Marked for Review
This story has been marked for review for the following reason(s):
The story is good but formatting, punctuation issues, and a few sentences that end without conclusion (not sure if that's intentional for effect or a lack of proofreading) may put this below QS. Recommend posting story to Writer's Workshop. Hope this gets fixed up, so it can stay on the site.
Are you even reading this? I copy, and I paste. And I copy, and paste. Yesterday, Reddit actually told me I posted successfully. Of course I couldn’t find any evidence of it, so I’m going to copy and I’m going to paste and I’ll huff and I’ll puff. Will you see this?
Will anyone? I have agoraphobia. It’s not. It isn’t like people say, I’m not afraid of the outside, It's anxiety. Anywhere I perceive to feel unsafe. So, everywhere. But I do alright, it’s a modern age. Everything I need I can have delivered, I work from home, I even have a roommate. I used to have a
I don’t know what to do but, my therapist said when you don’t feel in control you should write things down. Make lists. Itemize your worries
One. Everything sucks.
Two. This isn’t helping
Three, help me
Four, Mike still hasn’t come h
I think it started a month ago? Uh, it. This. I didn’t even notice. I wouldn’t. Mike came home from work, he said,“It’s real strange, you know? Three people just didn’t even show up for their shift. Servers, yeah, but one of the line cooks was missing, I’ve seen those guys work hungover with the flu and third degree burns.”
He’s a waiter, but he was making the money. I’m not helpless, I’m a medical transcriptionist. Ever watch a crime drama or something and the doctor’s dictating his notes out loud to a recorder? Well, it’s law that those notes have to be turned into written word. It’s harder than it sounds. Am I rambling?
The company I work for has to send me the files, usually from hospitals and doctors all over the state. I used to do thirty five hours a week. Two weeks ago it was ten. Now it’s not any, of course. I’m sorry. I’m asking for help and all I can do is spew words at you. Whoever you are.
Everyone is gone. Are you gone too?
I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I think we all need help.
None of us put it together, not right away. You know, people say on average there are like six hundred thousand missing persons cases a year? That's a lot, but you look it up, only two or three thousand go unsolved by the end of the year.
Turns out that’s still a lot.
More people didn’t show up to Mike’s work. One or two a day. Sometimes one would show back up, but usually they were just gone. It was two weeks before one of his friends vanished. He came home pale. No laughing, no immediately talking to me even though I’m clearly busy. He just melted, slumped down onto the couch next to me.
I turned off the recording, the same ten seconds I’d been trying to focus on for the last 15 minutes when I saw him sit down. Mike’s…he was one of those guys. Upbeat. His grandfather died a year ago, and Mike came back from the funeral with this big dopey grin on his face, said he got to remember all the good times they’d had. I’d never seen him dour, you know?
He looked broken.
“I went to check on Jenna.” he said.“The….the redhead, the one that lives in Northtown, you remember? Came over for my birthday?”
I did, she was weird.“Long trip to just drop in.”
“No.” was all he said. I don’t handle anxiety well, and I don’t like surprises but I mean, this guy’s the best friend I’ve ever had, right? I sucked it up, I swallowed my racing heart. He just looked so. Scared. Six hundred thousand people.
He just sat there, knee jack hammering up and down, hunched in on himself, looking out the window. We share an apartment, a second floor walk up, a corner piece. We’ve got this one big window, looks straight out on this busy intersection, gas stations on both sides, a crash every week. There’s always people on this street, going to clubs, going to work, going home. It was 3pm on a tuesday, overcast but not raining. A nice fall afternoon.
Wasn’t a car in sight.
Mike jerked himself backward, slouching into the couch, ramming his hands into the pocket of his hoodie and almost making me shit myself, eyes a million miles away.
“45 minute drive.” he said, nodding to himself, leg still bouncing away, making the floor squeak.“I got there in like…15? Man there ain’t anyone out there.”
“It’s…what, a week after thanksgiving?” I tried,“All the tourists are gone, or at the strip.”
“Nah, man,” he practically whispered.“She lives in the projects, y’know? I mean it’s a good place, yeah, but like.” He looked at me, finally. Haunted.“Locals, but there’s no one there.”
I wanted to cry, I didn’t even know WHY. He kept going.“I knocked and knocked but, nope. Uh, I even peeked in her window, step one to getting arrested, right? She had food. On her…this little, what, coffee table? Thing in front of the tv. I saw a whole thing of noodles, those chinese things.”
I didn’t know what to say but he was staring at me, anything to make him move on,“Lo mein?”
“Yeah! But like. Full. A whole thing of food and she just. Wasn’t there?” He started shaking his head, didn’t even stop as he kept on the story, making his voice warble and crack. We’d seen the signs, I think. Deliveries that just never showed up, some of our neighbors suddenly quiet, no one hanging around the little laundry room downstairs, bills that hadn’t even been delivered yet. But no statements, no alerts, no “hey we're being invaded by aliens, watch out.” Hell even the internet. Silent. Reddit, twitter, Mike’s facebook,“Anyone in Vegas recently have someone disappear?” No responses. No anything.
I watched Mike come to the realization before me.“All of ‘em were like that. I ain’t ever heard this place quiet like that before. My gramp, he had a, he had a horse ranch out in Pahrump, now that place, at night. Ain’t a car for miles, houses so far away all you can see are the lights. THAT wasn’t this quiet. I couldn’t hear NOTHIN’. Just me and the clouds, man. I went up and down those big apartment blocks, bangin’ on doors. I got too scared to call out though, like, what if somethin’ heard me? What if Jenna woulda heard me?”
God he was crying, and I didn’t know what to do for him, just shook my head.
“Yeah, yeah nah, probably. I spent the whole time swearin’ I was being watched. So I said, I said ‘fuck it’, i broke into her place.”
“Don’t, don’t look at me like that, she didn’t even lock her door. Just had the chain up. I kinda leaned on it, broke right off, I figured, ‘hey, if you’re home, I’ll by you a new goddamn door, a big one’, hell, maybe I’d just WANTED there to be some cops, you know?”
I knew. I watched a plastic bag blow across the empty street outside.
“She wasn’t there.” I said, and my voice felt too loud.
“There was blood, man. Not like a lot, but like. Enough. I called the cops, got a busy signal. Tried that new text non-emergency line thing? Hell I’m still waiting on that,” He checked his phone as an afterthought, made a disgusted noise and tossed his phone onto the couch. It slid off with a hollow thud on the floor, all my anxiety came to life, imagining the sounds of something skittering through the eerily silent apartment below us. The drumbeat of fingers, on the walls. A face in the window. But there’s nothing. There’s not a thing. I’m alone.
“We need to leave.”
“And go where?!” I squeaked, panic making my throat squeeze up.
He was just silent, for a long time. Then,“There are still clothes in machine 8.”
Abject misery.“It’s just a washing mach-”
“It’s been three days.” He wouldn’t look at me. That was fair, i could barely look up at him.
We were silent for a long time. Mike went out and my agoraphobia reached an all time high. Before I could.
I was managing. I could walk the neighborhood, our complex is gated. I even went with Mike to get food with his friends last month. But in that silent apartment? Every noise. Every lack of noise. A million tiny insectoid legs, circling the walls, crawling beneath my skin. A cry outside. I sat silent and trembling on the couch, a hot breath on the back of my neck, knowing. Feeling. If I moved even an inch, if I breathed wrong it would know I knew. Teeth would tear. I smelled blood, i smelled meat languished between razor sharp teeth, something wet dripping on the floor, dripping as something unspeakably heavy dragged itself closer to the back of the couch.
Mike came back, slamming the door behind him.
“Well, I pissed off a whole bunch of neighbors, but people are still here. Hell even downstairs, guess the guys wife moved out, he’s just been sitting around in his underwear, drunk, he told me to fuck off.”
I sat there, drenched in sweat and nodded. We ordered pizza. It arrived. For a moment, Jenna was forgotten. I tipped the pizza guy like 50 bucks. Can you blame me?
I think i do. We should have left. A week later Mike went to work, just to check in. He texted me, I’m just going to post it as is. I don’t know, knowledge is power, right?
“Im here, cars in parkng lot
Jennas cars here
Jsus fuck this was a mistake. If idon’t come back im sry, I got some weed in my bthrm, u hav to
I thnk my boss is dead man.
H was slumpd or I dont know, there s dogs in the place. Mean
Im comin back, you gotta smoke or smth, i no u anxious an shit but we leaving.“
I texted him a few times but no reply. I found his weed. I’d never smoked before. He never came back.
I am alone, and so I write to you.
I don’t know what to do now. No one’s coming to pick up the trash but then, no one’s really around to make trash. Mike has a tv in his room, hadn’t cut the cable yet but there's. Reruns, empty static. MSNBC had dead air, an unchanging image of an anchor desk, scattered papers. A light must have skewed because all the shadows were wrong. Too harsh. A few times you could see a shadow move across the set, like someone was walking behind the camera. It’s a stock Technical Difficulties image now.
You know that awkward moment when you call someone and they pick up but neither of you know who should speak first? And so you just stand there, breathing, knowing someone’s there and yet. Not.
We don’t exactly have a phone book but I’ve been dialing every number I can. Sometimes they ring endlessly or connect to a rapidly filling voicemail. Sometimes a robotic voice tells me it’s disconnected, please hang up and try again. The worst ones are when the line stops ringing. Someone has picked up on the other end. Not a machine, or another voicemail, because I can hear breathing. Sometimes I heard what sounded like the wind, or dry leaves blown across cement. I tried the pizza place before and it rang once, followed by a sound like dripping.I don’t try the phones much anymore. I don’t try much. The power is still on, strangely. Obviously, given I’m typing this out. I keep the lights off, partly to preserve power and.
I used to look out the window, while my little cheapo radio played the same song on repeat. West Virginia, mountain mama, ad nauseam, but it’s the only station that isn’t static, isn’t a white noise that sounds too much like screaming if you listen just a moment too long. I stare out the window, at the now empty street, at another, completely dark complex, at two silent gas stations, still lit like beacons. Past that, the electrical power station, substation, something. Mike knew. I see smoke rising from a dozen different places in the city beyond, rising to mingle with the clouds that won’t leave. I don’t hear any sirens.
Yesterday I dozed off, face pressed against the glass, watching trash and leaves blow across the street. The sky was darker when I snapped awake. I wiped drool from my face in that half-daze of an interrupted sleep cycle. It had started to rain, a sound like tapping on the glass. Beyond, there were spreading stains in the street that hadn’t been there before, now sodden trash collecting in the spreading red pools in the middle of the intersection.
I’ve been awake for 48 hours now. I can hear speaking, softly behind the music on the radio. I hear something in the apartment below. It moves when I do. So I don’t move. Just type. Empty chat rooms, newest posts are 6 days old. Memes. A presidential visit somewhere. Civil unrest. I do not hallucinate, I don’t
I hope I’m losing it. 600,000 people every year. Something moves in the apartment downstairs again. In the walls. Sharp tapping of rain on the window, behind the pulled curtains. On the roof. Shadows pass across the curtain. I don’t know where this will go. Who will see this. But this is a record.
We need help.
I don’t know what else to do, besides be afraid. In fact, I think I’m so afraid, I can’t tell what’s worse anymore. Staying here another moment, in the deafening silence. Or going outside. I think I'm most afraid of being alone. Being the last one left.
I’ll try to find Mike, he’s the only one who can drive anyway.
I’ve put this everywhere I can, and if you read this, if anyone
Help. Hope you see me.