Shutdown, Part Two

If only the snow had come two days earlier, then we would have had a White Christmas. Never mind. 

I trudge through the slippery ground towards the building. My target is a gap in the fence, congealed by rust into an opening large enough to crawl through. 

Shards of metal tears against the top of my jacket, and soggy ice chills my jeans. The musty smell of mud and old leaves attacks the courtyard, and my trainers refuse to grip. Whatever remains of the grass is frosted white.

I ignore a fire door, in case whatever rotten fire alarms that still hang on the walls kick into gear. My target is a broken window covered in sagging plastic sheeting. With a fibrous crinkle the flimsy protection gives way, and inside. 

Somehow the temperature is even colder in the building. The concrete stairs are slippy, and the battered handrail gives a creak with every step. But this is a secret palace, a hidden piece of jigsaw puzzle I have been looking for all my life. 

The stairs end on landing stripped to the wooden beams, engrained with dirt and even more stagnant water. Opposite is a door, with a metal and twistable handle. The window which the man peeked out of must be through there somewhere.

The beams groaned under my trains, predicting a trip to A&E. Even when I turn the handle, I expect this to be the end of my journey. But with an oiled click, the door swung open, to a world of freshly cleaned offices and new carpets. 

Desks, more workbenches really, stretch across a long room. The furthest are lost in the darkness, but I understand the rumours are true. 

I want to study them in more detail, but fear reminds me to push to end of the room, where the window must be. And there below where I saw him is another model of a tiny man, his face covered with a tiny cardboard mask of a mouse. 

There must be a reason for this. Maybe this is a promotional model, or perhaps the man acted as life model. I know I have to go. There is no reason for me to be here. But I need more. There must something, a brochure or leaflet explaining what this place is. But there aren’t even any logos. No files, or family photos. No sign anyone still works here. 

The only exception is a leather book on the same desk as the mouse model. The volume is stuffed with objects stuck to the paper. Inside is a series of photos, most scratched, or folded at the corners. Under every one are paragraphs and paragraphs of scratchy handwriting. 

Although the night draws in, and snow begins to fall on the ground outside, I start to read.