Of DB & Friends
Danielle Chandler had always been considered an overachiever. Throughout most of her life, the young woman had enjoyed success and its rewards with very little effort. She was blessed with natural gifts of clarity and unrivaled comprehension. Her father, a well-known retired fire chief, had injected a daily mantra into her childhood which extolled the priority hard work took over natural talent.
“Remember Dannie,” he would say every morning before school, “talent will get your foot in the door, but hard work will make you the building’s owner!”
Danielle took these words to heart, adopting them as the cornerstone of her approach to life. It was her aim in every instance to ensure that she relied almost exclusively on consistent and determined effort as opposed to God-given abilities. During her scholastic years, Dannie took pride in out-working her peers. Although the vessel for a much envied photographic memory, she nevertheless devoted countless hours and energy to mastering the most difficult and complex details of every subject.
It was this determination and hyper-focus which steered Danielle in the direction of law school. An inadvertent consequence of burning the midnight oil, she had become of fan of late-night court shows and documentaries. Once she had firmly decided on this particular career path, Dannie informed her father that she would become an attorney. The Chief was brimming with excitement when he watched his progeny embark upon what would prove a very fulfilling journey.
Applying the same laser-like focus and dedication to the study of law, Danielle easily rose to the top of the ranks within her class. Idolized and feared for her unyielding cognitive abilities and desire to learn, she became class president and quickly established herself as a rising star among the city’s legal community. Everyone was buzzing about this absolutely destructive force masked behind warm brown eyes and a tantalizing smile.
Upon graduation, she was immediately recruited by Cainman and Ableton, one of the nation’s top firms, as an associate. Diving head-first into this new role with the same ferocity she had demonstrated throughout all of her life, Dannie rapidly ascended the ranks and made partner after four years.
She was known for normally being the last one to leave the office. Her dedication to the field and her father’s tutelage drove her to stay at the firm well into the early hours of the morning. Sometimes, the young professional would even sleep there.
Big Mike, the building’s head janitor, would come by every night to gather the trash from her office and offer a little inspirational humor.
“At it again I see Ms. Chandler,” he would remark. “Woman, do you ever get any sleep?”
“I’ll sleep when I’m dead Big Mike,” was her standard reply.
“You know, if you don’t start getting some, that shit may happen sooner than you expect,” he responded jokingly.
They both laughed at the prospect as Dannie resumed her work and Mike headed to the next office.
“No time for sleep,” she thought to herself. “You have to outwork them. You can sleep when you die girl.”
As the night dragged on, the young attorney began to tire a bit. She stretched and yawned as she reached for her Star Wars coffee mug. Noticing that it was empty, Danielle got up and headed to the break room to replenish her drink. When she exited her office, Danielle noticed that her floor seemed slightly colder than before. Additionally, the only lights that appeared to be working were those in the break room and a few at the end of the hallway.
“That’s odd,” she whispered to herself as she entered the room and approached the coffee maker.
While her beverage was being prepared, the dedicated lawyer glanced innocuously back down the hallway and noticed a figure standing under one of the only functioning lights. She could only make out a tall silhouette and squinted to try and discern more details of the figure’s identity. At first she didn’t think anything of it. After all, the cleaning staff, comprised of Big Mike and a few others, would usually be her only companions during these late office hours.
The bubbling of the coffee maker signaled the completion of her drink and caused her to momentarily divert attention away from the figure. Dannie grabbed her mug and looked down the hall again, only to notice the figure had vanished.
“Probably one of Mike’s people,” she thought, brushing of the strange appearance. Following this brief speculation, she began to head back to her office. Suddenly, the workaholic noticed the same figure now standing in front of the floor restroom, still shrouded in darkness. The few operational lights could not penetrate the surrounding shadow, allowing the entity to remain hidden and faint.
Upon seeing it yet again, Dannie abruptly stopped her return and called out into the darkness.
“Hello? Can I help you with something?” she questioned.
The figure stood motionless facing the frightened professional and remained silent.
“If you’re waiting to clean my office, Big Mike has already done it,” she said politely.
Silence, the only reply.
Immediately, Danielle felt a sharp tingle wind nefariously up her spine, culminating in a hair-raising sense of impending danger on the back of her neck. She turned and began marching hastily back to her office when she heard a phrase whispered from the figure’s direction.
“Time to sleep,” it said softly.
Upon hearing the raspy response, Dannie was immediately frozen with fear. She turned quickly towards the direction of the declaration only to now gaze at an empty office floor. Her panicked state was expressed in soft terror as she let out a whimpering sigh.
“Hell…hello,” she stammered. “Look if someone’s messing with me, I suggest you stop unless you don’t want to work here anymore!”
Hoping that this stern warning would ward off the night time phantom, Danielle suddenly remembered her purse. Because of he relatively small stature, Dannie had become an avid student of self-defense. Moreover, she also carried pepper spray and a rather sharp knife for additional protection.
Just as she was about to rush towards her office again, Dannie heard the same voice behind her whisper, “time to sleep.”
Her head whisked around in unbridled dread as she stood facing the figure yet again. It was now directly outside of her office concealed by shadow. Her lights had been turned off somehow, continuing to aid in the figure’s efforts to elude identification.
“Oh my God,” Danielle exclaimed aloud, dropping her coffee mug where she stood. She then looked down momentarily as the liquid splashed upwards onto her leg. Raising her head towards her office, Dannie let out a shocked gasp as the figure had now instantaneously moved five feet closer to her.
“What do you want? Who are you? Please leave me alone or I’m calling the cops,” she pleaded as she backed away.
“Time to sleep,” the raspy voice replied once again.
Dannie quickly reversed her path and began to sprint towards the elevators, calling for Big Mike as she ran. The air grew colder and more unnerving as the elevator bell dinged, providing a sliver of hope. She breathed a slight sigh of relief as the doors began to open, only to fall head-first into terror as the figure stood and stared back at her from the dimly lit elevator.
“Time to sleep, Danielle.”
“Oh my God!” Dannie screamed at this new warning and began to run towards the emergency exit. Hoping to gain access to the stairwell, she collided full-force with the door, only to have it remain closed.
“Locked? What the hell” she thought. The emergency exit was never locked. She was finally able to open the metal door only to be greeted yet again by the same figure. It looked at her from the flight below, still shrouded in shadow.
After seeing the figure, Dannie immediately slammed the door as the voice whispered angrily, “time to sleep, Danielle!”
She ran back down the hallway towards her office as tears of fright fell from her eyes. Screaming for Big Mike, Dannie dashed through the cold darkness while the voice seemingly doubled in sound and intensity.
“Sleep…sleep…Time to sleep!”
Finally, Danielle reached her office door and hurriedly entered. Shutting and locking the frosted door behind her, Dannie could see the figure’s silhouette standing on the other side. Her vision suddenly began to blur as she backed further into her office. The air grew deathly cold while she stumbled through a thickening fog of perception. Desperately trying to reach her phone, the confused attorney lumbered towards her desk only to see Big Mike there attempting to revive what appeared to be her lifeless body.
“Mike…Mike is that you?” she questioned nervously. Mike completely ignored her inquiry as if she was not there and proceeded to attempt CPR, while receiving inaudible instructions from the 911 operator on his cell phone.
“Come on Ms. Chandler, breathe! Breathe, please!” he pleaded.
Upon experiencing this revelation, Dannie suddenly stopped as she was stricken when indescribable terror. The fog hindering her eyesight slowly began to subside while she desperately attempted to comprehend what she was seeing.
The office suddenly grew dim and her vision retracted as she felt a familiar presence behind her. Turning slowly, the once confident lawyer was now face to face with the figure yet again. It was long and gaunt, almost completely cloaked in black shadow. Its face was entirely absent, replaced by a bleach-white, blank skull and hollow eyes.
Dannie shuddered in overwhelming and horrid understanding once she finally surmised who the figure was. Her surrounding vision grew black until the figure became the only thing she could see.
“It’s finally time to sleep, Danielle,” the figure whispered sternly as it reached out and placed an icy hand upon her shoulders. She closed her eyes slowly and accepted the inevitability of her fate…