Short Story: Lights Out Part 6

The Job of a Security Chief in a private building is thankless, stullifying and for the most part as boring as Mime Church on Saturday.  You clock in first thing in the morning, check over the security logs, meet with the building tenants once or twice a week and put a happy if patricial face on the security procedures that inevitably end up annoying or inconveniencing the tenants.  If it has been a particularily trying day, you can get free food from one of the cafeterias in the building or sneak a drink from the executive lounges in the name of a security check.

When the call came in that the 25th was overrun, Mike Pendegrass wished that he had strayed into one of the executive lounge instead of tarrying around 23 looking at the security doors.

“Chief Responding, Unit 12, I’ll lock it down,  sit tight! Units 1-10, lock down floors 23 down to 19, sweep down floor by floor, Unit 11, you’re with me.”

Two worried looking kids in Security Tactical gear appeared in the main lobby on 23, they had pulled out the private securty quivalent of riot gear from the security office on 23.  Mike took a club from one of them and led them out to the central staircase.

“Guys, you know what to do, get up to 25 determine the nature of the threat and seal all exits if that threat could come down on us; now get going1”

“Yes sir!” Like military recruits, the two young men tore up the staircase to the 25th, Chief Pendegrass could hear their boots pound all the way up, then the heavy doors closing behind them.

“Chief, Unit 11 checking in, there are some people milling about out here.  My partner is leading them into the secure area,  we’ll get them locked into a secure area before going on.”

“You lock down that central staircase before you do anything else boys, I don’t want anything coming down those stairs until one of you boys tosses it ahead of them, you get me?”

“Yes Sir, Unit 11 locking down stairs”

One of the boys had come into the stairwall above Chief Pendegrass and used his security key to initiate a lockdown of the 25th floor.  Mike had climbed the stairs behind the two security guards, keeping a safe distance until he was sure that whatever had caught Jack and Patrick wasn’t already spilling into the central staircase.

“Okay, I’ll finish the lockdown.  Get in there and secure the people in the security office in the north corner, it has a chute down to 24 if things go south.  Barricade them in, tell them to sit tight and wait for the all clear then get back down to this door in a hurry!”

The young guard complied and Chief Michael Pendegrass finished sealing the door, he sat down and leaned against it, calling out to his man on the roof.

“Pat, chief here, pick up on private channel” Mike swapped channels over to a private channel he knew was set aside for unit 12 “Pat, what’s your six?”

“…..ssssssSSSSSS……”

“Pat, come back”

Mike switched over to the public channel, “Unit 12, come back”

“sssssSSSS    Unit 12 coming back Chief”

“Pat, switch over to private, you got me?”

“Chief, I’m kinda in the middle of something, I’ll catch you on the flip side if I get through ….sssssSSSSS”

Security Chief Mike Pendegrass, formerly of the Saint Paul Police department smiled a little to himself and thought of the times he had asked people to hold on like that,  as if a life or death matter was some sort of chore that one could shrug off.  Mike Pedegrass leaned his full weight into the door and listened, listened for the sounds of something going wrong, for screams, for gunshots, for anything.  Beyond the murmering that once could always hear in the main stairwell, it was silence.  He could hear the odd footstep beyond the door and occasional check-ins as the units swept down from 23, but the rest was silence and peace.

“Unit 12, come back”

“Chief, this is unit 11”

“Unit 11,  have you secured the tenants on 25?”

“Yeah Chief, coming back to the main staircase, unit 11 out”

Chief Pendegrass stood up and smoothed out his uniform, he began the unlock sequence on the door and pulled open the heavy steel arm that secured it.  He waited for the twin cadenced steps of the guards of unit 11.

And waited.