September 23, 2016

Missing Rachel - Entry VI: Down Memory Lane
Missing Rachel
Entry VI: Down Memory Lane
Location: The Auto Parts Factory
Date: Friday, June 19th, 2015

The light I had seen from the wood was that of an old factory. While it still had power, it didn’t appear like anyone was working there at this late hour. There was a fence enclosing the factory and as I approached, I could hear the metal gate swinging back and forth in the breeze. As I stepped through the gate, I suddenly recognized the auto parts factory where I had worked as a machinist for all those years. The plant had closed, almost three years ago now; times were better then. I thought I could hear a faint rustling behind me; I turned, but saw nothing. Maybe it was just the wind. As I walked through the parking lot, I found the body of a security guard… just doing his job no doubt, his face was covered with blood from some kind of head wound. I reached the back of my head without thinking, feeling the split in my scalp. I looked at the flashlight in my hands. Was this his flashlight? The thought just crossed my mind like lightning; I had no reason to think it was his but for some reason my mind still posed the question. Near the body, I saw metal glinting in the beam of the flashlight. I bent over and picked it up, it was a cracked wristwatch… my wristwatch. First my wallet, then my credit card, and now this… what was happening? The watch was useless but I put it on anyway.

I swung the factory door open, it had been left unlocked. Inside, I found the receptionist’s desk and a row of lockers behind it. One of the lockers hung open; its contents were tossed around like someone had been looking for something. Deeper in the factory, I came across a locked door with a little electronic box under the handle. A sign was pasted to the front that said, ‘DANGER: CLOSED FOR REPAIRS.’ I passed the door and entered another room, inside there was a large power box with five lights on it. Cables burst out of the box, snaking off to other parts of the factory. The metal case had started to show wear and cobwebs had collected in the corners of the box, it wasn’t receiving any power. I thought it might be the power supply for another door that was locked tight nearby. Maybe if I found the power panels, I might be able to unlock it.

I climb the stairs to the second floor of the factory in search of the panels. Every part of this plant smelled old and rotted. I noticed the old bulletin board on the wall. It contained yellowed clippings of newspaper cartoons and notices. There were notes to and from the guys that used to work here. One of them was to Norman, who was one of the older guys on the line. He was also one of the few friends I had when I was working here. I found the first power panel and flicked the red handle, it buzzed to life. I found four other panels nearby and switched all of them on but one panel refused to work. Now, I had to find another way to get out of this factory. I passed the employee locker room and saw that one of the lockers was left open. It had been stuffed with dirty work clothes and old boots. There was a photo of a woman taped to the inside of the locker door, but the face had been scratched out and made unrecognizable.

There was a door next to the lockers that was shut tight and required a keycard to open. The power was now on and the rusty-looking card slot had a yellow glow to it. Our old break table had a thick layer of dust and grime. Remembering the good times I had had with the guys around this table made the sight sting more. I decided to go up to the third floor before trying the door downstairs. There was a door that had been hastily boarded up. I moved past it and into the employee locker room. I saw Norman’s locker, the door was dented, like someone had punched it in. I don’t remember him doing that when we worked here. There was a utility shelf in the corner, crammed with mismatched tools and items. I grabbed the claw hammer off of the shelf and went to pry the boards off of the other door. I noticed that the hammer wasn’t as dusty as the rest of the tools from the shelf but thought nothing of it. Before leaving the room, I saw another locker that I was able to pry open. It was messy but hidden at the bottom was a keycard. I slipped it into my pocket and walked back to the boarded door.

It took some effort but I was eventually able to remove all of the boards. I left the hammer on the floor and entered, it was the secondary locker room, where my locker was located. I found it easily but was shocked at the sight of it. It had trash scattered beside it and more trash inside of it. It stank of booze too. There was a picture of Rachel inside, it had been torn up… I thought I took that picture home with me when the factory closed. There was a mess of empty booze bottles lying on the floor nearby. Did that man from the house have something to do with this? He sure had a lot of alcohol at his place. Maybe it was the same person whose room I found in the sewers, the one with bottles and newspaper clippings scattered about.

I decided I had enough of reminiscing about the past and just wanted to get home as soon as possible. I headed downstairs and used the keycard to open the previously locked door. There was some kind of ventilation hatch in this room and it looked like I could jump to the room below. My leg hurt enough as it was but I couldn’t see another option. I jumped and landed hard. Oh man, my leg hurt like hell. When my vision returned to normal and I was able to stand again, I took the flashlight and looked around the room. I discovered a crumpled up letter on the floor. When I smoothed the paper, I saw that it had been scratched out heavily and it was hard to make out. Most of the letters were violently scratched out with what looked to be a blue ballpoint pen. I could only make out a few lines.
--need to-- just don’t --drinking-- --NEED--
It was signed, ‘Norman.’ Who was Norman writing this to? What did he mean by this? I stepped out of the factory, glad to be rid of its smell and of its memories. I couldn’t stop thinking about that room with the bottles in it. Was that guard I found outside really drinking up there or was it someone else? What about Norman? And who had rooted through all of those lockers? I couldn’t tell where I was as I looked around, but I figured I needed to get to a road and get my bearings. Maybe Norman could help; I didn’t think his store was that far from the turnoff to the factory, if I remembered correctly.