The Telephone

By Michael Berry All Rights Reserved ©

Other

Chapter 3

A mild warmth gathered around the city as the night finally set in, despite being in early November. Not a sound could be heard through the deserted roads, alleyways and buildings that stood silent, aside from the quiet breeze that blew the discarded pieces of newspaper and trash. The once bustling stone and metal constructions that served the countless needs of humanity, now merely served as immense gravestones. A reminder to what once was the endlessly grinding machine that was the human race.

The ceaselessly silent streets and sidewalks rarely enjoyed the sound of footstep, aside from the few that dared to face the crushing silence. The survivors that lived in the city chose to stay in their homes, ignoring what had happened to the world and focusing their minds on anything beside the obvious. Walking outside was merely a reminder to what had happened to everything. These people were the survivors of the dreaded war that had killed the world and left them behind to serve as ghosts. There were more people in the city, even after the scientists declared the existence of the afterlife. However, after that message, many took their own lives, fully expecting a life a whole lot better than the one they had now. This caused a lot of resentment to the scientists, enough to make them set up their experiments as far away from any populated buildings as possible.
This night, however, was different. A sound ran through the streets, merely a low sound, but enough to make those in their homes look out of the window with great interest. The sound picked up intensity until finally, it came into view of those still alive to see it. The sound was of an engine, a car engine to be exact. The car was a fifties Cadillac, bright pink and no roof. The car belonged to Sarah Gaelock.
Unlike most others, Sarah did not fear walking or even being in the streets after dark, instead she took pleasure in it. She had always been someone who others would call odd or different. Even before the war, she always enjoyed walking the streets at night, preferably in places where their was little to no people. She was always more at peace when she was alone and had no one to bother her. She dared herself to admit that she partly enjoyed the idea that everyone else was dead and she would never annoyed by others wanting to intrude on her. Perhaps this was the reason why she was still in the city, rather than spend a slightly better life in the country with the others.
Sarah often saw those still alive desperately trying to make friends with others they could find, just so they didn’t have to be alone. She was surprised by what they would do to make that happen. She felt privileged that she could survive on her own and not have to stoop to ridiculous levels like them, but, the pain of being alone all the time did sometimes find its way to her.
She thought of the news that the scientists had aired to everyone ten years before, announcing excitedly that they had proved the afterlife did exist. She was surprisingly unaffected by this. But, would anyone having been told this news be any different? Perhaps, Man can not fully conceive the idea of something beyond death until he has fully experienced it for himself.
The news made Sarah think of her father who had died in the war. He was a soldier who had gone to fight and met the first blasts of the germ carrying missiles that was launched. Many people didn’t know how to react to such a mass death happening in seconds. Huge army forces simply fell down dead as they ran to fight the encroaching enemy.
Once the military forces fell to the plague, the civilian forces knew their time would come soon. Those who still possessed a grain of hope managed to hide themselves inside underground bunkers or anywhere underground they could find. Those who had lost all hope and lost most of their family simply remained in their homes and waited for the plague to drift over the oceans and come to them.
Despite Sarah losing her father, what family she had, she found a place inside a large bunker filled with only a small number of people. As the endless months passed as everyone waited for the plague to dissipate into the atmosphere, Sarah watched everyone in their individual mourning, burying their heads in their upraised knees, their tears endlessly streaming. Instead of mourning herself, Sarah focused her attentions on surviving. She knew she wouldn’t survive what uncertain future lay before her if she feared it. She concentrated herself on facing whatever card fate would deal her and go along with without any feeling whatsoever. This was how she had been able to survive all this time alone. She regarded any kind of close contact with anyone else would cause her to put all her hope in people. Then, if anything happened to them, she would have nothing left to occupy her. This was the exact reason she had the car, something that wouldn’t ever let her down or disappoint her, unless she needed some kind of repair.
She liked the Cadillac, it gave the night some life back. It also served as a distraction for her whenever the loneliness grew in her so much that she couldn‘t force it back. She had found it wandering the streets one day, the loneliness was too much to handle and she could find no sanctuary anywhere. She had found herself outside a car showroom and in the blink of an eye raced inside to see them. She wasn’t a person who took any kind of interest in cars, but at the present time, it was the best thing she could imagine.
Whilst looking endlessly at the cars she spotted the Cadillac and was instantly entranced. She loved the colour and the design and also, the era that it represented. The Fifties decade seemed like an endless party to her. The music and the look of that time appealed to her greatly. This was most likely because it was the exact opposite of what was happening now. She wasted no time in driving it out of the place and into the streets.
Driving alone now in the streets, she leaned her head back and took in the full feel of breeze on her face, her long brown hair blew eerily about as the car raced through the streets.
The car picked up a lot of dust around the wheels, as well as pieces of clothing strewn around. She forgot most of the time, but this was all that remained of those millions that died in the war. Once the germ had made its way into their systems, they instantly fell down dead, no one moved them in case they too were infected. Eventually, once the germ had done its work on the whole city, there was no one left to do anything. As a result, the corpses were left there to rot and disintegrate into large piles of ash, leaving behind the dusty and torn remains of their clothes. The ash’s were often swept away by the breeze whenever it was strong enough and blew them into the many sewer entrances at the sides of the roads.
Sarah’s pondering on this morbid subject suddenly shattered when she noticed that the back car wheels came to a dead stop, the sudden force caused her to shoot forward in her seat.
What the hell was that? She asked herself as she jumped out of the car.
Moving to the back of the car, she instantly noticed the problem. A large piece of clothing was stuck under the arch of her back left tire. She looked at it closer and noticed that it was a white dress, hauntingly attractive in the dim light. The breeze blew away dust that had collected on the garment and on her tire. She was tired of this, of constantly removing old clothes from her tires and checking that her car was okay. She often tried to veer away from the clothes in the street when she saw them, but it often did no good.
She yanked at the dress, pulling as hard a she could. She hoped that pulling it like this wouldn’t damage anything in the car, but she had no other means of removing it. Finally, the dress came free with a loud tear. It had most likely wrapped itself around something as the wheels spun it around. Despite knowing where it came from, Sarah couldn’t help but look at the dress, still possessing a strange kind of beauty despite its frailties.
The dress blew in the breeze as she held it, almost giving the impression of a ghost. While looking at it, Sarah suddenly imagined where it had come from. She immediately threw it down to the ground. The breeze picked it up and carried it along the floor and into the darkness of the narrow alleyways. Sarah’s gaze was fixed on it, watching it withy a strange feeling of grave robbing. She shook her head and shook away the bizarre feeling. She had been out to long. Being around at night for too long did sometimes make you feel a little weird. She got in her car and started the engine, deciding to cut short her drive and go straight home and into sanity.

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