My Last Arby’s Night Shift

I worked there part-time for a little over two years. During that time I’ve had to deal with my fair share of bullshit. However, none of it was as bad as what happened on my final shift. For the first year of my job, I had worked the day shift. That changed when my boss asked me if I wanted to try working at night.

Since I was low on funds and admittedly curious about what it was like, I agreed. For the most part, it was a pain in the ass. I’d have to work off the clock because there wasn’t enough time to do everything. The only silver lining is that I got to take home the food that was going to be tossed. Plus I didn’t have to deal with customers aside from the occasional one who would show up right before closing.

I will say it was an environment that could be pretty chill sometimes. When I got into a rhythm of finishing my tasks it could be quite cathartic on occasion. Although, the fact I was only getting paid minimum wage took away from that aspect. Not to mention, that eerie feeling that only comes with night shifts.

If you’ve worked a night shift at any fast food place or convenience store you probably know what I mean. Sure, you can get the same feeling from the night shifts of bigger places but fast food night shifts are different. For one, there are fewer people which means being more vulnerable. The other reason is that should you get in danger there aren’t as many hiding spots as say a grocery store. Anyway, I’ll stop with this long-ass intro and get to what happened on my last shift.

It was me and an assistant manager who I got along well with. His name was Ray. He was on drive-thru while I worked the backline. I was busy cleaning while he counted money. As I was wiping everything down he called my attention.

“Alvin, since we’re only like ten minutes from closing, you can go ahead and start breaking everything down. You don’t need to worry about customers. They usually never show up at this…”

The sound of a bell, indicating a customer in the drive-thru sounded from the speaker. Ray rolled his eyes and threw his head back. Then put on the headset and hit the button so he could talk to the customer.

“Hello. Welcome to Arby’s. I hope you are having a pleasant evening. How may we help you?”

We waited for the customer’s response over the speaker. They didn’t say anything. The next thing we knew, we heard a car speeding through the parking lot. It was too dark for us to fully make out their vehicle. Nick turned back to me and shrugged.

He told me to proceed with breaking down the backline. I was going to when the bell sound was heard again. Ray answered it, repeating the phrase he had previously. The same thing as before happened. Only this time we were able to catch a better glimpse of the vehicle which seemed to be red.

The third time this happened, Ray was once again professional, albeit with a hint of restrained annoyance in his voice. When it happened for the fourth time said restraint understandably left his voice entirely. He damn near broke the button when he pressed it. Instead of putting the headset on, he helped the microphone part of it to his mouth. Then yelled what he said next into it, loud enough to wake the dead.

“Hello. Can we help you?”

When the customer drove off again the couple moments of silence that followed were awkward, to say the least. He stood by the window, taking deep breaths in order to relax.

“Uh…Should I continue breaking down the line?” I asked.

Ray glanced at the clock. It showed we only had a few minutes until closing.

“Take out the trash for now. If any orders come in, I’ll handle them, but I swear if that asshole shows up again, I’m ignoring them.”

Once all the trash within the building was bagged I put it into the large trash bins and wheeled them out the back door. I made sure to put down the stopper so it wouldn’t close on its own. You’d think after a year on the night shift I’d no longer get that sense of danger that comes from taking out the trash alone. That was not the case. In fact, that feeling was stronger than it had been.

I’m not psychic or anything like that but I couldn’t shake off this weird sensation in my gut. Maybe it was because of what happened with that customer. In the back of my mind, I might’ve been considering the possibility that they weren’t mentally stable and could potentially harm us. Despite this, I took the trash to the dumpster. The door leading to it let out a loud creak as I pulled it open.

As I was getting ready to wheel the trash bins back inside I saw the car. It was by itself under a streetlight. I thought if the driver was trying to be inconspicuous, they weren’t doing a very good job. There was something off about the driver that I couldn’t quite place my finger on from that distance. When the door opened I realized why I got that feeling.

My throat went dry as the, for lack of a better word, driver came out of the car. What I noticed first about it was its size. It was a wonder this thing could fit in the car because it had to be at least eight feet tall when standing up. The reason I say when standing is due to the fact it preferred crawling.

It crawled on eight arms. Each of them possessed claws that clicked on the parking lot. Just a glance told me they could literally tear someone to shreds with little effort. Its sickly grey skin stretched over its boney yet somehow massive frame. It focused its sunken in yellow eyes on me, letting out a low moan that sounded akin to a whale noise.

My eyes briefly shifted to the back entrance before I made a dash for it while pushing one of the trash bins. The way its claws scraped against the parking lot as it was dashing towards me grated on my ears. For its size, it was unusually fast. The reason I pushed the trash bin instead of leaving was so I had something to try and stall it with. When that thing was close enough to me I made use of it.

I pushed the trash bin towards the creature with so much force it started tipping as it rolled. Caught off guard by this, the monster didn’t have time to move away. The trash bin went over it. I could hear noises conveying frustration as it was trying to get it off. Sprinting towards the exit, I shouted for Ray.

“Alvin is something…?”

His voice trailed off and his eyes widened when he noticed it.

“What in the hell is that?”

“Close the door. Close the fucking door,” I said, once I had run back inside, having bumped into him in the process.

The creature had torn through the trash bins. Then after shaking off the pieces stuck to its claws started running towards the back entrance. Ray cursed loudly, undid the stopper with his foot, and slammed the door shut as it was leaping at us. A loud thud echoed from the door as it was slammed into The monster attempted ramming into it repeatedly until it gave up and skittered away.

“Okay that was unusual,” Ray said.

From his tone of voice, I could tell he hadn’t fully processed what he had just seen. I hadn’t either, nor did I want to. I would’ve been content to brush this off had a realization not hit me.

“Oh shit. The lobby,” I said.

No sooner than I had spoken those words did we hear pounding on one of the windows. Knowing we only had seconds until it was inside, we thought fast and chose a spot to hide. We picked the walk-in fridge. We put the holding oven in front of it to hide it from view. We would have run out the back door and to Ray’s car if it weren’t for the fact it was parked too far away.

Not only that, to reach it we’d have to pass the door. Had we tried to the creature no doubt would’ve spotted our escape and chased after us. With its speed, catching up to us wouldn’t have been a problem for it so all we could do was hide out in the walk-in fridge. We sat on some boxes, making sure to keep our noise level to a minimum.

“So what do you think that thing is?” I asked. “An alien? Demon? Escaped government lab experiment?”

“Fuck if I know. All I know is I want it as far away from us as possible.”

We could hear it making a mess while searching for us.

“Goddammit. There goes all the cleaning we did already,” Ray said.

With how frantically it was searching, we knew it would only be a matter of time before it found us. The only thing we had to defend ourselves with was a knife that could barely cut lettuce. Needless to say, our situation looked pretty bleak. Neither of us wanted to entertain the idea we might get killed. To get my mind off this, I started pondering possible reasons the monster was after us.

“Maybe it is a demon of some kind after all,” I said.

“What makes you think that?”

“Well, I know this goes without saying that this is weird but isn’t it odd that it came to our restaurant specifically? There are plenty of other places on the way here that are still open so why did it choose here?”

Ray seemed to be considering my words.

“Maybe it’s because we have the meats,” he said.

Despite our predicament, we shared a small laugh at that. This seized when an enraged scream reached the walk-in fridge and caused a tense moment of silence to fall over us.

“So uh, is there anything else that would indicate that this thing is a demon or whatever?” Ray asked after a long while.

I thought for a moment.

“Now that you mention it, what happened at the drive-thru might be another sign it was.”

“How do you figure?”

“Have you ever heard any rituals?”

“Yeah, mostly in movies.”

“And do you know how they have weird steps you have to follow?”

“What are you getting at?”

“It got me thinking, what if it driving around the restaurant was a ritual or at least part of one? I know it’s a shot in the dark. I’ve never heard of a ritual that requires someone to drive around a building but it would explain why it did all that earlier. Not to mention rituals have a certain phrase or word that’s said like say…Hello?”

Ray facepalmed when he realized what I was getting at.

“So you’re saying I may have caused…Wait. If it was already multi-legged and shit why did it even bother with the drive-thru. Couldn’t it have just smashed through the window and came in right away?”

“That is true. Honestly, I’m not sure why it didn’t do that, to begin with. Oh well. The answer to that is something we can worry about if we survive this.”

“Yeah, I’m feeling super optimistic about our chances. Do you want to try your phone again?”

“What’s the point? We saw it doesn’t get any service in here. Speaking of which, why don’t you try your phone?”

“I left it in the lobby.”

I stopped myself from throwing my head back against the door in frustration.

“Okay, so much for being able to call,” I said.

“Maybe not. Why don’t you try walking around? You might get a signal that way.”

Even though I had my doubts that this would work, I figured trying it was better than sitting around. By some miracle, I was able to get a signal while holding my phone up to the top content left of the door.

“Holy shit. I got it. Who do you think I should call?”

“The police might take too long. Wait, I got it. Call my phone.”

“Why?”

“The ring tone might distract it long enough for us to escape out the back door.”

I could hear the monster steadily getting closer to the door. Knowing this and that I could lose the signal at any moment, I went along with Ray’s plan. It roared upon hearing his ringtone. Then from what we could hear, dashed towards his phone.

“Go,” Ray said after pushing the walk-in fridge’s door open.

We got so close. We were almost able to escape. Unfortunately, things didn’t exactly turn out how we wanted them to. We managed to hit into Ray’s car and even start driving off before the monster noticed we were leaving. Unbeknownst to us, however, it was smarter than we thought.

“Holy fucking shit,” I laughed. “I’m surprised we managed to make it out of there.”

The exit to the store was down a long hill that Ray drove along. After exiting the store he was driving along the road which the store was above. He would have of course turned left had there not been a buffer between the lanes.

“Yeah, tomorrow I’m quitting. I’ll only go back to get my phone and then I’m never going…”

The creature landed on Ray’s car, making the windows shatter and the windshield crack. We screamed and Ray jerked the wheel to shake it off. It leaped off his car. Only when it did could we see that we were headed straight for a tree. He crashed into it, causing the airbags to deploy and both of us to pass out.

“Oh fuck my head,” I groggily said upon waking later.

My blurry vision came into focus. When it did I saw that I was back in Arby’s. If that wasn’t bad enough my arms were chained to the prep table.

“Fuck,” I yelled and heard groaning beside me.

I turned to see Ray was coming to.

“Alvin, is that you? Where are we?” He shook his head and took a look around. “God damn it. Where’d it even get chains? Our store doesn’t have any.”

He yanked on his restraints in a futile attempt to free himself.

“That’s simple,” We heard a metallic and raspy voice say. “I brought them.”

My breath caught in my throat as the creature came into the kitchen. Its eyes were full of anger and also intense focus. Its breath had a strong copper smell to it.

“Wait…You can talk?” I hesitantly asked.

“No, what you’re hearing right now is an auditory hallucination. Yes, I can talk. I must admit you were almost able to escape. Almost.”

“What do you want?” Ray asked, trying and failing to keep the fear out of his voice.

The claws of its hand clicked against the floor as it scampered over to him. He shuddered as it caressed his face with one of its claws. I was on edge, knowing it could kill both of us at any moment. My heart nearly stopped when it made a move to stab Ray in the heart only to stop its hand inches from his chest.

“It’s not what I want. It’s who I want,” It said. “Where is Dennis?”

“Dennis?” I said in confusion.

He was our general manager. What this thing wanted with him was beyond me.

“Why do you want to know that?” Ray inquired.

“That is not your concern. I know he was supposed to be here now so I will ask again?” Where is he?”

It hissed out that last question, revealing its scarlet-colored sharp teeth.

“Didn’t he have an appointment?” I asked Ray.

“Yeah,” He replied. “That means he’s probably at home right now.”

The creature let out a sigh of annoyance.

“Of course he did. I’ll be back. Don’t go anywhere.”

It flashed us a smile and went into the lobby. I turned to Ray.

“Are we still clocked in?” I asked.

“Uh. I’m not sure.”

The monster came back into the kitchen, holding Ray’s phone.

“What are you going to do with that?” He asked.

“That should be obvious. I want you to call Dennis and tell him to come here.”

“What makes you think he will?”

“He’ll have to since the fryer is broken.”

“But it’s not…”

In one swift motion, it used its claws to slice into the fryer, severing the wires inside and leaving deep claw marks in it. We were too stunned to say anything.

“And remember I can easily do that to both of you so I suggest you don’t keep me waiting.”

“Okay fine,” Ray agreed.

“Good to hear. Since your phone requires a thumbprint to unlock, I’ll remove your chains. Just remember if you try and escape I’ll shred you to bits and put them in between some onion rolls with bbq sauce.”

Ray’s hands shook as he dialed Dennis’s number. The monster waited patiently as he did so. Ray’s phone rang for a while, making me worry that Dennis wouldn’t pick up. Thankfully on the eighth ring, he did.

“Ray, why the hell are you calling me at this hour?” He asked, clearly having been woken from sleep based on how he sounded.

“Sorry, Dennis, there’s been a bit of an emergency.”

“Really? What is it?”

Dennis sounded a little more awake by then.

“A bear got into the store and wrecked the fryer.”

“Ray, you do realize I can have you fired for trying to pull such an asinine prank on me, right?”

“I’m not joking. I can send you a picture of it.”

When Dennis saw the picture that Ray sent him, he went ballistic.

“God fucking damn it,” he yelled. “How did a bear even get in the store in the first place?”

“It came in through the backdoor while Alvin was taking out the trash. It made a pretty big mess in here. Neither of us were hurt, thankfully. Anyway, what do you want to do about it? If we call for repairs it might not be fixed before we open.”

Dennis sighed.

“How was a bear, able to do that much damage to it? Is that even possible? It doesn’t matter. I’ll be down in a little while.”

Ray’s phone beeped, indicating the call had ended.

“There I called him. Can you let us go now?” He asked.

“Not yet. There’s something I need to get done before he gets here. You two will help me get it done faster.”

“Why should we do that?” I asked, raising my voice to which he gave me a “Really?” look and held up one of his claws. “Oh yeah.”

I can’t really tell you much about what he made us do since I was really tired at that point. Adrenaline only lasts for so long and when it wears off after a shift that technically lasted over ten hours your eyelids feel heavier than a sack of bricks. What I will say is that it involved us writing some runic symbols with multi-colored chalk. These symbols started from the drive-through and stretched around the store to the parking lot’s exit. After this was done, we waited for Dennis in the store.

“Remember what I’ll do if either of you tries any funny business,” The creature said as we heard Dennis’s car pulling into the parking lot.

He hid in the kitchen, leaving us to do the talking.

“Okay. We’re just leading our boss to his death,” I thought. “No pressure. None at all. Oh god. There’s no way I’m sleeping tonight.”

“God fucking dammit,” Dennis yelled from outside with a toolbox in his hand.

“Yeah, the bear really did a number on the place,” Ray said, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Why didn’t you tell me it broke the window?”

“I said it made a big mess didn’t I?”

There were a few awkward moments of silence before Dennis replied.

“Whatever,” he said, walking past us. “I’ll see if I can fix the fryer. If not we’ll have to stay closed tomorrow.”

The tension was high as he pushed open the door to the kitchen, muttering some curses when he saw the mess in it. I was expecting the monster to pounce on him right away. Instead, he was able to make his way to the fryer with no trouble aside from having to navigate all the clutter. I was confused at this and exchanged a glance with Ray. His expression was similar to mine and he shrugged in response.

“I think if I can solder these wires back together, it should get the fryer working again in time for us to open. It won’t look pretty, though.”

It was when Dennis was crouching down to get a better view of the fryer’s insides did it come out of hiding. As it turned out it was hiding in the break room. How it was able to fit in there given its size baffled me. The reason we didn’t know where it had been was due to the boxes we had left on the prep table. It was only when it was standing up, could we see its head over the boxes.

I wanted to yell for Dennis to run. I really did. Then I remembered what the monster said it’d do to us if we tried anything. Plus, the fact despite having worked there for two years, covering shifts, coming in on days off, and staying well past when I was scheduled to clock out, I was still making under eight dollars an hour. With that in mind, I didn’t really view Dennis as life-risk worthy.

“Dennis,” it said.

He turned around. When he did I almost thought he was going to have a heart attack. He was acting as if he had a scream that wouldn’t come out. On instinct, he began swinging one of his tools in an attempt to defend himself. It grabbed the tool out of hand and crushed it using it with little effort.

“It’s been a long time since we last met,” It said.

Its face was only inches from his.

“You two know each other?” I said, wondering how Dennis could possibly know something so disturbing in appearance.

He somehow found his voice again.

“I- I don’t know this thing. Why would I?”

“Because you made me like this. Do you remember what happened in Vegas?”

Dennis’s eyes lit up with recognition.

“No…Freddy?”

“That’s right.”

“Does anybody want to fill us in here?” Ray asked.

It answered, not taking its eyes off Dennis.

“Back in the 90s he and I worked at the location in Las Vegas. What he proposed was us hitting casinos and betting the money we had saved up. We pooled it together.”

“Did you guys lose all the money?” I asked it.

“No. In fact, we won a lot. It all went great until he stole the earnings and left.”

It pointed a finger at Dennis, poking his chest.

“Wait,” I said. “Does that mean you were human before?”

“It does. After telling my wife what happened, she left with the kids. I spent the next ten years in shelters or on the streets. One night when I was sleeping in a park I woke up to him shaking me.”

“Who?”

“I’m not sure exactly what he was. All I knew for sure was that he wasn’t human.”

“How could you tell?”

“His eyes were like a snake’s. He said one thing to me. That was all it took for me to follow him. He asked if I wanted revenge. Memorizing the ritual that turned me into this wasn’t the hard part. The hard part was tracking Dennis down and waiting for the right moment to perform it.”

“Look. Freedy, I’m sorry,” Dennis protested.

He tried, moving towards the door. Freddy grabbed him by the throat, lifting him off the floor.

“Sorry would have been not running off with the money. Sorry, would have been returning the money after realizing the error of your ways. Apologizing over twenty years later only when your life’s on the line is a desperate ploy to save yourself from what you deserve. To be honest, I wasn’t surprised to find you working for this company again. I guess your addiction cost you most of the earnings. Isn’t that right?”

Freddy dropped him to the floor and grabbed him by his legs.

“Alvin, Ray, help me,” Dennis pleaded

“I know you need us to,” Ray replied. “Thing is, we like you know, living and Freddy here said he’d kill us if we tried anything.”

Although my opinion of Dennis was really low at that point, I also didn’t want him to get killed. With that being said, though there wasn’t really anything we could do to help him. I mean maybe we could have used the knives. However, that would be like arming ourselves with a stick while fighting a grizzly bear. We could only watch in terror at what happened next.

Dennis began protesting that we’d be fired if we didn’t as Freddy was dragging him out the back door. Dennis’s nails scraped against the floor as he tried resisting. He grabbed the door frame and promised us two dollar raises if we helped him. Shortly later after being yanked away from the door, Dennis was put into Freddy’s car. We followed, wondering what exactly was going to happen.

“Thanks for the help, you two,” Freddy grinned to which we could only nod in response, too frightened by his smile to say anything.

His gnarled and sharpened teeth unnerved the hell out of me. What unnerved me, even more, was how he fit back into his car. He started to scrunch himself up. The sound of his bones snapping and popping as they rearranged themselves was clearly audible as he did this enough for him to fit into the driver’s side of his car. I suspect this is how he was able to hide in the break room without anyone noticing.

He cranked up his car and proceeded to drive to the exit starting from the drive-through. The runic symbols his car approached lit up with flame right before he drove over them. Each one was a different colored flame. We watched all of this in amazement. All the while we could see Dennis with tears streaming down his face as he banged on the back windshield as he was screaming our help.

The last we saw of him and Freddy was when the car was driving over the last symbol. Its flame was an angry red. Right as Freddy was driving over it something appeared above his car. I can only describe his thing as kite-like. Its body only vaguely resembled a diamond shape and its head was similarly shaped.

It regarded us briefly with its bright eyes. Honestly, the thing hurt to look at. It was as if we were seeing a living magic eye picture. I’m thinking it was probably a demon or something. Either way, I hope I’m never on the receiving end to whatever it did to Dennis. Its body stretched, enveloping Freddy’s car and it vanished, causing the runes’ flames to go out simultaneously as a result.

“Man, I’d hate to be wherever he is now,” Ray said after some moments of awkward silence.

“Yeah,” I agreed. Not having fully processed what I had seen not even a minute ago. “By the way, does this make us accessories to murder?”

Ray thought for a moment.

“Technically I think?”

It won’t come as a surprise to learn that we quit that night. Naturally, we had to come up with an explanation for Dennis seemingly vanishing off the face of the Earth. Thankfully, our bear explanation served well. Although it was unusual behavior for one, the police couldn’t dismiss the claw marks in the fryer or the ones on the floor which meant we avoided any legal trouble. Nobody could really blame us for wanting to quit right away which saved us the trouble of having to clean up everything so that’s another silver lining in addition to not getting charged with anything I guess.

I talked with Ray sometimes about what happened after we quit. We came to the conclusion that for our safety and sanity the answers as to what happened to Dennis and what that thing was were best left unfound. Sometimes my mind wanders to the kite thing. I say demon. That’s only a guess, though. What I do know is that I will never work at an Arby’s again.

However, I will still eat there when I can because I think their food is pretty good. Solid fries and tenders.

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Rosé Black

Rosé Black

Hello, I mainly write horror but also blend it with comedy, sci-fi, or fantasy. If you’re a fan of these genres, I hope you’ll like my work.