At the moment, I work at an office building along Ayala Avenue, the heart of the Makati City financial district. However, what I'm about to tell you takes place several city blocks away from the glittering steel and glass skyscrapers towers, and several years back into the past.
It was 2001 and I was still in my previous job. The office occupied several floors of a 10 storey concrete building built around the 70s. My best friend often imagined it as a possible setting for a b-movie police station. However, it didn't stand out that much since the other buildings on both sides of the road were roughly of the same age, height and shoebox design.
The company had just rented a modest office space on the 9th floor, and the team I belonged to was assigned to the new area. As the weeks and months passed, I got to trade 9th floor stories with some members of the team.
Someone had noticed a small, dark, shadowy hand reaching up to the counter where we had our cookie jar. Someone else heard something knocking... Knocking... Knocking on the cubicle dividers as it approached - yet no one was there. I told them about those times when I'd get in early in the morning before everyone else, and before the centralized air conditioning got switched on. Some of those times, I'd hear something flipping through the pages of our manager's leather-bound planner. And, yes, I had checked if he was in. He wasn't.
We shuddered over the stories, laughed, and then mostly forgot about them. Our previous floor had its own share of occurrences, so we had gotten used to these sorts of tales.
There was one time I can't dismiss so easily though.
It was a Friday evening. Understandably, almost everyone had hurried home. Someone from my team, the new girl - let's call her Tanya, shall we - had to stay behind. She was waiting for her folks to pick her up for a family dinner. Since I had no other plans at the time, and since Tanya was my cigarette break buddy, I offered to stick around a bit.
Tanya's desk was near mine, and we worked on our respective computers in peace. At least until about 7:30. That's when I heard what sounded like a woman crying. It was coming from the unisex bathroom. The bathroom was about five desks away from where we were. It was behind the last door of a short corridor that ended with a row of windows. Outside the windows were the distant cityscape, and the 90 foot drop to the street.
I glanced at Tanya to check if she noticed it too. Though she had frozen before her monitor, I still asked if she heard it. She replied before I could finish the question. We continued to listen to the sounds coming from behind the partly open bathroom door, a woman crying. And not merely sniffing. She was sobbing, weeping. Tanya and I both knew no one else could have entered the dark bathroom.
I told Tanya to shut down her computer as I hurriedly shut down my own. We decided it was more prudent to wait for her family at the well-lit, crowded burger joint a block away from the building.