Well I can only tell you what I saw. I can’t say for sure it was real or anything. People are dead - that much I know - and maybe I saw pure evil? The devil himself? Not sure, but as far as my eyes are concerned this is what happened.
* * *
I had an appointment to get my taxes done about 3. Normally I’d just do my own taxes online, but this year was different with the new job and stuff, so I wanted to have someone do them for me. The tax place was on the 5th floor of the building. I got there at 2:30 or so. I rode the elevator up, walked into the glass lobby down the hall, and, you know, waited for my appointment. I didn’t really pay attention to details. I didn’t look at the people in the elevator, I didn’t pay attention to the music in the elevator . . . the receptionist was cute. I noticed her. She wore glasses and a pink sweater and she smiled at me when I came into the lobby and sat down, as was her job, I suppose.
When I sat down, I immediately went on my phone and checked Facebook and read some news about excavating a medieval ship from a river somewhere. Like I said, I wasn’t paying much attention to anything around me. My usual state of being, I’m unhappy to admit. Maybe that will change now?
That’s when I heard a sharp ‘pop’ down the hall.
It’s one of those sounds you just know when you hear it: Gunshot. I turned toward the sound and suddenly I was way more aware. An old lady - well, 60-something – was entering the lobby. She stood in the open glass doorway, her hand on the mettle door handle. The sound caused her to drop into a hunch and her head to whip toward the sound down the hall. A man sitting across from me was reading a magazine from the coffee table between us. His finger still held the page as he dropped it in his lap and he too looked outward, through the old woman, and into the hallway. A third person was deeper in the room, but I didn’t get a good look at them. When the gun went off, they shrunk back into the office they were standing next to. Everyone was silent.
The second shot seemed to be a little closer and this time it was followed by a muffled scream. At this point, the woman in the doorway awkwardly dropped to her ass on the glossy, tile floor. She let go of the door and it hit her lightly on the head as it closed creating a shuttering sound that reverberated through the door hinges. She trembled and muttered as she twisted into a crawling position and started backing into the lobby very slowly, her eyes locked on the still empty hallway. The man across from me dropped his magazine – he lost his page – and slipped, with some agility, to the floor. He lay on his stomach in front of the stiff orange couch he had been seated on. I was frozen, my phone still in front of me. The orange couch I was sitting on seemed to be holding me in place.
“Pbsssst!” The receptionist was behind me. All I could see was her head from behind the large mahogany desk where she worked. She didn’t say anything, but I saw her eyes through her large glasses. They were blue. Her pupils were wide open. She was scared, but she had a strength in those eyes that I hadn’t seen before in my life. With a quick tilt of her head, I understood: She was telling me to get behind the desk. I wanted to, but I was glued to the orange couch.
I sprung from the couch and hit the floor behind the tall, wooden desk. The receptionist fell backward at the sound. She hit her head on the edge of a counter, seemed stunned maybe, but alive. Now concealed, I noticed an inch gap between the bottom of the desk and the floor. Shrinking into a little ball, I lay on my side and I looked out into the lobby.
I regretted it immediately.
The doorway was completely shattered and the crawling woman lay on the floor in a growing pool of her own blood. The man that had been on the floor now stood against a wall on the far left side of the room next to some wide, bright windows. He seemed to be swallowing very hard. His hands were somehow gripping the flat surface of the wall and I noticed that he was wearing a wedding ring. He had a very kind face, but his irregular mouth breathing and fear of the moment mired it. A yellowish puddle started forming at his feet.
The bullet went through that kind man’s head so quickly and smoothly, that I’m not sure there was a moment for him to feel pain. The fearful expression was frozen on his face as he slowly fell forward over the orange couch where I sat a mere moment ago. My ears rang. I wanted to look back toward the door, but I didn’t want to see the woman again. My gaze was locked on the man. I remember thinking that he was a husband to somebody and that they will miss him. I could hear glass crinkling under heavy feet, but I still couldn’t look in that direction. The steps halted and the room was silent yet again. Oh was it silent. I could feel a presence in the room that seemed to enter my lungs with every shallow breath and make my hair stand on end. I knew the shooter was there and I couldn’t look at him. I felt like, if I did look, he might find me.
I sensed a light touch on my shoulder and nearly cried out. Silently contorting myself, I turned my head to see the receptionist lying immediately behind me, also on her side. She held her hand to the side of her face with her pinky and thumb extended in a familiar gesture: Phone. I was holding my phone on the couch, but when I dove behind the desk, I must have lost it. It must be on the orange couch still. I nodded my head at the receptionist: No. She winced in disappointment. A fear rose up inside of me right then: What if the killer found my phone? Would he know there were others in the office? Would he seek us out? Fortunately, that fear was overridden by a new fear as the receptionist started reaching up to her desk. Reaching for what? A phone, I guess. She was brave, but she was going to kill us both. I vigorously nodded my head. She ignored my silent pleas.
A voice unlike anything I have ever heard called out to the room, “I come for the one named Healy. Show yourself.” The voice was feminine or masculine, old or young. It was deafening, but effortless. The voice seemed to speak every language at once, but was completely understandable. I realize now, that my ears were pretty well gone after the loud shots and that any sound should have been muffled, but these words seemed to enter the mind without help from the ears. For the first time, I was almost taken out of the fear by the puzzling voice, and so I decided to look at the killer and solve the puzzle. I forgot about the receptionist and the dead bodies and blood for just one moment. I needed to see this being.
I carefully turned my head toward the small gap and fit my eye up against it. I could see the dead woman and standing with one foot on her back was a dark, shrouded figure. ‘Shrouded’ is the best word I could use: It was clearly humanoid, but otherwise a genderless, formless body gripping a large matte black handgun. It almost felt as if this person/thing was permanently out of focus. Maybe it was clothing, but it seemed to be more than that somehow. It was ‘facing’ to the right toward some offices.
“Healy! Emerge! Your day of reckoning has arrived.”
Whoever Healy was, they weren’t interested in showing themselves. The killer stood patiently, still facing the offices. I thought, if this thing decided to go after Healy in one of the offices, would I have time to run out? In a flash, I had an answer: The figure, in one motion, turned its gun on the desk and –
I felt the lifeless body of the receptionist fall on me and roll to the floor. I also felt hard plastic hit me in the ear. I may have been hard of hearing at the time, but I could hear the dial tone out of the phone receiver swinging on its cord near my head. I bit down on the inside of my cheeks to keep from making a sound. My gaze remained on the killer as it casually moved into the first office. My ideas about running seemed very distant now. I would find out later that the receptionist or I guess Aislyn – that’s her name, right? – was shot through the desk and that thing probably ‘knew’ she was there from the light sound of her picking up the phone. If I moved, it would have got me.
The lobby was empty of the killer for what felt like a credible amount of time for it to find and kill somebody else in the place. The dial tone coming from the phone suddenly switched to that annoying, intermittent screeching that happens when a line has been off the hook too long. That’s when a body flew across the room and landed on the little coffee table. Magazines scattered over the floor, in the air, and the dead man on the couch. The new body was a middle-aged woman with a short, stylish haircut, dressed in a blood-stained white blouse. She was broken and in pain from hurdling through the air, but alive. She stayed awkwardly sprawled across the coffee table. She blinked madly as if she were awoken from a deep sleep. She may have. What a wakeup call that’d be.
“Healy!” The voice was back and so was the obscured killer. Without a step, it had somehow ‘slid’ across the room and now stood over the hurt woman. “Healy, rise!” Despite the command, Healy could not get up to her feet, she was in no state for that, I suppose. The killer then raised its arm over Healy, “Rise!” Now, this is where I have to repeat that I’m telling you what I saw, and some weird shit happened that I couldn’t possibly justify in my mind. Fuzzy killer? Could have been a careful disguise. Strange voice? Could have been some technology I’ve never encountered before. This? This was different because when the killer told Healy to rise the second time, her beaten body levitated off of the coffee table to a point a few feet in the air before rotating into a standing position, yet her feet weren’t on the ground: She was suspended in the air.
“Healy! You know why we are here?” Healy’s head wobbled a bit and straightened out to face the killer. “I have a good idea,” she croaked. Despite her pain and the death around her, this woman seemed to be quite calm. In retrospect, I guess she had a long time to prepare for this moment, but it’s still kind of odd to meet your doom with such a casual demeanor.
“State your crime, Healy.” The killer seemed to take on an excited tone now. I wonder if it enjoyed this?
“Hey, Death-thing-whatever-you-are,” Healy grumbled. “I’m a tax professional. I know the drill, duh.”
The killer stood in silence.
“Would you kill me already?” she whined. “Quit all the pageantry and this mess?” Healy looked around the room at the dead and the blood and the glass. For a moment she looked toward the desk. Perhaps she was trying to locate Aislyn, the receptionist girl, but she flashed her eyes to the bottom of the desk. I don’t know if she knew I was there, but it certainly felt like it. Thinking back, I think that she must have seen me or knew I was there. Maybe having someone survive the event would mean that she’d be remembered or that the killer could be caught or whatever. I’m not sure, but in the moment, it was very unsettling and my stomach was growing very queasy at this woman’s impending death. She turned back to the killer, “This mess is very unprofessional.”
That’s when the killer had enough. Without even a movement or indication, the woman, Healy, that human being that was probably going to do my taxes for me, she . . . well, you know what happened to her. She’s dead and when my phone is out of evidence, I don’t think I want it back. I don’t want to find any trace of her on it. This might be a stupid and obvious thing to say, but I’m not ever going get that image out of my mind. I really hope you guys find a logical explanation for this stuff, I mean, that couldn’t have happened, right? All I know with certainty is that people died and I was there to do my taxes.