THE LAW FIRM
the Law Firm
Paper documents cluttered Jessica’s work desk so heavily that not an inch of free space could be seen. Coffee touched Jessica’s lips for what seemed like the hundredth time today.
She had already been at the office for over twelve hours, and was still nowhere near finished. Everyone at the law firm had gone home for the day, leaving Jessica to the massive amount of work that was due the next day.
Though she has been working there for a couple of weeks, Jessica had never stayed late before. It was strange to see the office so empty, and quiet, the phones silent, and lights turned low. Jessica had landed her first job as a paralegal at the firm, and while the learning was stressful, she was excited to be achieving the goals she had set for herself. It was difficult to keep her mind from wandering, but she needed to focus. As Jessica sat in the dim light, shuffling, and organizing papers, she reminisced on how she had been working so hard throughout college to excel at her grades.
The drive had not left her after graduation. Determination had kept her on track with applications until she finally came across this law firm that specialized in entertainment law. For Jessica, the job posting appeared to be a dream coming true, so she did her best to ace her interview, and land the position. Things were looking up in her life finally, and the more she succeeded, the further away her troubled past drifted.
The clock hit 8:00 pm right as the last drop of Jessica’s latte ran dry. She still had so much work that needed to be done. She couldn’t risk losing any more energy, so she hopped up from the desk, and made her way to the coffee station that housed several different machines promising to energize the most exhausted employees. The espresso machine was Jessica’s favorite, just another perk of the job.
A large mirror was hanging on the wall right above the coffee station. Jessica wasn’t sure why someone wanted it to be there of all places, but that didn’t stop her from taking a sneak peek at her current physical appearance. The beginning of the summer months was slowly tanning her skin. Her almond shaped brown eyes were set deep beneath fans of long black eyelashes. Her light brown hair hung in loose, curly tendrils far down her back. The clear, and smooth complexion of her skin allowed her to go out without make-up, and still look flawless.
She could not complain about her genetics, except for one dark mole that spotted her cheekbone. Jessica often found herself distracted by it, even now. As the espresso brewed, and gurgled in the machine, Jessica leaned closer to get a better look at her cheek in the mirror. It was then when her eyes wandered to the reflection of what stood behind her in the mirror. Jessica felt her heart leap into her throat along with a quiet shriek.
A form, not appearing fully human, swayed back, and forth in the doorway that led into the office where Jessica stood frozen. Long arms that hung well past the figure’s thigh area, swung fluidly as the silhouette hit one side of the door frame then slammed into the other. Like a pendulum in an old grandfather clock, the figure continued to sway. Its long hair flowed upward from its misshapen head, floating as if it was in water.
The office was dark, and the low-bright light from the hallway behind the figure caused an incredibly inconvenient obscurity to hinder Jessica from seeing its face. There was no way a human could have that stance, let alone one of Jessica’s coworkers whose faces were all well known to her. Still, Jessica’s brain was only human, and she instinctively tried to rationalize.
“Our office hours are over,” Jessica forced out in a shallow whisper. “Can I help you?”
She turned to look at the figure, but she was greeted with only an empty doorway. It had disappeared in the fractions of seconds it took her to change perspective. Jessica looked back to the mirror, finding the same figure standing there, only this time a bit closer in distance to where she stood. Jessica still couldn’t make out any facial features, but she was beginning to realize that this was no ordinary person coming to pay the law firm a visit.
Medication had been known to cause hallucinations for Jessica in the past, but she had been off of those for years, and usually the visions weren’t quite as vivid as now.
She rubbed her eyes, furious that her mind was playing tricks on her. The figure was gone when she looked back to the mirror for the third time, and she sighed with relief. She internally scolded herself for letting her anxiety skyrocket, despite knowing that it was only her mind playing tricks.
Caffeine overload while exhausted had never caused Jessica this amount of psychological trouble before, but she reassured herself that there was always a first time for everything, and the amount of stress the new job was causing could very well be playing a factor. She would be sure to cut back on the espresso in the near future, but she knew, tonight, it would be absolutely unfeasible if she wanted to complete her tasks.
The hands on Jessica’s watch struck 10:00 pm, far quicker than she had anticipated. She hadn’t even paid attention to the time since the incident with the mirror. The espresso, and cream mixture kept her going strong, and helped her focus, but hunger pains were setting in quickly. It was when she lifted herself from the office chair that she realized she hadn’t eaten for nearly ten hours. The dinner she meant to eat hours ago was still packed away in the break room refrigerator.
It didn’t sound pleasant, walking all the way to the break room by herself in the dark, but Jessica knew she had no choice if she wanted to be nourished. If she continued to skip meals, she’d only feel worse, and that may make the vision from earlier return. Since the initial occurrence, Jessica hadn’t been disturbed whatsoever.
Jessica wandered through the door, and down the long eerily dark hallways that led to the break room kitchen. Office after office, Jessica slinked past, keeping her eyes rolling around her although she felt slightly ridiculous to be paranoid. It was simply her nerves causing alarm.
At last she ended up in the kitchen, completely unscathed besides her gnawing hunger pains. She rustled around in the large glass refrigerator until she came across the lunch bag she had packed.
Leftover Chinese takeout, wasn’t the best reheated, but it would do. Jessica waited, staring at the brightly lit microwave as it rotated her food in a constant loop. The fatigue washing over her, mixed with the hum of the microwave, sent Jessica into a deep daze.
She nearly jumped out of her skin when the microwave beeped obnoxiously loud, indicating that her food was ready. The light from inside blinked out leaving her in near complete darkness, except for a light that remained vibrant from over the nearby stovetop. The lack of sight was beginning to wear on Jessica’s nerves. Suddenly, she felt the sensation of being watched, which was something she never wanted to feel, especially in an environment like this.
Unbeknownst to Jessica, the warped, long limbed creature that had visited her earlier was hiding in the shadows, not more than three feet behind her, watching her every move as she stirred up her dinner. As she took a bite of the hot rice, and turned to make her way back to the safe little office space, she was face to face with the gangly, otherworldly creature.
A scream erupted from deep within Jessica’s lungs, spewing the food from her mouth, and dropping the plate of rice, and chicken. The eyes that popped out of the figure’s face were as wide as a stereotypical alien’s, gaunt, and sunken, black as night. Bluish grey skin was pulled taut over its skeletal body. Not an ounce of muscle, or fat covered its bones.
Jessica didn’t wait to find out the intentions of the monstrous being. She knew it wasn’t there for an office party. She stumbled her way through the break room in a frantic run, looking behind her only to see the figure pursuing her in full chase. While standing upright, it seemed at least eight feet tall, but it didn’t tower for long. It moved in sudden rushed strides, bending at the knees with an exaggerated limp.
With every dodge from the deranged spirit’s flailing arms, Jessica screamed out in panic. She led the ghost-like figure in circles around the tables, trying to keep as much distance between them as possible. Although she knew she would eventually have to make a run for the hallway, Jessica feared this thing would gain ground within seconds.
Despite the fear that had entirely overtaken every bit of Jessica, she couldn’t help, but curse her co-workers. Did they know there was something haunting this office, and just never warned her? Or were they aloof? It started to cross Jessica’s mind that perhaps she herself was entirely delusional, and this was some sort of psychotic episode brought on by stress.
That theory suddenly seemed much less likely, when the figure swung its huge boney-fingered hand across the table, and slapped Jessica with excessive force. Its jagged, moldy fingernails slashed Jessica’s cheek. Warm, thick blood oozed from the deep scratch marks.
Still leading the ghost on a looping chase around the tables, Jessica glanced at her surroundings, trying to spot something that would help in her escape. It wasn’t guaranteed to work, but she saw the kitchen light switch next to the door that led to the hallway. If she could flip it on, maybe the ghost would disappear. It worked in movies, and Jessica was hopeful it would work for her too.
She only had one opportunity to make it work. After faking a lunge towards one side of the table, she turned a complete one-eighty to head for the light switch. She didn’t take the precious seconds to see if her fake-out had stunned, or slowed the creature. Instead, she focused solely on the light switch, flinging herself at it. When she flipped it on, several fluorescent lights flickered on one by one, illuminating the break room in a greenish-yellow glow of light.
Jessica stared in horror as she watched the strange beast slowly turning its hideous face to her, still as present in the light as it had been in the dark. Only now Jessica could make out just how wretched this creature truly appeared.
There was no time to waste. In fact, Jessica knew she was on borrowed time, having already spent a few seconds in vain, trying to win against the ghost with her feeble attempt to expose it to light. She darted into the hallway, and closed the break room door behind her. The chances of slowing the unearthly being were slim to none, but Jessica wanted to use every resource possible. It wasn’t like she had experience in escaping from evil entities.
Still new to the job, Jessica only felt comfortable finding her way back to the office where her work space was set up. She knew the nearest exit from there, and that’s where she had kept her cell phone.
Unfortunately for her, that was across the building. She dodged, and ducked between desks along the way, glancing behind her only long enough to see the figure still in full lumbering pursuit. Shrieks of incredibly high-pitched volume continued to emit from the creature that was growing closer, and closer to Jessica’s escape path. The only thing keeping the pursuer from gaining on her was the obstacles in the way. The lack of grace in its steps accompanied by the length of its legs made it hard for the ghost to maneuver around the desks, and printers. Even a coffee maker went flying across the room at one point when the ghost flailed its arms, aiming for Jessica, yet knocking over everything on the coffee station instead.
Every time the screeching figure lost footing in the chase, Jessica gained a slight lead that gave her a little more hope with each stride that took her closer to the office. She wasn’t sure what she would do once she got there, but at least she would be more familiar with her surroundings.
At last, Jessica found herself rushing through the doorway to the room where her work space set undisturbed. Thumps from her pursuer’s lunging strides grew louder. She soundlessly closed the door, latching it in place with a soft click. Jessica slid the nearest desk in front of the door, pushing with all of her strength, fueled by adrenaline.
The room became eerily silent. Jessica backed away from the door, listening intently for any approaching footsteps. When she finally felt she could breathe a sigh of relief, she turned back to her work station. She desperately searched for her cell phone that she knew was buried somewhere under all the stacks of paper. In the frantic rush, she accidentally knocked over her coffee cup. With a whispered curse under her breath, Jessica knelt down to grab the coffee mug off the floor, suddenly she sensed a movement on the opposite side of the office, Jessica sucked in a gasp.
The coffee mug fell from her hand. A figure, much different from the antagonizing ghost-like creature, stirred in the shadows. Standing not much taller than Jessica herself, the silhouette approached through the dim light, emitting from the lamp on Jessica’s desk. She recognized the person walking towards her. It was Heidi, the lawyer Jessica worked for.
“Jessica,” Heidi whispered, relief filling her voice. “Thank God you’re here. Now. Hurry, stay in the shadows.”
Jessica’s uncertainty still clouding her thoughts, watching the expression of stark determination on Heidi’s face. It wasn’t the same look Heidi held when working on a case, but more alert, and seemingly in complete control of the situation. Heidi stood tall, shoulders squared, and eyes darting around the room, as if she was ready for the creature to make its return.
A rifle rested in Heidi’s firm grip. When Jessica saw it, her eyes grew as wide as saucers. “What is going on here?” Jessica hissed. “Why do you have a gun? You knew about this psycho creature?”
Heidi shushed her, “I didn’t know you were staying late. You can imagine my surprise when I checked the security cameras on my phone, and saw you running being chased by a demon. Why didn’t you call me?”
“Call you? I thought I was seeing things caused by lack of sleep. I didn’t even realize these things existed until tonight, but you obviously knew about this so called ‘Demon’.”
Heidi grew inpatient, shifting her weight from one hip to the other. “Look, we have to get that demon under control. I need your help to lure it into a room where I’ll shoot it with these bullets. They’re not normal ones; they’re blessed by a priest, and highly effective. I know it sounds strange, but—”
“What? Blessed bullets? Demons? This sounds absolutely insane. You want me to be a bait?”
“I know it sounds crazy. You just have to trust me. I felt it was too soon to let you in on our side business here at the firm, but it looks like you’ve officially been initiated by one of our worst cases. When people experience unusual occurrences, they call us, and we do everything we can to take those problems off of their hands. This particular demon that got loose tonight came to us yesterday. It has quite the back story. But, believe me, that is not important right now. We have to get it back into the safe room, and subdue it, until we figure out what to do with it. Will you help me?”
Jessica knew she had no choice. With a deep uncomfortable sigh, she nodded. Heidi wasted no time leading the way back into the hallway, shoving aside the desk blocking the door with strength that Jessica was surprised to see. They wandered down the hall, lit only by dim lamps scattered throughout the offices that lined the walls. Heidi crept silently, rifle at the ready. When they reached the end, Heidi motioned to a door labeled ‘Maintenance’. Jessica rolled her eyes at the cliché, suddenly wondering if Heidi, and the rest of the staff may even be pranking her. There was only one way to find out.
The door creaked when Jessica turned the knob. The light that poured from inside the room was so bright that it blinded her. Once her vision settled, she saw a white tiled floor with matching white walls. There was nothing else in the room. Jessica turned to face Heidi, her anger outweighing her fear of the demon.
“Are you kidding me?” Jessica couldn’t believe that this is where they would attempt to capture the demon, if there truly even was such a thing. “Is this some kind of joke?”
Heidi readied her weapon, pointing it directly at Jessica, then called out in a loud commanding voice. “Over here,” she yelled into the air, clearly not speaking to Jessica, “You’re obviously hungry for a meal. Now is your chance, big guy.”
Jessica froze. The thunderous stomping of the demon’s feet grew louder, and louder. She couldn’t move for fear had frozen her. The demon dashed right past Heidi, lunging straight for Jessica with its long, grotesque arms outspread, ready to devour her on impact.
A bright light flashed, accompanied by a loud bang that caused Jessica’s ears to deafen to all noise besides a constant ringing. She stood motionless, staring down at the wriggling creature that was kicking, and flailing, clearly in distress, and pain. Its hideous sunken eyes that had pierced through Jessica’s core earlier were now hidden behind the demon’s large hands as it clutched at its own face.
Heidi grabbed Jessica roughly by the arm, and pulled her out of the room, closing the door on the incapacitated beast. She pulled a key from her pocket, and secured the lock on the doorknob to the maintenance room. She, then, pulled a string of yarn-like material from her jacket, and tied it around the doorknob, reciting baffling verbiage. All that made sense to Jessica was the assumption that the yarn was blessed in the same way that Heidi’s bullets had been.
The whole night had turned into the biggest shock of her life.
“So,” Heidi said as she turned to Jessica. “Are you ready to learn about the demon hunting aspects of the job?”
Knees shaking in protest to her weight, Jessica collapsed on the floor in a sudden wave of shock, and panic. One look from Heidi told her she wouldn’t have much of a choice. With a deep breath of bravery, Jessica nodded to Heidi, ready to face the new challenge.