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unnamed story (Part 1)

For months afterwards he tried to remember if he’d dreamt anything that night. Anything significant. Something that would give him an idea of the meaning behind it all. He was worried he was buying into the idea that perhaps he was master of time, space and reality.

One clap of thunder seemed to have done it. It had to have been the thunder. Occam’s Razor and whatnot.

They woke up wondering what had happened. The sound of thunder remained loud and steady for what seemed like way too long and the hairs on both their arms stood straight up. They were both so rattled that it took them an extra twenty seconds to fall back asleep.

When they woke up the real rattling began.

His was first.

His drive into the city for work was a bit less congested. And by that I mean there wasn’t another car on the road. Not the usual ‘not another car on the road’ where traffic is light or a car only passes you every few minutes. This was full-blown in-the-flesh not another car only the road.

He was just starting to get creeped out when his cell rang.

“Oh thank god! You’re alive … you’re there” a female voice said. Clay, the ‘he’ I’ve been referring to up until now, quickly checked the caller ID to see who it was that was so happy he was alive.

It was his ex-girlfriend, now close friend that his wife wasn’t crazy about, Denise.

“Is it there too?” she asked.

“Is what there?”

“The people being gone. Everyone is gone!” she managed to get out before the rest was lost in garbled hyperventilating.

Clay was about to tell her to calm down and get a hold of herself and all that such stuff but at that very moment he was looking around and not seeing any people himself.

He quickly toyed with the idea of hyperventilating. It seemed like a very reasonable path to go down.

Instead he pulled the car over to the side of the street. A street that was usually teeming with people but now was completely vacant. Vacant I tell you! Not one single solitary person anywhere to be seen!

Ok, now I’m hyperventilating and I’m not even in the story.

“What the fuck is going on?”

I’ll be honest, I’m not sure which of them even said that. Probably both of them.

Clay got out of his car and walked across a parking lot and into a convenience store. It was as empty as a hooker’s heart.

You might think I’m trying to wedge in some fancy writing to make sure that you stick around for awhile but the truth is it was an expression his wife Patti used a lot so it not only popped into his head but it will begin to give you an idea about Patti.

“Are you still there?” asked Denise.

“Yes, of course. Just trying to find someone else… to see what’s going on.”

Patti popped into his head. He saw her before he left for work.

“Patti’s still here. I saw her less than an hour ago.”

“Well that’s a giant relief” Denise said sarcastically. She was aware that Patti was not her biggest fan.

Clay returned to his car and sat on the hood. It occurred to him that other than the fact it appeared that everyone in the city had disappeared without an explanation it was shaping up to be a beautiful day. The birds made themselves known, perhaps bolstered by the fact that their songs could actually be heard now that there wasn’t any traffic.

Pure conjecture of course.

His mind rifled through a few quick things that could be happening. Maybe he was on a hidden camera TV show. Unlikely, he was sitting in Philadelphia and Denise lived in Chicago. Clearing out one major city for a prank would be hard enough let alone two.

Did everyone leave the planet? Did he not get a letter about it? Did he throw it out by mistake, thinking it was another bill or credit card offer? No way, he rarely watched the news on TV but certainly even sports radio would have mentioned it a few times if everyone was going to be boarding enormous interstellar spacecrafts destined for another world.

All the NBA games would have to be rescheduled.

Clay was out of ideas and before you’re too hard on him or think that he lacks imagination, just put yourself in his shoes a second.

I know, somewhere there’s a reader smugly saying “I would assume it’s a dream and try to wake myself up.” Well good for you. Why don’t you assume that reading this is a dream and go throw yourself down a flight of stairs?

He heard something in his hand and remembered he was still holding the phone. Denise was still hyperventilating.

“Tell you what Denise. Why don’t you look around and see if there are any other people still alive around you. I should call my wife and check in. Make sure she’s ok.”

“Ok…. I’ll give you a call back soon. Please leave your phone on. I feel like I’m going crazy” Denise said hyperventilatingly.

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