Walking forward doesn't mean you're getting anywhere.
Word Count: 914 words
I hadn’t realized how loudly the snow would crunch under my feet. Snow crystals crush and pop like tiny frigid fireworks, like at any moment I’ll rocket off the ground. I don’t really care about the explanation of how it happens, but I keep thinking about it, if only because it keeps me distracted. After walking for fifteen minutes my mind keeps wandering and thinking about anything that could be distracting – the crunching of the snow, the license plates on the cars, the wind shaking the bare branches of the trees. The itching of the snow on my scalp. I shouldn’t have lost my helmet. I just...dropped it back when I started walking.
I don’t want to go all the way back to pick it up. It’s just so far away. When I look behind me, all I see is the street extending as far as the eye can see. My footprints are like a thin streak on the street.
I don’t remember how I dropped my helmet. I think back to what I do remember.
The reports indicated something was happening, and the blaring alarm didn't help me think any different. Nothing good happens when an alarm sounds! I never found out what was the big emergency, the higher-ups kept it a secret. All I know is that the area was evacuated. Hundreds, maybe even thousands of people were taken out of their homes in a hurry, without even giving them time to pack. It’s hard to believe that behind those doors and windows everyone’s homes were left as if the residents had vanished into thin air. Everyone was led to these large buses and driven away to parts unknown.
It’s a lot of secrets to keep away from the rank-and-file like me.
So far I have been on the middle of the street, without deviating from the stripe of asphalt, but I move to a side, for a change of pace. With a hand I wipe the snow off one of the cars' windshields and peer inside. It's spotless inside, perfectly clean, it almost feels like time stopped inside. I'm sure if I looked inside more cars, it'd all be similar to this.
They should have let the owners of these cars take them. There are so many cars like an endless corridor here, unending rows of snow-covered cars, they're topped with so much snow I can’t even see the color of their paint coats. It’s like there are white cars and nothing else. So many white cars. Trying hard to not shiver because of the cold, I keep walking. Right, it's cold...I wish it was warmer. Like it was when I was coming here.
My partners and I were brought in a big van, all of us together inside like we’re sardines. The twelve of us were left at the end of the street, our task was simple: we were to go in and get to the other end of the street. Once we did that, we would start checking the buildings one by one, see what we can recover from the homes, and report any anomalies. It's odd, now that I think about it. There wasn't a single word about looking for survivors, in case someone stayed behind.
We all started walking, and after a while, they left me here to do this all by myself. How’s that for an anomaly, my sergeant? I bet they're the ones who set the bright light to hit me in the face when we started walking. Jokesters, all of them.
God, this street is so long. No wonder there are so many cars, walking down the street is exhausting. I’d rather drive.
I think it wouldn’t be so bad if everything wasn’t so silent. I hear the crunching under my boots, the breeze, my own breathing. If I close my eyes and focus I’m sure I’d even hear my own heartbeat. In front of my eyes, there’s this almost endless expanse of snow covering everything. White street, white cars, even the sky is white, like snow is covering the sky itself, a big dome of cold, compact snow. I’m in a snow globe, the tiny little occupant of a snow globe, I’m half-expecting someone to shake everything and stir the snow until it drifts around everywhere. I’ll tumble down while everything shakes and the road tilts and I’ll roll down until I form a snowball like in the cartoons and in the end I’ll be snow too. Hah. Haha!
It’s a bit of a comforting thought. It’d mean something would finally change. I have been walking in a straight line for...a long time. I don’t remember for how long.
There are footprints on the snow, I have been following them for a while. They have the same design as the soles of my boots, so these must be one of my partners’ footprints. Haha, it’s funny...I remember when I started working with them I carved my name on the sole. I see my name on the footprints I’m following.
They must have carved my name on their boots too. Those jokesters, it’s got to be the punchline to some joke. I’ll have to ask them...when I reach them...
...they’re really far ahead, right? The more I walk, the more things seem...same-y. Like a constant feeling of deja vu. I don't like this, I don't like this at all--
Oh, there’s my helmet on the floor. I knew I had dropped it.