Far from Home
by Wayne Haroutunian
“I recently returned home from a
long trip in the country, and on my way back I picked up a cell signal
after not having one for days. The only message was a long one from my
friend Reynold Cooper. I wasn't interested in listening to his long
message—that is, until I got home, when I found the city to be
aren't you picking up? I've called five times. I'm going to leave you a
message. Call me the second you get this. You'll never believe it.
Couple hours ago I went outside and there's this emptiness in the
street. And remember, this is a Friday night. Nobody was around. And
not a single car—nothing, not even parked. Everyone, everything—gone.
So I figured everyone must have been elsewhere
in the city. Maybe there was some major event I just never heard about.
But I walked for an hour and the roads were still empty. The traffic
lights still changing, but no one's home.
As I went by houses, I picked up this weird
feeling about them, Richard...
...they were empty, all of them.
I tried the front doors of some places, seeing
if one was open. I found one. I slowly open the front door, stuck my
head inside. Lights were off. I stepped inside, freaked out. I passed
through a dark TV room and went into a hallway with only two doors: one
cracked open, the other closed. I went to the door that was cracked and
listened while looking through the crack. It was a bathroom. I heard
nothing so I slowly opened it...
It creaked and I froze. Nearly shit myself. I
listened, staring at the other door.
I opened the door the rest of the way—empty. I
went inside and in the mirror I saw myself, nearly shit myself again.
I returned to the hallway and listened at the
other door as I slowly opened it.
Nobody was in that bedroom.
Nobody was in the house.
I went back outside, went into ten more houses
and they're all empty.
Standing alone on the street, I started
thinking this was real and didn't know what to do. Was this happening
in other cities? Or where you were? I mean, this is when I really
needed a car. I felt screwed, and scared. Like the last guy on Earth.
And I have no idea where the hell you are.
I went to a
store, kicked the glass in, grabbed a couple Pepsi's, bars, a bag o'
chips. No one around anyway. And I tell you, Richard, at that time, it
felt like no one was comin' back. And I was right...
And I hope you
get this message before it's too late...
(silence for a few moments in his
I went on walking for hours, getting tired.
But I pushed on, knowing I would find the answer, knowing there had to
be an answer.
Then at one point I'm walking half-asleep down
some neighborhood street when some motion on the other side of the road
gets my attention. When I looked, I thought it was some kind of
But it was real. I was scared but also excited.
I was looking at a middle-aged couple on their
knees in a garden on their front lawn. The pair of them were digging up
soil, working in their garden. The woman had this red shirt and straw
hat. The man, overweight, glasses, big mustache.
Both of them just worked quietly as I watched,
completely unaware of me.
"Hi!" I yelled out to them.
and stood up and looked at me.
I gestured to
the street. "Can you tell me ... what's going on?"
The woman took
off her hat, looked at her husband, then at me. "You didn't hear?" she
asked with a smile. "Everybody is—"
Reynold's phone message cuts off right there. Here I am, Richard
Slipper, walking the streets of town, daylight, no one around. Got an
iced tea and some chocolate bars from a convenience store, kicked in
the glass. Looking for that goddam couple.
© 2015 Wayne Haroutunian
Wayne Haroutunian is originally from Canada, and now lives in the USA
with his wife and son. He has published fantasy, sci-fi and horror
stories in Aphelion, Siren's Call and Antipodean SF. His inspirations
are Stephen King, Ray Bradbury and Philip K Dick. You can find some of
his stories on Amazon and Smashwords.
E-mail: Wayne Haroutunian
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