contest entry: A man alone in the city searches for answers.
Winter white, the world was at peace. There were no angry cabbies.. Road rage was absent. A dusting of snow covered the otherwise bare branches of the trees. There was no sign that anything was wrong. Silence hung in the air. It whispered about all the things that should be heard. Even if the one particular street was free from the hustle and bustle of the holidays, there should be the echoes of distant car horns and perhaps a siren. There was nothing but his breath breaking the silence, not a bird, an insect or a device of man’s creation.
It had been a while since everything stopped. In a city of millions only he remained. He didn’t know where they had all gone, he just knew that they had. One morning, months ago, he woke up to solitude. Nothing had broken it. All the cars were parked in orderly rows along the streets all of them were empty of people.
He had walked the streets, eating from stores when he got hungry. He slept in the beds of strangers, no doors were locked against entry. He had shouted. He had screamed. His voice echoed through the man-made canyons. He had begun to lose time. He had trouble remembering one day from the next. It was a subtle form of torture.
He couldn’t remember what brought him to this state. He only remembered waking up in a strange bed, more alone than he could imagine being. Technology still functioned. He watched endless reruns on other people’s televisions. He had always seen every scene and commercial hundreds of times before, but he watched because it made him feel less alone. He came upon the main city library, it only held copies of books he had read before. Every page was familiar. What was going on?
Finally he came upon the hospital, the last place he wanted to be. He walked compulsively through the wards and found no one, but every heart monitor kept the same constant beep. There was a faint sound of dripping. Some rooms echoed with the sounds of a ventilator at work.
He came to the intensive care ward last. The very smell of the place repulsed him and compelled him forward. He began to feel as though this was the place he was meant to be. Everything was leading him here, to room 318, directly ahead. He pushed open the door and was knocked from his feet by a brilliant light.
“Doctor! He is waking up! Oh dear god, I think he’s waking up!”