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Rated: E · Novella · Ghost · #2092935
Employees have a terrifying encounter at a haunted apartment complex.
Maintenance man Harvey Allman wasn’t sure whether things started with the death of the actress back in the ‘20s, but he remembered when he first noticed that something strange was going on. It was late on March 15th at Vienna Gardens, when he’d gotten the call to the maintenance office. Elevator six was down again.

As the only maintenance man on duty at the time, he grabbed his tool kit and went to check it out. The elevator was stuck between floors eight and nine, which was its usual stopping place. In the six months he’d been there, elevator six had stopped fifteen times. The contraption was frustrating.

The previous maintenance manager, Ellis Whitmore, had been in the process of renovating, restoring and updating all six elevators on the property. He had a stroke and died shortly after. He only managed to fully renovate, restore and update five of the elevators. The notes were still there about his work. The first elevator updates that were completed were for elevators one and two in building one, Hemlock Terrace. Those were followed by elevators three and four in building two, Oleander Lane and finally elevator five in building three, Nightshade Court. Elevator six had only been partially completed when Whitmore died.

It had been left to the next manager and the remaining maintenance employees, including Harvey, to finish it. He’d known a little about the complex’s various systems when he’d started six months ago, but he’d made an effort to learn. He knew they needed to finish the elevator six job before something bad happened. After checking all the systems, he concluded that elevator six had been felled by a short circuit that had tripped the emergency brake.

Harvey made his way through the building, occasionally running into residents in the hallways. He greeted them and was greeted in return. A lot of the long time residents living in the complex were curious about him. They liked to make educated guesses as to why a maintenance man was walking the corridors of the building. Amongst the residents out and about in the hallways was the elderly Mrs. Pittman. She was a 90-year old , widowed Holocaust survivor whose husband, the venerable Mr. Pittman, had been one of the soldiers who’d liberated the camp she’d been in, Mrs. Pittman still had every one of her wits about her, despite her advanced age. The elderly lady stopped him as he passed her.

“So, is old number six acting up again?” She asked.

“Yes, ma’am it is,” he said.

“Do you know why it keeps acting up?” She asked.

“It’s an old elevator in need of the last updating in an equally old building,” he said.

The old woman cackled.

“Keep telling yourself that laddie,” the old woman said patting him on the shoulder before walking away, still cackling.

The maintenance man shook his head and continued on his way. Yes, Mrs. Pittman still had her wits about her. Harvey sometimes got the feeling that she knew more about the complex then she let on and wasn’t telling anyone. The maintenance man made his way back down to the first floor to get to the door to the basement.

He unlocked the grey, metal door and entered the cellar. He felt around in the dark for the light switch. The lights came on two by two, like marching ants. Why they shut the lights off when everyone was up and about confounded Harvey. The basement, which stretched the entire length of the building, was incredibly dusty and the lights left shadows creeping around the objects contained within. He walked down the steps and onto the floor of the basement.

From things left by residents long since gone to things that had been used in the complex’s lobbies, there were almost a century of memories in this room. There was hardly organized past what had been left by residents and the complex storing there. The fuse box was at the far end of the basement from the stairs and the light switch. So, Harvey made his way to the back of the basement. He set down his tool kit and opened the fuse box. The fuses looked fine at first glance but he knew that just because it looked fine didn’t mean it was fine.

Before Whitmore had begun updating the systems, and especially the elevators, there were always issues that required coming down to the fuse boxes. Though there were reports in the files of the other elevators having problems, elevator six always had the most problems. It was a shame the old man never got around to updating it before he died. Well, I guess that’s left up to the new manager, Harvey thought as he began checking the fuses.

After checking, it turned out two of the fuses had blown and would have to be replaced. He’d have to make out of order signs for elevator six till he could get new fuses. He removed the fuses and put them in his kit as he thought about talking to the manager about finishing the updates. It was as he was closing up his kit that it happened. He heard the sound of something like a billiard ball landing on the concert floor and rolling until its momentum came to a stop. The sound echoed in the long basement making it hard to know right away where it was coming from.

He locked the fuse box and picked up his work kit. The basements had always made him uneasy, especially when he was alone. They weren’t particularly well-lit, despite the high quality bulbs, so they were full of dark shadows. The layers of dust that coated everything and were kicked up with the slightest movement didn’t help. A chill slithered up the maintenance man’s spine, making made his hair stand on end like he’d been hit with static shook.

Then he heard the sound again. A billiard ball dropping to the floor and rolling until its momentum ceased. Slowly, Harvey set his kit back down and reached for the flashlight on his belt. He had an idea of where the noise might be coming from. He made his way to one of the corners where shadows persisted in spite of the lights above and his flashlight. He didn’t know quite what to expect.
Maybe it was mice or rats. These basements hadn’t been really cleaned in years, given the amount of dust.

With the lack of cleaning and all the junk, it was possible that rodents or other small animals had found their way in. He made his way through the cavernous basement past racks of old clothes, trunks and furniture towards where the pool tables were. Dust floated through the air as the man made his way through the room. The beam of his flashlight illuminated the dark corners and spaces under old tables, chairs and other miscellaneous items. He came upon the pool tables in short order.

Lined up in two rows of six, the pool tables were caked with dust from decades stored in the basement. All the cues were stacked together on one of the far tables. The billiard balls looked like they were all tucked into their triangles. He walked around the tables, his flashlight trained on them. There were no tracks of any kind on the table tops, either animal tracks or the track of the balls. He decided to check the floor under the tables anyway. So, Harvey dropped to the floor to check under the tables.

Turning the flashlight down him saw two dusty billiard balls, a cue ball and an eight ball. Frowning, the maintenance man bent down to pick them up. Both were dusty and the only footprints in the dust on the floor were his. They weren’t cracked or dented, just coated in dust like everything else. He stood back up and checked each table to see which, if any, were missing two pool balls. Only one of the tables was missing anything. One of the back tables was missing both its cue ball and eight ball. He put the balls back and returned to the fuse box to get his kit.

When asked later, he would say that was when he first noticed something was not right at the Vienna Gardens Complex. He was reaching for his kin when he heard it again. He heard the sound of a billiard ball landing on the concrete floor and rolling to a stop echoing through the basement again. He turned his flashlight back on and returned to the pool tables. When he got there, a billiard ball was sitting on the floor. It was the eight ball, and upon looking he saw that that the back table was once again missing its eight ball.

He returned the eight ball back to its place on the table. He eyed the table warily before returning to the fuse box quicker than before. He turned off his flashlight before grabbing his kit. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck and his arms standing up. He double-checked the fuse box to make sure it was locked. He returned his flashlight before returning it to its place on his belt before grabbing his kit. He made his way quickly back to the stairs and the light switch. He wanted to get out of the basement before anything else happened. He took the stairs two at a time, barely remembering to turn off the light before hurrying out the door and slamming it shut tightly behind him.

He leaned against the door, taking slow breaths. His heart was racing in his chest. Harvey looked around and saw the hallway was empty. He sighed deeply as he checked his watch. It was nearly 8:00 in the evening. With everything that had happened, from checking the fuse box to going back and forth to the pool tables, had kept him in the basement for over an hour-and-a-half. His hands were shaking as he turned to lock the door before heading back to the office.

He managed to get the door locked and returned to the maintenance office to make some out of order signs for elevator six. Harvey entered the office and went straight for the computer. He started up a word document, typed “Out Of Order” in bold black letters and printed twelve copies; he needed one for every floor after all. Once the copies were done printing, he gathered them up and returned to building three. He began placing the signs up on the elevator, going floor by floor.

Well, at least I’m getting my exercise for the day, he thought as he climbed from floor four to floor five. He placed the sign on floor five and moved back to the stairwell. He’d put the incident in the basement out of his mind. He wasn’t thinking about how odd it was that the billiard balls kept falling when there was no way they could’ve. He wasn’t thinking about the weird feeling he always got when he was down in the basement. He wasn’t thing about elevator six’s weird behavior or why it hadn’t been updated first if it had so many problems.

He wasn’t thinking about all the odd things he’d experienced and dismissed since he’d been here. He wasn’t thinking about the rumors that were whispered through the complex. His main concern was getting this done as quickly as possible so he could return to his own apartment in building two. He checked his watch again. It was nearly 9:00 and he still had seven floors to go. He could’ve used the other elevator but that probably wouldn’t have been faster when he’d need to get off at every floor. Sometimes it was just easier to take the stairs.

With the way this was going, he probably wouldn’t get home until after 11:00. He took his time because most tenants would be going to bed or just getting ready for bed. Floor six was just as quiet as the previous five floors. The walls were fairly thick so unless something was turned up almost full blast or someone was yelling quite loudly, you wouldn’t hear it. The only sounds that could be heard on ay regular basis were water in the pipes when someone turned on a faucet, a shower or flushed a toilet. He was walking back to the stairs so he could go up to the seventh floor when he heard it. The sounds of laughter and celebration echoed down the long corridor.

The walls were thick enough that a party would have to be really loud to be heard in the adjacent apartments let alone the hallway. It sounded like the kind of raucous Hollywood parties that Vienna Gardens hadn’t been privy to in over a century. There had been a time when the apartment complex had been home to movie stars and producers, directors and record makers. Hundreds of legends had lived in the complex and a few movies had even been filmed there.

Harvey knew that no one currently living in the building would be throwing a party like that, especially at that late at night. Too many kids lived in building three for loud parties to be any kind of acceptable. He was amazed no one was coming out of their apartments to investigate. He tried to discern where the sounds were coming from. He walked the entirety of floor six in an attempt to find the source of the party but he couldn’t find it. Was it coming from one of the other floors? It can’t be from one of the lower floors because I would have heard it before now. Is it from one of the upper floors? Either way, it’s a really loud party. I can’t understand why it hasn’t woken anyone and why no one’s complaining, he thought as he returned to the stairwell to keep heading up.

He made his way up to the seventh floor where it sounded just as loud as it had on the sixth floor. Maybe if I keep going up and it’s on one of the lower floors, it’ll grow fainter and if it’s on one of the upper floors it’ll grow louder, he thought. He placed an out-of-order for that floor, returning to the stairwell to continue going up. The sounds of the party never stopped but he never got a radio call from the front desk about anyone complaining. As he continued to make his way up, the party got louder and louder until he reached the twelfth floor. It was extremely odd because no one lived on the twelfth floor.

The forty-five apartments of building three’s twelfth floor had been empty for almost four decades. Unlike the rest of Nightshade Court’s floors, the entirety of floor twelve needed to be renovated. Like with the half-finished renovations on elevator six, the renovations for the twelfth floor was something Whitmore hadn’t gotten to before his death. Harvey took a deep breath, opened the door and stepped through onto floor twelve. As soon as he did the sounds of a party in full swing, sounds he’d been listening to for nearly an hour, stopped. Several of the old lights had gone out, making the poorly lit hallway gloomy.

The nearly four decades of disuse and lack of maintenance had allowed dust to build up, even on the lights, adding to the gloom of the hallway. Harvey slowly stepped further into the hallway. There was absolutely no sound except for the sound of his breathing and footsteps. He shook himself and thought, get a hold of yourself. He walked to the elevator and paced the out-of-order sign on it. Once his job was complete, he checked his watch again. It was nearly 11:00 at night. It would be after 11:00 by the time he returned to the office and then returned to his apartment, though he’d still have time for a late night snack before bed.

However, curiosity was itching at him to investigate. How could the sounds of a raucous party have just stopped when he reached the twelfth floor when he’d been listening to it for nearly an hour? Taking his flashlight from his belt where it had been since he’d left the basement, he turned the flashlight on to give himself extra light. He walked past the elevators, away from the stairs and down the hallway. All the doors on either side of him were closed and most assuredly locked. They had to be as no one lived on that floor and all the keys that would’ve been given to residents were in the leasing office.

If the doors were, well, he had the master key and if they weren’t, it was very strange. He checked each door as he passed it and found that each one was locked. He was still going to check every door. He had to be sure that no one was up here. He tried door after door until he got to the last door on the floor. He turned the knob and to his surprise the door popped open. The maintenance man frowned; though all of the senior maintenance workers had master keys, he was almost certain that this was the first time someone had been up her in months. He pushed the door open and stepped carefully into the apartment.

He was greeted by a silence that hung heavy in the air like a thick fog or a humid, stormy summer night. He cast the flashlight beam around the living room slowly. It was one of the larger three bedroom apartments. As the flashlight beam made its way around the room, he saw that the room was completely empty with nothing out of place. A sense of something ominous came over him as he began to check the rest of the apartment. Despite his through search, Harvey found nothing. The man scratched his head in confusion. Like the billiard balls in the basement, it was completely unexplainable.

How in God’s name was it possible for him to hear a loud, obvious, obnoxious party on a floor that hadn’t been occupied in forty years when all sounds of the party stopped when he reached the floor, and one apartment was mysteriously unlocked, with no signs of anything having happened, when all the resident keys were in the office and only maintenance and management had master keys? There was nothing to indicate that for approximately an hour, a loud, Hollywood A-List party had been occurring on the empty twelfth floor.

Shaking his head in continued confusion, Harvey left apartment 1245 and made absolutely sure to lock the door behind him. Unlike the billiard balls he’d heard fall to the floor ,roll to a stop and found once he’d looked, there was no evidence of anything here of anything having happened. The floor was completely empty and dusty. The only prints in the dust were his, unless there were mice, which he doubted. Shaking his head again, the maintenance man began walking back towards the stairs and elevators. It was now quite late, he was hungry and he needed sleep. Perhaps that was part of it. Yeah, that must be it, he thought, I’m just overtired and my mind’s playing tricks on me.

He returned to the where the stairs and elevators were. He debated on whether to he wanted to walk down all twelve flights of stairs or take elevator five. As tired as he was, Harvey really didn’t feel like walking down all those stairs so he decided to take the elevator. He pushed the button and after a moment it arrived at the floor. He rode the elevator down to the first floor, and made his way across the courtyard and into the office. He clocked out and saw that it was nearly midnight. With a sigh at how long it had taken to do something simple, he put away his tool belt and tools away before heading to Oleander Lane.

He walked to elevator three and took it up to the second floor. He walked to his apartment, 208, unlocked it and entered, closing the door tightly behind him. He knew he was probably being silly but he locked the door behind him. He was equal parts hungry and tired so he decided he would eat first. He made himself a toasted English muffin with jam and ate it before changing into his pajamas, tucking himself into bed and promptly falling asleep shortly after 12:30. Most of the residents of Vienna Gardens were in bed and asleep well before midnight. There were those few night owls burning the midnight oil well into the night.

The complex was quiet at that late hour, expect for the ticking lobby clocks that echoed in the high ceilinged lobbies and the sounds of the old buildings settling. The sounds of chirping crickets and hooting owls could be heard in the stillness of the quiet buildings. While Vienna Gardens wasn’t out in the sticks, the area was still very much like it had been during ‘20s,’30s and ‘40s, a quiet area where Hollywood came to relax but raucous parties weren’t unheard of. Now there were no parties to break the stillness of the night, except for the phantom party that Harvey heard and was heard only by him.

The next morning, Harvey pushed all thoughts of the odd things that had happened the day before out of his mind so he could focus on his job. The first thing he needed to do was replace the two blown fuses in building three’s fuse box, even though it meant going back to the basement. Luckily, it didn’t take long to put the new fuses in place so he didn’t have to stay in the basement long. Once that was complete he decided there was no time like the present to finish the updates on good old elevator six. He spoke to Rex Carlson, one of the other maintenance men, and managed to rope him into helping. Rex knew what work had already been done on the system and what still needed to be done.

Despite the variety of updates to the complex, including the more modern late twentieth and early twenty-first century ones, Vienna Gardens still looked like it was on the midst of the roaring ‘20s ,which was exactly what management wanted. Of course, all the plumbing and electrical was modern, but everything was designed to fit the buildings overall style. It was all part of Vienna Gardens’ appeal. The complex had been restored to its former glory after it had slipped into disrepair, with those important updates that hadn’t existed when it was built. Only building three’s twelfth floor and the ever crabby elevator six hadn’t been updated.

“We wanted to fix it. The old man hated leaving things half-done or undone. He knew the buildings needed updating and that they could be updated without taking away from the looks of the place. He also knew that once properly done, the updates would help cut down on costs ‘cause we’re not fixing things every other day when it was just done. Since the updates, the other five elevators haven’t broken down and that incident last week with elevator two was because one of the kids hit the emergency stop button by accident,” Rex explained when Harvey said something to him.

There were several other maintenance men who’d had a hand in updating the other elevators on duty that morning so Harvey and Rex pulled them in to help. Since the update to elevator six had been almost half-way completed when Whitmore died, it took the six men less time to finish the job then it would have if they’d started from the beginning. Once the job was complete, the other four maintenance men went about the rest of their duties. Harvey decided to double check to make sure elevator six was all set and remove the out of order signs and Rex agreed to accompany him.

The two men figured it would take several hours to check the systems and remove the signs for the entirety of elevator six going all the way up to the twelfth floor. They‘d pre-warned the residents about any noise that might occur during the update and for a few hours afterward so they wouldn’t have to do it again. The men decided it would be good to start in the basement and work their way up. They started with the fuse box and circuit breaker before moving onto the elevator itself.

When they stopped for lunch shortly after one, they had only reached the third floor. The debated working through the night but decided against it. The update was complete so it wasn’t like there was an enormous amount of work to be done on the elevator. As much as everyone had wanted the update done and as much as they needed to finish double-checking the system, no one wanted to lose sleep over it, even with the thick walls.

“We can do that on the last floor, there’s no one to disturb there,” Rex said as they returned to work and Harvey agreed with him.

At the mention of the twelfth floor, the younger man remembered the incident from the day before but he pushed it out of his head. However, as work continued, he found it hard to do so completely. It was always in the back of his mind. By six o’clock they had reached the sixth floor and decided that was where they would stop for the day to pick up the next day at seven in the morning. The next morning was dark and cloudy with a thick, dense fog creeping across the complex.
It was a good day to be inside Harvey decided as it looked like a storm was threatening. He met up with Rex at the front doors to building three with all their gear and tools. By 11:30 they were half way through floor seven. Wanting to get as done as possible, they hurried through lunch and were done with floor eight by 12:30 instead of 1:00. As they started work on the ninth floor it was Rex who brought up the oddness that happened at Vienna Gardens.

“You know, I wouldn’t be surprised if number six keeps acting up,” the older man said.

“Why’s that?” Harvey asked.

“You don’t know? Well. I shouldn’t really be surprised. You haven’t been here long. This complex has a lot of history and some of the stuff that happens here isn’t just because the buildings are old,” Rex said.

“Well, back in the late twenties, before the depression hit, an actress fell to her death down this elevator shaft.”

“What?”

“Yeah, her name was Helen Reingold. She was a b-list actress poised to make it onto the a-list. She was attending a party on the twelfth floor that was being thrown by this big Hollywood actor and apparently she got piss drunk. Elevator six had gone to the top floor and Helen had made it down to the tenth floor, heading to her apartment on the first floor. Well, apparently she decided she was too drunk to walk the rest of the way down with all those flights of stairs. According to the report filed later, the doors malfunction and she was too smashed to realize that the elevator hadn’t arrived even though the doors had opened and down she went, straight to the bottom,” Rex explained.

Harvey winced in sympathy for the poor woman.

“Hell of a way to go. One of the maintenance guys found her. The walls aren’t as thick in the shafts themselves and she screamed loud enough that she was heard and there was even an echo. Maintenance guy was working on something in the basement. “

“Working on what?” Harvey interrupted.

“Checking on the water heater, I think. Anyway, he heard her screaming and then heard her hit. He managed to shut down the elevator and pry open the doors in the basement open and well…it was pretty gruesome. Somebody called 911 but she was dead by the time the cops and medics showed up. Killed on impact,” Rex finished.

“Jesus. I can’t imagine getting that drunk that I fall down an elevator shaft because I was too smashed to realize that it was malfunctioning,” Harvey said with a shudder.

“Well, she wouldn’t have fallen if not for the malfunction. She would have ended up in the elevator,” the other man said.

They finished with the ninth floor and moved up to the tenth.

“There was some speculation that she was pushed,” Rex said suddenly.

“What?”

“The actress’s taking her tumble. There was speculation that it wasn’t the alcohol and a random malfunction that caused her accident but that she was murdered.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, the speculation and rumors were that somebody rigged the malfunction of the doors and when she was good and smashed got her to wait by the tenth floor doors and when they opened pushed her to her death. One theory was that a jealous rival did it. Another was that the party’s host did it because he was a notorious playboy, a reputation that landed him numerous roles, and he’d either gotten her or another girl pregnant and she was going to blackmail him over it so she could get better roles for herself. Another theory was that one of the host’s rivals had killed her hoping the host would be blamed ala Fatty Arbuckle,” Rex explained.

They reached their destination, began their work and continued chatting. Rex had lived and worked in the complex for twenty-five years. He knew more of the complex’s history then most of the residents and employees except for the old-timers like Mrs. Pittman and the late Mr. Whitmore. So, Rex brought his younger coworker up to date on Vienna Gardens’ ninety-six year history, most of it just as sordid as the actress’s swan dive from the tenth floor.

“Aside from elevator six’s issues, there were all sorts of things going on with the pool tables. People kept hearing pool games being played when no one was playing or even near the tables. And it wasn’t just the pool tables where the gangster was killed but all of them. There are stories about phantom winds where there couldn’t possibly be wind. Others heard moans or screams, particularly coming from this elevator shaft. Some people have heard the sounds of a party-“Rex said.

“-that gets louder as they get closer to the twelfth floor but once they get there it stops completely,” Harvey finished.

“How’d you know that?” the older man asked.

“’Cause two nights ago when I was putting up the out-of-order signs, it happened to me. I was on the sixth floor and I was walking back towards the stairs when I heard it. Sounds like a party and it was loud. I was amazed that no one came out to investigate the volume. I checked the entire floor and it wasn’t coming from the sixth floor but I couldn’t tell if it was coming from above me or below me. So I figured I’d keep going up and if it got softer then it was below me and if it got louder it was above me,” Harvey Told him.

“What happened?”

“Well, I kept going up and the higher I went, the louder it got. Then when I got to the twelfth floor, it stopped. It was dead silent, not a sound. I put the out-of-order sign on the elevator door and I searched the entire floor, just liked I had every other floor on the way up. The difference was that the twelfth floor is completely empty, so as I walked the floor, I made sure all the doors were still locked. Each door was locked tight, except for the last one, 1245. I tried the door and the door opened. I went in and checked the entire apartment. It was completely empty; there was no one in there and there were no signs of a party,” Harvey explained.

“Wow. That’s about what others have heard but usually they hear it loud on whatever floor they’re on and search the floor till it fades out, “the older man said.

They reached their destination, began their work and continued chatting. Rex had lived and worked in the complex for twenty-five years. He knew more of the complex’s history then most of the residents and employees except for the old-timers like Mrs. Pittman and the late Mr. Whitmore. So, Rex brought his younger coworker up to date on Vienna Gardens’ ninety-six year history, most of it just as sordid as the actress’s swan dive from the tenth floor.

“Did you see the pool tables in the basement?” Rex asked.

Harvey nodded slowly. He hadn’t just seen them; he’d heard pool balls falling and rolling across the floor when there had been no one down there but him.

“I didn’t just see them. Earlier on the day I heard the party, after I got the call about the elevator, I went to the basement to check the fuses and while I was checking them I heard what sounded like a pool ball hitting the concrete floor and rolling. I ignored it at first, but then I heard it again. So I went to check and found two pool balls on the floor by the tables.”

“Which two billiard balls was it?”

“It was the cue ball and the eight ball. Well, I found the table that they came from and put them back. I was completely mystified as to how they got off the table but I didn’t think too much about it. I walked back to the fuse box to get my kit. As I reached for my kit, I heard it again. I went back and this time it was just the eight ball. I put it back again, and returned to the fuse box and my kit. I packed my kit up and went back to the stairs as quickly as I could. I took the stairs a couple at a time. I just wanted to get out of there as fast I could,” Harvey finished.

“I’m not surprised. A few years after the death of Helen the actress, a mobster named Sabino Fiscella was keeping a mistress in building two. He was walking through the lobby on his way to visit her and was gunned down by the pool tables. A few months later, a man was killed in a fistfight over a pool game in building one’s lobby,” Rex said.

“One of the others mentioned something about a fire, or several fires,” Harvey said.

“Yes! Almost forgot about those. The first one was in building two in the fifties. A lady on the eighth floor dropped a candle and it set her drapes on fire. The second on happened in the early seventies, when a big shot producer fell asleep in one of the squishy armchairs in building two’s lobby with a lit cigar in his hand. The third one was in the late seventies. Some punk kid pulling a Halloween prank lit one of the trees in the courtyard on fire. The last one was about fifteen years ago. Some idiot decided to do their laundry at 1:30-2:00 in the morning and one of the dryers here in building three went up. Luckily, the firefighters got everyone out quickly and managed to keep the fire contained to the laundry room,” Rex said.

“Who does their laundry at 2:00 in the morning?” Harvey asked.

“I don’t know but a lot can happen in ninety-six years. I know for certain that all three fires occurred, but especially that last one because I was here when it happened. There’s a lot of things I got from older employees and residents who’ve been here a while. The stories intrigued me so I started doing research. Especially since some of those older folks could have memory problems or it’s been so long they’re simply not remembering it correctly,” Rex said.

Harvey groaned and his colleague shrugged.

“Don’t say that in front of Mrs. Pittman,” Harvey warned.

“Yeah. She’d probably whack me with her purse,” the other man said.

Harvey snorted. Mrs. Pittman most certainly would do that and it wouldn’t be the first time. Even though she was well into her nineties, she was still feisty enough to have fought off a purse snatcher before. It was an oft told story around Vienna Gardens. As the men continued upwards, Rex began telling him about some of the things that happened because of all the death that occurred in the complex that was blamed on “ghosts”. The men continued talking as they reached the twelfth floor. The floor was still dusty and eerily quiet, just as it had been the night Harvey had been up there, looking for a party.

“I hate this floor,” Rex mumbled.

“Me too,” Harvey agreed.

It was nearly eight and this was the last floor. They needed to get this done and to get it done right. The two men looked at each other sighed and grabbed their flashlights. The beams lit up the dark places that the few working lights didn’t. They made their way through the dusty, dark hallway; the elevator car had been sent to the basement so it wouldn’t be in the way. The two men reached the elevators and began checking the last section of the elevator six shaft. The eeriness of the twelfth floor pervaded their work, their conversation a bit quieter.

“You’re not the first one whose has experienced the sounds of a party and the pool tables. In fact, experiences with the pool tables got so crazy and so constant that the management put them in the basement. That was in the late fifties or early sixties,” Rex said.

As the two men work, Rex continued to tell Harvey about other things that had happened in the complex.

“There was a lawyer in the twenties who fell down building one‘s lobby stairs and died. In the thirties there was a lady in building one, on the sixth floor, that was a chorus girl in some stage show and she was murdered by a jealous admirer. There was a maintenance man who had a heart attack and died in the basement of this building that same year. There was a businessman who was killed when his wife dropped a potted plant on his head after she found out he was cheating on her. There was a call girl back in the fifties who overdosed when her married lover broke up with her. People have heard shattering in the lobby where the businessman was killed with the potted plant. Some people still hear gunfire where the gangster went down. People have heard laughing in the hallways. Growls have even been heard in the lobbies by the desks,” he said.

“You mean like a dog growling?” Harvey interrupted.

“Yeah, and not a little one either. Anyway, let’s see. People have seen ghostly figures in the hallways and lobbies. Mirrors fogging up for no reason, strange images appearing in mirrors, random noises, things falling when no one’s around,” Rex replied.

“So, it’s a lot of different things, huh?” Harvey said.

Rex nodded as the men continued their work. They continued to talk about any other stories that were floating around.

“Let’s see, at one point, in addition to maintenance and security, we also had housekeeping. They were mostly here for the rich folks and the older folks who needed a little extra help. The housekeepers found a couple of bodies. There was one housekeeper that fell down a flight of stairs in the thirties. She wasn’t hurt but she swore she pushed. It happened to a security guard a few weeks later. It continued to happen on and off for about six decades and it always happened during the more stressful times of the year.”

“Like tax season?”

“Yeah, like tax season. It happened during the holidays too. Apparently, it didn’t like lawyers. It pushed a few of them and they were usually the ones most likely to get hurt. Whatever it was that was that was doing it, whether it was a ghost or whatever, hasn’t done it in about twenty years, give or take. Some people have seen phantom animals, mostly cats and dogs, which may explain the growling. I mean, people are allowed pets here but there’re no current residents that own anything big enough to growl like that. The last big dog to live in the complex was Mr. Pikeman’s Great Dane, but that dog died fifteen years ago and it never growled. Some residents have smelled smoke particularly by the laundry room that caught fire. Maintenance always gets calls to make sure that-“

Rex was suddenly cut off by a loud bang, like a falling brick hitting carpet. The men looked at each other before looking towards the hallway. They stepped out of the elevator and into the hallway. They turned on their flashlights and cast the beams sown to the other end of the hallway. Another bang drew their attention to the left of the elevators. They glanced at each other again. They walked down the hallway following the same path Harvey had taken two nights before while investigating the party. They proceeded to search the entire floor. There were no obvious signs of anything having fallen. An eerie, uneasy feeling crept up Harvey’s spine. He didn’t know what made that sound. There was nothing that could have made that sound. The men continued to search the floor. They listened closely as they searched, in case there were anymore noises. They continued to hear thumps as they moved through the halls.

“Does it sound like footsteps?” Harvey asked in a harsh whisper.

“Yeah, it does,” Rex answered.

As the moved towards the higher numbered apartments, the thumping footsteps sounded to be just ahead of them, around the corner. Suddenly, the thumping footsteps broke into a run. Harvey and Rex gave chase, thinking someone must be up there with them. There had to be someone else up there with them. Maybe it was some sort of squatter or someone playing a prank. No one was supposed to be on the twelfth floor except employees. The two maintenance men followed the footsteps right to the apartment that had been mysteriously unlocked two nights before, 1245. The men looked at each other and then back at the door. The footsteps had stopped at the door. There was silence now except for their heavy breathing and hammering hearts. Rex looked at Harvey and when Harvey nodded, Rex reached for the doorknob to apartment 1245. The older man turned the knob slowly and with a click the door opened.

“That was locked. I locked it the night I heard the party, I swear,” Harvey said.

“I believe you, kid,” Rex said as he pushed the door open.

The men entered the vacant apartment, flashlights raised up high, not knowing exactly what to expect. They cast the beams around the darkened living room. They slowly moved further into the apartment until one of the beams fell on a dark shadow standing in the hallway by the master bedroom. Before either man could demand that the shadow identify itself, it charged at them with an angry snarl. They back pedaled out of the apartment and Rex slammed the door closed behind them. He held the door shut with one hand as he fumbled with the keys finally, he locked the door and as he did, a loud bang sounded from the other side as though the shadow had banged a fist against it. The men jumped back, startled by the noise.

“Let’s get out of here,” Harvey said.

“Yeah, let’s do that,” Rex said.

Another bang sent them bolting for the elevators. They could hear the thumping footsteps again but this time it was chasing them instead of them changing it. The hallways seemed longer and darker than before. Finally, they made it back to the elevator. They could still hear the footsteps but could no longer tell where they were coming from and they were getting louder and closer. They threw their tools and kits together, closed elevator six and hustled into elevator five. Harvey hit the button for the first floor and the doors slid closed. As they closed and the elevator dinged, a bang echoed from the outside. As the elevator started, the men heard a sinister laughter echo through the hallway and the elevator. Silence followed the laughter and they sunk to the floor in relief from having escaped that evil shadow. Harvey’s hands were shaking so bad he could hardly turn off his flashlight but he managed it. Rex turned his off as well.

“I don’t think we should reopen the twelfth floor, “Harvey said.

“So do I, but you know management’s gonna make us anyway,” Rex said.

“Not if they’d seen that thing. Do you think that could have a person?” Harvey asked.

“No, I do not. Not with everything else that happened. A person would have reacted to us differently, I think, not just charge at us without a word. And footsteps don’t echo like that in these buildings or at least they shouldn’t. I wouldn’t have believed my eyes if I didn’t know you saw it too,” Rex said.

“Who do you think that was?”

“I don’t know, kid. I don’t know.”

It was the most terrifying elevator ride of their lives. The sound of the laughter echoed in their ears as the made the trip down to the first floor. It would keep both men up for the rest of the night.
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