unnamed story (Part 3)
Patti couldn’t help but feel that this was Clay’s fault as she took a quick walk around the neighborhood. She stopped knocking on doors after the first half dozen and then started screaming at the top her lungs. It wasn’t a cry for help as much as frustration leaking out.
“People don’t just disappear. Maybe one person but not everyone” she thought to herself.
She imagined an endless line of milk cartons each one featuring a picture of everyone in the world. Everyone gets a carton. If a carton is eight inches wide and there are seven billion people on the planet it would mean that the dairy section of the grocery store would need to circle the Earth thirty six times.
“Is that right?” she asked herself aloud. She was good at math but given her emotional state she wondered how a store could circles the Earth more than once.
She screamed again. She wasn’t sure if her math was correct, eight hundred and ninety thousand miles of milk cartons seemed a bit excessive, and she wondered if building a super market that was thirty six stories tall and spanned both oceans would be feasible.
She sat down in the middle of the street and admired the cloudless sky.
“What a beautiful day for everything to have come crashing down.”
Denise started packing. Hearing the sound of another person’s voice was the first comforting thing that had happened all day. She had reacted poorly upon realizing that she was alone in Chicago. Once it soaked in she had returned to her apartment and filled her bathtub with water. Somewhere she’d read that it’s important in times of crisis to have a bathtub full of water. People die much quicker from dehydration than from lack of food.
She had called her mother but nobody picked up. That didn’t stop her mother laughing at her for filling up the tub. She could hear her mom’s voice in her head and she had to laugh a little as well.
“What are you going to do with a tub full of water?”
Her sister didn’t answer. None of her friends picked up. Finally she reached somebody.
Just hearing his voice stopped her from going crazy. She wasn’t alone anymore. On top of that, it was Clay. Things hadn’t worked out between them but they had remained close. He was the kind of guy that made a much better friend than lover. If she had to be stuck in a world with only one man she could do worse.
Adam and Eve and Patti.
She filled a bag with some clothes and necessary items and made for her car. The bathtub of water be damned, she had a long drive ahead of her. She would tell Clay she was coming when she was on the road.
Tina started to cry. It was like an apocalyptic movie without the apocalypse. The first thing she’d done was call some of her more horrible friends just to make sure that this wasn’t some religious event where all the good people were taken and all the bad people were left to be tormented by demons or their own guilt. She was almost relieved when her friend Brad didn’t pick up his phone. There was no deity on Earth that would let Brad into some eternal shindig so she checked Judgment Day off the list of possible scenarios.
Now as she got into her car for the hour long drive to the suburbs of Philadelphia it was starting to sink in. If this had really happened, which she still wasn’t sure of, what did it mean? Was reality broken?
Perhaps she’d gone crazy. She imagined a scenario where she was walking by everyone as if they weren’t there and she was suddenly nervous about driving … what if the other cars really were there and she was just going to go smashing into them?
The static from the radio added a spooky soundtrack to an already creepy situation. Finally, after some searching, she was able to find an Adult Contemporary station that obviously had been programmed ahead of time and would be spewing out soft rock until it ran out of steam. She wondered if the owners of the station would have been ashamed that perhaps the last song to be played in the Southern New Jersey/Greater Philadelphia area was likely to be “Tainted Love” by Soft Cell.
Wondering why her subconscious singled out Soft Cell for such abuse she started to hum the song. Like so many bad songs, it tries to hide its terribleness by including a snippet of a good song. Before she knew it she was humming “Where Did Our Love Go?”
And before she knew it she was thinking about Clay.
She pushed down harder on the accelerator and smiled for the first time that day.
Samantha couldn’t get back to sleep after being awakened by the loudest thunder she’d ever heard. She’d only been asleep for a few hours to begin with so once her eyes had opened she’d cursed and knew she was in for a long night.
She had interviewed for a new job weeks ago and they had not gotten back to her with a decision. She was a perfect fit and everyone seemed to like her but still there had been no offer. Usually pretty laid back, she was feeling a stress level she was unfamiliar with. The new job would be a turning point for her career and she knew it.
Eventually she got out of bed and went to the small patio that jutted out of the building six floors up. She slid open the door and felt the cool breeze against her bare legs and arms. She loved the city at night. Without the beeping of horns and sirens it almost felt like home. She sat in a worn folding chair and debated whether or not to make herself a cup of tea. Instead she leaned back, closed her eyes and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
It was quiet.
She sat up concerned without knowing exactly why. Something was wrong but she couldn’t quite figure out what. Separating this new tension from the recent drama was difficult and she almost laughed it off and sat back into the cheap vinyl chair.
Still smiling she stood up and looked over the railing at the streets below. Empty. Nothing moving. No sounds at all.
Her smile slowly melted away and she felt her heartbeat growing faster in her chest. There were no planes in the sky. She retreated into her living room and turned on the TV for some companionship. The major stations weren’t on the air, some of the smaller affiliates were running sitcoms. None of the 24 hour news networks were broadcasting.
“What the fuck?”
She slid her feet into a pair of slippers by the door and decided to visit Ted on the third floor. She ran down the stairs knowing that Ted would assume a visit at this time of night was a booty call but at this point she would let him think what he wanted. She didn’t want to be alone.
She arrived at his door wearing nothing but shorts and a tank top, even she had to admit that she probably looked adorable. “What a lucky man I am” he would think to himself as he opened the door and saw her.
She knocked lightly so as not to wake up the entire floor.
She knocked harder. Screw the entire floor.
She started to pound on the door.