Estimated reading time — 4 minutes
Hi. I’m Caitlin and I’m eleven years old. I think. I may have been here for ten minutes or ten years. Every second in this place feels very long. Who I am isn’t really important, but if you must know, I’m a girl who loved school, cartoons, and pop music.
I’m floating in a big black emptiness. I can see my parents and friends in the distance. I want to be with them. They probably want to be with me, but I can’t reach them and they can’t reach me. We’re all stuck in this big, black place and we’re all floating and unable to move. I think everyone from Earth is here. There are probably all the celebrities, religious people, police men, teachers, and everyone, but none of us can move or interact.
It reminds me of Purgatory, which I learned about in Sunday school. It’s supposed to be like this, only everyone is here, instead of just the unbaptized babies and occasional sinners. I always imagined Purgatory being scarier than Hell anyway. At least in Hell, you can hear your loved ones scream beside you and the pain is physical. With this place, and I guess Purgatory as well, you’re paralyzed and trapped in your own body. The darkness is kind of like a cushiony straight jacket, holding us all in place.
Some might think it’s beautiful. All of us are together, in the same place. It blows my mind to think that Taylor Swift and the President of the United States are probably floating here with me. Nobody is too good for the end of the world.
I should say how this all started. It was going on New Year’s Eve, and everything was kind of scary. Everyone expected the world to end, but I don’t know exactly why. Something to do with global warning, or space. On the news, they’d talk about more and more people disappearing. Large holes leading to nothing started appearing all over the ground. In some spots, it was hard to avoid falling into them.
The nights were pure blackness, even out in the country where my family lived. There were no stars, and there had always been stars before. Towards the end of December, the sky was just as black during the day as it had been at night. It was like a light bulb that was on its last legs and finally went out.
The crazy stuff happening was all anyone talked about. The boys tried to scare me and my friends at school, telling us the martians were clearing the sky to come get us. I didn’t believe them, but I was still just as scared about the unknown situation as everyone else.
One day after school, I overheard my teachers discussing how to educate us on what was happening, but they were just as clueless as their students. Mr. Jameson said they may as well tell us kids that we’re all “fucked”. I couldn’t take it when I heard him say that. I ran into the classroom crying. They comforted me and told me everything would be all right, but how could I believe them?
My parents told me that the people in charge would figure things out, but I didn’t believe them either. The same went for one of my favorite TV shows, which had a message at the end of an episode telling us to be brave and that everything would be okay. I was disillusioned. Nothing was okay. Everyone on the news seemed scared and baffled too.
It was all supposed to come down at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. My parents told me there’d been some similar scare about fifteen years ago with something called Y2K. Y2K turned out to be a hoax, but there were no signs that it would happen. The thing we were dealing with now had warnings, and they were scary and like nothing anyone had seen before.
On New Years Eve, my family all huddled in our living room. We spent most of the night hugging and saying how much we loved each other. I could barely keep from crying the entire time. I mostly remember my dog, Bella, looking at me really sadly. Dogs always look sad, but she almost looked ready to cry herself. It was like she knew what would happen, and she wanted to tell us she loved us and would miss us. If I could cry in this place where I am now, I would bawl like a baby just thinking about that night. I wonder if Bella is here, but it really doesn’t matter.
At midnight, everything went black. I heard my mother scream. My entire body went numb. My tongue felt like a sock. My limbs all went limp. I was still awake through all of it.
After what felt like forever, I could see again. My parents were floating off in the distance and I was in my place. The terror was still there, but there was no way of expressing it. I’m not scared anymore, just sad and hopeless.
I’ve called this place the Soft Nowhere because everything feels so neutral and pillowy, but pointless. I can only hope that one day, everything will go back to normal, but I know it won’t. This is our life now. We are strung amongst the blackness, unmoving, just as the stars had been. Everyone is equal. Nothing matters anymore.
There is still one thing that gives me hope, though. From the corner of my left eye, I can just make out some kind of light. My greatest wish is that it’s some sort of salvation. It’s the only thing holding my mind together, other than the knowledge that my family loves me and I love them.
Love isn’t visual, though. Especially here. It’s not something you can hold or show. The only thing this place is good for is displaying humans.
I wish I could tell everyone to try moving. It feels so impossible, but I think that maybe if we all tried, this place couldn’t take it. There’s no way of telling people to move, but I’ll keep trying. Hell, if I could, I’d be writing this down, rather than reciting it in my mind. For now, I guess, we all have each other, anyway.
Credit: Traumatized Kitten