G is for Graveyard Shift

G is for Graveyard Shift

The lights were off in the reinforced security bunker deep underground. Which allowed the dull blinking glow from the bank of rotatory monitors that mounted the wall in front of Kyle to fill in the darkness. It was also three am. Kyle yawned before taking another bite of his cupcake. The whirring of the monitors gave the entire room a decently loud hum to it, which he could fall asleep to if he tried. In the still snapshots from around the Market, he got to see the place as no guest ever did. Empty.

MacSweeny’s was about as creepy as Harpers Forest he had decided about 15 minutes after the start of his first night shift. To start, every few minutes, he’d catch something out of the corner of his eye from one of the monitors. By the time he turned his attention, the static image had already refreshed, and nothing appeared amiss. Then while his focus was on that monitor, it would happen on another one.

He had been warned that all the security feeds had been run through some massive unused transaction engine long ago and it would cause glitches in what he saw on the spinning platters. That would have been a fine excuse if he hadn’t been watching one disc that fed from one of the stockroom stacks. It was just a big warehouse room that was full of shelving racks and merchandise. Over an hour, the shelving had emptied, restocked and he was pretty sure everything had been rearranged. The images presented on the platter never caught anything in the process of being moved.

Alarms, like the current one blinking and buzzing needed attention. Kyle jumped in his seat at the intrusion of the noise. These did not run through the un-used engine as far as anyone knew and were always right. His attention shifted to the blinking glass bulb on the stupidly large panel of bulbs, switches and ID plates. Alarm 890. He flicked the switch to disarm it, then flipped through the log book which would tell him which platter he needed to find. From there, he spun the disc until he found platter 1049-b. Then he spun down the monitor for the storage stack, swapped the large metal disks and let the system spin up to speed again. He was now looking at a section of parking lot at the far end of the Market.

Starting from the curtain wall, a section of parking had collapsed in on itself in a straight line directly towards MacSweeny’s. As the image refreshed, a new section of parking lot collapsed in on itself, and the trench extended another few feet. Kyle smiled as he put on his jacket. This was something he could handle.

###

Kyle inhaled the crisp, cold night air. It was a fine autumn night. The sky was clear enough to allow him to see the parking lot and growing trench by starlight. As he approached the channel, the sounds of metal grinding on rock and dirt reached his ears. He spun the store shovel in his hand and moved about thirty feet in front of the trench before beginning to dig into the parking lot. As the earth mover his hole, it passed through and revealed a metal hull to the sky.

“Trying to sneak in won’t do you any good,” Kyle said as he reached down and gave the digging machine a good solid punch. The metal dented under his knuckles.

A moment passed before the labored sounds of moving earth stopped. There was a hiss of muffled steam from somewhere below, and the machine fell into a waiting silence.

“Yes? Hello? Who’s there?” An unconcerned voice said from below.

“This is Kyle, acting security for MacSweeny’s. Who is this?” Kyle answered.

“I am Dr. Tricloids! Perhaps you’ve heard of me, Kyle?”

“Nope, sorry. I’m afraid not.”

“Pity, if you had, I could spare you.”

Kyle found himself about 50 feet in the air, pressed flat against a decent section of the parking lot and substrate. As the entire mass reached its zenith, he wondered if he could learn this particular move for himself. Moments later, Kyle and the parking lot smashed back into the ground. He grunted as he pushed one of the mangled light poles off of him.

A metal tube extruded from the ground, transforming into a steamer.

“I confess, I am a bit surprised you survived, Mr. Kyle.” Dr. Tricloids steam hiss voice echoed through the empty parking lot.

Kyle got up and dusted himself off and fixed his hat. “I’ve had worse falls.” He settled into a defensive position, “and you are trespassing on MacSweeny Property, Dr. Tricloids. Please leave the premises immediately.”

The steamer imitated a laugh, “I will go where I want and when I want. There is nothing that can stop me.”

“Then I’ll just have to stop you,” Kyle replied and ran straight towards Dr. Tricloids who responded in kind. Kyle aimed for the middle of the mechanical, hoping to tackle it to the ground. Instead, he found himself soaring backward through the air, having taken a rocket fist to the stomach. He smashed into the side of the building, leaving a small crater.

The metal doctor paused to examine its now mangled fist, “You are certainly tougher than you appear. No matter though.”

Trailing cables from the earth mover, Dr. Tricloids walked to stand over a stunned Kyle. “I should run some tests on you. I could probably glean some valuable data.”

“No thanks,” Kyle kicked out at the steamer’s leg, missing as it dodged.

In the same movement, Dr. Tricloids reached down, grabbed Kyle’s leg and tossed him high into the air. While in the air he twisted around to come fist first straight down onto the earth mover, crushing the outer hull and severing the cables to the steamer.

“Oh, that was impressive, I am taking notes on this development.”

“You are still trespassing, sir.”

“And I have been delayed considerably for my delivery to the…” it pulled out a piece of paper from its arm and read it over,  “M4. Who do you work for, young man? I must send the damages of my vehicle to your employer and any late fees I incur from this M4.”

Kyle relaxed a bit, “have you ever been to M4 or contracted with them before?”

“I have not, on either account. At my current raid of speed, I had expected to arrive by morning.”

“M4 is shorthand for ‘MacSweeny’s Maniacal Material Market’ who’s parking lot you are presently in the process of destroying.” Kyle stuck out his arm in a straight line to see where the earth mover was heading and added, “And you would have drilled straight most of the building to get to the loading docks. Do you have your paperwork?”

“Of course,” Dr. Tricloids handed it to Kyle and surveyed the damage, “This is certainly a problem.”

Kyle scanned the paperwork unable to read the punch-card holes but recognized the Market’s logo. The mechanical had been given a shorthand form. He handed them back to the doctor and then showed his employee badge. “It appears you had been given the wrong forms for your first time. I apologize for that. Typically, everyone goes through check-in and goes straight to the docks, coming under the parking lot means we have an intruder.

“I will file this information away for next time. I will begin to make repairs.” The mechanical immediately turned to start undoing the damage until Kyle blocked his path.

“We have cleanup crews for this. You have not been the first to make an attempted break-in, deliberate or not. MacSweeny’s will get everything sorted out.”

“And my transportation?”

“It will be taken care of, and I would expect it to be good as new later today. MacSweeny’s takes care of its guests and contractors. We like repeat business.” Kyle led the Dr. Tricloids to shipping and receiving to begin the check-in process while repair drones crawled out of strategically places storage sheds and went to work.

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