• [1]The empty city.
    It was late night. I was walking home, as usual, and at first nothing seemed out of the ordinary. It was a short walk from the Mall; I’d taken it many times before. This time though I was scared. I’d just heard that there was a rapist on the loose. I was walking five times faster than usual. My little knife hidden in my front left pocket. By bag was securely held and my ears sharp, waiting for something to seem out of the ordinary. I was two blocks away from my house. I kept my face straight. Not caring to listen to the old beggar on the other side of the street. He seemed to be upset about something. I figured he needed some drugs or something like it, so naturally I ignored him. It was getting colder and there was a breeze picking up so I quickened my pace once more. I had my phone on my right hand waiting impatiently to get home and call my best friend. She, I suspected, was wrangling little Samantha to sleep with her cell on her pocket, waiting for my call. She was just as nervous as I was. I didn’t like the idea of walking home this late, but I had no choice. The ‘great’ car that my father promised ‘would not give out’ was lying idly on the street in front of my house. It was a real coincidence also that he had no money to help me fix it too. So I, with no other choice, had to get a part-time job. You must take ‘part-time’ loosely because they surely don’t mean it, and I don’t advice to take University Physics while working part-time. I reached my front porch and took the keys from my back pocket. Fit them in the slot turned the key. Now, this is normal human procedure, opening a lock, I’m sure, but wouldn’t it be grand if you got home after class, work and a ten minute walk and you couldn’t get in. I thought I was tired and took the key out, wriggled my key chain a bit, chose the one I knew would open this specific door and slid it in the slot. To my amazement, it did not open. I took it out again, this time walked to the sidewalk and examined the street, seemed to be the one, checked the number on the house I was standing in front of, and it seemed to be the one. Yet why didn’t the door unlock? I was stunned so I got my phone out of my pocket and dialed my best friend’s number.

    After three unanswered calls I decided to call the police. In my understanding they could help me get into my house. They didn’t answer either. How does a police station not answer calls? I was baffled. I stood there, tired, weak, confused. It couldn’t be happening. I reached my wallet form my bag and checked its contents. A one dollar bill and a quarter next to my maxed out credit card and cleaned out atm. I couldn’t believe it. I was alone, in front of my house, the cops nor my best friend answer the phone and I’m also flat broke. It is a lovely world, so full of opportunities and adventures.

    I think I fell asleep. Next thing I know there is this man shaking me awake.

    “Wake up”, he said. “Come on, please?” his voice was pleading.

    I opened my eyes and all I could see were some deep blue eyes. I blinked a few times and he backed away a little.

    “Sorry, but I haven’t seen anyone all night”, he said, “I got home and couldn’t open my door, then I dialed the police and no one would answer. I don’t know anyone from this neighborhood but I thought I could check for some neighbors. You’re the first person I see since 8pm.”

    “Whoa” I said, still groggy from sleep, “Same thing happened to me. Only I stayed here instead. I also tried my best friend’s number but she didn’t answer either”

    “Is her house far from here? Maybe we could go over there and ask for help there,” he asked.

    I watched him carefully. I was afraid he was the rapist I’d heard was around. Yet he seemed pretty safe to me. I prayed to God I was right as I nodded and got up from against my bed. We walked the twenty minutes it was from my house to my best friend’s in silence. I would keep my eye on him from the corner of my eye and hoped to God he was alright. He looked hesitant, as if he knew I was watching him, or maybe he was just as confused as I was. We passed the main road and found it to be empty. It was completely empty. This was news to me and apparently to him too. We stood there, paralyzed from shock. It was Tuesday morning; normally this road would be swarming with cars, their owners trying to reach their work in time. As I stared I my breathing started to hitch up, I was hyperventilating. Suddenly I was off my feet. I had fallen on the hard concrete, my head was swimming, and I couldn’t see straight, there was a sharp hissing in my ears. Somewhere in between my panic attack I must have grabbed his pants because the next thing I know he’s hugging me, and telling me comforting things.

    “This is a dream, I’m sure it is” he said, his voice sounded as panicked as I was. “We arrived home and fell asleep, and are dreaming the same dream, come on pinch me”

    His eyes were wide, his breathing shallow. I looked into his eyes and pinched him with all my strength.

    “Ow!” he yelled, getting to his feet and rubbing his arm.

    “Oh no,” I said, it came out in barely a whisper, “What happened to us?”

    He looked at me, still in the ground, and gave me a look which meant “I have no idea”. I looked around and gathered my strength to get up; he ended up helping me up. We looked around and around. We felt something wrong now, yet we had no idea what.

    “My friend’s house is this way,” I said, straightening up and heading that direction.

    “You can’t honestly think we’ll find her,” he said, “I mean, you said she didn’t answer her phone”

    “Maybe she’s locked out like we are” I said, “We have to check.”

    The remaining ten minutes we spent in silence, both hysterically hoping that we’d find her, or anyone else who could tell us what had happened. As we reached her block my breathing had become erratic, and the guy, who’s name I still didn’t know, was hurrying up to catch up with me.

    She wasn’t there. No one was, not her mom, nor her boyfriend, nor her annoying little siblings. We were alone. I broke down for the second time in a long time. The first being a few minutes before and he held me as silent tears streamed down my face, I could feel him sobbing too, though I doubt he’d admit it. It seemed like an eternity when we broke from our embrace. I looked into his eyes and sighed.

    “I don’t know your name,” I said.

    “What do you need my name for, we’re stranded, somehow, in front of our own homes and you need to know my name?” he screamed.

    “I was just wondering,” I said quietly, “If we’re to be like this together we might as well get to know one another.”

    At first he stared as if I was crazy, then he, admitting we were both crazy, told me his name.