Adam Proulx | 4 min read
Almost nothing was recognizable. More rubble lined the street than did people. The twisted metal and demolished concrete boulders created a maze that made the streets impassable for any vehicle and non-agile person. Rodents scurried to and fro under the wreckage trying to find the perfect hovel to inhabit. The strewn building interiors made the double yellow lines look dashed and the finely ground cement made the city look like a light dusting of snow had just fallen over it. The skyscrapers varied in their level of damage; some looked pristine with only a few broken panes of glass while others looked like huge rectangular crayons broken in half. The only sound breaking the silence was of fragments of these buildings falling to the destruction below. The stillness was eerie and compounded upon itself as only a relatively short time ago the entire city was a hub of social and economic activity. Now the only activity was of the three young souls who each contributed a third to the entire population.
He awoke on the floor of the lab still wearing his pristine lab coat his mother bought for him years ago. Thinking that he, like usual, fell asleep studying the night sky, Raul stood up to find he was very lightheaded and disoriented. Something didn’t seem right to him, he couldn’t put his finger on it but he just had a feeling. Raul located his black swivel chair and lowered himself onto its matted-cushion seat. Still feeling disoriented, Raul turned to his desk to clean up his notes and papers but noticed he couldn’t read anything. All of the text was blurry and even the pictures in the books were virtually indistinguishable. As Raul rubbed his eyes and rotated around in his chair to the rest of his lab, he noticed everything he looked at was fuzzy. The contrast between his poster of the solar system and the white walls of his lab looked like 1970s television on a good day. The edges of his telescope also blended in with the walls. Getting worried, Raul splashed some of his drinking water in his eyes to no avail. Trying to stay calm, Raul sat down and contemplated his options. After thinking for a few minutes and collecting himself with a candy bar, Raul figured should just take a shower, eat breakfast and hope the problem solved itself. After he further organized the lab, hoping he had the right papers, he exited through the door and his vision problem did disappear only because a much larger issue presented itself.
A few blocks away the only female was awakening with less of an explanation for her situation. Jennifer opened her eyes to find herself enclosed in a smooth cylindrical tube. She noticed that the end with her feet had an opening. Jennifer slid out and immediately recognized that she was in her neurologist’s office. Weary because the lights and the machines were off, she looked out the window into the lobby for her mother, a nurse, anybody, but the whole place was empty. She turned to the doctor’s desk and saw a manila folder with her name written on the tab. She sifted through the papers inside and saw on the schedule that her last appointment was on the 15th. She checked her phone and let out a scream when she saw that three days had passed to the 18th. Knowing that something wasn’t right, Jennifer ran out of the office and panicked. She tripped and stumbled, arms flailing, but kept her balance and ended up next to the main entrance of the building. The glass doors revealed a world that Jennifer could not deal with. She pushed the once automatic doors open and at first sight fell to her knees crying.
Jack awoke in the industrial freezer at the restaurant he works at. Since the power had been out for a few days, the temperature had risen to a survivable level but he was still cold. Most of the food in the freezer had at least begun to thaw so the aromas caused the metal box to smell like the kitchen. Jack first thought why was the freezer off to spoil the food, but he then thought of a much more important question: Why was he sleeping in the freezer? His boss, Mike, was a courteous man who would never forget about Jack or anybody in the freezer. Jack slowly climbed to his feet, now colder than ever because the side of his body lying on the ground was wet and now exposed. He pried open the heavy freezer door and made his way into the kitchen. He did not see any of his co-workers or any customers.
“Hello!”, he yelled out. No reply. He pulled out his phone to see if he had missed any calls or texts, only to see it was Monday the 18th. The restaurant is closed on Mondays and Jack doesn’t work weekends in the summer. Jack realized this means he had been in the freezer since Friday. He knew something was suspicious but just pushed it aside after his stomach rumbled voraciously. Deciding not to take a risk on the partially thawed food in the freezer, Jack strolled to the front of the deserted restaurant. He only needed to open the door a fraction before the fear he brushed away earlier became a reality.