Posted by: Blue
It was a dark and stormy night. The rain hadn't come yet, but the clouds had blackened out the stars and moonlight. Lightning streaked sporadically around the sky, creating eerie strobes of illumination over the darkened stables.
We were there on a distress alarm. The huge grounds of the horse racing track on the West end of the city were shadowy and lonely at 2:00 a.m. The race track ran a small daycare centre out of one of their outbuildings, and the alarm company had reported multiple alarms coming from various zones.
We approached the security gates and were given a laminated hand-drawn map of the grounds. They covered the space of approximately 4 football fields and were full of stables which housed the Thoroughbred horses. The long, narrow, squat buildings stretched out in a grid pattern. We had to navigate through them on pot-holed dirt roads. The only light came from our headlights and take-downs, but those didn't pierce far into the night and seemed to bounce off of all of the right-angles of the structures and served to diminish visibility rather than improve it.
As we navigated the minefield of watering troughs and hay bales, exercise loops and horse-shit, we crept closer and closer to the target building. It was a converted stable. The roof was low-slung and it was entirely sheathed in sheet metal. The windows had been cut-out as an afterthought and looked out-of-place and ramshackle.
The yard was fenced and the scattered plastic toys seemed oddly foreign in the huge acreage dedicated to horses. They cast long shadows in the beam of our headlights. The wind slowly moved the chain swings and the rusty bolts squeaked with each sway.
There was a faint glow of light exuding from one of the windows. The rest of the building was dark. We searched the perimeter, first observing whether windows were open or broken, tripping a few times in the process over Tonka trucks or discarded dolls. Then we began checking the doors methodically for security.
As we worked in tandem around the building, we found a single vehicle: a minivan. The hood was cold. It had been there a while. But then again, the call was about 45 minutes old. JT turned to me and said "I've got the heebie jeebies about this place dude. All the friggin kids toys and creaky swing sets are freaking me out a little. Wouldn't it freak you out if shit went down out here? It looks like some kinda evil child labour camp or something."
I laughed a little, but really it was to hide the fact that the whole scenario had me right scared. Something was off. I couldn't put a finger on it though. I definitely couldn't picture children enjoying themselves in the yard on a bright summer's day at that point.
We had found a window which had been cracked open, but it appeared that it was only for ventilation purposes. As we rounded the building the second time and checked the last three doors, I began to relax a little, realizing that the alarm had probably been a false, set off by the weather.
Last door, then we would clear and head back to the station.
I grabbed the knob and rattled it. It turned. It popped open. It creaked as it swung, revealing a blood red glow coming from the exit sign above it.
My glance snapped over to JT. He was surprised and wide eyed. His hands went for the Taser holster. I went for my Glock.
"POLICE! SHOW YOURSELF! COME OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP!"
I stepped in first, slowly cutting corners. The door was in the centre of the building and the hallway it entered ran in both directions. I slowly went left, JT went right. We began the building search, flashlights in hand, methodically clearing each room as we went, calling out our presence to whoever might be inside. I had my light in my left hand, supporting my right hand with the back of my left hand, pistol at high-ready.
As I got closer and closer to the end of the building, I had gone through two long rooms with a couple of offices in-between. Neither JT nor I had found the lights yet. I opened the last door with my flashlight hand. Just then, my light cut-out. The room went black. I shook it. It flickered on momentarily and then extinguished again.
The audible alarm started up with a shrill, piercing siren.
Suddenly, a shout and a crash came from JT's end of the building. I called out to him without turning around, in case it was an ambush and I had someone waiting for me on my end too.
"JT, YOU OK!?"
Silence first. Then I hollered the same thing again. This time a muffled yell.
"JT you sonofabitch, if you're just screwing with me I'm gonna shoot you. Are you alright?"
I smacked my light a few more times and searched by feel for a light switch nearby. It seriously crossed my mind for a split second to fire a few rounds to light the room with the muzzle-flash. I thought better of it immediately though.
"Ya. I'm fine. Just tripped on a doll carriage. Stupid toys!"
"Geez man. Don't do that to me!"
I found a switch. The room lit up. My nerves were frayed and I was on high adrenaline. I breathed deep and focused. I crept around the corners and cleared the last room. As I holstered my firearm and turned, I found myself face-to-face with the single ugliest face I have ever seen. My heart skipped a beat and I froze in terror.
JT had snuck-up behind me and was pulling on his ears and puffing-out his cheeks like a monkey. "BOO" he yelled.
I almost asped his ass.
"C'mon. It's clear. Someone just forgot to lock-up."
We waited for the key-holder and then cleared once they had re-set the alarm.
It remains the only time so far in this job that I have been elevated past adrenaline-flowing to fear-pumping.