During business hours, the plaza behind Rainier Square--the tall white building, located at Fifth and University, that narrows at its base in what I'm told is an "earthquake-proof" design--is filled with corporate stiffs, most of them smokers, escaping the dreary confines of their cubicles. But in the evenings and on weekends, the plaza is completely deserted, offering visitors little more than an eerie sense of isolation--an isolation that taps into a primal human fear. Think Omega Man (minus the light-sensitive zombies), with yourself cast as a lone survivor, the hordes of the city having vanished. Or think a different fear: the fear of being attacked in a public space with no one around to witness or step in and save your ass.

Am I exaggerating? Probably. But walking up the stairs to the plaza--a long concrete stretch sandwiched between the aforementioned earthquake-proof office building and the Rock Bottom brewery--it's hard to shake simultaneous feelings of claustrophobia (fear of enclosed spaces) and agoraphobia (fear of wide open space). As you enter the park, the sounds of the city slowly drain away until little more than a distant, barely audible hum remains. The soul of the city--the sounds, the populace, the cars--disappears, leaving you by your lonesome, trapped in a vacuum. The plaza itself is a large empty expanse... and it's carpeted. One massive white building looms over you, the Four Seasons Hotel is off to your left, and other buildings, big and small, line the edges of the park. You're in a completely deserted park... and yet... you're completely surrounded. Looking up at the windows of the buildings, not a soul can be seen looking back. You're utterly alone. Anything could happen.

Again, am I exaggerating? Probably, but... still. On each of my visits to the Rainier Square plaza, the park was infused with a palpable sense of evil. And while some would write me off as a loon, please consider the following: (1) How creepy is it to be completely isolated in a place where you shouldn't be? Where signs of chaos--noise, traffic, goddamn people--should be everywhere, but aren't?; and (2) How eerie would it feel to be standing in a large, open space, surrounded by hundreds--possibly thousands--of windows, and still feel that someone could kill you and no one would see it?

But don't just take my word for it. Trudge downtown and check it out for yourself. But if you get killed and no one is there to witness the crime... well, I told you so.