One day...

Chapter 1:

When I wake up, my room is freezing. I left my window open again. I sit up and wince at the throbbing pain in my head. What the hell did I do last night? It must have been fun if I feel this bad. I take a glance at the clock, it says 11:35am. Time to get up. I get out of bed and close the window, feet stepping lightly on the cold floor. My head is pounding and I am thirsty as hell. Sitting on my bed, I pull on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, slip my feet into my sneakers. Then it’s to the bathroom to drink a huge glass of water and take two Tylenol. I’m brushing my teeth when I notice how quiet it is in my apartment.

“Ryan!” I yell. No answer. I walk to my roommate’s door and knock. “Ryan, you in there?” Nothing. I open his door and see an empty room. He must have gone out, I think to myself. So I head into the kitchen to put on a pot of coffee. Then I go out on my balcony and smoke the morning’s first cigarette. It is so peaceful today, I’m thinking as I listen to the wind blow through the trees.

After a few minutes, I go back inside and pour myself a cup of steaming coffee. A little milk and a dash of sugar and I’m good. I take a sip of the brown goodness and head back into my living room. I catch a glimpse of my front door as I walk by and stop dead in my tracks. A cold chill rushes down my spine. The chain is still on the door.

“Ryan?” I say, a nervous edge to my voice. The only response is silence. How could he have left with the chain still on the door? I check his room again, and he’s definitely not in there. But his computer is on and his bed looks slept in. He couldn’t have gone out the back. It is a two-story drop to the ground. No one in their right mind would jump from the balcony. So where is this kid? Did he come home last night? What happened last night?

I take a deep breath and calm myself down. There has to be a good explanation for this. I grab my cell phone and try to call Ryan. Call failed. No bars? I always get good reception. I try calling a few different people, but nothing connects. My phone must be broken.

A few minutes of indecision follow, then it comes to me. There is a payphone down the street. I’ll use that to call Ryan. I grab my keys, wallet and hat and walk out my front door. When I get outside, another shock awaits. Ryan’s car is sitting parked in front of our building. That is when I really start to get nervous. He never goes anywhere without his car.

I start walking toward the payphone, and things just keep getting weirder. I’m walking down Commonwealth Avenue, one of the busiest streets in Boston, and it is dead. No cars are driving anywhere. I can see a few cars at a street light a few blocks down, but they’re not moving. Nothing is moving. I don’t even hear the usual chirping of birds.

I reach the payphone, which is in front of a gas station. But when I pick up the receiver, I hear nothing. I slam it back down in frustration and look up. There are a couple cars in the station, but there is no one in sight. One of the cars is still running. Hesitantly, I walk inside the station’s mini-mart. No one is paying for gas, no one working the register.

“Hello! Is anyone here?” No answer. I wait ten minutes, but no one comes. The station’s phone is dead too. I check out the back room, but that is also vacant. So I help myself to a new pack of cigarettes and a bottle of soda and leave.

I keep walking down the street until I reach the 7-11. Someone has to be in there, I think to myself. I try to the door, but it’s locked. I cup my hands against a window and look inside. There’s no one in there. Where the hell is everyone? I haven’t seen a single person since I woke up. I look at the hours printed on the door. Monday - Sunday, 5am – 1am. I’m thinking that whatever happened, it must have happened between 1-4am last night. But what could have possibly happened?

I try hard to remember what I did last night, but it is all hazy. I can remember the beginning of the night. I went out to the bar with Ryan and some friends. We were there for quite a while. But after that is a blur. One image that stands out in the haze is the face of a girl. I don’t know who she is, but she seems very familiar. Her eyes are haunting. They’re a cold gray, but they seem to glow from the inside.

I shake the image from my head and decide what to do. I’ll walk to John’s house. He was out with us last night. Maybe he and Ryan made it back to his apartment. So I start the mile-long walk and light up another cigarette. I’m already on number 6 and it’s barely noon. The whole walk, I don’t see another human being. Finally, I arrive at John’s house. I ring the bell and hold my breath. Not surprisingly, there is no answer.

I take a step back, brace myself, and kick the door as hard as I can. Two more kicks and the door frame shatters, allowing me entrance to the house. I search every room, but nobody can be found. John’s phone is dead too. When I go back outside, I notice John’s car is still sitting in its spot. Something is seriously wrong. Could they have evacuated the city? Is that even possible? Without even noticing, I’ve lit another cigarette.

Unable to think of what else to do, I walk back to my apartment. I futilely ring every doorbell on the way. When I get home, I sit down and try to compose myself. Maybe the news will tell me something. I turn on the TV, but there is nothing on, literally. Every channel is static. I try the radio, but all I can get is dead air.

So I go up to the roof of my building to see if I can see anything at all. I stay up there for hours, hoping and praying to see something, but with no luck. There aren’t even any planes in the sky. I’m starting to think that I’m the only person still alive. I sit and watch the sunset, wondering if there is anyone else doing the same thing. Soon after that, it starts to rain, so I go back downstairs to my apartment.

After a day full of fear and panic, I am exhausted. I lock up, leaving the chain off the door just in case. I make sure my window is closed this time and settle down to try to sleep.

Many thoughts race through my head as I lay awake in my bed. What if I don’t wake up? What if that is how everyone else disappeared? What if they never come back? Can I really survive alone? What am I going to do? As I finally drift off to sleep, the mysterious image of the gray-eyed girl lingers in my mind, haunting me.

Oi. Paragraphs are your friends, I promise. Add some space between the different parts of the text and I’ll try to make a comment about what you’re actually writing. As it is now, I’m going crosseyed.

Good point. I forgot about that.

I usually just write and go back and do that later. Let me edit it for readability…

That’s better. You could still make a couple of more paragraphs, starting a new one when the narrator is speaking.

Some of the sentences are so short that they become choppy, try reading the first paragraph aloud and you’ll see what I mean.

But other than those technical troubles, you tell an interesting story. Makes the reader wonder what’s going on. Is it the end or are you going to continue it?

Thanks. I still have to go back and polish it, you’re right. I definitely skipped over that part.

I’m most likely going to continue. I have a good idea for the second chapter. I just need to get to writing it. I have to be careful not to paint myself into a corner though.

EDIT: I’ve gone back and revised what is now called the first chapter. I cleaned up some of the short sentences and added more paragraph breaks. It should read smoother now. I also changed a couple details for continuity with chapter 2, which is coming soon.

Chapter 2

When I wake up, my room is freezing. A cold breeze is coming in through the open window. I think to myself, didn’t I close that last night? Then I sit bolt upright as the memory of the previous day comes rushing back. The clock says 11:35am. What the hell? My mind is racing. Could I have dreamed that whole thing? No. It was too real. Dreams fade, but the memory of yesterday stays in my head, clear as a bell.

I hurriedly get dressed, anxious to find some answers. I’m putting my sneakers on when I hear a slight noise from my living room. I freeze and listen as hard as I can. Then I hear a familiar cough. I open my bedroom door to see my roommate sitting on the couch in the living room. He looks up at me and grins, blowing smoke into the air.

”What’s up, man?” Ryan asks casually. I’m confused as hell and I can’t help but stare at him blankly. He stares back at me curiously. “Dude, are you alright?” he asks. That snaps me out of my trance.

”No man, I’m not alright.” I take a couple deep breaths and sit down, trying to compose myself. So many thoughts are going through my head right now. Could it have all been in my head? Did I finally lose it altogether? If I tell Ryan what happened, is he going to think I’m crazy?

I look at Ryan and wonder where to start. He can see the serious look on my face and waits for me to say something. “Where were you yesterday?” I ask him.

He looks confused. “What do you mean, where was I yesterday?”

”I mean, where the fuck were you yesterday?” I’m almost yelling now.

“You know where I was. What are you talking about?”

“Do me a favor,” I say. “Humor me.”

“Well,” he begins, “I went to work, with you. After work, we came back to the apartment. We cleaned up for a while. Then we went out to the bar with John and a bunch of people.”

“No,” I say. “That was Friday night.”

He gives me a strange look. “Yesterday was Friday.”

I sit quietly for a minute, trying to figure things out in my head. Nothing is making sense. What is going on here? When I look up, Ryan is staring at me with a confused look in his eyes. “So you’re telling me that today is Saturday?” I say.

”Yeah,” he says, laughing. “It is.”

I can’t tell if he is messing with me or not. I start to lose my temper. ”No. No. That’s not true. Quit fucking with me!”

Ryan closes his eyes and puts a hand to his head. “Dude, stop yelling. My head hurts.” He pauses. “Aren’t you hungover? You drank way more than I did.”

“I was hungover… yesterday!” Ryan’s starting to look nervous. “Today is Sunday, and you’re going to tell me where the hell you and everyone else were yesterday!”

“Did you take something last night? Are you tripping or something?”

I’m starting to think that he honestly doesn’t know what I’m talking about. He stares at me, but I don’t respond. I grab my jacket and head for the front door. “I’ll be back,” I say as I slam the door behind me.

When I get outside, everything is shockingly normal. People are walking around. Cars are driving by. You would never suspect that yesterday this place was a ghost town. Or was it? I’m still trying to wrap my mind around everything that happened.

I light a cigarette and walk down to the 7-11. It’s open, and the clerk says hello when I walk in. I pick up the newspaper and sure enough, today is Saturday. More evidence leaning towards the “I’m crazy” explanation. I pay for the paper and leave. Slowly, I walk back to my apartment, lost in thought.

When I get home, Ryan is on the phone. I sit down on the couch and throw the paper on the coffee table. “Who are you talking to?” I ask.

”John,” he mouths to me.

”Ask him if his front door is broken,” I say.

Ryan just looks at me oddly for a second, then shakes his head. “Hey John,” he says. “Dave wants to know if your front door is broken.” He pauses. “I don’t know why, he’s acting all weird today. Just go check.” Another pause. “No? Ok. Look, I’ll call you back later.” He glances over at me. “Fuck if I know,” he says to John, then hangs up the phone.

I’m sitting there, weighing my options and watching Ryan stare at me suspiciously. I decide I have no choice. I have to tell him the whole story. I take a deep breath and try to decide where to begin. “Listen,” I start. “This is going to sound crazy, but please just let me get all of it out. You can tell me I’m crazy when I’m finished.” He just nods.

So I tell him the whole story, starting with when I woke up the previous morning. The entire time, he just sits quietly, listening. I tell him everything I can remember, trying not to leave anything out. Even a minor detail could turn out to be very important. When I finish talking, we both sit in silence, unsure what to say.

After a few minutes, I get up and walk out onto the porch to smoke a cigarette. Ryan follows behind me. I’m already through with one, and lighting a second before Ryan says anything.

”I have no reason not to believe you,” he says. “But you have to admit, this is all pretty hard to swallow.”

”I know. Believe me, I know. But it was way too real to be a dream.” There is another long silence, and after a while, we go back inside.

Whenever I close my eyes I can see those gray eyes staring at me. “I was really drunk by the end of the night,” I tell Ryan. “Everything is hazy. Do you remember me talking to a girl at the bar?”

He thinks about it for a second. “Now that you mention it, you were talking to this girl at the end of the night.”

My ears perk up and I start to get excited. “Tell me everything you remember.”

Ryan clears his throat and begins. “Well, by the end of the night, we were all pretty drunk. You came up to me at one point and told me that there was a girl at the bar that kept looking over at you. You pointed her out, but I didn’t get a good look at her. So I told you to go over and talk to her, and you did.” I am hanging on his every word.

“I watched you for a few minutes, and you seemed to be doing well,” Ryan continues. “Then I got distracted for a while, and when I looked back, you had disappeared.”

My heart jumps into my throat. “I disappeared?”

”You didn’t vanish into thin air, if that’s what you mean. We were getting ready to leave and no one could find you. That girl was gone too. I figured you had gotten lucky and left with her.” He pauses. “Did you?”

”I don’t remember,” I respond softly.

He shakes his head, “That sucks.”

”So I didn’t come home with you last night?” I ask.

“No.” he says. “I got home at like 1:30. I crashed right away so I don’t know what time you got in.”

I’m putting the events of Friday night together in my head and trying to make sense of them. Could I have taken something at the bar? Maybe after I left with that girl? Could all of yesterday been a drug induced hallucination? But I gave up doing drugs years ago. Then again, a cute girl could get me to do just about anything.

I spend the rest of the day half in a daze. I keep expecting something strange to happen, but the day is completely normal. Aside from the odd looks I keep getting from my roommate, it is like nothing happened.

My mind keeps trying to rationalize the events of the previous day. There is a history of mental illness in my family. Perhaps I’ve lost my grip on reality. No, I don’t think so. I must have taken some acid or something. I had to have imagined the whole thing. There is no way that could have really happened.

I’m out on my porch, smoking again, trying to relax. I have almost convinced myself that the entire thing is just a figment of my imagination. The drug fueled ravings of a twisted mind. I have seen Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas over 20 times. Maybe that has permanently affected my brain.

The sun is going down and I’ve almost completely accepted that yesterday never happened. There is only a tiny shred of doubt left. But that doubt is lingering in the back of my mind, and I can’t shake it. I have this sense of anticipation, like there is something that is supposed to happen. But I can’t quite put my finger on it.

I’m watching the last bit of the sun disappear over the horizon when the first rain drop hits me. The rain! I was on the roof yesterday and it started raining at this same exact moment! There is no way that is just a coincidence. Finally, some evidence that I didn’t imagine this whole thing. My spirits increase slightly. I decide to keep that bit of information to myself and head back inside.

When I turn in for the night, I have a hard time falling asleep. What if it happens again? What if I wake up and everyone’s gone? What am I supposed to do? I lay awake for a long time, staring at the ceiling. After a while, I start to drift off. When I finally fall asleep, I dream of the girl with gray eyes.

You say “I” to much, and usually in the context of “I do X.” or “I feel X.”

It’s an easy tip to give, but try to SHOW not TELL. Try to use forms of the verb “to be” as little as possible.

Also, try to describe more fully the sensations apparent in what is otherwise a timeline. For instance:

Then I go out on my balcony and smoke the morning’s first cigarette. It is so peaceful today, I’m thinking as I listen to the wind blow through the trees.

After a few minutes, I go back inside and pour myself a cup of steaming coffee.

The peace comes across here as just another lever-crank/button-press of your routine rather than a unique mental or spiritual experience.