The scream tore through the night. I instantly knew it was Mrs. Perkins from a few houses down. Just last month, she had a bad fall and hit her head. Out front while getting her morning paper, she slipped. I saw her in the morning and got to her side just after Mr. Grayson. I called the ambulance, and they thought I was her daughter or something. She had no family I knew of, so after some deliberation the EMTs decided to get my contact information. A day later, she was back, and they warned me to keep an eye on her. The MRI showed some unusual sights, or something. I didn’t understand the techy side of it, honestly.
Shortly after she came home, we began hearing things from her house — banging and thumping and shouting and screaming. After it went on for a while, a few of us neighbors decided to call 911 again. They took her away again. Maybe a week later, she came home in a white van; the branding on the side identified it as belonging to a retirement community. A nurse explained to me that she was ruled unfit to live on her own anymore. Her head injury had caused a severe fall into mental instability. They had her on some medication. She had just been diagnosed with severe Alzheimer's, mixed with maybe some bad dementia. The orderlies from the neighborhood retirement facility were scheduled to pick her up on Monday. The first (technically second, but they don’t do pickups on weekends) of the month. Until then, still for a reason I didn’t fully understand, I was tasked with watching over her and calling them if she had any other episodes. In truth, I didn’t mind much. The nurse that always came to administer her sedative in the evenings when I was home to call was pretty cute with a charming smile. Luke. I liked calling Luke. I honestly don’t know what went on during the days when I was working.
Mrs. Perkins had lived in this neighborhood longer than any of us. It was surreal that, in just under a month’s time, she would have gone from a friendly lady on the corner, waving at her neighbors who drove by on their way to work, to locked away in an old people’s home for her own safety. She’d always wave at you. She had a smile on her face, and only three fingers. She’d lost the ring finger before anyone else lived here, and though rumors abounded in the neighborhood, nobody knew for sure what happened to it. And in just a few days, she’d be gone forever.
I had almost reached the door to go outside when I remembered it was cold. I stopped to grab my sweater. If she was talking, it was mostly babbling about things nobody could see outside of her haunted mind. Poor, sweet woman. But more often than not, it was screaming. It was going to be another long night, and I dreaded it. Pulling on my sweater, I headed outside anyway. I should still check on her, anyway.
I stepped outside, and looked to the right. Across the street on the corner, I looked towards Mrs. Perkins’ house. It was dark. No porch light or kitchen light or bedroom lights were on, which was strange. Growing up before, well, technology in general wasn't really a thing. She either didn’t believe in global warming or didn’t understand it. Tammy Upress across the street would joke that Mrs. Perkins was older than sliced bread. I looked it up once. I didn’t know how old she was, but I looked it up and 1928 seemed just about right. Maybe that was true.
As I pondered this, I noticed something in my peripheral vision. Mr. Grayson’s house was going dark. Not like a power outage. Not like a big, dull “thump” in a movie. Just, the lights started fading into blackness. First the right side of the house, towards Mrs. Perkins’, then to the left, closer to me. That’s when I noticed it. It wasn’t immediately apparent in the twilight hour, without much light around anyway, but it wasn’t as if the lights were going out. It was as if the world was turning black. I couldn’t actually see Mrs. Perkins’ house. I could only see about half of Mr. Grayson’s house anymore. I couldn’t see a single light on the next block down, or the glare of lights from the city beyond in the lower night’s sky. I looked left. Same thing. Only about two houses down now could I see anything at all. Beyond was blackness. Looking up, there was no moon. No stars. No flashing red and green lights of airplanes flying by. Just... empty, desolate, all consuming blackness.
I was scared. I looked back in time to see, well, not much. I couldn’t even see Tammy’s house anymore. I could see maybe half of the street. The streetlight was still illuminating the asphalt, but I couldn’t see the streetlight. I was struck by how that made no sense. Looking down, I saw that I would step on a snail if I walked forward, so I stepped to the side. I remembered thinking this, the absurdity of it all, how utterly terrifying this was, yet how I’d still go out of my way through sheer muscle memory to avoid the sickeningly squishy crunch of stepping on a snail, as the blackness became absolute.
There is nothing. I try to look at my hand and I can see nothing. I remember that you can always see your nose, if you only think about it. I can’t see my nose. I try to check and make sure it’s there. I try to feel my nose. I can’t feel my nose. I know it’s there. I know I’m moving my arm. But I can’t feel anything. Maybe it’s my arm that’s missing?
Come to think of it, I can’t feel anything. No arm or nose. Neither hot nor cold, I can’t feel my shoes clinging to my feet or my sweater wrapped around my chest, instead of zipped up. I try to look down at my feet and I realize there is no down. I can look anywhere, but I’m looking nowhere.
I’m stuck here forever. I am spending eternity in this nothingness void. I don’t just mean that in the “time seems drawn out” way. I mean it literally. I get bored. I start counting seconds as best as I can estimate. After several hundred, I can’t say the numbers in my head fast enough. By the time I’ve thought “seven hundred, thirty-nine seconds” to myself, at least a few seconds must have passed. I give up on the seconds and start counting numbers alone. I get to the thousands. Tens of thousands. Hundred thousands. Millions. Tens of millions. I’m on fifteen million, eight hundred forty-two thousand, nine hundred and nine. And I stop. I notice something. There’s a tiny spot of light.
I can’t tell if it’s something far away or something immediately close. With absolutely nothing else, there’s no frame of reference. I can’t tell size or distance. Then, suddenly, everything changes. I don’t expect it, but I don’t think I can do anything even if I do. The tiny spot of light explodes, and flings me along with it. Rainbows of fire and water dance before me, swing about and around and fly in every which way. Everything is moving away from that tiny speck of light. Up is down and left is forward. No directions make any sense. I’m thrown away with it. Faster than I can process what I’m seeing, I see giant clumps of metal and stone and gas crashing into each other. I see fireballs that look like they could fit into my hand — if I had hands anymore — wink into and out of existence. I see a miasma of unexplainable objects dance around each other in a cosmic display of mischief and wonder. And then it occurs to me. It’s a cosmic display, literally. This is the universe being formed. I’m watching the first stages of creating. Stars being formed and planets condensing into solid objects. It all snaps to me with clarity. I’m hurtling through space at speeds uncomprehensible. I begin to notice that among the swirling vortex of gasses, a regular pattern starts to emerge. Around me in every direction, stars start forming together. My eyes never need to adjust. I can see everything in perfect, crystal clarity. No matter how close I pass to a star, no matter how intensely I stare at the burning matter that is the immense source of energy, I can still see everything perfectly.
There’s no accurate way to describe it. Everything happens so quickly and so slowly at the same time. I know I’m moving so fast simply because of the fact that for the longest time I’ve been traveling along with these stars and planets. When everything started moving, I could see everything. In every direction from the spark; up, down, left, right, towards me, and away, things were flying all around. After what seemed like a million years, I can’t see anything that is going away from me anymore. Things going up and down, left and right, are distant and growing more so, just little pricks of light in the distance. Things going towards me are still there. Though even those at a sharp angle, just going in a slightly different direction than I was, were growing further and further away. I can’t see much details on those distant neighbors anymore. Now, it’s more like a billion years. Things have calmed down. There's not quite so many explosions and collisions anymore. I look around and I can’t tell much difference between distant bodies and my local group anymore. I watch slowly as, over a course of forever, I can tell what is part of here and what is there. Things move more in relation to me, versus what is further away. I can see it, now. There’s a distinct shape. It starts out like a sphere. But things start getting dragged together. It is slowly becoming a circle. It’s in no way two-dimensional. This is a huge spiral. I’m somewhere off towards the edge of it, and there’s a magnificent spiral forming. It’s got two arms spiraling out and around the center. I look at it one way and it’s clockwise. I look from around the other side and it’s counter-clockwise. But what does that even mean? The universe is still forming; clocks don’t yet exist. Regardless, I take a few millennia to entertain myself doing so, turning all around and flipping over and over, adjusting my perspective. Looking at the galaxy from every angle. I don’t have much else to do to entertain myself.
Things are starting to change. It’s slow at first, but it builds momentum. The two arms — they start to split. Slowly. I notice a few errant stars splitting apart, then more and more as their respective gravities pull in opposite directions. As the two-armed spiral transforms into four, I realize this is the Milky Way. This is... home.
I look up and realize that up is really where down should be. Should it? I recognize the form of something behind me. A single star. A medium-sized star. Surrounding it are one, two, three, four, five rocky planets forming. Beyond are two enormous gas giants, and a smaller one much further out, still swirling and misty. It almost looks like the solar system I’ve learned about in science class, but it’s just... wrong. Off.
I watch them all for a while. Their orbiting is very wobbly. It seems sudden, but over a few centuries, something happens. That fifth planet — the one messing up my mind — it ruptures. Some kind of explosion within. The core can’t sustain itself, if that’s how it even works. The planet splits apart. Quite a few rocky, enormous explosions fill into the silent void of space. The fireballs emanating from the remains spill around the planet in a sphere, echoing into the nearby void in the ringing of a bell without a clapper.
Pieces of the nameless planet expand into every direction. A large number of them go directly into the sun, burning up. An even larger number still head straight towards the nearby gas sphere. The rest expand into every direction. However, most of them get pulled back into an orbit around the same space the newly-forming planet occupied.
Those that head towards the gas giant seem the most interesting, and I watch those closely. As they enter the atmosphere, they start puffing into it. Little clouds of space dust billow out. The onslaught continues unabated, as the rocks plow into the gas, and eventually deal enough to split the gas. The force is too much. About a third of the giant blue cloud splits off, pushed out by the forces of the rocks, and drifts further into the solar system, towards the other, smaller gas giant.
As all of that happens, the chunks don’t stop. Instead, doubling back upon the gravity of what I now realize is Saturn, the space chunks, the remains of the failed planet, are beating each other into dust. Literally. The remains are forming into... rings. They are the rings around Saturn, and I get to see them form. I look closer. The liquids that had formed on the planet have no heat, and they solidified. There are giant chunks of ice among the rock, smashing and crashing and dusting themselves and each other. The rings of Saturn are forming. Meanwhile, I look back, and the remains of the planet that didn’t burn up or dust up have leveled out. They start forming what remains into what I recognize as the asteroid belt.
I spend thousands and thousands of years watching all this form. I almost don’t notice the stray chunks of planet flying into the solar system. But I do, of course. I have all of time to watch. A few stick into orbits on the outer reaches of the solar system, much smaller than any others nearby, beyond what is becoming Neptune. I couldn’t tell which was Pluto, but there were at least three of them. Some more come and go, and I lose count as I’m honestly not paying too much attention. There is nothing exciting I can see out there.
I look down and see it, finally. Earth. The third burning rock from the Sun. I sink down to it as it cools. I watch the gasses of the planet condense and thicken. Oceans form, bubbling and boiling at first, but settling eventually. Looking up one day, I notice there’s something new in the sky. The moon. It wasn’t there before, and I don’t know how it got here. It seems larger. Closer that I’ve ever known it. And it looks much smoother. Earthquakes and storms and land rise up under me, and I settle just over the surface. I can’t tell where I am, yet, but I can see no more oceans from where I am. The sun rises and sets, day in and day out, faster than I was used to before... before what? It’s becoming hard to remember. Billions and trillions of years ago? Or was it still the future? I can’t remember who I am. But I just... know that I know it, somewhere. No life I notice at first, but slowly the land under me starts turning a dark brown, greenish color. I realize there’s some lichens growing over everything. Some more advanced plants start growing. I notice grasses and leaves. Mushrooms, next. They’re the biggest things I’ve ever seen yet. They grow large, huge, towering over me. They come and go. There’s constant storms, all around, and earthquakes seem to happen every day. Next, I see ferns growing large, and trees. Funny, they seem smaller than those I remember. Eventually, I see small animals, look like geckos, scurrying by, hiding under bushes. I see one loping, long-necked giant in the distance. I realize it’s... it’s... a... dinosaur? That sounds right.
I remember thinking there should be something awesome. Some kind of entertainment. They should fight and battle, right? I wait for that, and wait, but I don’t get anything exciting. Just a few wander by. The sky turns black after a deep rumbling. After a few more handfuls of thousands of years, more and more creatures start to come out. They are also dinosaurs? These ones seem a bit different. Not dinosaurs. Mammals? They look like... rats? Lemurs? Some small, furry creatures. They come and go. More storms, more shaking. The furry ones are getting bigger. Nothing seems to notice me. At one point, something sprouts at my feet. Not my feet — I don’t have any feet — but where they should be. I understand at this point; I can no longer move. Could I ever? There is a tree growing right through me. I can’t see anything. I can hear some muffled sounds, but nothing discerning. I can’t tell days, and I lose track of everything.
Finally, one day, there is a storm.I hear some crackling and I see something. I don’t know what, but it’s orange. A small orange tip, and it grows and swells and engulfs me. No, not me. The tree. The tree is on fire. The tree falls and I see the entire forest is on fire. I can see things again. It’s either dawn or dusk. I’ve forgotten which way I determined was east. I can’t tell if the sun is setting or rising right now. Anyway, the smoke is growing too thick for me to tell. Everything starts to go dark.
Eventually, light comes. It’s morning, and I find east again. Everything is black and gray. There is nothing left. The sun sets, rises, sets, rises. This continues, with nothing happening. Eventually, I see some green. The forest is starting to regrow. Animals return. Animals I recognize. Frogs and wolves and, at night, raccoons. I watch their antics. I see quite a few hunts. Wolves catch rabbits and frogs catch flies and vultures pick over remains of turtles. I grow used to it. It is natural.
One day, the animals all run away. I wait. Eventually, I see what looks like, almost like, people. They’re stooped over. They travel in a pack. They don’t talk, just... point and motion. They seem to make some noises, but not as communication. More as reactions to the environment. When night falls they climb into the trees. Morning comes and they move on. The other animals come back. This continues for many thousands of years. Sometimes, the people come, but usually it’s just the plants and the animals.
Eventually, I start seeing people be more advanced. I see some communication. Not words that I can recognize, but definitely some that they do. One sounds off and they stop. Another sounds off and they climb the trees. In the morning, one climbs down, and when she sounds off the rest follow. Nothing fancy, but it’s communication. I see some of them carrying rocks and sticks. A few hundred years later, there’s a group carrying spears, sharp rocks tied to sticks with some kind of frayed string thing. The next day they go back, dragging a boar. The animals come back to me once again.
This cycle repeats, over and over. Sometimes, the humans stay. They’ll park up, settle under my trees, and stay for a while, but eventually, they move on. Sometimes what feels like months, though I can’t tell really how long. I’ve long since lost the care to count the days.
Then, I see them. There’s people. They’re wearing clothes and talking. I can’t understand a word of it, but if I had eyes, it’d bring a tear to them. There were two people walking by, making sounds and gestures. One of them patted a tree and the other said something. They moved a bit further. The first patted a different tree, and the second said something different this time. An axe is brought out, and they cut it down and drag it off.
I see this happen quite a bit. More and more people come in, taking trees. The forest is clearing off to the right, and I can see a town, a real town, springing up. I begin to care for my people. There’s huts and fires and I can hear them singing and dancing in the nights, sometimes.
One day, disaster strikes. One of the women, who often would come through my forest alone, gets sick. The other people take her to me. They’re carrying her, she cannot walk. She has a glazed look in her eyes. She is looking at... at... me? She points? No. Not me. Not me... She’s looking at something else. One of the others retrieve it for her. Some kind of brightly colored leaf. They take her back.
I hear sad sounds this night. I know she is dead. They bury her not far from me. I can see part of the ceremony. They all are crying, but I can see it. Others are sick. She was the first, not the last. They gather more of those leaves, but they keep dying. This is not natural.
Finally, one day, I hear shouting. Screaming. Crying. I see a man with a long coat and a gun. It’s got an extremely long barrel and it’s fluted at the end. It looks like it was built by hand. He’s joined by more. They all line up quietly in the woods outside the camp. There’s nearly fifty of them. Forty-seven. I have time to count. When they’re all ready, they aim their guns. I can do nothing.
I realize what this is. This is the invasion of the Americas. Those kind people were the Indians. Native Americans. I didn’t recognize them. They look nothing like what they’re portrayed as! But I recognize them now. They were plagued by sickness, now by bullets. I have no choice but to sit, though. I only realize just now that I can’t close my eyes. Never before have I wanted to, but now that I need to, I cannot. I can’t turn away. I must watch. The invaders throw burning torches into the buildings. It’s a slaughter. They’re shouting words that sound vaguely familiar. I recognize a few. Not friendly words.
In the morning, the invaders pick through the village. They take some things, but leave the bodies to rot as they move on. By the afternoon, the vultures have come. By the evening, the wolves arrive, and drag most of the bodies off. Still, some are here, rotting.
I stay, a long time, in this place — the remains of a burned village, and the remains of a few villagers, keeping me company. The animals don’t hold their charm to me anymore. Days turn into years turn into decades. Centuries seem to pass.
Eventually, change comes again. I see it in the distance first. A city starts to form. I hear the sounds of workers. It sounds like construction. More construction from where I am from. I hear people, sometimes. I see trees fall. I can see taller buildings in the distance.
One day, two teenagers, dressed in clothes with buttons (who ever knew I’d be excited to see buttons!?) pass through. The boy is leading the girl by the hand. He steals a kiss.
The city grows larger in the distance.
Eventually, my entire forest gets cut down.
Construction starts. A street gets built in front of me. It’s just dirt at first. Concrete gets poured, and asphalt, and homes start getting built. In just a few short years, my forest has become a suburb. Behind me, my house is getting built. I recognize the front steps. The porch. Except, this house is new. It’s not old, run down, and outdated as I remember. Do I remember it?
One day a man I don’t know comes by with a clipboard and a hard hat. He wanders around, checking off things. The next day, he comes back, with a couple in tow. He hands them the keys, shakes the man’s hand, and tells them congratulations. The woman has one hand on her belly, and one on her back. She’s beaming at her husband. They move in.
Other families move in around me. The family on the corner moves in with a little girl. She’s a bit older than my family’s son, but they play together almost every day. The husband comes out one morning, followed by his wife and son. He’s somber. He hugs his wife and toddler, then climbs into a black car. The car has American flags flapping from the mirrors as it drives away.
Months go by with the woman and the toddler alone. It seems around a year later. The child has grown more. He talks to little Sally now, instead of just playing in the yard. They’re sitting, learning from each other, barefoot in the grass. Mom is watching from the porch when a black car pulls up. She sees it. She gets excited. Standing up, she holds onto the banister. She’s leaning forward in anticipation. A man gets out from the far side, and opens the back passenger door to let another man out. It’s not the husband. They approach the wife slowly. One of them is carrying a folded flag. A neat, little triangle of red and white stripes. The other is holding a chain with two, metal ovals. Dog tags.
Before either man can get there, the wife is crying. She knows what it means. She hangs her head and tears fall down, splashing the wood deck with darker spots. The man holding the tags puts a white gloved hand on her shoulder, but nobody says anything. They all remain silent for a moment.
A screeching, followed by a thud, is heard. They all look up sharply. A man is getting out of his car and running to a child, but not as fast as the wife. She’s also a mother. She’s screaming. She throws herself onto the body of her toddler. He wandered into the street when nobody was watching. She gets blood all over her dress. The two service men get there in seconds, but it’s not enough. They call for assistance, and a tinny-sounding ambulance is heard in the distance. It gets there, and the mother and child load into the back. She is still screaming.
Two days later, the wife returns. Alone. The spark is gone from her eye. She goes into the house silently and doesn’t come out.
Soon, a doctor comes. He knocks on the door wearing his white coat, but receives no answer. Later, little Sally comes over. Dragging along her father, who is shaking his head no, telling her she can’t play with her friend today, she insistently knocks on the door. She just wants to say hello. They, also, receive no answer. The doctor comes again the next day. And the next day.
On the fourth day, he brings along police. The mother still has not left the house, and the police officers forcibly enter. A few moments later they exit. One of them says that they should have checked. The revolver was registered to the soldier. They shouldn’t have left it in the house. They wait at the house, outside in their car, until another ambulance comes. The paramedics bring a stretcher inside. Minutes later, they wheel it out. There’s clearly a body under a white sheet. A soft spot of red sticks to the head.
More people come. Cleaners and contractors fix things up, and movers empty it out. A realtor comes repeatedly, but nobody new wants to move in. Months later, the house is eventually boarded up. Years go by. Little Sally is not so little anymore. She’s going to school. Elementary. Then middle school. High school. She brings home projects to her parents. A birdhouse and a spice rack and a puzzle box. One day, she comes home with a bandage. A huge cast is covering her entire hand. Months go by before she gets it taken off. She’s missing a finger. I’m too far away to hear what she says, but she seems proud of it. It's strange to see someone proud of missing a finger.
Sally graduates high school, and her parents reward her with a car, and still, my house sits boarded up. I watch as the time goes by. Sally grows up. Moves out. Her parents are living alone now. They come and go as anyone does. One day, they go, but don’t come back. A week or so later, Sally comes back. She’s a young woman now. She is the only one who comes back. Her parents never do.
She lives on the corner alone, now. She is never happy, and spends most of her time indoors. Still, my house sits abandoned.
One day a roaming dog is strolling the neighborhood. It stops to sniff here and there. Sally is outside, and the dog comes up to her. Just, comes right up to her. She kicks at it. The dog seems unfazed. Sally grumbles and goes back inside, and the dog curls up on her porch. I can see her, peeking through her curtains. Looking at the dog.
Eventually, she opens the door and tries to shoe the dog away. It doesn’t go. She closes the door again.
Later, she opens the door and throws the mutt a scrap of food. The dog scarfs it up and wags his tail expectantly, but she shuts the door again. Night falls and the dog stays outside. In the morning, Sally opens the door to get the paper, and is surprised the dog is still there. Later, she throws it a scrap of bacon. This continues for a few days. She is very inconsistent. She keeps telling the dog to leave, yet keeps giving it food. That’s why it stays. If she really wanted the dog to leave, she’d stop feeding it.
One day, she lets it inside.
Weeks go by. Months, even. It seems subtle, but the change does happen. Grumpy Sally on the corner; slowly, gradually, she cheers up. It’s noticeable. She takes the dog on walks around the neighborhood. Sometime before, she went out and bought a leash. When they walk by my house, she’ll always cluck her tongue and look at the dog expectantly. The dog will wag its tail and look at her expectantly. It doesn’t know what she wants, but she knows what it wants. Sometimes, she’ll give in and give it a treat. Sometimes almost always happens.
When Sally is walking her dog, she’ll wave at the neighbors. People begin to like her. It seems to bring the neighborhood back to life. Eventually, Sally grows older as the dog grows old. The dog passes, but although Sally is sad for a while, she comes back to her happy self. Now, she’s just doing her three-fingered wave at people, without the dog at her side. She becomes a staple, the happy woman on the corner, waving at her neighbors. Years and years go by. Sally never marries, and she never gets another dog. But she does keep her own happiness and she helps with that of her neighbors. She is starting to grow old now.
My house, finally, gets some activity.
A crew comes by one otherwise uneventful day. They begin working. Removing the boards first, they enter the house. Big, industrial vacuums are brought in and the dusty place was cleaned. An electrician’s van pulls up, and a plumber, and they both work for a while, a few days. Then a painting company comes in the next day. Finally, an untrustworthy man in slicked-back hair comes by. I recognize him, from long ago. He brings many people by. Nobody will stay. Now, I finally figure it out.
He brings me by. He expounds on the virtues of the property. Telling me how wonderful the place is. I want to yell at myself, to tell me that the house had a tragic past. There are rats in the walls and termites in the floor and that if I try to plug a hair straightener into the bathroom outlet I’ll short it out! I try to tell myself this man was lying, but, of course, I can’t.
It is surreal. Over the next few days, I watch myself move in to this place. I watch myself get to know the neighbors and settle in. I saw myself come and go, for days, months. A few years go by. I watch Sally slip on a wet leaf outside. She hits her head. The neighbor finds her just a moment before I come outside. I rush to her side and pull out my mobile phone. The ambulance gets here, and they take her away. When she comes back, she’s not the same. She’s screaming and crying and it’s awful. Somehow, I — the me that’s living in the house — gets the responsibility of taking care of her. I’m over there every day after work. I’m calling a cute nurse named Luke every other night. Sometimes I call him, not because I need him, but just because I want him. I can tell that he doesn’t like me the same way I like him. I want to tell myself that, but it’s impossible.
One afternoon again, Sally begins screaming. I see myself step outside in my sweater a short moment later. I look around a bit, and then step to the side.
I’m inside my own head.
I mean that both in the literal sense and in the metaphorical sense.
My consciousness is physically inside of my head. I’m stuck here like I was stuck in that tree for years and years. I can see my nose. But that’s not what hits me. I can feel. I lift my hand and see my fingers wiggle. I feel my fingers wiggle. I hear another scream and look over again. I turn my head and look! It’s coming from Sally’s house.
I didn’t think I had a choice. I checked both ways, and rushed across the street. I only had one more weekend to take care of Mrs. Perkins, and I was going to do it. I had my phone out of my pocket, dialing Luke’s number, as I ran. I thought to myself, “You’re going to make it to that retirement home, Mrs. Perkins.”
This short story was inspired by a writing prompt:
"A scream echos outside and one by one the houses on the street go dark.... My house is next."
This story is purely fictional. Any likeness to any actual people, places, or events, is purely coincidental.