Tuesday, December 30, 2014

encroaching void

It was breaking open in front of him, and it only seemed to exist in two dimensions. People just kept pushing on by him, in a hurry. He stood bewildered in the intersection of 5th and B.

He had to hold his head just so and keep his knee bent midstride, but there it was.

What should I do?  Questions kept swirling through his mind. Should I call the cops? Will they believe me? Do I believe me? What is it? Why can’t anyone else see it? Is it dangerous? Is this real? Is this really happening? Do I need to tell somebody? Is it okay to not tell anyone? What will people think? Is everybody looking at me?

The glittering crack in the air continued to slowly spread, revealing in increments a vast shimmering void.

The light changed. The impatience of a motorist and the sharp blast of a honking horn jarred Bryan out of position. He hurried across the street. He felt relieved to no longer see it. Bryan put it from his mind and relaxed into the thoughtless progression of his day to day.

He went back to work and ate at his desk. It was tuna salad with too little mayo and somehow soggy bread, just like yesterday.

He had the same sandwich the next day, but he didn’t bother to awkwardly flirt with the barista. She found it odd but was glad of it.

The next day, he just laid a ten dollar bill on the counter. Jen, the over-worked barista, looked at him questioningly for a moment. He stared back at her, blankly. She got him a small coffee and a tuna sandwich. Brian said nothing and left.

The same story repeated itself for the rest of the work week.

On Monday, Jen gave him a ham sandwich and a puckish smile. Bryan said nothing and left.

As the weeks went by, the Coffee Clutch got quieter and quieter. Jen began to be concerned. She didn’t quite know what to do. “Business people being more boring than normal” wasn’t exactly something you went to the cops with. Several of her friends in various service industries were telling similar stories.

Then it finally happened. Jen had been feeling especially on edge all morning long. It seemed too dark in the shop. It wasn’t that bright outside. Why were all the curtains drawn?

Brian came through the door, his empty eyes burning holes through her. Every customer in the store turned towards her at once. Seven sets of emotionless eyes burned through her at once.

Her stomach tied in knots. She desperately reached beneath the counter. Brian lurched at her with a sudden burst of speed. She felt faint but lashed out. The butcher knife bit into his wrist and turned him aside, in a spray of blood and panic.

She stumbled backwards through kitchen doors, ducked the cook’s clumsy grab, and ran out into the alley screaming for help.

Jen did not expect to be arrested. She did not expect a hard eyed woman named Cassandra to post her bail. She did not expect to be told that this was happening all over, that people were being turned into vacant shells of themselves, and that very few even noticed or cared. No one expects that sort of thing.

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