Pandora Affect

It was a late night and everyone was heading home. One by one they got up from their chairs, slipped on their coats and headed home. Saying their goodnights to him as they passed by his desk.

It hadn't taken much for the place to empty out. Before Don knew it, it was past midnight and he was the only left.

He was in deep thought when the sound of a falling empty soda can hit the floor disrupting him from his concentration. His head shot up from the stack of paperwork at his desk and quickly gave a glance around the unlit areas of his colleagues' work station. It wasn't the first time a sound was heard in the empty department when there was no one around to make it. Sometimes he'd hear stories of past agents still haunting the premises. He'd brush them off, having never seen or heard anything for them to be true.

Warily he got up from his chair and stepped out of his cubicle looking at all directions, knowing that ghosts weren't the only things that could be out there. As an FBI agent having your guard up at all times was what kept you alive.

He gave the place one last good thorough look around, scanning every dark corner and every hiding spot, seeing nothing out of place and nothing suspicious.

"Hello." He called out and when no one answered he took the time now that he was up to lift his arms over his head, slightly groaning as he reached for the ceiling, stretching his torso side to side until his muscles felt renewed and limber. Thinking back to the sound he had heard, he let it slide. It was late and it could be anything. Ghost and monster stories didn't frighten him. He'd grown out of that a long, long time ago. He'd come to believe that anyone could be a monster and anyone could be a ghost if they tried hard enough. He'd seen too much to believe differently.

He let his hands fall to his side feeling the deep urge to just crawl under his cover and go to sleep. But there was still paperwork to be done and he knew it would be nagging him all night if he just procrastinated.

Weighing in his options to stay or leave, he settled for a coffee. Snatching his coffee mug from his desk he began his trip down the dark floor. His pace was slow as he walked over to the cafeteria and even slower when he pulled out the old, soggy coffee bag from the coffee machine to replace it with a new one.

Once he had it going he went ahead and rinsed his mug and let his feet lead him to one of the chairs around the cafeteria table, placing the wet coffee mug upside-down on it and crossed his arms over the cool surface laying his forehead on them. He listened in to the broiling machine as it dripped hot coffee into the coffee pot, letting its hum wash away some of the tension the job put on him.

He could smell the fresh brewing coffee fill his nostrils and though it should have woken him up or give him a slight boost of energy, he just felt sleepier. He could feel his eye lids close as the considerable pouring of hot liquid fell into the glass pot.

He couldn't wait till his head was actually lying on a pillow. He could feel his mind swim in the ocean of exhaustion he felt – riddle with memories, horrible memories that crept up to his thoughts when he wasn't noticing and good ones that he pushed to the front when ever he did.

Sometimes he let himself be entertained with the idea of laying his gun down. The one he always had holstered onto his hip, never to leave his side and it never did. The one that was assigned to him when he took the oath. Because he was tired, so tired – to the cold, aching of his bones.

A chill ran up his spine and he slowly lifted up his head heaving heard the silent deafness the room had suddenly become. No hum of the coffee machine, no dripping, just nothing. He turned to look at the clock hanging on the far wall noting that it had stopped ticking, the seconds hand having had landed directly on the number 12.

Unconsciously his hands ran up and down his arms, rubbing away the goose bumps from under his sleeves. The place had gone frigidly cold between the time he had set the coffee machine on to now. Frigid enough to so he could see his own breath.

He quickly got to his feet and marched over to the coffee machine and laid cold fingers on the pots surface, extremely lacking in warmth. He picked it up from its handle and turned it, stunned to see the brown liquid frozen solid in place.

He set the coffee pot back in place and turned to look out the glass walls of the office, his heart skipping a beat when spotting a pale face peering back at him from the other side.

"Hey." He called out as it moved away into the darkness. "Hey." He repeated a bit louder, just in case the figure hadn't heard him though he doubted it hadn't considering its fast retrieve. He leaped into a chase, abruptly stopping slightly past the door frame.

He could see nothing. The room had turned into the other side of the moon swallowed up by night. His hand was on his gun as quickly as it took him to blink. "Hello." He called out into the darkness, slowly moving his feet forward making sure that every step he took was clear of any object.

Deliberately he started to make his way to the light switches position at the front of the room. Stealthily walking past the cubicles having known the maze of them like the back of his hand. Becoming suspicious when after a while of traveling he hadn't so much as bumped into the other side of the building.

He stopped to take his breath, listening in closely to his blacked-out surroundings. He knew he shouldn't have. He knew it was against protocol, but he had to know. He had to put down his guard if he was to reach whatever was ahead of him. Something to tell him where he was, a key object. Anything really, just as long as it told him he was somewhere.

The more he reached and stretched and moved forward the more he began to believe he was walking into oblivion - into one of Larry's strayed conversations about the edges of the universe, and black holes, and whatever cosmological mysteries remained to be uncovered.

"Hey." He heard someone say from behind him and feeling relief pour into him at knowing that he wasn't completely secluded like he was previously beginning to suspect he quickly turned toward the sound of the voice but saw nothing. "You should have minded your own business." Was all he heard before hands were at his chest shoving him hard and he began his fall towards the floor.

His head shot up from the table. He sat at the cafeteria room and in front of him was the coffee machine chirping away, advising him that the coffee was ready to serve. He looked down at the table, his coffee mug was sitting where he had placed it, flipped right side up and filled to the rim with coffee. Some of it had fallen onto the table's surface leaving a skirt of brown liquid spilled around it.

Thanks for reading!