Monday 28 December 18:00
I’m not sure how long humans are supposed to stay sane without human interaction but I’ve been doing alright so far I think. The silence is much worse anyway.
The initial shock of it all was extremely unnerving though. After the panic attack and near mental breakdown I sat down determinedly, pen in hand and started writing down what I knew about this whole situation.
Observation 01: Almost all living organisms in this city have vanished overnight.
People, animals and insects are all gone. I’m not sure about microscopic organisms yet. The only other living things left behind are trees, grass and most other plant life. I’m not sure how flowers and such will survive without other living organisms aiding them in pollination and such. I’ll watch and see.
Observation 02: Everything else seems to be as everyone left it.
Cars are still in their driveways and some doors to houses are open as if someone just stepped through the doorway.
Observation 03: Electricity is not running, phone lines and the internet are not working.
Street lamps are dead, phone lines just beep and browsers greet me with dead webpages. None of my contacts are responding and my phone won’t charge. It’s practically useless now.
Observation 04: The sun did not rise this morning.
Does this even count as a morning? It’s been at least nine hours since I’ve woken up and it’s remained pitch dark outside. The sky is still completely covered with clouds so no stars and moon can be seen.
Observation 05: The wind is gone.
I haven’t felt a breeze kiss my face or heard the rustling of a gust through branches since I woke up. The weather is showing no signs of changing.
Observation 06: There is no sound.
No birds or crickets chirping, no engines rumbling, nothing. The only sounds are the ones made by me. It all sounds much louder than it should. My footsteps on gravel, my breathing, the sound of this pen scratching on this paper, ringing in my ears; and the drumming of my own heartbeat. I can feel it in my head.
It all seems so wrong. I want to shrivel up inside myself and just disappear. The only thing keeping me sane is this watch. Thank God that it’s digital. I would lose my mind from analogue ticking.
And I can never forget my trusty flashlight making this all possible. I would be stumbling in the dark if not for it. I’ll look for some batteries later, I can’t risk it dying.
I think I’ll spend the rest of this ‘night’ gathering my things so I can explore outside the city limits tomorrow. I don’t know if this is some sick prank, emergency evacuation, or mass alien abduction but I will get to the bottom of this.
Tuesday 29 December 07:33
Last night I went to bed at ten-ish. Or tried to anyway. My heartbeat was unbearably loud and I was hyper aware of my bodily functions. The sound of swallowing saliva, my breathing, snoring, and worst of all my heartbeat. The constant drumming in my head.
All my things are packed. I filled my car with various foodstuffs from the local supermarket as well as batteries; lots of batteries, some portable lamps and more flashlights. I don’t think that counts as stealing.
Normally my conscience would bother me but right now I’m actually feeling good about this, excited even. It feels good being prepared. I have this all planned out. I’ve got some spare tires in the back, some jumper cables and first aid. And I could always hop into someone else’s car if need be. That dread of yesterday seems to be gone for now.
The nearest town is about 58km from here. If I drive at a safe speed of 30 km/h I should arrive in two hours, more or less.
So it turned out that this town is empty as well. No light, no sound, no wind; nada. The sky hasn’t cleared yet either. I’m starting to wonder if that’s even cloud cover up there. It’s impossible to make out. Anyways I found a place to stay for the night, a little three bedroom house.
My heart sank as I walked by their empty dog kennel. It reminded me of Lady. Waking up yesterday without her sleeping at my feet was bad enough. But when she didn’t respond to my calls it filled me with dread. It wasn’t long before I realised she was truly gone. Her and everyone else. It broke my heart to leave home.
All I have left of her are my memories and her squeaky bone. I’ll keep it in my pocket from now on.
I spent some time searching this place. Not really for supplies but to learn more about the family. The framed photos around the house lead me to believe that a family of three once lived here. Brings back memories. I should have spent more time with them.
On this very desk sits a small photo of them together, all three dressed in white shirts and grinning at the camera. It made me smile. It’s not human interaction but it’s better than nothing. I put the photo in my pocket.
Earlier I went out looking for a loudspeaker. It’s no use searching every single dark house so I drove through the town and called out for people through the loudspeaker. I should have worn earplugs or something, my ears were not prepared for the sudden noise. Now my ears are ringing even louder than before and It was all for nothing, there were no signs of life.
During my search of this bedroom I found a handgun under the bed. I haven’t identified any danger out there but it’s better being prepared anyway. I don’t know much about guns but I know enough to be able shoot and load one.
My dad showed me once when I was younger. Funny how the memories flood back to you after you lose the people you shared them with. The gun is fully loaded. I hope I won’t have to use it.
Wednesday 30 December 09:26
I’m no stranger to sleep paralysis. It’s creepy waking up in the dead of night with a paralyzed body, what was always worse for me though is the shadow man who would watch me as I lay there helplessly.
It’s a sleep phenomenon. The shadow men aren’t really there, it’s all in your head and generated by your subconscious mind while you’re asleep. I learned that the best thing to do is stay calm and keep my breathing even, while reminding myself that the man can’t hurt me.
I was still quite young when I last had sleep paralysis and at that time I didn’t know all this about sleep and that it was all normal. My parents would wake up to little me screeching in the dead of night and rush into my bedroom expecting to find a burglar or at least an actual threat.
But they would always find me shaking like a leaf beneath the covers and bawling about the shadow man watching me.
They would try to calm me down, stroking my forehead and reciting Psalm 23:4. They told me it was all in my head, that none of it was real. It was real. I would scream back at them. I would tell them I saw him with my own eyes and that he stood right there at the foot of my bed.
They were worried so they did some research to prove to me it was all a natural phenomenon. They took me to a nice grey haired doctor explained it to me one day with some cartoons and infographics I could understand. He told me it was perfectly normal and happened to other people as well.
He said that we all have sleep paralysis every night to stop out bodies from thrashing around and getting hurt during dreams; and that the shadow man was nothing but a figment of my imagination. He gave me a red lollipop and sent me on my way.
My parents got me some new lava lamps and that was it. I had a few more experiences with the phenomenon but after a few months it stopped. I can’t remember if little me bought the doctor’s explanation but I remember just being glad when the sleep paralysis stopped soon after.
The thing about having sleep paralysis in a dark new world, is that it’s hard to tell dreams from reality. It’s so dark that when I lie down I can’t even tell if my eyes are open or not, whether it’s all a dream or not. Last night I had a reunion with my old friend. He was even darker than this eternal night.
I’m aware that this food will expire sooner or later so I’ve been eating only fresh foods like fruit and vegetables, while stocking up on canned goods and honey which will last longer.
I haven’t found any vegetable gardens or fruit trees yet but I’m interested to see If fruit and vegetables are still able to grow. It shouldn’t be possible without sunlight and rain right?
As long as I can find a grocery store I’ll be good I think. I’ve heard that honey doesn’t expire at all. Let’s hope so.
I’m not sure what to do next so I’ve been sitting around and thinking about the old days. It’s painful to think about it all. All I wanted was to be alone and now I finally got what I wanted, so why am I crying?
I’ve been staring at this photograph for an hour. These strangers I’ve never met, they make me feel more human.
I miss the simple things in life. Swimming on hot summer days, stargazing, watching the sun set. It hasn’t even been that long and it already feels like I’m losing it.
This is so messed up. It feels so wrong. I can feel every cell in my body protesting against this new world. Humans aren’t made to deal with life like this. This isn’t life. Is this the afterlife? My parents taught me that hell is a lake of fire, so even this can’t be it. If this is heaven I would rather die.
I’ve spent some time walking around outside. The darkness is like a heavy and oppressive blanket. My shoulders hunch over as I walk. I feel like I’m carrying the world on my shoulders.
If I were claustrophobic I would have died a long time ago. The air is thick. It’s hard to breathe
The silence is mocking me. Sometimes the silence is unbearable and sometimes the ringing in my ears is deafening. I’ve been starting to click my teeth together habitually to create some sound and drown out the ringing. And the heartbeat. I can feel my heartbeat in my head. I feel like God’s plaything.
I’ve been sitting in my car with the engine on. The rumbling is comforting.
Thursday 31 December 05:02
I think I know what to do now. I’m quite certain that this darkness must be affecting the whole country and maybe even the world. I think the next step is to find out for sure.
Even if this darkness won’t end I need to find out the reason why. I need to know if the sun and moon are still up there at least. I need to get to the beach and see if there are waves. If so then there is still hope.
If not, this world has changed forever and chances are I’ll never see the sun and moon again.
The ocean is 1,900km from here. With rest stops for sleep the entire trip will take over 80 hours. I need to drive slowly and cautiously, I can’t risk missing something important on the way or crashing on the long road. It will be a challenge but I need to keep moving.
The preparations are complete and I’m ready to leave.
I need to find people. I’ll keep the photograph on the inside of my windshield. To remember what I’m fighting for.
I’ve been driving with the car’s interiors lights on, as well as the MP3 player which I completely forgot about.
I’ve been playing Mister Sandman on loop for the past few hours. It reminds me of home and of my mother. She would always sing it to me at night to calm me down after my late night panic attacks. They were so good to me. I didn’t deserve them.
I can’t turn this music off, it’s yet another thing keeping me going. And Lord knows I need all the motivation I can get.
I hold the squeaky toy as often as I can. Lady was a good dog. It was us two versus the world. She was always sweet and gentle. She would bite this bone softly, just enough to make it squeak.
Evident by the very few bite marks on the bone. There are three scratches on the bone to be exact. Now I know it like the back of my hand.
This bone, the CD in the player, and this photograph are my symbols of hope. They keep me going. I’ll hold on to them as long as I can.
Friday 1 January 09:00
My friend, the shadow man, decided to visit me again last night. I saw him in my rear view mirror, he sat watching me on the back seat.
The light of the lamp seemed to curve around him, evading him. He disappeared after a moment and I was left unsure of how to feel.
At least I’m not a scared little kid anymore.
The drive has been uneventful. I’ve made a few stops along the way to use a toilet and restock on fresh foods.
Other than that my mind has been cloudy. I feel like I’m half asleep, I really shouldn’t be driving with this state of mind. But I’m running on fumes, I don’t want to lose my momentum. I feel like my sanity is draining away with every passing moment.
I need to keep moving, if I stop now I may not be able to start again.
Saturday 2 January 01:02
My worst fear has been realized. My car broke down. I’m such an idiot. I should have saved the battery. I’ve been keeping the engine on to help me fall asleep. I needed that MP3 player on.
I’ll admit it, I’m scared. And staying sane should be my own top priority right? I have food and water; this trip is just a side quest right?
It doesn’t matter. I’ll walk. If I stay in this car I’ll eventually starve to death or lose my mind. I need to keep moving.
I’ve been walking non stop for hours. I was so afraid to stop. But my body is about to give up. All I took with me is my backpack filled with food and water. I realized a minute ago that I forgot the photograph behind in the car.
I found a car on the road. A white Volkswagen CITI Golf. It brings back memories. It was the first car I had ever stolen and hotwired. The memories are flooding back, I was so young.
I had everything a child would ever wish for. A loving family, the newest toys, love and attention. They were so good to me, and I traded them off for cheap thrills and delinquency.
I’ve been able to start the car, I’ve never been able to forget the sound of this engine.
My watch is broken so I don’t know the time and I have no other way to separate these diary entries. I think it smashed against one of the rocks.
I crashed. I thought I saw someone on the road. I drove into a pond or something. All I could salvage was this flashlight, a pen, a pack of dried fruit, and this diary which somehow survived. The pages are wet but it’s still usable. Almost forgot the gun, I still have that. Saved by the belt.
I’m going to follow this road and see where it leads me. This road cuts through a mountain, they go so high that I can’t see the top. I don’t know how far the next town is but I’ll keep moving forward.
I’ve lost everything. I start out with everything and I lose it all. The reality of the situation is that I can’t blame this world for what I’ve lost. I lost it all before any of this even started, and I only have myself to blame.
It’s been a long while since my last entry. I can’t tell how long for sure but it feels like forever.
I’ve started seeing hallucinations. Abstract colours and shapes float around my vision.
At least my footsteps on the road have been drowning out the ringing. I’ve been trying hard not to stop but my feet hurt, at least it’s an opportunity to write an entry.
I woke up face down. I don’t know how long I’ve been laying here for. I can’t stop.
I’m gripping Lady’s squeaky bone tightly. I’m holding on to hope.
I’ve started hearing voices. I keep thinking Lady is following me not too far behind.
Same old road.
I keep thinking of home.
I miss the bible stories they would tell me. I was such an ungrateful child.
I’m breathless but I keep singing Mister Sandman. The sky feels heavy.
I just noticed I have a deep gash in my right calf. It must have been a sharp rock. Explains the numbness in my leg.
I’m so tired.
I feel like I’m locked in a dark, musty closet.
I keep getting the urge to drop my flashlight but I know I can’t.
The hallucinations are getting worse. I’m starting to lose it.
I keep drifting into the past. Actually it feels more like the past is drifting around me.
I keep forgetting I’m not seven years old anymore.
I keep waking up face first in the dirt. My lips are swollen and bleeding.
It’s hard to eat this fruit.
I told you I’m not a kid anymore.
It’s hard singing with swollen lips.
Time is not real.
I keep forgetting who I am.
I don’t know where I was headed, but straight seems like the right choice.
How on Earth am I still alive?
I’ve passed out so many times already. I want to lay down and die. The sky is dead.
The walls are closing in, the mountain wants to eat me.
The air is so thick.
My cuticles are bleeding from gripping this diary. Why am I carrying a squeaky bone?
Time is not real.
What happened to the sun? My shoes are messed up.
It’s hard to breathe.
It’s my first day of school today!
I’m so tired. But I need to keep walking. And writing when I’m not. How many days has it been?
What are those voices? I feel like I’ve been walking forever.
I called out for Lady but she isn’t coming. I think my lips are swollen. I am so confused.
Who is Lady?
I threw away the squeaky bone. I don’t even know why I have it.
I feel like I lost a piece of myself and I don’t know why.
Mom makes the best hot chocolate.
Time is not real.
I think someone is following me.
I can see Dad working on his car. He taught me all I know.
I stole my first car today, a CITI Golf. I think I’m in.
I told you all I’m not a mama’s boy. I’m the best in this crew. It feels good having brothers. What would Steven think?
It must be the hardest thing in the world for them. Having to explain to their son that his twin brother died in a car accident.
That’s all in the past now. I have other brothers. And they need to be taken care of.
Seven cars, I’m on a roll.
If only I protected Steven.
I can’t bear that look of disappointment on their faces.
I can’t be near them.
They’ve been so good to me. I blamed them to their faces but deep down I always blamed myself.
I can’t be near them.
Mister Sandman, bring me a dream.
How long have I been walking for?
My stomach is aching for food.
How did I get here?
Every muscle in my body hurts.
I’m holding on to hope.
Why am I still walking?
When did I learn to walk?
The doctor gave me a cherry flavored lollipop. I don’t buy his explanation.
I woke up screaming.
I abandoned my parents when they needed me the most. I should have visited them. I should have said sorry. But I was ashamed. I wasn’t worthy of their love and forgiveness. I can see Steven in front of me right now.
This is the end of the road. I can’t walk straight anymore. I can’t even walk. The shadow man stands before me and I’m not afraid. He’s been waiting all this time to welcome me home.
The parents from the photograph stand on either side of him, smiling their toothy smiles. I hear a dog barking. Mister Sandman plays from someplace distant.
The air is vibrating and the couple’s faces have changed into my parents’. They are both chanting the fourth verse of Psalm 23. Mr Sandman is playing louder now.
The shadow man is gone now. I see Steven standing between them. He’s smiling. I should join them. They’ve all been waiting all this time. And I’ve been stubborn as usual and kept them waiting. This song keeps getting louder.
That’s where all the trouble started. My stubborn nature. It’s time to give in. It’s time to repent. The air is shaking. The ground is moving. The chanting is in my head. The fear is gone. They are waiting with open arms. The song is playing in my head. I feel like my head will explode.
I don’t know if this gun can still fire. But I’m going to try anyway. I’m going to join them. I need to leave this dark place. I’ve heard when you go to heaven you see a bright light. I’m not sure if I’ll make it in, I don’t think I’m worthy. But even the flames of hell will produce some light. I’m ready. If this is the last entry, the gun fired.
Credit : Keeran Obaray
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