Title: Closing Time

Summary: Volunteering to do a final check of the deserted School facility for demolition in the morning, the Gasman encounters old memories, not as dead as he'd thought when he'd decided to bury them.

Genres: Horror/ General / Suspense

Rating: T

A/N: This story was originally supposed to be a one-shot, the very one to start off the Gas-centric story spree for 2011 (again, from the "Uprising" verse, where he's much older) ; and then, after a lot of thought on the topic, I finally decided to cut it into multiple, if very short chapters. Consider it a late Halloween piece...!

Warnings: some harsh language and disturbing imagery/moments. Remember what I said about "Uprising" being the most serious piece?

I might have told a lie.

Chapter 1: Start

The School.

The wind blew hard on the night of my final visit to this place, moaning through the ugly, blacked-out, gaping ruins of the condemned facility I'd been raised in. Approximately 262.4 square feet, a tiny town of decaying warehouses, laboratories, offices, and rusting radio towers. The same sense of foreboding I've had since the day we were brought back, churned in my stomach, even though I knew that there was nothing more in there to hurt us further. It was dead now.

Just an empty, ugly shell.

I stood before the front gate to the Warehouse Ring, one of at least two more sections I had to inspect before demolition in the morning, hands turning cold, and not from the off-kilter climate. The storm clouds were moving into a white dusk, the kind you know aren't full of rain, but rather, full of lead; nasty and heavy and disgusting as they take over the sky, and the one last blotch of dying sun. The shadows tilted.

No sounds from the gaping emptiness before me from the living, and yet the can of spray paint in my frozen hand felt more like a gun than anything. A beeping entered my ear from the updated Bluetooth. "Captain? Are you there?"

I cleared my throat. "Yeah, this is the Gasman. Looking at it now."

It was looking at me.

Twenty years of pain and terror. Maybe fifty more after by consequence. But you'll be one less smudge of dirt to wash off my skin.

The discarded, tattered tarps flapped in the wind, eerily warm for an autumn nightfall.

"It's 8 PM. You have 'til 8 AM. Go in - "

" - Cast my marks, account for anything missed by the previous crews," I recited, stepping forward, the gravel crunching beneath my boots. "Skip it, Chief."

Looking at me. Expecting me. Welcoming me back.

You don't scare me anymore.

The voice on the other end sighed. "Please account also for any additional evidence. I know that this is hard for you - "

" - I volunteered."

" - All the same, please keep in mind your time limit, your efficiency, and safety protocols. You will have little to no reception the further inside you go. If you are in trouble, activate your beacon, and leave it running; we will send back-up to you. CSM is behind you."

"I'm sure."

Couldn't take my eyes off the damned thing. The only living being for several miles, on my own, about to enter the nightmare of my childhood for the last time. No communications, no room to fly, nothing at my aid but a can of paint, a flashlight, and a gasmask.

I don't think I've felt more vulnerable.

The doorless entrance loomed closer.

"...Anything else?"

"...Good luck, Gas."

I ended the transmission, and took a breath...


...And let the mouth of the monster swallow me whole.