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Estimated reading time — 7 minutes

My alarm clock went off at 11:30 AM, signaling the start of my day. I got up and made myself a pot of coffee as I normally did and began my day. I lived in a small town, and worked from home, so, given that I got to set my own hours, I usually put off work until the latter part of the day, and spent the earlier parts of my day doing whatever I wanted, which usually involved gaming, doing work around the house, and just generally avoiding people. I am something of a hermit, you might say. Gotta be honest, there were times when I just kinda wished people would just disappear, and I could be left to my own devices. I don’t mean to come off too misanthropic, it’s just how I feel, sometimes. I moved to this small, middle-of-nowhere type town from the city, to escape people, but even the people around here can be a bit overwhelming at times. In addition to not having the energy to put up with people for too long, I generally feel that most people are untrustworthy, and a bother. So, I was glad to work from home doing data entry for a healthcare agency. It allowed me to be away from people, and still make a decent wage, enough to support myself, and all of my ventures.

On the docket for today, aside from logging some hours on Fortnite, was to do a little work on my car. My car was still drivable, but I’m starting to suspect that I may have to swap out the spark plugs and wires sooner rather than later.

After breakfast I went out to the driveway, where my Hyundai Sonata was parked, and I popped the hood to inspect the spark plugs; they certainly were starting to look a bit crispy. I was definitely going to want to replace them today. It was just then that I realized that I hadn’t bought new wires yet and would need to in order to complete the tune up. Figured I would need to go into town and go to the auto parts store to pick some up. So, I put the spark plugs back in, as I figured they could make it a few more trips before needing to be replaced. I then readied myself to interact with the public, and headed off.


However, as I drove into town, I noticed an eerie silence. As I looked around, I noticed that there wasn’t anybody in sight. I didn’t see any other cars on the road, or people just out and about. That was odd, I thought. Why wasn’t anybody around? Where had they all gone? The only thing I did notice was a bunch of leaflets littering the streets and sidewalk, but that wasn’t anything new. I had noticed them beginning to pop up all around town the last couple of weeks or so, and I guess my small midwestern town wasn’t one much for litter removal.

Not knowing what to make of all this, I decided to make a quick detour to Marv’s General Store, to see if he knew what was going on, and to maybe pick up a soda. I pulled up just a few minutes later and got out of the car. Upon exiting my car, I noticed how incredibly silent it was with no one around. In a sense it was kinda peaceful, but it was just something I never thought I would really experience. After a second of taking in the silence, I closed the car door with a slam, and headed inside.

“Marv!” I yelled, receiving no reply. “Marv!” I hollered again, still getting nothing but silence in return.

I could not figure out what was going on. Marv was always there minding the front counter, but for some reason he too appeared to be gone. I thought maybe he was just in the back doing inventory, because it was a slow day or something, and I rationalized that maybe the reason he hadn’t heard me was due to his hearing, that may well have started to go, in his old age. So, I just went to the back cooler, grabbed a Mountain Dew, and left three bucks on the counter where Marv would easily find it when he came back.

Seeing as how my day was off to an interesting start, to say the least, and seeing as how I wasn’t going to do any work for my job until much later, I figured I would just enjoy the afternoon, before getting back to my car maintenance. It was a beautiful, warm, bright sunny day, after all.

I got in my car and pulled out of the driveway in front of Marv’s and headed down Main Street. I figured I would take advantage of the nice weather we were having and spend some time at a park. I pulled into Jefferson Park, and parked in the gravel parking lot, before making my way to a park bench, to just sit down and relax. As I sat there drinking my Mountain Dew, I again noticed the stark absence of people, nobody walking their dog, or parents with their kids running around, not even at the playground. Stranger yet, was that in addition to the absence of people, I noticed the absence of wildlife as well. I couldn’t hear any insects, birds, or anything. This was very strange because the park was known for being a habitat to a protected species of Sandhill crane. Meaning that this was primarily their home, and that short of being someone who worked for the DNR, people were not allowed to do mess with them, or their habitat. So, I would assume I would at least see several of those walking around, but no. Jefferson Park, just like the rest of town seemed to be utterly devoid of life. I’m not gonna lie, it was actually starting to get to me a little. I finished my soda, dropped it in a garbage receptacle, and made my way back to my car. I fired up the engine, but not before making the decision to go to the shopping mall just a couple of miles outside of town. I figured there had to be people there, right?


I drove those couple miles admittedly a bit faster than I should have and arrived at the mall at around 2:00 in the afternoon. To my shock and dismay the parking lot was empty. I figured that was likely an ominous sign. I got out of my car and walked up to the automatic sliding glass doors at the mall’s entrance and went inside. To my horror, the mall was completely deserted. The stores and restaurants were all open, merchandise was still on display, but there was no one there. It really is hard to imagine a place that is normally replete with the hustle and bustle of daily life just being completely devoid of such. It gave me a very strange and uneasy feeling, gazing out over the barren mall.

“Hello!” I shouted from the second level, with my hands cupping my mouth, hearing nothing but an echo in return. I can honestly say, that in all my life I had never been bothered by the sound of an echo, until then.


I walked by clothing stores, shoe stores, and toy stores, all completely without life. The food court was empty. The children’s play place was empty. Even the arcade was empty. Normally this place was crawling with life, but for some reason, on this day, it was empty. I mean, everything looked operational, there was just nobody to operate anything. One of the more unsettling phenomena I experienced was that while the mall itself was void of the sounds of humans, it was not void of sound altogether, as the sound system was still playing that smooth jazz, yacht rock-like mall music that you hear as background noise when you go shopping. I imagine that music is meant to be relaxing, but in this scenario, it was anything but. That music is meant to accompany the sounds of joy and commerce, but without people around it just had this haunting quality to it. Occasionally, a prerecorded woman’s voice alerting shoppers to sales, as well as general mall information, would play overhead. It was the only human voice I had heard all day, yet in this context it was by no means a calming sound.

I walked down the corridor that led to the movie theater. When I got to the theater the smell of popcorn lingered in the air, but again, there was nobody there. I know what I said earlier about wishing people would just disappear, but now that that has seemingly happened, I have to say, it’s starting to get really creepy.

I went back to the arcade to find that while no one was there, all the machines were still on, and functional. I approached the cabinet of a fighting game and fished around in my pocket for a couple of quarters. I found some and inserted them into the cabinet, and the game started up. I did okay, punching and kicking my way through levels against a plethora of copy-and-paste opponents. It was kinda fun, but when the game ended, it occurred to me just how desolate my surroundings truly were. Places like this were usually full of lights and sounds, and kids running around, but now, there was no one, no one, but me.

Feeling confused, and rather perturbed by the whole situation, I decided to just drive home. I figured wherever everybody was, they would be back eventually, at least, I hoped they would. On my way back home, I didn’t even bother stopping by the auto parts store. After all, what was the point? There wouldn’t be anybody there, anyway.


As I pulled into my driveway, I noticed that a stiff breeze had begun to blow, and upon exiting my vehicle one of the leaflets that littered the ground blew up into my face, before falling to the ground. Stupid piece of paper, I thought. Why couldn’t my town’s sanitation department just clean these up already?

It was then that I heard the first true sign of life I had heard all day. I couldn’t tell you where it was coming from, but I could have sworn that I heard the sound of a plane flying overhead. I had never been so happy to hear an airplane before. Although, it did leave me a bit confounded, as there were no airports near here, nor were we really near any major airline routes. I then got the idea to look at one of the many leaflets that was on the ground. I reached down and picked one up. When I unfolded it to read it, it all became frighteningly clear.

The leaflet urged the citizens of my town, as well as the surrounding area, to evacuate, because on the afternoon of June 2nd, which was today, the U.S. government was going to carry out a test of one of its nuclear weapons, by dropping it on our town, and studying the effects that the detonation had on manmade structures, as well as the resulting radiation dispersal. Upon reading that, I became lightheaded, and I could feel the color drain from my face, as I could hear the sound of the plane coming closer.

Credit: Steven Allen


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