I know what I saw, but it still doesn’t make sense. My doctor advised me to write about it to help me “sort” through what happened that day, so here goes. I will try to get everything out into words and see if it clears anything up.
Normally, this sort of narrative would begin with “it was a day like any other day,” or something similar, but that wouldn’t be true in my case. It was a weird day from the moment I opened my eyes. For starters, it wasn’t the morning sun coming in through my window. It was an unseasonably overcast morning and there seemed to be an electric charge in the air. My alarm clock was blinking 12:00, which let me know that not only did the power go out sometime in the night, but that I was most likely late for work.
I threw the covers back and stepped out of bed. I dressed for work and headed down the stairs to eat some breakfast. I figured if I was late already, I might as well be fed before I faced my boss. On the stairs, my cat sat starring at the front door. Snibblet is not an outdoor cat by any stretch of the imagination. She enjoys her creature comforts and having me wait on her every whim. I went on into the kitchen and Snibblet didn’t follow. She normally demands to be fed before I even have my eyes open, but for me to go by her without her even swatting at my late preperation of her breakfast is unheard of. I went back to the foot of the stairs and there she sat, starring and softly purring at the front door. I went ahead and put some food out for her, grabbed an apple and left for work.
Pulling out of the garage, I noticed that the street was clear. I wondered just how late I was. Usually my neighbors are milling about trying to wrangle kids into minivans or dogs into SUVs to go about their days. Or, my personal favorite, the elderly couple across the street that typically spend their mornings sharing a cup of hot tea watching the spectacle of the neighborhood with a quiet nostalgia. Mrs. Henderson makes a fine cup of tea, I’ve sat with her and Mr. Henderson a time or two on Sunday mornings watching with them. But this morning, there was no one, not even the birds were out.
Everything seemed so quiet and eerie in this overcast light. I had never felt so alone. I drove to work. Following my usual route, the street lights were out. They weren’t flashing, they were out. Like someone forgot to turn the power grid back on for the streets. I was feeling a bit frightened, so I turned on the radio. Static. There was only static. I even tried the awful stations I typically tried to avoid, the ones with the obnoxious djs. Nope, just static. It was like everyone and everything was gone.
When I got to work, the doors were locked. At least I wouldn’t have to hear about “showing up at a reasonable hour” and “your co-workers don’t seem to have trouble getting here on time.” But it was strange to see everything locked up tight. Not even a janitor or groundskeeper could be found.
I decided to drive around and see if I could find anybody or anything. I went by the 24hr supermarket, but the automatic doors wouldn’t open. I went by the park, no one was there. I went by the homeless shelter. It was empty. I went every place around town that I could think of where people would be, but found no one. I wanted to panic but my fight or flight instincts took control and I decided to see if there was anyone in the next town over.
I drove 20 miles south to Belmont. There I saw cars parked along the side of the street, homes, businesses, yards, parking lots, all empty. I began to cry. I drove back home. I couldn’t think of anything else to do. I would go home to Snibblet and make a plan.
I parked in the garage, went inside, and found Sniblet still starring at the front door. I was so thrilled to see another living being that I scooped her in my arms and hugged her. She kept her claws in for once and allowed me the indulgence. I cried into her fur as she starred over my shoulder towards the front door. Fed up with everything, I sat her back down and reached for the doorknob. Whatever was on the otherside of that door, Snibblet seemed to care more about it than the crisis I was facing, or maybe whatever was on the other side of the door could explain what was happening around me. As I began to turn the knob, Snibblet lunged at my arm, claws out, and scratched and bit me with a ferocity I had never seen before. Trembling, I pulled my hand back and cradled my wounds.
I looked at the sheer curtains in the window beside the door, the dark overcast outside had begun to have a green light behind it. It seemed to vibrate and pulse, as if the clouds themselves were breathing the light in and out. I carefully moved the curtain to the side and saw the outlines of everyone in the neighborhood. Like an after image you see from starring at a bright spot too long, I could see everyone. At least the outline of everyone. They all seemed to be made of the same green light. Pulsating in and out of view. They were still, but they were there. I could see Mrs. Malone trying to put her twin boys, Todd and Michael, into their seats in her minivan. I could see Mr. Johnson with Puddles, his ill-trained doberman, mid-stride on the sidewalk. And there were the Petersons’ heading to their Explorer.
I could see them and not see them all at the same time. They were frozen in time and had no details to them, but they did still exist. I had to figure out...what? What was happening? How to fix it? I work as a sales consultant in a generic cubicle at a boring generic office with entirely too many wacky tacky wednesdays, I’m not a scientist or a forensics guy. I don’t even like to watch those kinds of shows. What in the world was I going to do? I sat on the stairs next to Snibblet and pet her soft fur as I sighed heavily.
I sat there on the stairs for a long time. Snibblet enjoyed the petting but never took her eyes off the door. Finally, when my rear end got numb from sitting for so long, I stood up and peeked out the window again. The green light still glowed, and I could see my neighbors flickering in and out of reality, not changing their movements. Soon, the green light began to glow more steady. I watched out the window as lines became more solid. Next, a blue light joined the green one. Starting in the same way, pulsating and soft for nearly an hour, then growing steadier and more solid. Next came red and more details began to appear. Still softly pulsating with red light, the shapes of my neighbors began to seem more real. Their forms filled in more, I could see folds in clothes, hair, Puddles’ collar and leash, even the twin toddlers’ matching stuffed animals came more into focus.
After awhile as the last of the colors and details came back into focus, the clouds began to disperse. Soon, the sky was clear, the neighborhood was buzzing and everything seemed to return to normal. Snibblet left her post at the bottom of the stairs and went and ate her breakfast. I went out the front door and Mr. Johnson waved as he pulled in Puddles’ leash. I stared in astonishment. I must have looked like a fish trying to catch a bug with my mouth hung open. Mrs. Henderson got up from her front porch swing and walked to the edge of her yard to talk to me.
“You alright, dear? You don’t look well. You look like you’ve just seen a ghost,” she said kindly and slowly as if she were talking to a small skiddish child.
“N-no, I’m alright,” I sputtered. I didn’t know what to ask or what to say to explain what I had just seen. It was as if everyone around me had just been printed layer by layer in front of my eyes. How do you explain that to a seventy-five year old?
“Maybe you should go see your doctor, just in case. You look so pale and when was the last time you ate sweetie. Don’t forget, you should always eat breakfast. You young people with your go go go ways always forget to take the time to eat breakfast,” Mrs. Henderson smiled at me as she finished her usual lecture.
Maybe she was right though, maybe I should go see the doctor. Maybe I hallucinated the whole thing. As I turned around and went back into my house, I saw the scratches on my arm and knew that it really did happen, whatever it was. Snibblet had finished her breakfast and was yawning as she hopped onto the back of the couch to watch out the window. I sat on the couch and called the doctor anyways.
Well, there you have it. I still don’t understand what happened, but I know what I saw.
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