It was cold this morning. I regret washing my socks yesterday.
I left them hanging on the windows inside the girls bathroom, and when I went to get them today they were still wet. The result: I am out of socks. And I can’t even describe the feeling of wearing my shoes without socks. All my converses were also wet, so I only had the Oxford one left… I guess it was really dumb of me. (short laugh)
Now I need new socks until I find a way to fix the fridge or any possible heat source to dry them. I’ll soon need to wash my clothes again, and in this cold weather they will never dry.
Basically what happened is that, well, (deep breath) yesterday I accidentally found a puddle of mud a few blocks away from here. I discovered it by stepping into it heavily, after jumping over a fence. I lost balance, and although I manage to avoid diving altogether in the puddle, my shoes were drowned in it along with my bag and its insides. Among them, my previous notepad, which is now on quarantine in the lab. I wonder if I’ll ever find a way of recovering the lost pages.
The other items (keys, apple, coins) were washed and are now sparkling clean.
I jumped over a fence to, as usual, distract it. Yes, it was there again, not in the same corner, but a few blocks ahead of it. I spotted it from afar and decided to take a different path that went a bit into my old neighborhood. No, I didn’t see my house. I don’t want to see what’s left of it. There is nothing left there, anyway. My place now is much better. There’s a lab and a big art room, and lots of supplies. It was genius, living here was just genius.
I think that maybe two weeks from now Susan is finding me an old TV, or a functional radio, so I can keep up with the things. I am pretty busy myself but sometimes I need a distraction. I am still afraid of going into the library, I have to walk a considerable distance to get there. There are also no trees on that path. It’s too risky. Also, I don’t know for sure if they are really distributing newspapers over there. As far as I know, the town printing has stopped working. Unless they hacked into it.
Well, I’m not bored. I still have the books left on my locker at the teacher’s room. Hehehe, I can also picklock other lockers. They won’t mind coming here to tell me off for stealing other people’s belongings. That reminds me: I found a urge stash of marijuana hidden inside Raymond’s locker. I knew he was using it! I just knew it! I should have blackmailed him when I had the chance, dammit! But if I had, I wouldn’t have this huge amount of pot to myself. I won’t reveal anything for now. I’ll let the thinner run low, and then I’ll try to make business with this herb.
I need to tidy up my covers now. It is going to be a cold night. I’ll be back tomorrow.
There’s a leakage in the lab. I thought I’ve heard something while I was sleeping. I went to check it this morning and one of the taps seems to be poorly bolted to its base. The water is flowing smoothly, building a tiny artificial river that connected the base of the sink to the sink per se. It is so thin, you don’t even pay attention to it during the day. But during the night, when all sounds die, you can hear it like a stream flowing far away.
Although the sound is quite relaxing, I cannot let it be. This may cause problems for me when my next water bill arrives. I’m living in this expensive building, but it doesn’t mean I’m rich. I don’t think I would be able to pay for wasting so much water, with the little money I have. Getting an expensive water bill would mean that I have to work more. I don’t think I can work more, because my products are really limited and I can’t afford to burn my stock all at once.
Tomorrow I am going to the janitor’s office to look for tools, such as a pipe wrench or pliers. I think I can fix that on my own. I just don’t want to go today because I haven’t planned the event, and I don’t want to disrupt my pre-established agenda.
I’ll tell you later how it went.
I couldn’t fix the tap. I don’t have the strength, or I have the strongest strength. I broke everything and I completely flooded the lab and the adjacent corridor. The water managed to go to other areas, so now it doesn’t look so nasty, but for wings B and C expect to find some puddles of water.
I had to close the master faucet but now I don’t know which pipes are being irrigated. Guess I’ll have to check one by one.
I can’t believe the lab is lost forever. My previous notebook was there. It is not more damaged than it already was, but I went close to losing it completely.
There is a possibility that I’ll catch a cold. The air is cool this month and I was soaking wet for most part of the morning. I also lost my last change of clothes to the water so now the only thing I have is the bath robe and some underpants. It’s cold.
I wish I still had that walkie. Susan would be just a wavelength away. Actually, I doubt she would ever come, but listening to her egocentrism would certainly relieve me.
Nope. It’s been only 2 days since I’ve left, I have to wait for another 12. Bollocks. I was saving the other lockers for later, but I think I’ll open some more, maybe I can find clothes. I’ll be back tomorrow.
You will never guess what I found.
Yesterday I went to wing F, where most of the clubs have their rooms. I hadn’t been there yet because to go there you have to cross the good ward, where all the walls are covered in windows, so the sunlight there is quite intense and there’s basically no place to hide. The sun would come vigorously into your face, and who knows what might happen with you in that case. That’s why I always avoided going there.
I thought that yesterday I would have to wait until sunset to cross the food court, but then it rained! So intensely, I thought it was a miracle. I wanted to much to go out there and rejoice in that holy water, but finding clothes was my plan. I had to go with what I planned. Praise my past self for thinking of my future self, predicting I would go sick if I didn’t find warmer clothes. Living and going about only in a bath robe is not comfortable either. Oh, and because of the rain, my socks and shoes didn’t dry.
But no fear, hahaha. I crossed the food court, but before finishing crossing it I found new shoes! New red converse that we’re hanging there under one of the tables. There was a sticker with a name inside them, “Morgan” I think, and I thought : “hey, maybe it’s from Morgan! That guy! I didn’t know he took lodge here before me!” I thanked him, wherever he is now, doesn’t matter. The converse fit perfectly!
Before I finished crossing he food court,I found other interesting stuff. I found some backpacks, toilet paper, flash lights, batteries, disinfectant bottles, dirty rags, a mini knife and a lighter. There were some cereal bars as well. Maybe I should have looted that place earlier. The cereal bars aren’t even expired yet! I kept the backpacks as trading goods. One of them is mine, of course.
After the food court I found the club rooms, most of them were a mess, I couldn’t even enter. The drama club was fairly open, so I went there first and I had the most amazing idea! They might still have costumes there! Bingo. They had many clothes, many shoes, hats and stuff. A costume heaven. I could dress what I wanted. Hahahahhah. It would be hilarious, me walking around dressed as Othello! I’d prefer to be Iago, though. I brought many things with me, so now I’m currently wearing a long sleeved coat, t-shirt, pants. I thing these are Iago’s pants, actually! Hahahahhah
I am in Iago’s pants!
I am going to write that on my new notebook, as an idea, and then sleep.
The rain didn’t stop. It actually got worse since yesterday! Quite the miracle!
I managed to collect more than ten buckets! My fridge is fully loaded with water now, I can probably live months with that. (Sigh) The perks of living by oneself.
I’m eating one of the cereal bars. It’s chocolate flavored. I mean, why do they even to this? Cereal bars are supposed to be healthy. People who are healthy doesn’t need to feel the taste of chocolate. Imagine if you are losing weight! You eat this cereal bar – which is very chocolate flavored by the way – and then you think: “ow man, I wish I could eat a real chocolate”. They make this only to make people feel miserable! The cereal bar makers, I mean.
These can keep a teenager going for hours.
Oh, that’s right! Morgan was on a diet! Yes, I think he was more on the chubby side. Or was he? I don’t remember. He didn’t attended my lessons anyway. Well, he did come from time to time. Slacker. Maybe that’s why he was fat – never really committed to things.
Well, I’m going to read now. I have restarted “The metamorphosis” for the seventh time in my life, I am deemed to finish it before I die. So bye.
The cereal bars are over. The rain is over. I’m so sad. I wished it rained more.
I went back to eating sardines and tuna. I miss the cereal bars. Morgan probably ate the others before leaving his shoes and back pack here.
Hahahahhah. I found an interesting thing. I was organizing my things into the new backpack – yes, I am kinda abandoning my old bag – and in one of the pockets there was a key. Maybe it’s from Morgan’s house. If I am not mistaken, he mentioned living downtown and having to come to school by bike. To exercise? Hahah. Hum. The downtown is still holding it’s ground isn’t it? Ah, Susan, where’s my TV?! Dammit! I gave her more money than other f— and sh— t– t– h-
I changed the batteries. Old ones are dead. I may talk less now. Have to save energy. Will schedule a day to go downtown. Morgan’s home. Must check.
Had a nightmare. Notebook lost. Too big to hide. Scared. Will think of solution.
Dreamed of losing my notepad again. Will use it only for most important things. Will take portable recorder with me tomorrow. Buy more batteries with Susan. Maybe solar charger.
I have never felt more ripped off in my entire life. Susan just charged my 300 bucks on a radio, 200 bucks on some batteries, and she wanted 500 for the walkie! Fuck man, just fuck! What does she think she is! A fucking banker? A fucking famous person? That market of hers, that that that t-t-toilet she lives in should just burn. Fucker! Cunt! Fucking whore! HAAAAAAAAA-
She’ll burn, I know she’ll burn. Yeah.
Okay, relax. Just relax, me. You just need to raise a little bit the thinner price. Yeah. Okay.
Right. I’m raising it to 500. I’ll say it’s more refined. If they don’t agree they don’t get it.
I should have brought the marijuana, just in case.
They accepted it! Hahahahhaha! Ah… Great! Great! Fuck you, Susan! I have more money than you, sucker! Hheheh.
Right. Morgan’s house is just a walk from here. I’ll use it as a hotel for a couple of days, until I can go back to my home. I hope it rains.
It’s been three days since I’ve got here. Morgan’s house is intact, fully attached to the ground, without a sign of burning. I’ve also found many valuables here. I want to take everything with me, but I can’t. I would have to travel, back and forth, too much to keep everything I want.
Plus, there’s an issue here.
Listen, pal. It is here, in this neighborhood. And this time I am sure: it is stalking me. I… I…
Okay I’ve hidden myself under the bed. I don’t think it will be able to find me here.
What happened, yes. See, finding Morgan’s house was easy enough, and entering as well. The thing is, once I’ve entered, I saw it across the street. It was following me all along and I didn’t notice it! I’m so dumb! I should have known; every time I came to Susan’s market, if followed me. I always managed to lose it, but not this time.
What’s worse, it saw me getting in here!
I managed to hide in the attic. There are no windows here, the opening is pretty high in the ceiling and I took the stairs with me. Also, I don’t think it saw me.
Well, I could gather some info about it. Hum, how to put it? I think it is a girl. Yeah. I know it sounds nonsense, but it is a girl. I am almost certain. While I was hiding under the bad, I think it took of the gas mask… And then I heard it breathing. Then way it was breathing was… Girly. I don’t know. Not a woman, a girl. Maybe in her teens. Well, it is not very tall.
What I know for sure is that I have never felt so much fear than these past days. I had to flee. She was going to detect me sooner or later by the smell of my urine. I couldn’t stand to be hidden under that bed for long.
I can’t go to the bathroom here as well, but there are lots of plastic bags. I’ll make do.
Less than 10 days until I can go back home. I have tuna, lots of water and dried peaches I did myself. For 10 days. Good thing I am always prepared. I’ve also brought aderall. How do you think I’d be so calm right now? My planning got completely of the expected.
A girl… How could it be? I can’t even… I mean, how could she be walking in broad day light? Under the sun?!! Explain this, explain-uh!
I hear footsteps. I think she’s here. Oh no-
(Knocks on wood)
I think she’s sleeping now. It’s night and I’ve figured out her movements. She sleeps during the night, and walks during the day. She’s must be just as Official Ryan described. “Walks under the sun, summons the heat”. I don’t remember the rest. She must be one of them. How else could she walk under direct sunlight? She… Maybe she knows who is behind the fires.
My house. Maybe she knows about my house. I could take vengeance, although I don’t think it is at all that worth it. My house is gone, my things are gone, my paintings, records, portraits, prizes, everything!
I don’t want to have to do anything with her, really. I don’t know if she is infected, or sick, or what.
The thing is… She set camp near here. In the living room more precisely. For some reason, she wants to capture me, I don’t know. I don’t have anything special. Unless…
No, it can’t be. My clients wouldn’t rat about me. Unless my clients are like her and I never realized. Dammit. I’m so dumb.
(almost unhearable crying)
I don’t know what to do. I have to leave tomorrow. I don’t have any food, or water left. This attic smells like shit, I want to take a shower but that fucker is here to fuck with me! Damn you!
Maybe it was Susan. Susan sold me! That cannibal bitch! Oh man, god, fuck!
The whole town sleeps. The whole town has been sleeping for almost a week. I don’t know what’s going on. No one answers the phone, no one answers the door. It may sound far-fetched, but I believe half of the town has been burned to the ground. Literally. I haven’t been to the suburbs, but from what I could gather, three or four neighborhoods have been completely burned down. Some houses are still left there, but they are about to fall down, so I avoided approaching them.
My mother and step-dad are nowhere to be seen. My cousins and aunt, the same. The police station, no one is there. I thought of calling the nearby town’s police, but something told me that I’d would be better off not doing it. Not sure why.
It’s weird. Last weekend I only spoke to my mom over the phone and she said everything was fine. That she was anxious to have me living with her again. That the town had grown quite a lot after I left to move in with my dad.
I don’t know what to do. My father is already in Romania now. I can always go back to live in his house, he said. But he is not there, so it doesn’t make too much a difference from here. In those terms. But I am not enrolled in the school anymore.
He is not picking up the phone either. He would tell me what to do. At least give me some advice.
Tomorrow I’ll write more if I discover anything.
Today I walked around town. It seems everyone left. There wasn’t a single person on the street.
The hospital is closed. The market is closed. Many houses are sealed. Even the school, where is was supposed to be going next week, is closed.
Downtown looks like a desert. There are many cars abandoned on the streets. Some shops are open, others are closed, but most of them are empty, especially the grocery stores. And, everything is a mess. There’s litter on the ground, trash all over the sidewalks, furniture tossed away and even some were used as barricades. Everything is dirty. I saw crows eating garbage and I think I saw a rat.
I came back quickly as I it was getting cold. I didn’t fell up to examining things any further. It is my town, as it is pretty small, there is really nothing much here.
Now, there is even less.
It’s been a week since I’ve arrived and the last person I saw was the cab driver that drove me until the town entrance.
My father still doesn’t answer.
Basically, I am on my own.
I tried to loot my own house for money, but I couldn’t find any. I suppose my mother would have a hidden stash somewhere, or inside her purse, or in her husbands’s wallet, but I couldn’t even find credit cards of checks. Maybe I should search more. Money can be hidden anywhere.
I need it to return to my father’s house. I decided it is better to be there, in that city, even if I am not going to school, than be here.
It is all the same, in the end. I am also not going to school here.
The last place I visited was the library. The front door wasn’t locked, I entered, but I could see no people inside. I noticed that lots of books were abandoned on the tables. Well, many of them don’t looks abandoned as they have bookmarks in their middle. I don’t know.
I am just too confused. What happened to this place?
I am tired of walking and running around. Today and the past days I went from street to street, trying to salvage any newspaper or to see anyone. Any telephone left ringing, a shadow, anything. There is simply nothing that can shed light into this situation. Anything may have happened here, from an epidemic, to a war, to an apocalypse. There is no one to talk to. No information. People simply disappeared. What intrigued me, though, was the fact that practically half of the town is burned. When I wrote that at first I was exaggerating – I didn’t believe it actually. But walking around these four days confirmed it. Mainly the areas closest to the town border, before crossing the plains that die into the forest and mountain. They have all been consumed by fire, houses, cars, shops. Some buildings are still standing, holding up their ground, but they are still dangerous to be approached. I feel a piece of wood or something may fall apart at any moment – you just need to breath near it. I couldn’t search, I didn’t have to guts to, but I don’t think people died. At least, I didn’t see anything that resembled a body, or an animal. What amazes me is that the forest is still intact, but the houses are burned. And the other part of the town, the one I live, and the center, are also intact. I think that, if such an strong fire (like the one in Rome) started here, it would easily burn the entire town. You don’t have a fire brigade, we are few, and people would run, scared. Well, maybe they ran. And that’s the reason nobody is here.
These past days I managed to peer into some houses, and even enter in a few (the ones that were open). As expected, I didn’t see anyone. Well, maybe I didn’t. I was walking around here, peering into windows and calling people’s names: Janet, Susan, Morgan, April, Timothy, Mr. Morrison, the townsfolk I remember. I thought I saw someone moving inside one of the houses, and then another, but nothing certain. I didn’t want to break into. I could be charged for that, and I don’t want this kind of trouble. But for the ones that were open… Timothy’s was one of those. I got in and, well, I stole things. The market isn’t opening, I can’t break into it, so I stole food – the one that could still be eaten. Timothy had a dog, and the leash was behind one of the doors. The dog wasn’t there – maybe it disappeared too. Leda’s and Marty’s house were also open. They don’t live here anymore, but I don’t know who is the actual owner, so for me it is still their houses. Quite different nevertheless. In one of those houses I found something weird, and I don’t know how to explain it well. There were lots of leather gloves, and big boots inside the closet, and then knives (the ones used in the army), heavy coats, rain coats and a gas mask. I searched for guns, but couldn’t find any. I don’t think I know how to look for things well. I took everything I could with me. I don’t know what to make of it, but it am scared.
I spent the whole day thinking if I should or shouldn’t write this. I decided that keeping records is for the best, even if they seem delusional. I woke up yesterday in the middle of the night because I heard someone running. I looked at the window and I saw a woman (I think it was a woman) running around. She was going from one corner to the other in the street. She would then stop and wait, and then run again. After two or three times, she started to run down the street, passing by my house and turning right, as if she was going to the city center – there is the only thing in that direction. Well, the city center and the town’s entrance. Maybe she was a tourist, or someone who was lost. I didn’t have the courage to go after her. I was too scared to leave my house. Maybe tomorrow, if I see her roaming around this area again. Maybe we could talk. Maybe she knows something. I just hope she didn’t leave the town like this. If that is the case, then I would have to leave to without even getting close to solving the situation behind my family’s disappearance and, incidentally, everyone else’s.
When I was in primary school I won a writing contest. We had to write a short essay about the use and current waste of water, and what should we do to preserve it. I won the first place, but I never got to know what exactly in my writing stroke the judges to select mine as the best one. I was told I had talent; and that not knowing how you exactly did was fine as long as you could do it again. So I only had to write, and then, magically, my writing would be good. But I never won another writing contest – I didn’t even qualify for most. I wondered about my talent. Where did it go? How can I get it back. The issue is, I never stopped writings even today, I am writing this diary, trying to be as romantic, realistic and “narrativistic”, the best I can. I hope one day someone will find this and read it and use it for something useful that is not killing oneself or crying over. Maybe (and beware that I may be overanalysing myself) I am still here in this town looking for a story, just like a journalist looks for a scoop. Maybe I hope to salvage anything rom the deserted town and use it to resurrect my talent. Maybe.
Within two weeks I’ll have spent a month here without talking to a single person. I am trying to cope with that by writing, leaving messages in my dad’s answering machine, talking to the mirror. Not talking to anyone is harsh.
I read parts of a book about people that survive ships sinking and remain adrift in the open sea for months. There are a couple of techniques to be employed in order to avoid loneliness or getting crazy by it. One of them is: keep yourself busy. Do things that will keep your mind going but that won’t waste a lot of energy. Tomorrow I am going for a walk. I will prepare myself to be out the whole day, until the sun sets. I will search the whole town again, and this time I might break into some houses. I am also thinking about paying a visit to the school and the hospital. It will be fun.
I will try to be as faithful as I can to register my recollection of the things I saw today. There is something going on this town, and something serious. Even dangerous. I think people might have died. I don’t know really well what to make of it. Nevertheless, I will write and then study this records in order to wrap my mind around thigs better.
Everything happened today. I decided to leave early and only come back after the sunset. I was committed to search and find something that would give me a real clue about what happened to the city.
I prepared my backpack with cereal bars, water cans, a coat, gloves, the knife, matches, my diary, pens and the gas mask. I didn want to carry too much weight. That may sound weird (as I took the gas mask with me) but as I have seen a considerable part of the town burned, I thought it would be better if I took it. That gas mask was the difference between me living and me dead in case a toxic thing was behind the town’s current situation. I left early in the morning and went to the city center. As usual, nobody was seen. I was free to walk around and explore. Maybe steal more things. Not sure if I would be actually stealing them, because there’s no one around so it feels as if everything in town belongs to no one. It was cold and here was a reminiscence of fog in the air. A town in the middle of the mountains attracts fog, cold weather and isolates its citizens. Nevermind the plains. There are only mountains beyond those.
I started here, in the houses around my house again. In the hope that my presence and constant moving-around-and-about would attract attention of someone in town, but I got bored quickly and headed for the nearby avenue, one that is decorated by trees. In this time of the year the trees are in full bloom – usually, but they were actually whitering already. Only a few were healthy. The air was gloomy. I walked for about forty minutes until I arrived to the hospital, a 40-something year old building, white by excellence and a bit ominous. That area of town is well served, usually packed with people. The hospital is small – more like an emergency center – but many people go there normally. The doors were open, I entered but saw no one. The lights were working, the front desk seemed to be left as it was after a long workday. Some papers on top of the tables. There was a picture of Dr. Smith hanging in one of the walls. He was the best physician the city has ever had, so good he even took care of psychological problems even thought his specially was lungs or hearts. I don’t remember that well. I decided to search through them. If a disease had desolated the town, there would be information here. Nothing. I felt as if I was peering into the most secret details of the townsfolk’s lives, though. I saw, for example, that Morgan’s mother had AIDS. And that Timothy’s sister was pregnant once. The Thompson’s suffered from herpes. That Mr. Swanson had a weak heart and that his son was examined psychologically many times. I wanted to bring some records with me. I’ve hidden some under one of the drawers, well hidden, in case I need them. Not sure when, but it is valuable information. The rooms in the hospital were empty. Several beds seemed to had been used for a while. My imagination went wild for a moment back there. Everything was so normal, so usual, so into the ordinarily ordinary that I wanted something. Anything. I wanted to find a mysterious bedroom, sealed, that used to hide a monsters from the entire town. And the monster was set free by a Mr. Swanson’s son, and that’s why everybody run. But no. Nothing, until I saw the pharmacy. I had the brilliant idea of looting medicine. I am alone in town, so if anything happens to me it would be important to have drugs to cure me – or at least keep me alive until help comes. Surprise – the pharmacy was empty. Not a single pill, nothing. Someone had been there before. Or, the other way around. People run for a reason I still don’t know and then took all the meds. I finished my business inside the hospital – there was nothing else to be done there. I headed for the next big significant building – the school. On my way I observed some houses, tried to break into some. One of the houses had two gallons full of gas on their yard, which made me think that if I learn how to drive I can get out of here any time I want. Just need to chose the best car, collect and gather enough supply of gas and depart. I decided to come back and stock the gas for later, for me. So nobody else can have it. I arrived at the school gates, which were open a if it was school day. But the entrance was empty. The grass had grown tall and yellow for being untended for a long time. Lots of leaves were gathered in the side walks and in the front doors. I could see that many of them had made their way into the building, in the main hall. Inside the main hall, many classrooms were left with the doors open. Desks were left in the middle of the hall and paper sheets hanging inform the wall journals were willing to stop resisting and simply fly with the cold wind that blew through there. It wasn’t so much morning – more like approaching midday – but it was chilly. I never studied there. When my parents divorced my father took custody of me because he suspected my mother was into drugs – which was confirmed later on by the late Dr. Smith, who, according to my father, avoided keeping secrets from the patient’s family at all costs. So my father and I left town so he could work on a proper job instead of keeping the family tradition of being a door-to-door salesman in this city that everybody knows you, to become the manager of a big office. He even went to college. Now he is abroad. While in that big city I went to big schools. Nothing like what I saw there, at those schools. Most of the things looked pretty worn out and happy at the same time – nothing sterile like the other schools I’ve been to. I went through some classrooms, checking out the desks, tables, drawers. Some backpacks are left. I found some tools, such as screwdrivers, nails, hammers, especially in the science classrooms. I took everything I could that wouldn’t be a burden inside my backpack. I guess I took lots of things with me. The most amazing one, though, was a huge stash of money bills I found in one of the classrooms, between the wall and one of the lockers at the back of the room. That might have been drug money, bribe money. It doesn’t matter. It is mine now. I discovered two other sessions in that building, which made me think why a school so big was built in this town in the first place. I left the main building to find another one. It had other set of classrooms, and as I could tell by the sits, specific classrooms such as a music room, a lab, art room, teachers room, principal’s office. And it connected to yet another building after the restaurant and common area, which had a park connected to it. I don’t know what was that last building. I headed for the one in front of me. The door was open, the trees leaves were there but there were no chairs in the corridors. The place I thought could have any info about the population’s disappearance was locked – the teacher’s room. The principal’s office was open, but inside it there was only a table and some chairs. Nothing inside the drawers. Maybe this was a fairly self-organized school and he wasn’t needed. I left the office, heading for the lab when it happened. I heard something from the teacher’s room. I thought it could be someone trapped there but when I was about to take a turn in the corridor to look I heard the sliding door opening furiously, and I was immediately startled. I remembered the monster from the hospital. Very slowly, I crawled trying to take a peek around the corner to see who or what could be there until I saw a person (I think it was a person) completely covered in black rags from head to toe, breathing heavily. The rags wrapped around his arms and legs made him look very fat. There was a weird substance dropping from its knees and legs; it was dark and gooey. The problem was when he stated to walk. I don’t know if I was impressed by his sudden appearance, but when he started to walk I felt as if I was seeing someone possessed by the devil walking, erratic and uncompassed. I ran for my life, and I could tell he was coming near me. I ran up to the restaurant, trying to find a place there and saw that I wasn’t being followed anymore. I sat down and one of the tables and felt instantly blind. Then I realized. The restaurant was clear as day – the sun coming through the windows in full force. In the corridor’s I was before, there was no light. All the windows have been covered by something, and everything was dark. Maybe that’s why I saw that monster – because I couldn’t see properly. I was confused. I took a turn, and left the restaurant through the common area towards the main building, most of the classrooms were like that. I took a trio back to the hospital and the same: all windows covered. Just like in most of the houses I saw. I sat down on the sidewalk and decided to have lunch. Now I knew there was someone there who I could ask about the situation. I just needed to figure out how to approach him, as he looked a bit dangerous. I finished eating and then… Puf! I woke up and could see that the sun was setting. I slept on the sidewalk, there and then. My whole body ached, and my head was about to explode. I didn’t have any meds. It was getting really cold, so I put on my coat and headed quickly for the school. My plan was to knock on the door and ask kindly. I headed for the second building and was taken aback by the obnoxious darkness installed there. Only a few hours had passed from my first visit there, but everything was pitch black, and I couldn’t see a thing inside. Without many options, I decided to wait outside, a bit far from the door, but in a distance where I could see him leaving and catch up on him quickly. I hid myself in the bushes and waited. It was a perfect dusk when someone appeared. It wasn’t him, although that person had more or less the same proportions of that person-monster I saw before. It was a woman, a young lady, by her thirties maybe, maybe less. I couldn’t see very well in the distance. She got out of the building carrying a backpack and two huge tote bags, one on the left and one on the right. She had a long hair which was partially tied up in a ponytail and the other part was in a sort of a pig tail. Really weird. She was wearing common clothes shoes – and she had sunglasses! Anything besides that I didn’t see – I was too far. She headed outside school and I followed her taking distance and being careful for not being seen. She was someone new in town, someone who started living there after I left with my father. We both walked, fast-paced, down the streets. She stopped by one of the houses near the hospital and came out carrying one of those gallons full of gas I had reserved for me. I didn’t say anything because I was more amazed at how she managed to carry it when she already carrying three huge bags. We walked, and for about fifteen minutes we just walked. Until she stopped and left the gas gallon, suddenly taking a turn in a left alley I thought she was going to find out about me. She walked for about three minutes and stopped by a house with a small rusted gate. It was Mr. Swanson’s house. She jumped the gate, walked a little bit and started to dig something up. I was observing only from a distance, so I couldn’t tell what was that thing she dig up. It was more of less the size of both her hands. Before I could figure anything else out, she tucked that inside her backpack. She then jumped over the gate again, and this time she put her bags on huge ground and sat down. I don’t know know many minutes had passed when someone appeared! I couldn’t believe myself! Someone else besides her was in this town! I was so happy I could scream. I started heading toward them to greet them and finally have someone to talk to. Other people started to gather – that was my chance but then I saw something: everybody had sunglasses. Besides me not being able to recognize anyone, it was a bit creepy. I remained where I was. More and more people came, and started gathering around her. There was a thick circle of people around her by now, so I couldn’t tell what they were doing. I thought I heard someone saying “I’m first”, but they more whispered then spoke. I was really confused. I saw that some of them left carrying a small plastic bag, sometimes two. I think I may have seen Morgan’s mother. She was a little bit overweight, and her hair wa distinct enough. She left carrying four bags. In about forty minutes everything was over. Everyone had come, taken whatever form that young lady, and left from the same places they’d come. I tried to figure out where they were coming from, but by this time of the day twilight was already past and the streetlights were not helping. I could have followed someone from there, but it was more interested in that young girl. I think I could hear her name, in the middle of all those whispers. Thinking now, I think they called her Teacher. So she is a teacher. When everybody left, both her tote bags were empty. She folded them and put them inside her backpack. Minutes passed without nothing happening. She basically stood there, leaning against the wall, looking either at her nails or at her watch. It was complete dark by then – a night without stars – and I wonders how she could see anything with those sunglasses. There was a mixture of nausea and hunger in my stomach. I have seen so many people, many of them I knew, but I didn’t manage to talk to or to follow a single one. I was confused, overwhelmed, appalled, baffled, you name it. After weeks without seeing a single soul, I guess I grew wary of people. Or not. I was simply socked at the sudden revelations. Either that or I had eaten something not so fresh. I continue observing the Teacher – she now had a name. I observed her while she sat down, and eventually lie down on the curb. Then I could figure her out, more or less. Then I could wrap my mind around her figure a little bit. She was tall – maybe a lot taller than me – and slim. Her long her tied in a ponytail made she look really young, but I couldn’t tell more than that because of the sunglasses. She was pale and from what a could hear she had the voice of a twenty-something. People were calling her “Teacher” but I couldn’t decided which subject she used to teach – history, literature, art, maybe. I considered approaching her and taking her things, then ask information as ransom, but the chances of being caught red-handed were high. I didn’t even know if she was actually taking a nap there or if she was just resting – I couldn’t see her face clearly. That thought might have echoed, because suddenly she stood up, and very quickly grabbed her back pack and started walking towards my direction. I had no other choice but to pretend to be walking. I was almost running actually, at the fear of her finding me out, but then I stopped hearing her footsteps. I went back a few steps, up the road, and notice that she had that black package she had dug up earlier from Mr. Swanson’s yard. She had jumped a fence and was examining one of the walls of a nearby house. I could see that she fussed inside the black package, grabbed something, and stick it to the wall. Running, she was coming back, and this time is had to hide – I don’t know how – behind a garbage can. She jumped over another fence and did the same thing. For more or less 30 minutes she went over houses, cars, gates and fences sticking things to them. She was so quick, a moment of distraction could have made me lose track of her. I wanted to examine what exactly she was sticking, but I couldn’t. I was too interested, I had to see. She returned to where she left the gas gallon like a wild animal. She was sweating and panting so much, she could pass away. I found a hiding spot in the middle of some bushes, a bit far away, but I was too tired to follow after her again. I would move if she got too far. She grabbed the gas gallon with both hands and then did something I never expected to see someone doing: she started spilling gas all over, wherever she could. On garbage cans, tires, bushes, gates, wood, trash, abandoned furniture, everything. For a moment back there I thought she could have come to my direction as well and, besides finding me out, she would have spilled some gas on me too – so fast and violent she was on that task. I could hear her groaning and moaning. Her panting was incredible – as if a rabid beast was eating the most delicious prey and finding difficulty in completing the job, so hungry it was. When there was no more gas inside the galling she tossed it furiously into a random direction. The empty gallon hit a mail box, turning it upside down in a strange curve, making it spill all the letters and ads inside it. A bit gory. The Teacher the grabbed a cloth and used it on her face, maybe wiping out the sweat. I was already expecting what would come out of that situation. And I already knew at least part of the explanation why almost half of the town was burned to the ground. But I had just a shot time it think. With the same cloth she used to wipe the sweat from her face she made a Molotov, right there. She took a bottle out of her back pack, inserted half of the cloth inside it, and with a lighter she lit it up. I was prepared to start running for my life when I heard her voice – so loud and clear it gave me shivers. She screamed something in another language, a sort of mantra and tossed the Molotov into nowhere. It instantly spread out the biggest fire I had ever seen in my life in seconds. Within a blink, it had consumed everything in or front of me. The smoke was frightening, and in am impulse, I grabbed my gas maks and out it on – not even sure if I was doing it right. I tried to run, but stumbled immediately. That – that was too much for me. When I regained myself, the flames where approaching me. I had to run. I don’t remember what I did, or what direction I took. It seemed that everywhere I went everything was being consumed by that infernal rage. If I had taken a wrong turn over there, I would be dead by now. I turned left on some corner – I didn’t know where I was anymore although I knew this city like the back of my hand – and there was a big yard in or front of me, still intact. On the other side of it, I saw Teacher and she saw me. We were both heading to the same direction, but coming from different vectors. At that moment, I remember my line of thought. It was something like: “I had forgotten about you until now, but here you are.” I quickly aimed at grabbing her with my right hand and seizing her however I could, but she was faster. At first, she screamed, so loudly and sharply I got scared myself. Then she started to run to the same direction she came from. I attempted to follow her, but she suddenly turned. Maybe realizing her previous path was no more – and faced me, glaring. I tried to talk and realized my voice wasn’t coming out. I forgot I was wearing the gas mask. I wasn’t a girl or boy – a was someone with a gas mask. A terrorist, one could think – but in that situation she was more guilty than me. Seconds passed on that awkward face-to-face situation until she leaned forward and gave me a headbutt right into my stomach. I was so impressed I fell down on the ground. As if it was not enough, she kicked me two or three times and went for it. I gasped, took the gas mask, tried to find her still with sight, but she was gone. Somehow, I manage to stand up and come here. Currently, I smell like roast beef and sulfur. I didn’t realize back then, but my hair got caught between flames, so I am sure I can say goodbye to it and embrace a life with short hair. I am naked right now, inside the bathroom, the most humid place I could think of. I started writing this a little bit after midnight, and now the sun is about to rise. I am tired. I don’t think I’ll write anytime soon. Goodbye.
I am still here.
There was another fire yesterday.
I heard a commotion around the block and went to the windows to check it. Apparently, the Teacher was doing whatever she does with the other people in this town right down the street. After that she put fire in the only building in town. I could see from the window.
There was a strong wind coming from nowhere shortly after, and the smoke spread quickly. I am wearing my gas mask even now. I can stand that smell – plastic with burnt oil, or something.
It rained heavily today, and I get the impression that everything is muddy. The town is dirty and full of ashes, no one is tending to it.
I wish I could stay hidden inside my house a little more, but I am running out of food, so I’ll have to go out for a bit to get more. Maybe I should go out at night and talk to the people here.
Morgan’s mother didn’t recognize me. I never thought I changed so much from when I left town, years ago. Maybe I am really different. Talking to her was a different experience. She acted naturally, but she was clearly bothered and uncomfortable. I think she tried to avoid me. Well, she did avoid me because just after I told her who I was she was already walking away, looking at me with just one eye, and with the other paying attention to the road. Before she actually started running – the way a woman her size can manage – she told me something like “just be sure to stay indoors, okay dear?”. It was a canned response. Within seconds, she disappeared in the shadows.
I wanted to talk to someone.
I think I have looted all the houses around here. From all the cupboards, the still-working fridges and pantries I collected all the food I could gather. I calculate that I have enough supplies for more than two months. I don’t intend to be here longer. I have also collected money, enough to live on my own for a couple of months, eating homemade food and doing monthly trips to the supermarket, even if I have to rent a small apartment until I can reach my father.
This is something I forgot to mention, but… There is no more electricity now. Apart from the streetlights, everything is dark inside houses, and because of that, I have learned about how to make a fire. While I still have my kitchen gas and the stove to use, I don’t think that the fuel will last and it won’t be long until I have to start cooking things using wood.
I searched for other gas containers, but apparently everyone else here had the same idea. Idiots.
Hidden like moles.
I think the last time I saw a person was Mrs. Morgan.
No I don’t really know.
I don’t want to know. Well, actually, I do want to know. And that is why I am not departing now.
It has become a matter of honor now. I am capturing that woman and I’ll make her explain everything. It might have been morbid curiosity at first, now I want to know where my family is.
I have established an attached settlement today. The next house is now mine, and the other next to it as well. I am putting there all my stuff for now, even the money. That woman probably knows where I live, so she’s bound to come here putting fire exactly on my roof. I don’t want to lose the stuff I’ve gathered this past month. So many precious items.
The winter comes in full force and I discovered a hidden coat stash inside one of the clothing shops here. Now I am finding it easier to grab things from stores – there is no electricity, so the alarms and sirens are not working.
Tomorrow the hunt begins. By my calculations, she is going downtown, to the old shop. From what I could tell, old lady Susan is there, selling things. I’ll get her.
Four attempts now and I still have not got close to her.
She realized I am following her around quite sharply, and she is taking the most weird paths to disappear. It looks like she knows her way through burnt buildings as she knows her hand.
I avoided tackling her when she was selling her stuff to people. I don’t want to be surrounded by an unknown mob. I don’t know these people anymore.
Anyway, I think I am getting close to her. Next time she won’t be able to escape.
When they both met, there was a strange smell in the air.
Dawn had been cooking sardines and smoking almost-recognizable rats, so small they were. The smell indicated the verge of something rotten – the point in which food is barely edible, in the brink of crossing the line that separated trash and food.
Teacher looked, fresh from the attic, but appalled from the near death experience. She had just crashed on the ground, having lost control of her legs right after opening the door that sealed the attic. She had landed on her left arm and leg, and half of her face was distorted due to pain. She was thin and dirty. Her smell almost merging with the rats and sardines.
Dawn had a piece of fish in her mouth, and tried to speak. She couldn’t. She didn’t know she could speak anymore. And Teacher, not helping, didn’t want to speak.
After seconds, their encounter looked more like a ritual, as if it had been being planned over for generations. The location, the position for falling, the stated of decomposition of huge sardines, the worms contorting inside the intestines of the rats, Danw’s tongue touching her front teeth, Teacher’s armpit strategically open, revealing.
One could think they were actors doing a scene so well, they were shocked at their performance. Because, after it was finished, they didn’t know what to do. Two actors so talented, they immediately forgot who they were and what they were doing right after the apex of the play, completely astonished.
It was as if they life would be for naught, had this event been skipped from this timeline. But no. In this dimension, they both met like the most perfect destiny god could bless upon any child.
While their eyes ate each other, and their breaths mixed with the foul air and warm environment – nevermind the broken windows and falling walls, and the fact that half of that house seemed to have been demolished – their intellect also mixed in a seemingly supernatural ritual in which sounds bound by fate tend to go through when they meet.
It could have been a reaction to the stalked-stalker scenario from all those past weeks, but none of them could deny that the sensation they feeling upon their chest was merely the excitement for having their prey so close to them.
The chemical reaction was stronger. The smell from the sardines was even stronger. Teacher couldn’t handle anymore – her body gave in and she laid flat on the ground, bumping her head on the floor. Dawn stood up, looking at that thin and deranged woman in front of her. She didn’t think twice in grabbing the closest object – a piece of wood. Instantly she felt that something was different. She touched her face scared and realized she had left her gas mask in the floor. That piece of sardine was still inside her mouth. Dawn spit and breathed heavily – no time to chew. She approached the Teacher slowly, the piece of wood ready to crash any skull open. Teacher closed her eyes. Inside her head, she thought that’s it, this is my end, it’s over, I won’t fulfill my mission, she won. Without a doubt, she was weak. Sleep, food and shower deprived, definitely not in her best shape.
Dawn approached her, and step by step she was holding the piece of wood right above her head. Her eyes were unforgiving. Dawn had everything to bring justice to what she thought was right, by knocking that other woman out, tying her up, extracting the truth and leaving that town once more into the big city again to never see anyone from there ever and ever again! If she stopped – and thought of all the things she had collected and stored in all other houses from her block, as if she had anything to gain from that, as if she could be rich from that for once in her life. And that’s when Teacher suddenly stood up and started running with the last inch of her strength left. Dawn was taken from her bubble quite harshly and in an angry leap she grabbed the Teacher by her feet. The Teacher tried to escape with useless jumps, which made her stumble and fall to the ground, hitting her head again and part of her face. Enraged, Dawn grabbed the Teacher’s body with her full hands, groping where she could, pressing the Teacher against the ground as she escalated towards the Teacher’s face. So much struggle, nails, hair being pulled, strong pushes, screams and bites. Dawn had pinned the Teacher to the ground when she realized she had no weapon to knock her out. She was shorter, but she was stronger and more well-fed than the other. Teacher resisted using her last breath of stamina – which was now over. Now she only panted. Not even saliva to spit, hoping to blind the enemy. Dawn had the upper hand just like a lion has over a rat.
All that said, Dawn had no weapon and no clue about her enemy’s lack of stamina. She couldn’t figure out a way to keep pressing the Teacher’s body to the ground at the same time she knocked her out. And, in that way, minutes passed, and they both realized their faces were inches apart, their bodies were completely connected and her breaths were only one. They looked each other in the the eyes, passionately as before but now more intensely. They could feel each other’s smell corrupting their lungs, almost unbearable.
It had been so long – not seeing anyone, not talking to anyone, really. Only seeing people at a distance, through a mask or only during the dark night, with shades – even! Being so close to any other human being, like this. Dawn tried to talk, to say something, to shatter that moment in a thousand pieces but destiny was stronger. They were the perfect actors doing the perfect scene, instructed by the perfect director.
Maybe, only maybe. If Dawn hadn’t kneed at that time, or if she had kept that sardine inside her mouth – then maybe she could have avoided what was about to happen. In that case, we would have an ant fighting against a giant, but one shall never forget David.
However, she didn’t. And instead of having that fish inside her mouth, she now had the Teacher’s breath, and eventually her sweat, her hair, her teeth and lips. She didn’t close her eyes for a second – she didn’t want to let the other go. Their bodies were filthy, their spirit was rotten, but at that moment there was nothing more tasty and delicious than that smell, that taste, that voice. It was as if the shapes and colors were made to be joined at that moment, when both of their breaths synchronized, when Teacher left out a last breath before passing out.
And with just these two – or maybe one – word the recording stopped. The Teacher’s voice wasn’t heard again, only an impenetrable silence in the room.
Everybody took a deep breath.