help by re-posting it here, verbatim:

April 23, 2012

I don't expect you to believe what I'm about to tell you, in fact, I'm not so sure it actually happened. The only things I know for sure are that Danny is missing, and everyone I talk to about him seems to have no idea who he is. Even his own parents seem confused when I ask if they've heard from Danny lately. But I was there the day he disappeared, I was there with him, that much I know. Please don't excuse this as the bullshit ramblings of some kinda crazy person, or a cry for attention from some loser who never made anything of himself. I'm only telling you this so that I can find Danny. I've written everything down as best as I can remember it, and I've backed up multiple copies of this, in case they try to stop me from telling my version of the story. I just hope someone out there reads this, and can help me find Danny.
Alright, here goes...

We had both just started our new jobs at that big corporate owned Mega Store just outside of town, you know, the one that's likely to put every honest company in this podunk shithole of a town out of business. It opened last month, and Danny and I figured it was a good opportunity to make some extra spending money without feeling guilty for shorting the cash register once in a while to pay for beer.

The first day was just the usual training BS and a quiz to fill out making sure we knew what sexual harassment was and which side of the shirt to wear our nametags on. Then the hiring manager took us on a tour through the store to make sure we knew exactly how much useless crap we sold, and had a rough idea of where to find it.

When we got to the back corner of the store, the dimly lit part where they keep all the low end electronics, Danny noticed a door marked "Under Construction" and asked the hiring manager, Harold what was still under construction with the store opening the next day.

"Oh that's just the management area, a couple small offices and a meeting room, I guess they decided to save our part for last." the round, balding man chuckled dryly. "It'll be nice to have an office though, the shift from working at corporate to working here has been a big change."

"Kind of out of the way for an office isn't it?" I asked. "I's a solid 10 minute walk from the front doors to here."

"It's always good to see new hires so curious about how the company works!" he replied with a sort of passive aggressive enthusiasm.

Leading us back toward the front of the store he continued his training spiel, mostly stuff about always greeting customers a certain way, and always smiling, the typical corporate micromanaging.

Then came a stern, hushed warning, quiet enough that Danny and I were the only ones that could hear, but fierce enough to make it clear that he was not playing around. "...and finally DO NOT talk about the management area, don't ask any more questions about it, and if you go in there without being called in by a manager, you will be fired on the spot."

With that his stern look turned into a jolly grin and he introduced us to Rita, the large hispanic woman who would teach us to run the cash registers.

As our first day drew to a close Danny and I were in the washroom, getting the most out of our 8 hour shift by pissing during company time. As I was washing my hands I looked in the mirror and said to Danny "You know we're fuckin' checking out that management area, right?"

He grinned mischievously, "They can't fire us if they don't catch us."

We changed into our street clothes and began walking around the store, trying to avoid suspicion by looking like we were checking out all the different departments and what they had to offer. When we got to the dimly lit electronics section near the management offices we began to really ham it up, pretending to be delighted and shocked at the low low prices of these low low end televisions and cameras.

When we were sure no one else was around we slipped toward the wall marked "Under Construction".

Danny silently opened the gap between the two hanging sheets of plastic which served as a temporary doorway into the area, and we stepped through.

On the other side of the plastic the floors changed from the grey, stain resistant carpeting of the electronics department to large red and black tiles, and the walls were covered in actual hardwood. Not that cheap veneer shit, but actual wood, it looked like the entrance to a decidedly tacky, but very expensive hotel.

"Shit...this is actually nice!" I whispered to Danny, unsure of if we were alone in the offices.

The lobby was empty, except for a few chairs covered in plastic to protect from the dust, and a large crescent shaped reception desk flanked by twin hallways.

Danny nodded silently, and gestured toward the desk.

We slowly approached the desk, and I walked around to the other side to see if there was a directory of the offices. "Let's go check out Harold's office, see what he was so happy about earlier." I suggested.

Danny argued that we should probably get out before we got caught. But I pressed the issue "Come on man, who cares if we get caught? It's just a stupid job anyways, I wanna see these offices."

Having failed to find a directory of the offices we decided to just head down the left hallway.

The hallway curved slowly to the left, we passed washrooms which required key cards to open, and a janitor's closet, before we saw any offices. The very first office we came up to had Harold's name etched in the glass on the door.

"Perfect, it's not locked, let's check it out!" I hissed at Danny.

He once again argued that we should be careful not to get caught. And I once again pressed the issue.

I slowly opened the door into the office, it wasn't anything overly impressive, but it was ridiculously clean and organized, almost like Harold was creating a sterile environment...or as if he had severe OCD.

After quickly shuffling some of his supplies around we left the office and went to the next one down the hallway. This one didn't have a name etched on the glass, but it did have a lot more personal belongings on the desk, photos of a manager we hadn't met, along with his wife, and some random knick knacks.

Danny pointed out that even though this office seemed much more...inhabited... everything was still arranged in an extremely meticulous and organized fashion.

"I guess they just hire that type of weirdo to manage these places." I responded, no longer whispering. "Let's check out a few more before we go."

Danny agreed, leading the way to the next office and flinging open the door.

He stood in the hall, staring blankly into the office with a puzzled look on his face.

"What is it?" I asked as I walked up next to Danny.

He simply nodded toward the office.

I turned to look in, half expecting Harold to be sitting there ready to fire us.

Instead I saw an exact copy of the previous office, the same meticulously arranged knick knacks on the desk, the same photos of a man and his wife, and the same clinical cleanliness.

"Obviously these offices belong to the couple in the photographs Danny, they're just a couple of OCD weirdos like Harold." I said, only half sure that I believed it myself. "C'mon, let's check the next office."

Knowing what I do now, I wish I had just left it with that explanation and left the management offices, but of course I pressed on.

What we found was office after office laid out so identically and with such precision that they were indistinguishable from one another, and each one had the same photos of the same couple.

Eventually the hallway looped back around to the lobby area, coming out on the right hand side of the reception desk.

As we stepped out of the hallway we were greeted by the sound of a woman clearing her throat.

The receptionist turned to face us. She was the woman from the photos in all the offices.

"You know you're not allowed to be back here." she said calmly, looking us up and down. "Harold warned me that you probably would be back here though."

As she spoke a man stepped out from the other end of the hallway, the man from the photos. As soon as she had finished he said "It sure is a shame that you had to come back here... Harold warned you not to come back here, didn't he?"

Danny and I nodded, now feeling like children who just got caught with our hands in the cookie jar, and momentarily forgetting how creepy it was that these two had put their pictures in every manager's office.

"He told us if we came back here without permission we would be fired on the spot." I replied, readying myself for another job hunt.

The man and woman both laughed in unison.

"That's nonsense, It's always good to see new hires so curious about how the company works!" the woman said with the same fake enthusiasm Harold had used earlier.

"Harold always was a bit dramatic." the man said softly "We only ask that you come to the nightly meeting, and learn a bit more about the inner workings of the company, if you can survive that you can keep your job, a little bit wiser for the experience."

We reluctantly agreed to come to the meeting.

"Great! It's right this way!" the receptionist said, gesturing to a door between the two hallways which I hadn't noticed before.

She turned, opened the door, and gestured for us to follow.

The man followed close behind us as the door lead to a narrow hallway, much less lavishly decorated than the lobby.

"Now, you'll have to sign a non disclosure agreement, you know, standard legal stuff." the man informed us "Some of what is discussed in these meetings is legally sensitive stuff, it's to protect us and protect you, you see." he continued on, in a reassuring tone.

"As I said before, do this and you can keep your job, it would be awfully silly and reactionary of us to fire you just for finding out a few company secrets."

"Wait...the only company secret we know is that you and your wife here have your pictures in every office...what's so bad about that? I mean's a bit unsettling, but it's hardly a scandal." I argued, hoping to get out of this meeting and get home in time to watch the game.

The man and the woman both erupted into laughter. "We're not really don't get it do you?" the woman replied, her tone shifting from one of understanding to one of mocking. "Here, I guess you can see for yourself." she said, as we arrived at what I assumed was the door to the conference room. She opened the door and again gestured for us to follow.

The room was brightly lit, and it took a moment for my eyes to adjust. When they did I saw 4 identical boardroom style tables, each surrounded by about 2 dozen men and women, each exactly identical to the man and woman from the photographs.

"Are you seeing the same shit I'm seeing??" I asked Danny. He slowly nodded, and the blank look on his face slowly turned to one of confusion. "They've got to be clones or something, right?" I said, half to Danny and half to myself. Danny asked the woman if they were indeed clones.

"Of course, we shouldn't have expected you to comprehend least not right away. "She replied, an audible buzz rising under her voice with every word she spoke. "We are not clones....we are the offspring, the collective, what you may know as a hive..."

"Okay lady, now you sound fucking insane, we're leaving, fire us if you want." I replied dryly. "I don't know how you pulled this weird clone shit off, but I'm not dealing with this over a stupid cashier job."

"It's...zzz...paid..zzz...overtime...zzz..." she replied "What's....zzZ...a little...zZZ...practical joke..ZZZ...between coworkers?"

Danny apologized on my behalf, and then turned to me and apologized, explaining he needed the extra money.

"Alright let's get this meeting over with then." I said, settling into this new weird reality where my job was managed by dozens of lookalikes.

"You'll want to take a seat, and be very still, and very quiet." the man who had followed us into the room said to me, his words noticeably free from buzzes.

I sat at the nearest table, and gestured for Danny to do the same. He shook his head slowly staring into the distance, and the ground slowly began to rumble.

"Sit the fuck down!" I shouted to him, as the clones began to make an irritated buzzing sound.

"I wouldn't have yelled if I was you... I told you to sit still and be quiet." said the man calmly.

Suddenly my chair began to shake.

I stood up, only to notice that the mere act of standing had propelled me nearly six feet in the air, I was floating...not weightless like in space, but more like someone had turned down the gravity.

"Wait...who turned down the gravity!?" I asked, suddenly enjoying myself.

"That would be our queen...she so enjoys a challenge, and you humans are so slow and clumsy." replied three of the men in perfect unison.

Suddenly my chair was enveloped in a black cloud, that seemed equal parts gas and gelatin, and then the chair was gone.

I landed in the middle of the table and turned to Danny "Dude you're gonna wanna try this!" and leapt from my landing place on the table to an empty chair, before leaping to another table.

I looked back and the three men who had spoken were gone. As were their chairs, and there was a smoldering hole in the table where I had previously landed.

Whatever this black shit was, it was chasing me.

Danny finally awoke from his stupor and realized what was happening. He tried to jump but simply fell to the ground.

He began to crawl, and as he crawled it seemed as if a massive weight was placed on his back. I could hear him struggling to breath, and I could see blood where his knees and elbows had dragged on the tile.

"Dude get up!" I shouted, leaping toward him.

I helped him to his feet, and jumped back to one of the tables. I turned around to see Danny fall to his knees.

He went pale, and fell forward, hard.

The sickening thud of his face bouncing off the tile floor, combined with the cracking sound his nose made still echos in my head. I continued jumping from empty chair to empty chair, and then back toward Danny. I landed next to him, but when I bent to help him up I was suddenly sent flying across the room. I landed at the feet of the first man we had met, and skidded into him hard enough to send him sprawling onto his back.

He let loose the most terrifying shriek of pain I have ever witnessed, before disappearing into the black shit.

I quickly jumped toward one of the tables, and just as I landed on it I was knocked unconscious.

I awoke in the hospital, bleeding from my nose, my elbows and my knees. I faded in and out of consciousness for what seemed to be only minutes, but the doctors later informed me was 5 days.

I had stumbled into the emergency room and collapsed from blood loss, with severe cuts on my forearms and knees and a badly broken nose.

The doctors told me I was alone, they figured I must have gotten jumped outside the local pub, they told me that the cuts were consistent with falling on broken glass, though they found no broken glass in my skin.

I tried to call Danny to see if he was alright, but his number was erased from my cellphone and I can't for the life of me remember it.

No one seems to know who Danny is, my childhood best friend seems to have ceased to exist.

I only found the courage to write about this when I awoke this morning to a knock on my bedroom door. I opened the door and on the floor was an envelope, addressed to me from Harold.

Inside the envelope was a plain piece of paper on which was written, in very meticulous, almost perfect handwriting "What you experienced was real, I can help you, no one else can. - Harold"

There was also a looks like the ones the washrooms in those management offices use. I'm going there tonight, hopefully I'll find Harold and find some answers...hopefully I'll find Danny.

I've set this message to send out automatically if I don't cancel it by Midnight on April 24, 2012. The truth must be known, even if I don't make it.

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