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.