After weeks of deliberating on my next move, I decided to share this story with you all. It is a fictional work, one that actually started the shift that took place in the way that I look at the world today. See, I really want to continue the autobiographical tale that I am telling, but I must tread carefully. It is very important that I do not come off in a way that is not genuine. That is what it is all about, and any amount of whoring of my current venture would undo all that I hope to accomplish by being so forward with you, the reader. By sharing this work that is nearly complete, I will have time to more carefully address what I want to in the other without leaving you all without anything from me. I hope you enjoy.
The most interesting things in life are those which we do not expect to have, but when we do—we are not sure how we ever lived without them. The same can be said for those of which we fear. The most terrible of all circumstances, the kind of events that keep us up at night, that make children cry, the ones that cripple the bravest of men. These are the events that can change us forever; the sight of which cannot be unseen.
It is these events are being documented here on these pages; the day the world changed…I am not sure what happened to the world, or what mysterious force robbed me of human companionship, but the damage has been done; I am alone. Perhaps it was karma for the time spent in the hospital camps, or perhaps just dumb fucking luck, but one thing is for sure: When most everyone in the world disappeared that day, I did not. So I guess the best was to start this account is to begin where most stories like this do, before everything changed.
Winter of late was mild by comparison in the desert. The usual balmy winds that felt like a sandblaster let loose on your skin were all but calm breezes, and the sun shined brightly in the brisk morning sky. Drinking my coffee, I could see the steam rising on the porch like smoke signals to, some yet unknown ally. My children played carefree with the neighborhood children as they always did, with dog in tow. Happiness came easily and freely that day as it did on any other; smiling neighbors, the smell of mesquite burning in some far off hearth, black coffee, and the lotion I gave to my wife that Christmas, which was plainly marked “Forever.”
Our home was a modest one in a quiet suburb of the city of sin, the grass of the highlands was replaced by shards of salmon colored rock, and the shrubs of the inland with sage and other more appropriate desert foliage, but nice nonetheless. Our walls mirrored the color of our landscape, sandy and simple. Inside the stark white walls had only the imaged of good times passed and those we loved, framed to commemorate the passage of time. The house always smelled of her. Whether the lotion, the candles, or the food being prepared with love.
Morning turned to afternoon, afternoon to evening with little but a laugh of passing children playing in the street. My wife and I had been married long enough to appreciate the joy of a comfortable silence now and again, with a smile and a kiss on the forehead being the majority of gestures of communication exchanged all day. We liked it that way. We did not have to speak to feel love, we just knew, and besides—I have never been much of a talker anyway.
As the sun set in the clear sky, the echoes of the dying day hushed the sky and we watched the sky grow dark together for the last time. A shame I did not know, I would have told her what she meant to me, what our life together meant. Now all I have are the regrets of the things unsaid. A part of me feels like she knows, like she is looking on from the never ending cosmos smiling down. Maybe the reason I was not taken the day my family was ripped from my grasp was to record these events, so I will continue.
As night fell that night, we tucked our children soundly in their beds, turned out their lights, and I poured a glass of wine for my love, and a scotch for myself to commemorate the passing of the day. I loved this time, the silence, the smell of her skin, and the ever approaching solace of sleep in our bed. Happiness was easy and free as always, and as we laid down that night, sure of our love and the dawn of the new day.
I have never really been much of a sleeper—not really sure why. I have always enjoyed the silence of a night at home. Walking through the halls, listening to the sounds of my life fast asleep, wondering on the subjects of the dreams of my children, as I watch their faces calm in the dead of night. It never matters what is said in the light of day; when a child is sleeping it so quickly brings you back to the moment of their birth. A face, so calm and so sweet like the day they were born.
Late at night, watching my children I often found myself wondering what they will be like when they are grown. Will they be quick and witty like their mother? Will my daughters have that laugh? The kind of laugh that fills the whole house; an unbridled display of pure joy—infectious as you find yourself laughing just as hard at nothing but the laugh itself.
Will my son grow to be a strong man? Will he stand up for what he believes in no matter what the risk? Will he love like his mother? God I hope so…I miss them so much; every last detail of their existence. The fit throwing, the hugs, the stubborn protests, the love, the touch of their skin, and sounds of my family filling this empty house with joy silenced forevermore.
I awoke early, it was still and dark and alone. This is how I liked it, at least at the time. There was a solidity hanging in the air that I could not describe, but looking back on it now, it was the impending act to follow, and the warning that seemed to come too late for all of us. Out on the porch with my coffee I saw something that I had never seen in the desert in my life, the softening light of the aurora borealis coming over the mountains. I had never seen it myself, but the images I had seen in books were unmistakable. The only difference that I could see was that these were increasing in brightness and lucidity as the seconds passed.
It was beautiful and terrifying at the same time. I had read about the solar maximum so many times before, and I know exactly what this is. The plumes of plasma from our own sun were penetrating our magnetic fields. This was unlike any aurora anyone had ever seen though. As the plumes of light crossed the mountains in the sky, It was not just on the horizon they could be seen. I could practically reach out and touch the light. The beams float in front of me like some kind of streamers of light.
As the sun crept over the mountain, the beams of light from the solar maximum also increased, and the pure energy of them surrounded my entire world. My heart raced, and immediately I thought of the radiation associated with the intruding light, and I worried about my family and their safety. I could have never imagined how right I was.
I ran inside to wake my wife and my children to see this cosmic anomaly, but by the time I entered the room, I saw an image that is forever burned into my mind…The place where I had last seen her emptied; the bed still dented where her body once lay, and her beautiful voice—silenced forever.
The next thing I can remember is ripping through the house as I ran to the rooms of my sleeping children wishing aloud that they were there, but they were not. Everything was as I had remembered with little beds once holding little bodies, left empty.
I wept and screamed into thin air, wondering why I was forced to be without them, and then it hit me like a shot to the head: I haven’t seen anyone. Not a concerned neighbor, not a police officer, not the postman, no one. “What the fuck is going on?” I said to the pictures on the wall. I went into the house to check the news to see if this was happening anywhere else, and realized that my power was out.
In this sort of daze I found myself in, I walked into the bathroom, and turned the faucet on. “At least I still have water,” I said to myself, and I closed the bathroom door as usual, and moved on to the kitchen to assess what seems to be a power grid disturbance from the preceding mass ejections of the sun.
“Goddamn electric houses,” I thought as I tried to light the electric pilot on my stove with a long match. No luck, but at least there was still the grill outside. So, with situation figured out I made my way to Dan and Gloria’s house next door to see if they were alright.
Dan was a retired helicopter crew chief in the Marine Corp. He was the kind of hard assed old man that had nothing nice to say about anyone, but was always there if you needed him to be, which is definitely the kind of person you wanted to have in your corner. His face was cracked and wrinkled like the topography of some Himalayan mountain range, and their house always smelled of cigarette smoke and coffee, with the occasional hint of some Jameson or Jack; whichever was on the menu that day.
Glory was a hard old bird herself, never really smiling except to bid you a good morning or evening, but never reluctant to drop by with cookies or toys for the kids. You see, Dan and Gloria never had children of their own, and since the death of my parents some years ago, they had very much stepped in to fill that void in our lives, and they loved the kids, just as if they were their own.
Their house was the same that they had lived in since the 1970’s, and not much had changed about it since then either. The paint, the green carpet, and orange velvet furniture all the same as the day they moved in; the walls stained yellow with the tar of indoor smoking for 60 years or so.
I knocked on the door, expecting to hear Dan with his usual, “Are you gonna make me get up to answer the goddamn door, really?” But instead I heard nothing. I could smell coffee burning on the stove in one of those old blue speckled camp coffee pots, but no sound. Not Glory singing along to her old Patsy Cline records, not bickering between the two, nothing.
The door was unlocked as usual, so I proceeded to let myself in to find no one. Heading to the kitchen, I shut off the coffee which by now was smoking. They were early birds, so it must have been hours since they had been around, but where were they?
I went to the house across the street, which was occupied by migrant workers from South America trying to make a home for their families, and discovered the same thing: no one. I traveled the whole street, and the surrounding neighborhood to find no one anywhere. Where was anyone? A ridiculous thought raced through my already reeling mind as I meandered back to my own empty house: what if I am the only person anywhere? I shudder to think, but what if?
To continue with the story, check out chapter two: https://cmkline.wordpress.com/2013/11/19/precipice-chapter-two/