I carried on working as a pizza delivery man for about another year after the disturbing events at that block of flats. That might surprise you, but I needed the money. Besides, it seemed pretty unlikely that I would experience something so messed up again.
As it turns out, I am one unlucky son of a bitch.
One Friday night, we got a call for a delivery to a nearby industrial estate. There were lots of little independent companies over there - garages, auto parts, carpet-fitters and the like. It had been a good source of business in the past and we’d all done plenty of runs to it over the years. It was my turn that night, so I set out at about 7pm with a piping hot pepperoni pizza sitting on the passenger seat of my car.
I pulled up in front of the building a few minutes later. It was dark, illuminated in the evening gloom only by the street lamps that punctuated the pavement, and it stood out from the other units like a sore thumb. It was clearly a lot newer, with clean grey panels that contrasted sharply with the grubby exteriors of the other buildings on the estate. It didn’t have any windows that I could see, only a black front door behind a dark metal gate, locked and unmoving. Whatever this business was, apparently they took their security seriously.
Beside the door was an intercom with a large “call” button. I pressed it and waited, and after a moment or two there came a crackling sound from the speaker. No voice followed.
‘Um, hello?’ I said. ‘I’ve got your pizza.’
For a second, I thought that there was still no response. I leaned closer to the intercom and I realised that I could just make out a quiet sound. I moved my ear next to the speaker, straining to hear. It sounded like a voice on the other side, maybe someone whispering.
I couldn’t quite make out the words. Were they words? A strange sensation began to overtake me, making my legs feel heavy. I thought that perhaps I should go inside and find out who the voice belonged to…
‘Alright, mate! Is that pizza for me?’
I jerked up and away from the speaker, spinning around in search of who had spoken. A man stood in the doorway of the next unit over, light spilling out from behind him onto the dark pathway.
‘You looking for 118, yeah?’ He nodded his head at the building I was next to. ‘That’s 120.’
I backed slowly away from the door, my breathing fast and light. The man was watching me with a smile, his hand stretched out for his pizza. I walked across to him and passed it over.
‘Thanks!’ He said, and made to go back inside.
‘Who’s renting that place?’ I asked quickly, before he could shut the door.
He paused, glancing over at it. ‘No one yet. It’s new, was only finished being put up a couple of days ago. The one that was there before it burned down.’
‘Have you…’ I hesitated. Had he what? Heard creepy sounds coming from the intercom? ‘Have you seen anyone in there?’
The man shook his head. ‘Nah, never seen anyone go in.’ He looked at my pale face. ‘Why?’
I shuddered a little. ‘Oh, no reason. Thought I heard someone in there.’ I forced a chuckle. ‘Just my imagination.’
I gave him an awkward wave and walked back to my car, leaving him standing there watching me go.
A week later, we got another order for Unit 118 at the same industrial estate. I wasn’t particularly eager to return to the place, having had my fill of weird creepy buildings some time ago. But my boss reasoned that I knew where I was going, so I’d be able to complete the delivery faster than anyone else. We were a little short-staffed that evening, so I agreed.
I avoided looking at Unit 120 as I pulled up outside, keeping my eyes locked on the path ahead of me. I raised my hand to knock on the door but before I could, it was yanked open. The man I’d seen before was on the other side. His face lit up.
‘Ah, sweet!’ He exclaimed, ‘I hoped it’d be you!’
A sinking feeling came over me. Oh no.
The man took the pizza from me and carelessly tossed it aside onto a bench beside the door. Then, stepping outside, he jabbed a finger at the adjacent building.
‘I think you’re right about that place,’ he said, excitedly. ‘There’s someone in there. I tried the intercom earlier and could hear voices. It’s not working very well, I couldn’t make out what they were saying, but it’s definitely not empty.’ He stepped out from the doorway and began to move towards 120. ‘Come on,’ he declared. ‘Let’s get in there and find out who it is!’
I stepped back away from him. ‘Mate, I’m not going anywhere near that place. And you shouldn’t either.’
He looked at me in surprise. ‘Why not?’
‘Because it’s not right. It’s dangerous. I can feel it.’ I snorted. ‘Trust me on this. I’ve got experience with these kinds of things.’
He stared at me. ‘What kinds of things?’
‘Creepy-ass things,’ I stated firmly. ‘I’m not going anywhere near anything like that ever again.’
He looked at me for a few moments, puzzled. Then his face cracked into a grin.
‘Ah, you’re just pulling my leg.’ He began to move towards Unit 120 again but I grabbed his arm.
‘I’m not fucking about, mate,’ I snapped. ‘Leave that place alone!’
‘Bloody hell, alright,’ he said, staring at me. ‘I just wanted a look.’
I shook my head. ‘Don’t look. Don’t listen. Just stay away.’ Then I turned on my heel and strode back to the car, only shaking a little bit.
I hoped it was over. I hoped that the guy would heed my warning and just go about his stupid life. But of course, it didn’t work out that way.
Only two days later, my boss called me over. ‘Got another delivery for that estate. It’s 118 again. You alright to take it? You were there the other day, right?’
I felt cold. ‘Yeah,’ I said, ‘And I’d rather not go back again, if it’s all the same to you.’
He frowned at me. ‘Why not?’
I didn’t say ‘Because there’s a terrifying building with no windows and something fucked up inside that whispers at you through the intercom’.
‘The guy who keeps phoning in the delivery is too friendly,’ I offered instead.
‘Well, it’s gonna have to be you, then,’ said the boss. ‘If he’s one of those types, I’m not sending Maria out on her own and she’s the only other one working tonight.’
I groaned inwardly. I really didn’t want to go but Maria was a nice kid who didn’t deserve that kind of shit. So, once again, I set off to the industrial estate.
The man was already waiting when I arrived, sitting on the doorstep, his eyes eagerly watching me approach. He didn’t even take the pizza when I offered it but instead sprang up and began to walk towards unit 120.
‘Look, mate,’ he said, holding his hands up placatingly, ‘I know what you’re saying about the place, but we’ve got to go inside. This is too crazy not to check out!’
I threw the pizza onto the ground. ‘Are you out of your mind?’ I exclaimed. ‘Why the hell do you want to go in there? And why do you need me to go with you?’
I saw him hesitate at this, and a puzzled expression flit across his face. ‘You’ve gotta come with me,” he stuttered. ‘Because you heard it too.’
I stared at him, a sense of horror robbing me of the power to respond. He darted over to the doorway of Unit 120.
‘Come on,’ he wheedled. ‘It’ll only take a minute!’ He pressed the “call” button on the intercom and leaned down towards it, impatient and excited. I moved further back, not wanting to hear whatever came out of that speaker. As he listened, his eyes locked onto mine; they were wide and oddly bright. Suddenly he stood up straight with a huge grin on his face. ‘They say we can come in!’ He exclaimed. He turned to look expectantly at the black door.
And, to my horror, it opened.
Just a crack. Not enough to slip inside, even if there hadn’t been a large metal gate blocking the way. But enough to see the blackness on the other side. The man looked at me intently. I shook my head, taking another step back. He chuckled, as if I was just a stubborn child, then turned back to the door and, gripping the bars of the gate, gave it a shake.
‘Hey!’ He called through the door. ‘This is locked! We can’t get in.’
I watched as he leaned forward, head tilted slightly as if he was listening to something. Then he laughed.
‘Ah, I see. That’s simple enough!’
Planting his feet squarely on the ground, he shoved his face up against the gate, the bars pressing into his cheekbones. And then he pushed…
For a few moments I didn’t understand what he was doing, what he was trying to achieve. He didn’t possibly think he was going to fit through the bars, did he? And then I heard a pop. I didn’t comprehend what had happened, but then the man pulled away from the bars and turned to look at me.
‘Come on,’ he pleaded. ‘Give me a hand!’
There was blood on his face. The metal of the gate had been driven into the skin of his cheeks, splitting it open. The popping sound had seemingly come from the broken tooth that was now hanging by a thread out of his mouth. He was trying to get inside by breaking himself through the gate.
I stared at him, frozen in place. Seeing that I wasn’t coming to assist him in his insane endeavor, the man rolled his bruised eyes at me, almost amused, and turned back to the bars. He struck his face violently against them with a loud crack that suggested that he’d broken his cheekbones. I swore and lunged forward, seizing him by the shoulders and dragging him back from the door and as far away from the building as I could.
‘Jesus Christ!’ I cried. ‘What the hell are you doing?’ He shoved me away, his face already split from the damage he had inflicted on himself. He was still grinning.
‘Stop messing about,’ he chuckled. ‘I’m just trying to get in!’ Then he ran full pelt at the door, crashing his head against the grate. I shouted something, I don’t know what, and grabbed at him again. This time he pushed me away with such force that I was knocked backwards onto the ground, landing heavily and knocking the wind out of myself for a moment.
And in that moment, I watched as the man gripped the bars of the gate and smashed his face violently against them. He was still laughing as he pulled backwards and struck his head against the metal again and again and again…
By the time I was able to stagger to my feet, he was done. His body was slumped on the ground and what was left of his head was in pieces on the other side of the gate, his blood pooling into the blackness beyond the open door.
I didn’t approach to look at him, or to try to see what was inside the building. Like I said, I’d learned my lesson a long time ago. Instead, I returned to my car and drove away.
But I don’t have a will of iron. As I drove past Unit 120 I couldn’t resist a glance towards the doorway. It was only for a second, but it was long enough for me to see that it was open wider now, and I saw the face in the shadows and the hand that reached through the gate and clutched the body that lay on the other side.
And pulled it inside with such force that it collapsed against and around the bars, a deformed mass of blood and meat dragged into the darkness of Unit 120.
Then the door slammed shut and I drove away without looking back again.