Ghosts Next Door

Ghosts Next Door
by Lopaka Kapanui

Jul 29, 2021

100 Ghost Stories Counting Down To Halloween 2021 #94


I'm not a people person by any means. The people I work with have all connected through some social media platform, which is why I opened an account just to shut them up so they'd leave me alone. I don't go out to meet them at bars or eateries outside of regular business hours. That just blurs the line between work and personal shit.

They gave me a hard time about it, to the point where they tried to bully me. I put a stop to that right away when I plunged a letter opener into my forearm and smeared some of the blood on my other hand. On the way to the office, I smeared my bloody handprint on the back of one of the bully's shirts. I burst the boss's door open, "Dedrick Kawakami just stabbed me because I wouldn't go out with him and his bunch after work." 

I pretended to faint to the floor while my boss dialed 911, fired Dedrick, and then had the police arrest him for workplace violence. Noting the loss of blood at that point, the EMTs' whisked me away to the E.R. at Straub. So naturally, Naturally, I expected retaliation when I returned to work the following week. Instead, I was forced to make one thing clear to my workmates. "You don't wanna get stabbed, don't fuck with me."

So, if you haven't figured it out, I'm not the person you bring the birthday card to, or the get well feel better card to sign either. I don't have holidays or secret Santas. I just sit in my cubicle, do my thing and leave until I have to come back the next day. That is unless it's a weekend or a holiday. One day at work, I was so distracted with printing many manifests from my computer that I wasn't paying attention to where I was about to place my cell phone. My cup of coffee and my cup filled with kleenex were too close together for some reason. So, instead of placing my cell phone in the kleenex cup, I placed it in the coffee cup and left it there for the next half hour until the printing was done. Needless to say, I had to invest in a bare basic flip phone with the camera, Bluetooth, and text capabilities, and that was it. 


The neediness of having to see the same people after work when you've seen them for the previous eight hours in a claustrophobic office filled only with cubicles that are no more personal than sitting on a toilet while your pet great Danes watch you take a dump is vexing. Yet, from the time of clocking in in the early morning until the three 'o clock hour when it's time to go home and get a fucking life, all these people talk about is what and who they're going to do at the club later that evening. I heighten the volume on my ear pods to drown out the cackling geese-like laughter that literally vibrates the styrofoam cups sitting on their desks. My peripheral notices the screen on my simpleton cell phone light up blue. It was a text from 'Unknown.'

"If we get out before he does, we can egg his car, toilet paper it, or flat the tires. What do you think?"

"Who is this?" I answer the text. 

"We don't use our names, remember?" 

Frustrating and irritating, I pressed the keys on the keypad a bit too hard. I nearly drop the device but manage to catch it just before it hits the floor. "Alright then, who is this not?"

"Hello!" The text replied. "Dougie!"

"I only know Doug Velasco, my boss," is my retort.

"Anyway, remember everyone has my permission to clock out early so we can do all three. I'm turning my phone off just in case,"

I nearly tore the door off of my boss's office when I flung it open with such intensity that it nearly came off the hinges. "What the hell is the big idea?!" Doug shouted.

"The big idea is that you're the boss, but you're just like those assholes out there in their tiny little cubicles!" I shouted back while simultaneously shoving my cell phone in his face so he could see the thread of text messages.

"And what?" Doug shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head. "What? What am I supposed to be looking at?"

I look at my phone, and the screen is blank. There's nothing on it. I have to scroll back to see if I'd accidentally deleted the texts, but there was nothing there. "Sorry, Doug, it's a misunderstanding. I apologize."

"Get back to work, Lester, before you piss me off, and I have to send you home," Doug was seething under his breath, but there was nothing I could do. I went back to my cubicle and tried to retrieve the texts. When that didn't work, I called the provider, but they weren't any help. I went to the store where I got the cell phone and guess what? There was no text ever received from an unknown number, and no text ever returned. Great.


The day was uneventful. During lunch, I heard the others gossiping about the new twosome in the office after a night out at the club. How long would it last? If it did go beyond a month or so, would they get married? Who gives a shit, really? So I just made my cup of Korean noodles, retreated to my cubicle, and stayed out of it. Well, much to my surprise, it didn't last a day. Aside from myself and the person in question, Kanoa Matthews, everyone else, including my boss, cut out early. We were both walking to the employee parking on the second floor after we clocked out an hour early. He walked a bit behind me while I headed to my own car. A nice second-hand 4runner which I got at a good price. "WHAT THE FUCK???" I heard him bellow from behind me, and it made me jump. I turned around and saw where Kanoa was headed, and I was shocked and surprised myself. His Lexus was covered in toilet paper, and all four tires were flattened to the ground. He turned around and lunged at me, grabbing me by the lapel of my sweater, "YOU FUCKING DID THIS LESTER! YOU FUCKING WORM!" I shoved him hard, and he nearly tore the lapels on my eight-five dollar sweater. "Get the fuck off of me, you idiot! I don't fucking bother anybody in that whole office! For me to do something like that to your car? I would have to give a shit, and I don't! Not about them, and certainly not about you! So fuck you!"

I stormed off and got into my vehicle, and tore out of the parking lot. It wasn't until fifteen minutes later when I realized that what I had just seen was the manifestation of the phantom text I received from the day before about toilet papering and flattening someone's tires. Walking into my apartment just before the Mc Cully bridge, I heard a beep and then felt a vibration in my pocket. The screen was colored blue, and the black digital letters spelled out, "Unkown." I flipped the phone open and saw the text. "Don't feel bad about what happened. Kanoa deserved it."

Another text that wasn't mine replied. "He was caring and tender after it was over, and then the next morning in the office? It's like nothing. He treated me like a stranger even though we've worked together for ten years."

Unknown wrote back right away, "We'll take of everything, don't worry."

"Thank you," the other sender answered.


The next morning Kanoa's cubicle was empty. No trace that he had ever worked in that cramped space for ten years remained. Whoever did it went through everything with a fine-tooth comb. A new Mac pc sat on the desk along with the essentials. A Stapler, an oversized tape dispenser, micro-mini toy garbage can fill with paper clips and two off-colored stick-it note pads. Everyone gathered around the empty space as if Kanoa had died or something. Apparently, he did. He was killed in a head-on collision immediately after leaving the parking garage after it emptied out on Kona Street. He never saw the other vehicle coming his way. Doug made an impromptu speech and gave everyone the day off, except for me. He called me to his office, where three police officers were waiting. They'd reviewed the CCTV footage in the parking garage, which revealed myself and Kanoa in a shouting match. I hid nothing and told them exactly what happened. To my surprise, Doug vouched for me.

"Lester is a great worker, but he doesn't hang out with the other employees. They hang out after hours, and on weekends, Lester keeps to himself, but he's not a trouble maker."

"I'm certainly not going to let anyone accuse me of something I didn't do," I retorted. The police took Marie Quinata aside and questioned her next since she and Kanoa hooked up the night before. But Marie didn't act alone in the papering of his car and the flattening of his tires, and she wasn't enough of a psycho to kill him with her own vehicle. They let her go after an hour. Life went back to normal in the office until buzz about the upcoming office Halloween party came up. Talks about costumes, spiked punchbowls, and hooking up with a particular masked someone were part of the office conversation. I stayed out of it and kept to myself. Amber Satele is the office gossip. She married Sāmoan but divorced her husband a year later. She kept her married name. Sheʻs what they call Palangi. Caucasian. As well as being the gossip, she also has a bad habit of inserting herself into peopleʻs business. Sheʻs got one of those, "I want to punch you in the face whenever I hear your voice," kind of voices. Itʻs like nails on a chalkboard. Before lunch, she inserted herself and her overwhelming perfume into my cubicle without warning, "So, the others and I have been talking. Is it true that you were the last person to see Kanoa alive?"

I turned my swivel chair in her direction. Her looming personality and loud jumper were complicated by too much makeup and too much lipstick with earrings that might have been white cue balls. This person, who had a dire need to call attention to herself, was intruding into my small personal space. I replied with the first thing that came to mind. "Are you accusing me of something?"

"Did you do it?" She took a small step forward. "Did you kill him?" She took another small step forward.

"All that makeup, all that perfume, all those loud colors, and those earrings, theyʻre all just hiding one thing," I was on my feet, standing less than an inch away from her.

"And whatʻs that?" Her eyes became beady, and her fake smile turned into a grimace.

"The putrid smell of your vagina," I whispered. The words may as well have been a slap in her face. She was visually repulsed and took several steps back. "Get out of my office before I file harassment charges against you."

Amber left quickly while her fumes tried to catch up with her. I plopped onto my chair and turned it around to face my computer. The beep went off, and the blue screen came on. It was Unknown.

"She threw Marie under the bus. She has to go."

"You mean we have to kill her? What happened to Kanoa was an accident, just bad timing," the text came back reading like the sender was very concerned.

"The same drill, we check out early, Iʻll clear it. Then we wait." The Unknown text confirmed.

The return texts had no names or numbers attached to them. It was just texting going back and forth. Even if I could show this to the cops, who's to say the texts would still be here when they arrived? On my lunch break, I went to the store where I got the flip phone. Luckily, the guy who sold it to me was working. His name is Albert.

"Iʻve been getting weird texts on this phone, but thereʻs are no names or numbers attached. Just the texts. Well, thereʻs is an Unknown that seems to be the source of all the text, but thatʻs about it," I handed Albert my phone, knowing full well that there wasnʻt going to be anything on the screen. 

"Oh, itʻs this phone," Albertʻs ominous reply caused me some concern. "Iʻm sorry, it was busy that day, so I must not have been paying attention."

"What do you mean?"

"There was a girl a couple of years back. She was the original owner of the phone, Megan Bowers. Nice girl, beautiful. She worked at some office in town. She claimed that her phone could pick up on other peopleʻs thoughts. People she worked with, and that those thoughts would manifest in the form of a text message," Albertʻs voice was down to a near whisper. "She came in one day and gave the phone back and traded it for a touch phone."

"What happened to her?"

"Every person who has ever had this phone has said the same thing, and they all ended up giving it back," Albert continued on like he was on a roll.

"What happened to Megan?" I demanded.

"You didnʻt see the thing on the news about the girl who killed herself? They found her in her cubicle with her wrists cut open?" Albert appeared to be irritated that I couldnʻt recall that story. "Dude, it was on the news and everything!"

"Iʻm sorry," I apologized. "I never heard it."

"Iʻll trade you out for another phone," Albert went to take the phone away, but I put it back in my pocket.

"Iʻll hold on to it," I assured him. "If things get crazy, Iʻll come back."

"That might be a good thing," Albert nodded. "Everyone who gave that phone back ended up dying too. So maybe you can change the karma of that thing."


Back at the office, I sat staring at my flip phone while lying there on my desk. It really doesn't feel like it is mine. I mean, I bought it, I've used it, but it feels like it's on loan to me so that some unseen something can send me text messages from beyond the known ethers. I half expected the thing to beep and vibrate like how they do in those horror movies. Instead, I heard a commotion at the front, near Doug's office. I stood up and looked over the top of my cubicle to see everyone horrified and in tears. They were all looking out the large picture window that was now completely open. Something that was obviously a few floors down got their attention. I quickly walked over to the window myself to see what the matter was? Moving a few people out of the way, I peek my head out of the window. It was Amber. She lay on the sidewalk below, her body in a grotesque tableau with a blanket of her dark blood seeping out from under her form. 

"Did she jump?" I asked Doug. "Or did someone push her?"

"She jumped," Marie Quinata interrupted. "I saw her. She jumped."

"Why?" I insisted on knowing. It rattled Marie's countenance.

Marie shrugged her shoulders and broke down crying. Her group surrounded her and offered her comfort. Even Doug put his arm around her, but only on her shoulder, and he kept a fair distance, not wanting to be sued for harassment over what should have been a minor detail. "Weren't you the last person she talked to today?" Doug looked over his shoulder at me.

"I might have been one of the people she'd spoken to, but certainly not the last," I blustered back.

"But you were also the last person seen with Kanoa before he died too," Doug was on a roll. I could see it building up.

"And you might be the last person I talk to as well," I countered. "As I ignore what you've just said to me while turning around and going back to my cubicle."

I let my whole weight plunge me into my custom gaming chair while it buffered all two hundred pounds of me and bounced me back. The flip phone was still there, a silent, inanimate object of technology that couldn't really do anything without manipulating human hands. "What you said to me out there could be taken as terroristic threatening."

"Doug, insinuating that I might have done something to cause Amber's suicide because I was the last person she was seen talking to is also grounds for a lawsuit because it's hearsay and baseless assumptions," I slowly stood up from my chair until I was in his face, like the way I was with Amber. "Who's Megan Bowers, by the way?"

"Megan Bowers?" Doug was taken aback. His eyes showed that he was trying to recall everything about her. "I haven't heard that name in years. She worked here around the same time as I did when I was just starting out."

"What happened to her?" I repositioned myself with my back facing my desk where I could reach behind me and deftly retrieve my flip phone and slide it into my pocket. 

"Well," Doug mused. "She went off the deep end, claiming that the upper office staff was sending their thoughts to her phone in the form of texting. It sounded so crazy but, Megan knew exactly what everyone was thinking, and she correctly repeated everything verbatim. But, she was starting to make everyone feel uncomfortable."

"So, what happened after that?" I asked.

"Our boss back then had a talk with her. He told her that she had to stop with the whole psychic text messaging thing because the other employees complained. Otherwise, she was going to lose her job. The next day she showed up with a brand new phone after trading in the old one; that same day, she was found dead in her cubicle. She stabbed herself in the heart with a letter opener." Doug recalled. "In fact," he began while looking around in my small space. "This was HER cubicle."

"The one I've been using? This one?" I squealed like a pubescent boy whose voice was in the middle of changing. 

"You remind me a lot of her, Lester. So anti-social, sarcastic, and just outright bleak," Doug leans to one side and puts his hands on his hips. "But you do good quality work. Please don't ever come to me with some shit about psychic text messages like Megan did because I will can your ass on the spot."

Just then, I felt the flip phone buzz in my pocket. I took it out and opened it. It was Unknown. "The plan failed. I didn't anticipate Amber killing herself. But, there's a new set of plans. Stand by."

A numberless, nameless text replied. "What new plan? Amber jumped to her death; she saved us the trouble! There's no new plan!"

"Yes, there is," Unknown's reply came back in a nano-second. "Lester."

Just then, my phone rang so suddenly that I almost dropped it. I was afraid that Doug was going to hear it and come traipsing back into my cubicle. "Hello?"

"Lester," it was a woman's voice with a gruff edge to it. "Lester!"

"Yes, this is Lester," I replied while looking carefully down the hallway at the other cubicles. 

"Get out of there now," the woman's voice was filled with urgency. "Leave the office now and go home or just anywhere but there! Don't come back, Lester!"

"You have my phone, Dingus!" The woman raised her voice suddenly. "Look at the number on your screen!"

It was my number, calling my number. So what the hell was going on? "What the fuck is this?!" I growled through my teeth. 

"It's Megan Bowers! Grab whatever shit you have and get out of there now!" The line went dead, and so did the phone. It factory reset itself and came back to full capacity. I only grabbed my briefcase and left everything else. I made it to the garage and to my vehicle without a problem. I got out of the parking structure in one piece as well. No oncoming cars ready to t-bone me and spread my insides all over the pavement. By the time I got home, I was so exhausted that I just threw my briefcase on the carpet and plopped down on my couch. I was just nodding off into full rapid eye movement sleep when I suddenly jerked up with eyes wide open. I was at my desk in my cubicle. The digital clock said it was 5:00 in the afternoon. The office was empty, everyone must have gone home, and I must have nodded off from all that hyperactivity earlier. That kind of thing tends to exhaust you. It was all one crazy frantic dream. I shook it off and grabbed my briefcase, my lunch, and my phone. My car keys and wallet were in my pocket. Everything was good to go. When I pushed the door open, which led to the garage, I was focused on turning off the car alarm while pressing the key on the fob. I looked up and saw them all standing there in front of my vehicle. Doug, Marie, Charles, Lisa, Anette, Bill. 

"What is this?" I asked.

"This is for you," Doug stated plainly while simultaneously gesturing to everyone.

"What is?" I still wasn't clear as to what this charade was.

"What's about to happen is for you," Marie stated. "We've left you alone all this time, but Kanoa and Amber were the last two people who were seen with you."

"Then the cops showed up," Charles confirmed.

"We couldn't have that." Lisa chimed in.

"So, we arranged this for you," Anette was stoic.

"Consider it your going away party." Bill smiled. "Megan called you and tried to warn you, but what do you do? You nod off and go to sleep."

"Megan is the Unknown number," I confirmed. "She's been sending those text messages."

"From beyond the grave, or where ever it is, she ended up," Doug surmised. "I personally think it's from the other place." He pointed down to the floor. 

"Megan regulates this office," Doug began. "Well, she really culls the office, you know? Keeps everything balanced. And you, Lester, in all of your smarmy shittiness, you were part of the balance too."

"Were?" I could feel myself making my Robert De Niro impression, but this time I wasn't acting. "What do you mean were?"

"Still is," Marie was clearly annoyed with Doug. She nodded once toward Charles, who removed a thirty-eight special from the back of his waistband and shot Doug in the side of his head, killing him instantly. I jumped back and screamed in horror. "Doug was becoming a drain on the office even though he was technically the boss. Megan said you'd be the perfect person to take Doug's place. I myself, I like you, Lester, and I don't want to see you get killed. So please, come out of this self-imposed revolution and take the job."

I didn't have a choice, you see? This is about self-preservation. I didn't like these people at all, but I had to take Doug's old job for the sake of my own mortality. Once I finally swallowed my pride and said that filthy three-letter word, I got a text on my phone. Flipping the phone open, on the lit blue screen, I saw it. Megan.

"Smart move Lester, congratulations! Now, help your employees with Doug's body and smile! Your pay will increase, and your quality of life will be better! Just so you know, if you fuck it up, you'll get it worse than what Doug got."

I assisted in carrying Doug's body to the janitor's closet, where we cleared everything out before we put on our semi-hazmat suits and stripped Doug naked before we began cutting his body into pieces. Once that was done, we poured as much hydrochloric acid as we could muster on all the separate pieces one at a time. The torso took the longest. Cleaning up and getting rid of everything else took longer. At this moment, the pounding beat of some unrecognizable song drones on and on from the overhead speakers. Marie, Lisa, and Anette are dancing in the cage while Charles and Bill hit up a couple of twenty-somethings for a dance and a little extra. I raise my glass of coca-cola in their direction to acknowledge that I'll be joining them in a second. I feel the short buzz in my pocket. Removing the flip phone, I see the text message playing across the lit screen. It's Megan.

"Get out there and have fun! It could be worse. You could be dead."

photo credit - the ghost in my machine.

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