Another night working late, something that was almost becoming second nature for Charlie. He knew there would be some of this when he took the promotion to managing editor, he just never imagined how much.
Still, he didn't really mind that much. The entire office was empty except for him and he could actually get some work done with no one asking for this or that or the phone ringing with another project to get started on. Co-workers often asked how he could stand being in the big, old office building by himself. He joked the ghost kept him company.
Everyone usually laughed at that comment, as the stories of an office ghost had been going around for years. The building was constructed in the early 1890s and was a beautiful art nouveau design that you rarely see anymore, with graceful curves replacing the sharp corners of the other buildings in the area.
The ghost stories sprang from a story that during the building's construction, the foreman's young wife brought down the lunch he had forgotten on his way to work and, in the days before hard hats, was hit on the head by a bucket falling off one of the steel beams being put in for the roof and killed her instantly. The story says she continued to roam the building, looking for her husband to deliver the lunch she never had the chance to in life.
In fact, the actual story was on one of many of the newspaper's previous front pages that were on display around the office, headlined "Mrs. Charlton Ellerson killed in construction mishap". It quoted the distraught husband on how he had no idea his wife was coming to the site after they had been fighting and how he would never have the chance again to "tell Linda how much he loved her." The story hung on the wall not so much because of the ghostly legend, but because the photo of Mrs. Ellerson was one of the first halftone photos printed in the newspaper.
Still, this was the farthest thought from Charlie's mind right now as he kept crunching numbers to make sure he didn't go over budget as he worked out the staff schedule for the next two weeks. Who would be traveling where, who would be covering which shifts in the office. How was this all going to fit together? He still wasn't sure, but knew it had to happen in the next hour or two before he nodded off to sleep at his desk.
Then he heard the sound of footsteps over his head ... the same kind you hear in an apartment when somebody upstairs starts to move around a little too actively. But this was a one-story building and the only upstairs was a roof that there was no outside access to. He just chalked it up to being tired and windy weather outside as he tried to focus again on his work.
The sound caught his ear again, only this time it wasn't overhead — instead coming from a back room. There shouldn't be anyone but him in the building, so curiosity got the better of him and he decided to investigate. Just in case though, he took the souvenir baseball bat he kept in the corner of his office.
When he got to the back room though, there was nothing there he could see ... just a cold, drafty feeling as he walked inside. That struck him as kind of strange, as this was almost like a big closet in the middle of the building with no outside doors or windows. Still, he was going to turn and go back to work when he heard something.
"Charlie..." called out a voice that almost sounded like the wind. "Charlie, I've been looking all over for you. Where have you been?"
He looked around, but was still alone in the room. Suddenly the door slammed, taking what limited light that had been coming into the room with it. He was in the dark, but somehow he knew he wasn't alone any more.
"Charlie, have you been trying to avoid me," the voice called again. "I'm sorry about this morning. I've come to say I'm sorry and brought your lunch."
"Who are you," Charlie screamed out into the darkness. "Who are you and how do you know who I am?"
"It's Linda, your wife silly," the voice responded, still barely louder than a whisper in the wind. "I've come with your lunch and to let you know just how sorry I am about this morning."
"I'm not married and I don't know any Linda," Charlie answered. "I'm confused."
The voice paused for a minute, before answering in an almost disappointed voice.
"I didn't realize you were so upset with me Charlie that you won't even acknowledge who I am or our life together," the voice answered. "Please forgive me. You were right, I had no business telling you that you needed to leave this job and start working for my father. You are the man and I am your wife ... please forgive me."
"OK, OK, I forgive you," Charlie said, hoping this would make this nightmare come to an end, quietly looking to find the door as he spoke. "Maybe you had a point too. Can we discuss this later though, as I have to get back to work?"