by Lovina 🐕🦺
For Short Shots Contest December 2019
|The world was pristine, beautiful, and...empty.
Hank leaned on his shovel staring at the deserted and quiet street in front of his house.
He had been out here a short while ago, spreading salt on the ice covered walk, enjoying the sounds of the neighborhood waking up, and it definitely was not quiet.
The kids were loud and boisterous as usual while they waited for the school bus. That Wilkinson kid, always the clown, attempted to build a snowman on the fire hydrant adding to the laughter of the other children until the Falvey kid, the neighborhood bully, smashed it to pieces. A raucous snowball fight ensued.
Dogs barked, cats fought, birds sang, with car motors permeating it all.
He had said "Good morning" to the young and very pregnant lady that lived two doors over as she carefully picked her way down the slippery sidewalk.
Mr. Thomas had hollered a "Good morning" to Hank from across the street as he made his way to his car, off to another long day of work.
Everything had been normal the last time he was out here. Just a short bit ago. The same as every other day.
But, not now.
Now everything was strangely quiet. No children, of course the bus may have picked them up. No neighbors going about their business either. No people at all. No barking, caterwauling, or singing. Nothing moved, stirred, whistled, or disturbed the silence. Not a leaf swayed in a nonexistent breeze.
Complete and utter silence.
Time seemed to be at a standstill.
Using the shovel as a walking stick, Hank made his way down the sidewalk to the street. Looking both ways, straining for the slightest of anything, not even a distant noise reached his ears.
He made his way to his neighbor's house, pushed the doorbell and waited. Looking at the door he realized that he hadn't actually heard the doorbell ring. Was it broken? Tentatively he pushed the button again. No sound came from inside the house. He reached an arm up to knock when an urgency clanged inside his head, he had to get home, quickly he turned and made his way back to his house.
Something caught his eye just as he made it to his walk. A car sat in front of his house, it wasn't there before. Looking closer, he realized it was his son's car.
"Thank goodness," Hank sighed loudly, his voice echoing through the nothingness. He was quite tired of all of this strangeness.
Hank fairly burst through his own front door, only to find the creeping quiet had made its way there as well. He had only been gone a short time, but there was no mistaking the oppressing stillness that permeated his house. No clock ticked, no furnace hummed, no sweet music played softly in the background though he was sure he had left it on. Not a cricket nor a whisper broke the silence.
"Hello? David? Are you here?" Hank's voice seeped into the nothingness around him, sounding as only a whisper in a storm.
Trepidation filled his every step as he made his way into the living room.
Suddenly a bright light blinded him. It may have dimmed or maybe his eyes adjusted, but eventually his sight returned.
Soft music caught his ear, sobbing, the tick and the tock of a clock, and the soft hum of his furnace. His son, the source of the sobbing, knelt in front of the couch. Sitting on the couch was Hank. Shock stunned him as he stared at his mirror image. The Hank on the couch did not breathe, his eyes were open and empty.
Hank stumbled to the couch, put a hand on his son's shoulder, wanting to tell him that the image on the couch was not him. "I am alive" he wanted to say. But, before an utterance left his lips, a smaller hand settled atop of his. He looked over to see his wife, beautiful as the day they wed, smiling at him.
"It is time," she whispered.
Hank smiled at her. He had found that extra part of him that had been missing these past five years, he was complete once more.
He squeezed his son's shoulder, a subtle settling his son would never feel, kissed the top of his head and then took his beloved's hand. Together they walked into the light.
Word count = 739