He'd met her by accident. He shouldn't have even been there, but what could he do about that now? Nothing. Since then he'd crept back as often as he dared, apparently only so that he could spend timeless minutes avoiding doing exactly what he most wanted to do. He'd glance up once in a while to catch her staring toward him and immediately flinch his look away. Why did he DO that?
Conrad was a janitor. Just a janitor at BotTech. He was supposed to keep his head down, mop moving back and forth, swish, swish, swish across the linoleum floor. He'd been clumsy that night. Security had let him past the digi-locked entrance into D-wing. The rooms were always closed, but management must have felt secure enough with the outer door and the lazy guards to leave the inner doors with no more security than the standard locking knob.
This one time his empty mind had drifted just a little too far from the sopping, grey mass at the far end of the handle and his mop made a sloppy clunk into the door. An almost imperceptible squeak later and the door he'd bumped invited his meager curiosity with a throbbing crack of darkness that outlined the off-white frame.
That was what had originally caught his attention. That sliver of darkness seemed alive somehow. There was no contrast of light, but it pulsed with a rhythm that he felt with an inner sense that the basest human still carries with him from the primordial soup. Some beast was near. I am the prey. Be on guard. In this case, though, it was the hypnotic fear of the mouse for the snake. It drew him in.
He knew he shouldn't, but he gently nudged the door, widening the crack of doom so that darkness boomed, gradually louder and louder before him. He stood in the doorway, the light behind him etching his shadow in wild, jagged lines across the lab tables, stools, and strange instruments arranged within. A single red dot glowed ahead in the darkness where his head blocked the light. He was terrified. He shouldn't be here. He shouldn't do this, but slowly, with the unearned confidence of the hopelessly condemned, he took one more step into the room, reached backwards, and gently pushed the door closed behind him.
That was how it had begun. Though he might later have convinced himself that the second time the slap of his mop against the door had only been subconsciously intentional, it soon became decisively so.