That morning I woke up for my god forsaken 8 am CalcII discussion. I dreaded Tuesdays and Thursdays for that reason. The class itself wasn't that bad, it was just too damn early considering my next class wasn't until 11 am. That, and I can't fall asleep at night, like at all. My brain just keeps me wired through the early AM hours.
It was about two weeks ago I think that we first heard it. It was this loud buzz, something I can't really describe. The best comparison that I can think of is a mix of television fuzz and the whirr of a bus engine. And when I say loud, I mean it was loud. Really fucking loud. Everyone was wincing at the noise.
That day... Oh I remember every second of that day. I was on the shuttle bus, heading back from the student union where I had gotten lunch, my classes all done for the day. I was sitting on the bus, next to some really cute girl who I had decided to make conversation with, seeing as she was wearing a "USA Hockey" hoodie. Her name was Nicole. Brown hair with blonde streaks in the front, light blue eyes, a smile that could kill... She was gorgeous. I had sat next to her previous, when the bus was near full, but I always wimped out. Today was different, I was going to finally talk to her.
"Hey, did you play hockey around here?" I started.
"What? Oh the hoodie? Oh no, my dad used to coach. I just wear this because I don't like to take the time to throw on real clothes," she laughed. I was surprised how comfortable she was for a first conversation. I still felt reserved. The conversation carried on for a while, and when the bus came to my stop she asked for my number. Thrilled, I scribbled all ten digits down as fast as I could on a torn off section of my failed CalcII exam. She promised to call me later that day.
Getting back to my apartment, I found myself beyond unmotivated to do any work whatsoever, so I grabbed a controller, plopped down on the couch, and started playing Black Ops. Time flew by, as it always does.
My phone started blinking. "Was it her? Did she text me?" In one fluid motion I threw the controller to my roommate and snatched the phone from off of the table.
"Hey Justin! This is Nicole, do you want to meet up with me and some friends at my place later tonight? The Capitals are playing." It read. Was I wearing a Caps shirt? Lucky guess? Wait, I told her I live around here, odds were I was a Caps fan anyway. I texted her back faster than I've ever texted before, arranging the time to go over. That was that. I was going to hang out with her at 7 that night. I was thrilled. Quickly, I threw my clothes off, jumped in the shower, scrubbed every inch of my body, and let my shaggy hair fall the way I liked it. I checked myself out in the mirror, the past few years of hockey training were really paying off. Too bad I'm always awkward as hell when it comes to girls...
She only lived about a 3 minute walk from my apartment, I could see her highrise luxury student apartment from my bedroom window. The fall leaves were adding to the beauty of the late day, with the sun beaming behind the red orange and yellow of the season. I never really saw the beauty of the mid autumn day before then, but then again it was probably just some mood congruent observation. Without a second thought, I headed out, walking at an obnoxious pace, anticipating an evening of fun.
Though it was only a couple hundred meters from my place, the walk seemed to drag on forever. The traffic light had just turned and I cursed, but I just played Frogger and got to the other side without pissing too many people off. "Room 238... What the hell, this place is a maze," I thought as I climbed the stairs and entered the second floor hallway. It really was a maze, all the numbered rooms were scattered, hardly any order to be found at all. That's when it happened. The buzz. It was horrible. My head felt like it was going to explode. I closed my eyes and covered my ears as I collapsed to the ground. It felt like it lasted for hours, when really it was only a few minutes. Once it stopped I had the worst headache I've ever had. Standing up was a chore itself, let alone keeping balance after that horrible violent vibration perturbed my entire body.
Looking up, I saw that I was right in front of Nicole's room. I stumbled into the room without even thinking of knocking. Her two roommates were hunched over on the ground, still covering their ears. Two guys were still trying to stand up, but their attempts ended in failure as vertigo got the best of them, resulting in their collapse. Nicole was lying on the couch, crying as she bit her bottom lip and grabbed her head in pain. I stumbled my way over to her, asking if she was okay. I found myself yelling, due to the loud ring that the buzz had left in my ears. My voice sounded alien to me, distorted. She opened her blue eyes, and stared into mine, sadness and confusion found in her stare. Eventually everyone was able to stand up again, and my phone buzzed.
"Students, please remain calm. This has just been an emergency test carried out by the University."
Something didn't seem right. This wasn't the same number that the usual campus alerts came from. Whatever, I thought.
"What the fuck was that, dude?" One of the guys in the room asked me.
"I have no idea, university says it's a test. I'm calling bullshit because it wasn't the same number that usually sends the alerts," I replied.
"Well the power doesn't work now..." one of the girls said. "I'm heading home, I really don't want to be here now."
"Yeah me too," the other guy said. "I'll see you all later, once my head stops throbbing."
"Can you stay?" Nicole asked, looking at me pleadingly as the others left. "I don't have a car, and it looks like everyone else is leaving. I don't want to be alone..." And I couldn't blame her. Shit, I didn't want to be alone either, not after that. Not to mention I didn't have a car, and all my other roommates would probably be at the library right now.
"I wasn't planning on leaving," I smiled. Then, realizing how creepy I sounded, I looked away. I always did that, I always sound like a dork when I'm talking to girls. My headache was growing, and my stomach was getting sick. She looked at me and smiled. It was only then that I realized that I really didn't know her. I was so comfortable for being with someone I hardly knew, and I could tell she felt the same way. Hell, I didn't even know her last name. But, considering the incidents that just occurred, I took a spot next to her on the couch. She gently clutched my arm and buried her head into my chest. She needed comfort. I needed comfort. What the hell was that noise? I gazed out the window, the bright sunny afternoon had turned into overcast and gloomy. Also, it seemed as if all the leaves had fallen off of the trees. I guess that deep vibration shook them off. Whatever. I was happy now, despite the feeling of a knife digging into my skull and the upset stomach that I was fighting off. I rested my chin on top of her head, brushing some hair behind her left ear as she dozed off. "It's going to be okay," I said softly.
"Thank you..." she whispered back as we both fell asleep.
The Morning After
I always have weird dreams. They're never lucid, nor do they seem obscure at the time. It's really odd... All of my friends who claim to have lucid dreams tell me that they have a token action that they use, like looking at an object, glancing away, and glancing back to see if it had changed. I try that, but it seems as if I forget what the object initially looked like, and then I forget that I could possibly be dreaming altogether. That just happened, but I can't really recall what my dream was about. Funny, even if I recite my dream in my head, it always slips away except for a screenshot.
My head felt considerably better, and the nausea had subsided and eventually turned into a burning hunger. I didn't want to open my eyes, I was too comfortable. Reluctantly, I raised my head to look to see what time it was. No use, the power was still out, which explains why the room was uncomfortably cool.
"Good morning," I said groggily, not able to think of anything else to say. She raised her head off of my chest and looked up at me, her eyes having a hard time adjusting to the glare in the room.
"Hey," she said. "How long were we asleep for?" I looked at my phone, which was about to die. Only ten percent battery left. Shit, I thought.
"Jeez, we've been out for 16 hours..." I responded. I thought to myself, I've never slept for that long before. Maybe that one time that I had swine flu when I practically slept the entire day, minus a few dreamlike waking moments. She shook her head, clearly feeling better than she did yesterday. I checked my phone. Two messages from the same number that sent the 'test' message the day before. The first one was sent at about 7 this morning, saying that class was cancelled. The second one sent only three minutes after, saying that the city's power grid was severed. We would be without power for a while. I showed her the messages, but she seemed unfazed, actually kind of happy. I really couldn't complain, I was scheduled to have a physics exam that Friday, and I was nowhere near ready for it. Smiling, I rose off of the couch and looked out of the window. There was a thick overcast overhead, the sun being nowhere in sight. "Hey, Nicole, come look at this.." I said, motioning her over to the window. Her eyes widened. We were right next Route 1, and there was no one to be seen, anywhere. The occasional car drifted by, but beyond that, there was no one. I glanced at her, she seemed frantic as she reached for her phone.
"I'll be right back, I'm gonna try to call my parents. You should try calling yours too," she said, her face becoming stoic. The glare from outside reflected off of her blue eyes. She really is beautiful, I thought.
"You're right, alright I'll give them a ring," I said. Why does everything I say sound awkward? Whatever, I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone, punching in my passcode. It was then that I noticed a crack that spanned vertically across my touchscreen. Shit, I thought, this phone is only 4 months old. This was supposed to be the best of the best. Damn AT&T, I thought. I dialed in my mom's cell number, trying to remember it among the other numerous numbers that I didn't take the time to put into my phone's memory. The phone started ringing and I held the phone up to my head. I turned around to see if Nicole was still there, but she had headed into the other room, I could hear her voice muffled by the walls separating us. No answer. She never really was good with keeping her phone on her, but I figured my dad always had his on. Why I didn't try him first I will never know.
"Hey, bud," he said. I was relieved as hell that he picked up, I get concerned when I can't get a hold of them after stuff happens. "I'm surprised you were able to get a hold of me, I haven't had a signal all night."
"Yeah, I have like, one bar. My phone's been searching for signal all night, so it's almost dead. What the hell was that?" I asked. I felt myself resorting back to the childhood days when Mom and Dad knew everything.
"I don't know. All of the neighbors are confused too. Dan said that the NSA doesn't know what's going on either. But apparently this is widespread. Probably nationwide. Possibly worldwide," he explained. For the first time in a long time, he sounded concerned. "The car's broke down too, actually everyone in the neighborhood is without a car now. Some of the fathers and I are going to try to see if we can find out what's wrong with them so I can come pick you up," he reassured. I felt relieved.
"Alright, thanks, Dad." My phone beeped. It was about to cut the call.
"I love-" The phone cut him off. Fuck, I thought. I had images of the worst, what if that would be the last time I spoke to him? No, don't think like that. I shook my head, I was going to see him, maybe later that day. But for now I was stranded at school. Most of the others had headed home. Wait, I thought, how were their cars not disabled from whatever that noise was? I tried to put it out of my mind. Nicole emerged from her room.
"Ugh, my phone died. This stupid thing," she said, glaring at her phone. "I got a hold of my mom, though. She said she's going to try to come pick me up later. None-"
"Of their cars are working, same here..." I said, trying to mask the nervousness that was building from inside of me.
She looked nervous... "What was that... I've never heard of anything like this before," she asked rhetorically.
I walked towards her and hugged her. I don't know where that came from. I just figured she needed someone to hold her. Hell, I needed someone to hold me too. I was just as scared as she was. I couldn't let her see that though. She held me back. "It's gonna be fine, don't worry. We'll just wait it out here, see if the power comes back on, and our parents will probably come later." I tried to reassure her. I felt like I was lying to myself though, for some reason. Everything seemed out of order. The silence from her apartment was worrying me too.
After a couple minutes of just standing there, holding each other, we started talking about our majors, our childhoods, our past relationships. There was no shortage of stuff to talk about with nothing else to distract us. She was a kinesiology major, a sophomore from in state, and single. My heart jumped a bit when she said that. I was a sophomore too, but an electrical engineering major, who was also single. Rather, had never been in a relationship with anyone. I was too awkward, my only kiss being with some girl named Marissa in 7th grade, which turned out to be a dare from one of her friends. It wasn't long before we realized that we hadn't eaten any food in almost a full day. "I have some snacks, but I'm pretty sure all the chicken I had is spoiled by now." She was right, it was thawed out completely and started to emit a foul smell.
"Ehhh, I think this chicken can go," I joked, as I pulled it out of the fridge and playfully started chasing her with it. For the first time since I had been there, she started laughing.
"No! Stop! Take that nasty shit out to the garbage chute!" She laughed, pointing to the door. I submitted, jokingly hung my head, and started towards the door. She threw a piece of balled up paper at me. I turned around and she was smiling. I smiled back and opened the door to the hall to throw the rancid chicken away. As soon as I closed the door behind me, I felt that there was something wrong. Silence. Dead silence, in every direction. Slowly, I advanced down the hallway and towards the trash chute at the end of the hall. The hall lights were out, and the only light that I could see was from the outside glare, coming from a two windows at opposing ends of the hallway. Everything was gray. I started to speed up my walking as I got closer to the trash chute.
The room directly next to the chute was room 246. Curious, I decided to knock on the door after I pitched the chicken. This apartment couldn't be limited to just us. There was no way. I mean, we're still here, why wouldn't anyone else be? Hesitantly, I knocked on the door three times. Footsteps could be heard from inside the room, but there was no answer. I heard a muffled "Shh" come from inside. Then nothing. Whoever lived there wasn't about to open their door to any stranger. I wasn't going to pose any threat, but at least I got my answer. We weren't alone. Sighing in relief, I headed back towards her room. The hallway seemed to stretch as I walked, an illusion brought on by the dull light coming from the miserable day outside. It really made me feel uneasy, I mean, the emergency power should be on by now right? Why was there no backup generator running?
As I entered the room, I saw that she had changed into a more relaxed outfit. Instead of her jeans, she was wearing a sort of tight pair of black cotton pants and a sort of low cut Capitals shirt, exposing the very top of her bosom, despite the sort of cold temperature in the room. She turned around from inside the kitchen and tossed me a granola bar. Sweet Jesus I was hungry. I unwrapped the thing faster than anything and took one savory bite. It tasted delicious. It was seriously close to a full 24 hours since I had eaten anything, and being the perpetually hungry person I was, I was not used to this feeling. Inhaling the rest of the bar, I looked at her and sheepishly. Her smile told me there was nothing to be embarrassed about. I smiled back, feeling an overwhelming amount of comfort from her presence.
Day Turns to Night
We sat on the couch for a while, after eating several things from her kitchen to satisfy our appetites. Due to the lack of people, we decided that staying inside would probably be the best thing to do, given the multiple unknowns about what we were really dealing with. She was leaning against me, her hand resting on my knee, and my hand stroking her hair behind her ear. I don't know why I did that, I felt like I was comforting her, but I also found joy out of it. I've never been so comfortable with a girl before to do this, and I had only really known her for a day. She was displaying a lot of comfort around me as well, she even said that. Something along the lines of, "I feel like I can tell you anything. It's funny, I feel like I can just... open up to you. You're not the typical college guy." Then she went on about how most guys hook up with her at a party then avoid contact. I sort of blocked that part out, though. She was a really nice girl, very funny and very down to earth about everything. We talked for hours, about everything. It seemed like one thing led to another, and the conversation never ceased to flow.
I realized that the room was beginning to get dark, so I rose off of the couch and looked out the window. The clouds hadn't gone away. In fact, it seemed like the overcast was thicker than it was that morning. Again, there were no cars on the street.I was wondering how there were a few cars that morning that worked. Suddenly, something caught my eye. A slight movement, directly across the street in the liquor store parking lot. Behind an abandoned car, a man stood. At least I think it was a man. The mass that was his body was covered in a heavy jacket. His head hung low, and was covered by what looked like a top hat. Squinting my eyes, I began to see something that made my stomach drop; he was looking right at me. Slowly, I stepped back from the window, as he turned and slowly walked behind the building complex that stood across the street. I chuckled a bit, why should I be scared? Someone else existed! For the first time since the buzz, I saw another person besides Nicole.
I tried to find comfort in this fact, as I turned around and faced her, our eyes locking in a way that I was not used to. I took two small steps towards her and she leaned into me, without breaking eye contact. The dull light from outside reflected on her face, revealing a sparkle in her eyes just above a slight smile. Her eyebrows raised a bit, and I smiled, completely forgetting what I had just seen across the street. Slowly, I leaned my head closer to hers, and I closed my eyes. As our lips locked, I felt a welcoming kiss, reassuring me that I was not being a fool, she actually wanted me to kiss her. It probably only lasted a minute or two, but it seemed like it lasted a lifetime. My heart raced and my palms began to moisten. I gently placed my hands right above her hips and she wrapped her arms around my shoulders, lightly touching the back of my neck with one of her hands. It sent chills down my spine. This was a feeling I would never forget.
Once our kiss broke, I looked at her and she looked at me, then we both looked outside. I guess the sun had almost completely set, since the sky was a very dark gray. Only one or two street lights showed any signs of civilization below us. It was really creepy, and I became legitimately concerned. Where was everyone? Why has no one been sent to tell us anything? These were things that would have to wait to figure out, since there was nothing we could do in the dark.
"I think we should head to bed, it's really getting dark in here.." she said, sort of concerned. I didn't blame her, I didn't want to be awake in this pitch black place. Not that I was afraid of the dark, but the complete lack of vision made me very uneasy. That, and the apartment began to get incredibly cold again.
"Do you want me to sleep out here or in one of your roommates beds or..." I realized I was being dumb. I could sort of make out a smile on her face as she grabbed my hand and led me back to her room. I really have to learn to not be so awkward...
Once we got to her room, she began to undress, leaving on only her panties and her undershirt. I felt like I should probably do something too, even though it was starting to get cold, so I took off my shirt, flexing the muscles that were exposed despite the fact that we could barely see each other, but then again I've always been self conscious about myself. Thank god I always wore shorts underneath my pants, it was a habit brought on by playing hockey. I would never want to walk out of the rink wearing long pants, no matter how cold it was, so I would always wear the shorts carrying the pants separate. So I proceeded to take my pants off, which made me feel incredibly awkward. I just stood there, folding my clothes in the corner of her room.
"Come here," she said, and I turned around. She was lying in bed and looking in my direction. I could barely make out her figure across the room. I proceeded to walk towards the bed and lie down next to her. She wrapped her arm around me, gave me a kiss on the neck, and buried her head into my chest. I wrapped my arm around her, resting my hand on her lower back. She fell asleep almost immediately, but I stayed up long enough to hear some obscure noises come from the adjacent apartment room and the hallway. I was becoming increasingly concerned. Did we lock the door?
I'm not usually afraid of petty stuff like the dark, but this was way different. When I was a kid, I used to picture monsters in the closet, monsters under the bed... monsters in the hallway. Monsters everywhere. I would make up these fantastic creatures that would come and threaten me just because I was lying down at night to go to sleep, and with these creatures came the made up noises. Mark my words, what I was hearing was far from made up. They sounded like low, dull whispers, speaking words that were decibels below what I could pick up. I lie there, pulling Nicole closer, listening to the atrocities that were separated from me by only a thin wall. I soon became accustomed to the noises, I mean, I never slept in this apartment before, how was I supposed to know that these weren't usual occurrences. Putting them out of my mind, I lowered my head into the pillow, closed my eyes, and let the comfort of Nicole's arm around my side send me off into a deep sleep.
It was probably around 2 in the morning, well that would be my guess, based on where it looked like the moon was in the sky through the thick clouds. There was a disturbingly loud bang that came from right across the hall from Nicole's apartment room. It jolted me awake, and sent my heart racing. This time, I wasn't the only one hearing stuff, seeing as Nicole was wide awake and looking at the door. Not even ten seconds after the first bang, a second could be heard, much louder than the first, from the same place. I almost shit myself after hearing that second bang. This wasn't your usual, "Oh hey, let's all get drunk and start dancing and one of us falls over," bang, no... this sounded nothing short of malicious. After that second bang, there was just silence. I lay back down in the bed and put both hands on my head, not believing what was happening. What the hell was going on?
"Do you think we should go check it out?" Nicole said, concern saturating her voice.
"No, no one knows we're here, do they?" I asked.
"No one but my roommates, John and Michael," she said.
"Then we wait this out till morning. Then, we're going to start moving." I was never really good at planning anything, I mostly went with the flow when it came to social situations. Group of people going to see a movie? Okay, you all pick the movie. What beer do you want, man? Oh, I'll just have whatever everyone else is having. But now was the time to take initiative in my actions. I was going to survive by my own hand, and get this girl out of this situation as well. People always told me to man up, well now was the time. No more sitting back.
"Okay..." she responded, I think I made her upset though, she might've thought that those noises were her friends. I can't risk this one, who knows what is out there making those noises at this hour. Who knows what that buzz did to the world. Just then I realized that the bedroom door was ajar. I definitely closed it.
The Sun Rises
I was awake first, which hardly ever happens since I'm probably the biggest insomniac of anyone that I know. But this morning I woke up probably as soon as any sunlight was allowed into Nicole's bedroom. I lie there, awake, and for some reason I decided to check my phone even though it had been long since dead. God what I would do for a backup battery, just to call my parents to see how they were doing with figuring out what happened to the cars, or to ask my mom how my dogs were doing. All of these thoughts were penetrating my unconscious sleep, banging on my brain to wake me up, to figure all of this out. The sunlight was just the straw that broke that camel's back.
I sat up in bed and gazed around the room, scanning for any differences around the room. My vision was blurred from all the crust that surrounded my eyes. After rubbing them for a few seconds, I rescanned my immediate domain. Nothing was different, well nothing that I could see anyway. Slowly I got out of bed to get to the bathroom, trying not to wake Nicole, she looked so comfortable. Groggily, I stood up and advanced out of the room and to the right, where her bathroom was. I flipped the light switch, and immediately felt stupid. Why does that always happen? When the power is out, instinct tells you to try the light switch or try to go on the computer or to try to watch TV, despite the fact that you can't. Whatever. I would just have to let my eyes adjust to the dark again, which wasn't hard considering the room was very dimly lit to begin with.
A smell began to surface, weak at first, but quickly became pungent. It was the metallic smell of blood. Of anyone I would know, having at least a nosebleed a day as a child, the smell was almost as common as my hockey gear. I tried to think quick, what light could I use to illuminate the bathroom? A lighter, I thought, and ran to the common area, remembering that I saw a Bic lighter sitting on the coffee table. Without waiting, I rushed back to the bathroom, set the spark, and my jaw dropped. I almost vomited at the sight laid in front of me. There were three teeth sitting on the edge of the sink, right next to what looked like a part of a scalp, cut neatly into a square with all the hairs still attached. I wanted to scream, but I knew that would be the worst thing to do. I let go of the lighter notch, allowing the flame to dissipate, and I closed the door. I couldn't let Nicole see this, no, I had to tell her that we needed to get out of the apartment as fast as we could.
Hope you enjoyed what I've written so far. I'll do requests for part 2, hit me up.
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