Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2277048-A-Dip-in-Darkness
Rated: E · Short Story · Paranormal · #2277048
A short story about a man in a cafe. Probably horror-ish (Not quite sure).
         A man is sitting next to a window in a cafe, scrolling his device. Scribbles flash across the glaze of his eyeglasses as his eyes dart from side to side, processing the texts. He sits slightly slumped on the raised chair, where his feet are perched on the footrest. He occasionally adjusts his posture, shifting his back towards his belly, probably knowing that it will hunch again. Wisps of mist flow up and into the air of the cafe as his coffee sits on the table. The man does not mind that the coffee is getting cold. He does take a sip now and then. He pays no attention to the noise of chattering teens and the noise of the rather loud conversation between the cashier and the obnoxious customer. He continues to move his thumb up and down his screen.
         The world outside is then erased. People in the cafe see only the cafe and what is inside; the city is gone. Whatever would have been seen outside has been replaced with a void. The sound of cars honking ceases; there is no longer the wind that blows in whenever a customer enters. Everyone in the cafe except the man perks up. The man is very engrossed in whatever he is reading and only notices the change many seconds after everyone else is bewildered. Open eyes, darting pupils, and heads looking in every way. They stare at what they believe to be strange details of the cafe, at suspicious people, but mostly at the windows that show a pitch black outside.
         Whispers erupt across the entire cafe; 11 people chat, each with different theories, and getting more confused as they discuss. The man, sitting alone, has no one to converse with and continues to read down the stream of media. He wonders what’s going on, but decides it’s probably someone else’s business, albeit strange. He has known that staying still in these situations is best.
         Another courageous man decides to stop whispering to his friend and speaks up. He questions if everyone sees the same thing. They all murmur and a woman says they all agree. The man who is sitting alone now has put down his phone, now having learned that the situation is not under control. He, of course, starts slightly panicking, getting into the mood of the room. A sense of death creeps into his mind. He thinks of his girlfriend. He thinks of his job. He thinks of how he should have finished his coffee and left this cafe. But then he sees the colorless, outside world and backtracks his thoughts. He believes this is a joke, it must be. He thinks probably is in a TV show and everything is fine; pranks these days. He does not notice that the app he was scrolling through has failed to load the next section.
The first idea the group has as a whole is to look outside. The main strange event is the darkness that envelops the cafe. The man who initially spoke up is the designated leader and is pushed to the entrance. He reaches out to the handle and pauses. All eyes are on him. The handles turns and the door gives way, opening inwards. The jingle of the entrance bells is the only sound that echoes through the room. With his other hand, he reaches into the void. His hand slowly vanishes as it passes into it. He yanks back his hand and tries again. This time, his entire arm disappears. More whispers run around the cafe. The man at the entrance says that it feels like nothing. He then reaches down, and his invisible hand does not touch where the floor would be. He pauses. This has nullified any theory that this has been orchestrated by people or any natural phenomenon. Whatever has happened is unnatural, impossible. The man, with only one visible arm, then decides to stick his head outside. He is strangely pulled outside and entirely disappears. His friend who was whispering to him earlier yells out his name frantically. There is no response.
         The friend runs to the door, yanking it entirely open. The bells chime again but are drowned in the heavy chaotic murmurs going around. The friend yells the disappeared man’s name straight into the darkness. He yells again, and again, and again. And again, again, and again, the room stays silent. He then thrusts his head into the void. People in the cafe yell, but it’s too late. The friend has also disappeared.
         Chaos ensues with people talking over each other. Phones have lost connection, yet people still try and call emergency hotlines and family. People pray in the corner. There is the occasional scream of panic and dread. The man sitting down cannot think, so sits and breathes raggedly as his sense of reality crumbles slowly. The man thought he somewhat understood the world, and that has been overturned. The rhythm of life has been interrupted by the present. The man cannot think. The man cannot think. He does not understand.
         A woman closes the door and yells to quiet down. The ringing of the bell can be heard in the silence that follows. She then speaks with reason and un-reason as she states the facts and the unknowns. She points outside and says it probably eats in people and is best if they don’t disturb it. She says this is like a story, maybe a horror film, and the way to get out is to figure out the rules of this scenario/world. Some people agree, and some believe it is naive, but all ultimately have to agree as they have little to go off of. They ask what the next step is. The woman answers with testing. The people then begin running a series of tests. The man sitting down has compliantly gotten up and participates in the group.
         Test 1 is done by moving inanimate objects into the void. Since the floor does not continue on, whatever is pushed across simply falls and is removed from sight. The woman concludes that there is gravity outside.
         Test 2 is done by tieing some string from the cafe to an inanimate object and throwing it into the void. Various subtests are done by changing the lengths of the string. The people did not find a ruler or any type of measuring device, so they guessed the lengths. At an estimated 1 foot, the cup tied to a string disappears from sight once it enters the void. The string still feels the weight of the cup, and the cup is able to be pulled back via the string. The group concludes that physics probably still applies outside in the void, but another force pulled/pushed the 2 men in. They test with longer and longer lengths of string. At an estimated, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 feet, the string behaves normally. The group then thinks to test if there is a bottom to this void. If so, then maybe the two men could wander on the floor and the group could pull them up. So they test with all the string they have, which at a glance is measured to be around 50 feet. They throw the cup outside and a teenager slowly releases the string. The people around watch with interest. At about the halfway point, with no bottom felt at all, the string is suddenly pulled horizontally, and the surprised teenager flails his arms but fails the let go. His hands appear glued. The string rises from the edge of the floor until it is level to the teenager’s hands. It is being pulled directly, straight into the void. Despite the attempts made by the teenager to pull his hands or the string back, the string seems to be made of iron. So slowly, the teenager is dragged towards the void. The woman tries to help the boy. She yanks on the string, which does not falter, and then she seems to be under the same effects as the boy. No matter how much she pulls her arms, or plants her feet, her hands do not move from the spot where she placed them. 2 of the boy’s friends had joined the rope pulling before they noticed the effects. And now, with 4 people being pulled by an unimaginable force, and 6 spectators including him, the man did not know whenever to help. The screams of the teenager were increasingly desperate, and the woman had started tearing up. The other two victims were doing a mix of both. As the bystanders watched the strange and horrifying game of tug-of-war, the last of the teenager’s friends decides to pull the boy’s shirt, and miraculously doesn’t stick. Seeing this, the man and the other 4 spectators take hold of the clothing and appendages of the 4 struggling people. They heave and ho, but the string still does not falter and continues to steadily move into the void. The woman, who was stuck near the front of the string, slips, and her feet fall into the void. She cries for help, but a man who was helping her lets go, avoiding getting pulled in as well. She yells in dread. She struggles to get footing but is dangling by her arms, and the blackness creeps up her waist, to her chest, to her shoulders. She begs for mercy. She screams for help. At last, her neck has disappeared, and her mouth is covered, with only her upper face visible. Her screaming is silenced, but tears pour out, streaming, and dotting the ground with dark dots. Seconds later, she is gone. During this, the next teenager has also been approaching the void. After seeing her predecessor, she stops tearing up, stops yelling, and her arms slump. She is dragged headfirst into the void. The next two kids follow ensuite, each failing to combat the pulling. The last boy manages to push against the doorframe with his foot but after a terrible crack, he falls and vanishes. Another man who was pulling from the back does not notice that his leg touched the end of the string. Only when the string goes taut, does he scream for help. But this time, none of the spectators reach out to help, only watching the flailing man claw at the floor. The man reaches for the door, and as he is dragged out, he pulls the door, jamming his fingers in the closing gap. The spectators can only imagine the scream of pain from the enveloped head, silenced in the void. The hand then is yanked out, and the string follows. All that remains are the 5 hopeless spectators, and the ringing of the bells atop the door, echoing through their ears.
         Now left with less than half the original amount of people, silence permeates the room, interrupted by sniffles and irregular breathing. The man does not feel sad, mad, scared, or a mix of these. He just feels shattered. He stares at the outside, the pitch blackness, as his back slowly slumps. He falls to the floor, his knees thump to the ground, and his arms are limp.
         The world then feels heavy, and the people standing up struggle to straighten their legs. In a blink, the outside world is restored. The honking of the streets snaps into the room, and pedestrians can be seen outside. Color fills the windows. Daylight floods the room, and the bright sky can be seen through the sides of neighboring skyscrapers. But the 7 people who were pulled into the void are gone. Not outside the door. Not where they were initially sitting. They have entirely vanished. The man gets up and looks around. His eyes dart around the whole cafe, but nothing is out of the ordinary. The tables and stools stay as tables and stools do, and sit still. His coffee is steaming, with a ball of steam rising and vanishing. His phone reloads and the stream of media continues. The man raises his head to the sky. He stares at the ceiling which has stayed still through the whole event. Finally, tears fall down and wet his shirt.
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