Remembering Nancy

A horror tale

Copyright by Gary L Morton 2014

2140 words

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The place was spooky at night, especially then in the rich dark of autumn. A curtain of wilted vegetation cast brittle leaves on the worn patio stones. The huge condominium complex rose on all four sides from the centre of the courtyard, the only exits being a glass door and an iron gate. So many windows looked down on the court I often felt watched. When I patrolled through very late, I would suddenly feel watched from all directions. The glare on the windows would become the oppression of hidden and hostile stares. Yet it was a quiet place; a complex of more than four hundred condominium units. It was an older one. The age showed in cobwebs, cracks, leaks and wear, but it was still better than new places coming up. It is always that way; they first start building things to last, then the imitations that don’t last come online.

I don’t think I ever truly liked the place or being the night security guard. The problem was always Nancy. The thing about Nancy was that she loved the place. I spent so many nights arguing with her about it. Sometimes in the courtyard. In the end, we weren’t speaking much because of my plan to quit work.

They didn’t grant me that promised promotion. Instead, they doomed me to keep working night shift and long hours. They told me about it in the office on a Thursday morning.


“Nancy, Nancy, Nancy,” Johan said, his voice hoarse and ugly and his big blustering leather face highlighted by his huge lick of blond frontal hair. “There ain’t no fucking Nancy. People see you out in that courtyard or walking on the rooftop patio ... or God knows where, talking to someone that ain’t fucking there. You scare people, Freddy. Some people think you’re talking to the building ghost. If it weren’t for seniority, I’d fire you. That and the fact that no one wants to work your shift. Maybe nothing ever happened since you been here at night because you scare all the bad motherfuckers off, too.”

“But, but, Nancy says ...” I said.

Then he cut me off.

“Fuck Nancy, if that’s possible. You’re staying on night shift. What I can do is give you a small raise. That’s if you ditch that bitch and stop talking to her.”


So that was it, big Johan had spoken ... but big or not, it wasn’t a good thing to piss off Nancy. I spent a long time talking to her in the courtyard about it. At one point, she was shouting at me and I had to shush her. She was going to wake up everyone in the damn place.

“Johan,” she said. “Remember what Ramone told us about him. Saw him on a Saturday night, headed downtown wearing leather shorts and black lace stockings. His face made up like a whore. The man’s a fag and ugly one, too. With a fantasy of being a five-buck female slut. He probably oils his ass before he comes to work, just in case he gets lucky.”

“You’re always so mean, Nancy. He can do whatever he wants when he’s not at work. And society is liberal and understanding about all that stuff today.”

“Yeah. Well don’t get any liberal ideas when you’re dating me. I expect my man to be loyal. I have no use for cocksuckers.”

“Nancy, shush. Please stop talking dirty out here. Someone might hear you.”

She looked at me like I was an idiot child then started arguing again, and it dragged on. Things started tumbling around me. I looked up at the faceted windows then down at the webs of dying leaves. A dust devil whipped up some debris and a twig hit me in the eye. I ended up standing there like I was crying but it was from the dust in my eyes, and also partly from the frustration of looking down a dark kaleidoscope of night shifts and Nancy bitching at me out in the dark.

Then her voice softened and she whispered in my ear, telling me what she wanted me to do about my problem. I listened and decided I would do it. I’d get even with those bastards and we’d walk out together when the job was done.


The idea of a last lazy night patrol was booster-juice for my mood and my attitude. I took care on my rounds and checks. Whistle while you work ... and I did whistle later on when I was in the staff lunchroom. I could see morning light shining somewhere in my head while I did it.

Every morning in the complex was the same. Johan, Ramone, and the cleaners would arrive at seven am and shoot the same shit over morning coffee. I’d walk in and Ramone would be pouring the fresh brew. Johan would take the milk from the fridge and then he’d say. “Milk’s a bit stale. I’ll get fresh at noon.” Then he’d say, “The secret to topping off a brew is whitener. A bit of whitener with sugar takes the edge off a brew and improves the milk flavour.” Then he’d spoon some into each cup after Ramone did the pour. The only person taking coffee black would be me as I hate milk and whitener. I would drink my black, constantly trying to keep back from Ramone and his rotten breath.

The new whitener I was fixing up would be especially potent as a top-up. Mixed with rat killer, odorless and tasteless, they’d never notice anything different. It would seem like prime brew, at least for a while, and then it would thin out their blood and do what other magic poison could do and kill them.

Watching some of the new whitener pour off a spoon back into the bottle, I decided it was perfect ... and time to move on. Old people were on my mind. I was getting old myself and the complex was mostly quietly because many elderly bought condos on the place’s reputation for silence.

Silence indeed ... people living on beyond their time, putting a burden on the resources of the nation. But where could they go? Best to bury them where they belonged.

The thing with a building so big was that many things relied on the fire panel. Officially, a tech or fireman was needed to silence an alarm. Unofficially, I had been through fire calls and emergencies and knew how to do it.

With the panel password, changes can be made. So I set it not to call the fire department automatically and programmed a dummy feed to the monitoring station so everything would read fine no matter what happened. A manual disable of all alarms had always been best to keep things quiet at night.

All of the suite bolt locks clicked open in the case of a fire, so I reversed that so the doors would all magnetic-lock shut. Entrances and exits, too.

Being fall, the switchover to heat from air conditioning was about to take place. As a good security guard, I had done my patrols of the mechanical rooms, and since the maintenance guys never wanted to come in at night or on weekends, I learned most of the equipment from times when they walked me through problems and settings over the cell phone.

For the current problem, I set the exhaust from the emergency generator to run into the air system once the switchover took place. Call it energy saving as two thirds of all lights would go off and all but one elevator would ground. I would ensure there would be some power and warm carbon monoxide air delivered to everyone.

Attention to detail is a good thing. A security guard must do more than walk around. So keep that in mind. Always be prepared, and I was, with a big tank of extra fuel for the emergency generator. It was no small generator, almost as big as a small car, sitting in its own room down in P1 with the tank nearby. It didn’t take long to jimmy together some hoses and siphon the spare fuel over to the bottom of the elevator shafts.


Plan as one may, the best of plans can go awry. Morning arrived and at that time, the main garage entry door would lift and stay open for day hours. On my big day, it malfunctioned and kept swinging up and down. Johan, Ramone and all the staff pulled up and couldn’t get in. Some quick thinking was required. I cut the power to it when it was in the up position so they could drive inside.

Next problem was that Ramone smelled fumes. It took all of my powers of persuasion to convince him it was exhaust. I told him a resident left his car engine running underground in P3.

“The exhaust fans will slowly clear it,” I promised.

He looked at me like he didn’t quite believe me, then laziness won out and he went into the staff room for coffee with the others. They all looked surprised when I lifted my cup of black and said cheers. I stayed to watch them sip then I said I was going out for a quick check on the fumes.

I went up to the exit to the courtyard, and just before I stepped out, I lifted a lit lighter to one of the detectors on the sprinkler system. It worked. I mean there was no alarm, instead all lights blinked and there was a rumble as the emergency generator came on. Throughout the building locks worked in reverse and instead of unbolting for fire, they magnetic-locked shut. Fucking garage door didn’t close though, it started with that malfunction again where it kept opening and slamming closed at high speed, but that was a good thing because just then Ramone and Johan came running for it from the inside. Both of them were staggering and spitting out white slop. I felt like yelling down to ask Johan if he had any new feelings about whitener.

Ramone didn’t make it; he fell on the dirty concrete floor inside P1 and started squirming. Blood suddenly spurted from his ears and I had to look away when he started with the horrible choking noises.

Johan did manage to stumble to the garage swing door but not through it. It slammed down on him and flattened him … leaving me standing there with amazement on my face as a fountain of bloody bile shot from his open mouth. His body rolled about from the continued slamming motion of the door, and it did serve to muffle the noise some.

I saw some people running out exit doors beyond the metal gate and cursed because the locks did not all secure properly. There would be people that lived to talk. Another mistake I made was on the timing of the fire as the elevator shafts suddenly roared with flames and exploded, making the fire a bit quicker than planned. In minutes, the entire complex was roaring with flames and the sounds of screaming. But I felt okay, even happy. I danced a little jig in the courtyard and waited for Nancy to join me.

I’d forgotten about Nancy. Then I realized that she was still inside and I spotted her yelling for help from a window. Nancy, the love of my life was going to burn. I had to save her.

Without hesitation, I ran inside through howling smoke and flames. I rescued Nancy, or thought I did. I broke doors down. I dragged woman after woman out into the courtyard. Dogs and cats burst free from my efforts. I saved dozens of people, but each time I pulled a person out, I looked at the face and it wasn’t Nancy. I couldn’t save her and the whole place cooked. Fire department men pulled me out of the flames and one guy socked me one to keep me from going back in. I ended up flat on the ground blubbering, “Nancy, Nancy, Nancy.”


So shucks, it’s all over now, and I still don’t sleep at nights. I spend my days talking to the shrinks. I’m in another big complex, but here they watch me closely. My doctor looks so much like Nancy, but since I’m now burned and ugly, she could never love me. It’s more like she hates me. No one else has rescued as many people as me. Not many people have done as much killing as me either. I put in for the night security job here, but my chances aren’t good of grabbing the position. I heard it through the grapevine.