Mark is stuck working late while everyone else is off to the building’s mixer event. The office is inside Edmonton’s famous Mercer Warehouse that is known to be haunted due to an unsettling history…

Mercer Warehouse Haunt is March’s flash fiction that brings readers into Edmonton’s Mercer Warehouse, following Mark who
witnesses the supposedly true hauntings. Experience the story in written word, audio, artwork and soundscape.

Into the Macrocosm

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery

Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

This story is found within the collection.

Enter the expanding universe through the lives of 22 souls, as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died.

Listen (original)

Read (edited)


Office Overtime

Just one more email. Come on. My fingers hammer that damn keyboard like some kind of machine syncing with the one on the table. We are together. I am the laptop. These are the crazy things I tell myself to power through another mundane late night of working. Most people have left the building. I’m possibly one of the last ones in the office. Well, me and the startup space on the floor above. They often host events after hours for their entrepreneur community. It’s pretty cool if you’re going down the businessperson route. For me, even in a small studio, I don’t have that go-getter attitude that everyone seems to relish in here. Mercer Warehouse is a pretty cool old building with all sorts of shops, studios, and cafes in it. There’s even that digital arts college. It’s worth checking out if you’re into all this startup local stuff. Me? All I want is to clock in, do my job, and get home. The funny thing is I can’t stand the big corporate factor, even in my symbiotic state, with the machine on my desk. So, I’ve found balance in a fair, small studio. Unfortunately, small studios mean overtime all too frequently.

Footsteps echo from the hallway outside the office, breaking my fusion with the laptop. My fingers stop at the word “Mark!” The voice is nasally. Ethan.

“Yeah?” I shout, trying to get back into my rapid keyboard-typing trance. Come on.

Ethan appears from around the corner, his frizzy hair bouncing with each step. Nope, the trance is gone. Free from the machine’s grasp, I tune in to the muffled voices upstairs—people mingling. The open concept and exposed beams mean this place has no soundproofing. Yeah, the zen is gone. I type the last bit in my email, sign off, and hit send. One down. Victorious, I lean back in my chair and ask, “What’s upstairs like?”

“Not bad, some potential hires,” Ethan says.

“I’m sure Todd will love that,” I say, pushing my glasses up.

“They’re wrapping up the event. Alice and I think we’ll go down to Mercer Tavern for some drinks. You in?”

Now that is something I could go for—a beer. This work is draining. I could . . . I shouldn’t. I look at my computer screen to see over two dozen unread emails and the main document I was working on earlier before this fucking email swarm arrived at the end of the workday. Why do people do that? Don’t send something ‘mission-critical ASAP’ when everyone is about to leave for the day. It’s a dick move. Still, I am a professional. As tempting as it is to get piss-faced with my coworkers after a long day, I know I can’t. The fact that our office is in the same building as a pub doesn’t help the deep temptations every day.

“Man, I’d love to”—I’m forcing these damn words out—“but I’ve got a pile of work to do here.” I stress-brush my slicked-back hair. The statement is final. I’ve sealed my fate to slave away at the machine. I am bound to it—a hostile symbiotic relationship.

“Save it for tomorrow!” Ethan says with a toothy grin.

“Can’t. Todd will have my head if this briefing isn’t written for the dev team.” Confirmation sent. I am the laptop.

Mercer Tavern Fun

Footsteps rise from down the hall, growing louder. Boots. They’re coming here. I’m not meant to get anything done. Alice, the brunette intern we hired, steps in. Damn. That’s the best way to describe her. I try not to stare at her hips wrapped in that tight skirt, or whenever she wears a low-cut top. Oh yes. No. I have workplace ethics. I am the machine.

“Mark,” Alice says. “What are you still doing here?” she asks in a playful tone.

I wave my hands at the laptop. “Here,” is all I can say. There’s nothing else to mention. It’s obvious I’m working late, unlike these two.

Ethan’s head pokes from around the corner. He says, “told you. Mark just can’t look away from that screen.”

Alice smiles at me and shakes her head. “Don’t work too late, okay?”

I give her a closed smile. “Yeah.” As if the pub wasn’t tempting enough. I’m so wrapped up in work that I didn’t even realize that Alice stayed for the mixer. I’d love to get her out for a drink and see where that goes. If I had my way, it’d back to my place for some mattress mambo.

A loud thud clangs. All three of us jump.

“Christ,” Alice says, placing her hand on her chest.

Don’t look at her tits.

Ethan scratches his mustache. “Someone has had one too many drinks.”

I shake my head. “That sounded like it was on this floor. Anyone else still here?”

“Apparently,” Alice says, waving her hand. Her face and chest have a slight glimmer. She’s warm. Don’t look at her tits.

“Who knows. This place is full of sounds.”

“It makes it extra weird at night. Trust me,” I say, unbuttoning the upper portion of my shirt, feeling whatever heatwave Alice was getting. For some reason, the building’s furnace decided it was a good idea to blast the floor with warmth. This place is close to one hundred years old. It has its kinks. We know most of them, but when you combine the original brick walls and wooden floors, elevators, and many rooms, this place can be as mysterious as my clock-out time.

“Okay, this is ridiculous,” Alice says, still waving her hand.

“Probably one of those ghosts in this building,” Ethan says.

“What?” Alice says. “There are no ghosts here.” She looks at me for confirmation—those blowjob eyes. Stop it. Machine: does not compute.

I shrug. “I have no idea about the history of this place.”

Ethan scratches his head. “I swear it was something about a fire. It used to be a stable, I think.”

“A stable?” I snort. “This place doesn’t exactly fit the profile.”

Ethan shakes his head. “Look, that’s all I’ve been told. People talk about it here all the time.”

“I’ve never heard anyone,” I say.

“Me neither,” Alice says.

“Small talk, I suppose,” Ethan says. “It’s way too hot. I’m going down to the pub.”

Alice nods. “If you finish up, come find us downstairs,” she says.

“Yeah,” I say.

Ethan waves goodbye. “Remember to lock up.”

“Of course. Hey, have a drink for me!” I call out as the two leave.

Ethan gives me a thumbs-up before disappearing from view, leaving me with my work. Alone, with the machine. I can do this. Time to fire up that brain and stop thinking about Alice’s tits. What about that thudding noise? I wonder if it is worth investigating. Probably not. I’m trying to distract myself. I swear working late is just a mental battle with yourself. There are beer and a girl downstairs—the temptations of man. I’m overworked, drained, and it may be resulting in paranoia. Plus, I have to get this shit done. Taking a break isn’t optional. Maybe a piss at some point. That is all. I am the machine.

Working Horse

Yes. There we are. The trance. The synchronization of man and machine through the finger to key. Those emails have melted away. This doc for the dev team is like a beautiful symphony. It’s elegant, direct, and innovative. The machine and I are one once more, orchestrating music. Thirteen hours on the clock means nothing. What is time, anyway? Productivity is all that matters. Time is just an abstract concept. Those dazzling digital alphabet glyphs popping onto the screen with each key I press are all that matters. I am the conductor. The music fuses into my words . . . when did Alice and Ethan come by?

Stop.

Typing: graceful.

An hour . . . or two hours ago?

No, stay with me.

Tits.

Shit.

It’s lost. I honestly can’t remember when they came by. It doesn’t matter. My human self just overthrew the fusion of machine. I could use that beer. The temptation to join my coworkers is all too potent. No. Piss break. I get up from my seat, hitting the save button—can’t lose that treasure. A stretch and a good leak can’t hurt anyone. I’m making good progress and deserve a break. Time doesn’t matter. No matter how late or early I leave, no one cares, as long as this damn document is done for the morning.

Some heavy walker in high heels is stomping on the floor above. Jesus. I check the time on my smartphone. It’s just about midnight. The heat in the building hasn’t cooled off either. Peeling my ass from that chair is making me realize the intense temperature. I’m unsure if it’s getting hotter or if I’m just paying attention to it for once. Regardless, I have pit-sweats now. That’ll get Alice’s panties wet.

I walk out of the office and down the hall to the restroom. The other office doors are shut and locked—everyone else is home. I am the last one on this floor, possibly in the building—minus the tavern below, and maybe that trotting mammoth of a woman above. THUMP! Wow, another stomp. It reverberates off the empty walls. The sound is more substantial than a high-heel, like a pole hitting the ground. It’s close, more levelled than the ceiling. Maybe there is no woman. Plus, the mixer upstairs is long over. It has to be those old pipes.

I sigh, pushing the bizarreness away. I need to piss and get back to work. That document is so close to being finished. I enter the gender-neutral bathroom, lock the door, flick the light on, place the smartphone down, and flip the lid open with my foot. Everyone on this floor shares the two bathrooms we have. Most people are forward-thinking; anyone who isn’t, well, tough shit. When you gotta go, you gotta go, like now. I whip out my man for business—nature’s kind. Relief. The moment passes. Flushed. Lid dropped.

THUD!

I jump, snagging my pants to keep them up.

THUD! THUD! The bathroom door pounds. The whole thing pushes inward with each sound.

“Cut it out!” I shout. It has to be Ethan pulling some stupid prank.

THUD! THUD! THUD! The temperature drastically increases. Sweat drips down my face. A snort comes from the hall. Then more thudding.

“All right! Give me a moment,” I say—those drunks. I buckle my pants up, wash my hands, and swing the door open. The hall is empty. Huh. I flick my wet hands in the air, looking down both ends of the hall. No one.

Oneness with Mercer Warehouse

“Hello?” I say, wiping my forehead of sweat—this heat.

Silence.

“Ethan? Alice?” I say, walking down the hall to the staircase. They have to be pulling some joke. The floors need a key to get in at this hour.

I open the door to the stairwell and look up and down the steps—no one is there. This end of the hall is clear. I close the door and hurry to the other end of the hallway. The temperature is still rising, leaving me a soaking mess.

“Okay, I get it!” I shout, reaching the other end. No one. Every office is locked as it should be. Clearly, I’m working too late. Despite the heat, I need to get the work done. Even though I have a laptop, I must make sure those stupid files are on the local server. There is no other option than staying here. I have to remain resilient in this temperature, like a computer working overtime, overheating. I am the machine.

Okay, back to the office. I’m airing out my shirt. Christ, this is inhumane. I enter the room, noticing an intense grey haze rising in the space as I reach my desk. I take a sniff, picking up . . . smoke? Oh, shit—the building is on fire! I left my smartphone on the bathroom counter. With no hesitation, I rush to leave the office to get my cellphone. Before I make it to the office entrance, a large pile of wood collapses in front of it, blocking me inside. Intense heat, piercing flames, and smoke shoot through the cracks of the collapsed timber, forcing me to shield myself with my arm. It’s so hot!

A whinnying sound cuts through the crackle of fire, trailed by echoing thumps. The smoke thickens. I can barely see anything—only a few feet in front of me. I cough violently, bringing my shirt up to my face, trying to keep my head low. The noise of heavy trotting rises inside the office. The crashing of desks and computers roars. I can barely see. I look up and see the unfathomable. No . . . how? Through the haze is a silhouette of a massive steed stomping through the office.

No way. It’s the lack of oxygen. That’s the only logical explanation.

The creature gallops towards me, knocking over my desk and sending my laptop to the ground. Flames burst from the animal’s nostrils and eye sockets like some sort of hell creature. The animal neighs as its long mane bounces with each step. I jump to the side, trying to dodge the stomping animal. The attempt is futile, and the animal gallops to and through me like a spectre. It leaves a trail of flame behind its feet. I fall, face first, skidding on the burning wood.

This can’t be it. I can’t process what is going on as logic melts away. The machine is gone. All that is left are memories. Reminiscences that are not my own. It is as if another entity has pierced into my psyche and is filling my mind with visuals of a century before: horses . . . and fire. Emotions of fear, agony, and distress wash over my body as I condense into a fetal position. The impression of loss and confusion is all I can feel. The fires around me continue to envelop me until there is nothing but brightness; not even the heat can touch me. The whinnying sound of the horse echoes through my mind. Then more thuds.

The poor animal. I understand it now. These visions . . . they’re . . . they’re from the horse. The stable that Ethan talked about. The animal was burned alive, I think. The creature’s agonizing death is running through my mind, seeing the horse’s flesh burn off its body. It’s crying in pain. The animal’s soul must be communicating with me. It’s trapped within these walls, channelling into me. The horse . . . a working horse. I am the horse!

An instinctual urge surges through me, and I lift myself onto my knees. I bellow an ear-piercing neigh as the fire begins to consume my form. The horse ghost and I are one.

Reality Check

Mark! A voice echoes in my head.

“Christ, Mark!” the voice shouts once more. This time, it is distinguishable. The sound didn’t originate in my head. No. That was my co-worker. He’s in the room with me. He’s in the fire!

“Ethan!” I use all my strength to spring to my feet. “Get out of here!” I shout, looking to the hallway. The office door is wide open. There is no collapsed wood. Alice is there, wide-eyed. A hand touches my shoulder, and I flinch.

“Mark,” Ethan says. “What on earth are you screaming about?” The man is right beside me.

“What?” I ask, glancing around. The fires, the horse, the smoke—all of it is gone.

“Are you okay?” Alice asks.

“I . . . I don’t know,” I say, wiping my face.

“You were shouting on your knees,” Ethan says, laughing.

I didn’t answer, still looking around the office. Everything is as it should be. The desks are upright, and the computers are on top, unharmed. How?

“You’re drenched in sweat,” Alice says. “Maybe you should take the day off tomorrow.”

“The heat gotcha,” Ethan says. “Lucky we went back up here to check on you.”

“Yeah,” I say. “It has to be the heat.” Did I just shout like a horse? Great. My coworkers just found me neighing like some kind of role-playing furry. I can barely process what just happened. Sure, I could tell my co-workers that the whole floor caught fire, and the wood began to collapse around me. Then a horse ghost appeared on the third floor, channelling its essence through me. No way. That’s crazy. Ghosts aren’t real. At least that is what I try to tell myself. But if that were true, then what was the vision I had? What was the sensation of oneness I had with that creature? I’ve never felt such a connection before. No amount of work machine-fusing, or women, or beer could come close to this. I think I had a spiritual awakening through this graceful animal, sharing its experience intently with me.

Maybe I will never have any answers. I can only accept what I saw and felt: the impression of an animal in agony. It chose to share its story with me, of burning alive in the fire at the Mercer Warehouse.

Thank you.


Into the Macrocosm

Into the Macrocosm by Konn Lavery

Short Stories of the Dark Cosmic, Bizarre, and the Fantastic

This story is found within the collection.

Enter the expanding universe through the lives of 22 souls, as the Nameless One and their ghoulish companion attempt to unlock the mysterious past of how they died.

Mercer Warehouse Haunt - Horse Ghost
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Konn Lavery

About Konn Lavery

Konn Lavery is a Canadian author whose work has been recognized by Edmonton’s top five bestseller charts and by reviewers such as Readers’ Favorite, and Literary Titan.

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