Note: I'm totally new here, I don't even know if I've uploaded this right. Anyway, any reviews are welcome! I won't be writing anymore of this, but it's an idea and I wanted to see what people thought of it.
Grudgingly, unwilling - through the haze, I hear a door slam. The sandman's gone, and my eyes are finally allowed to open.
Sleep left almost effortlessly, and for once I sat up in bed without spending a good half-hour moaning. I can remember being covered with cold sweat and shaking slightly. The sandman didn't visit that night; the bogeyman did.
The nightmare faded from my memory almost immediately, leaving only a blurred reel of images. I saw a graveyard, piles of dirt, a huge crowd of people and red, yellow and orange leaves blowing across a back-alley path. I'm not sure why the scene is so familiar, or why I even class the dream as a 'nightmare'. For some reason I sat, shaking, before pushing the fear down inside me and starting to wonder why I woke up.
There was no light, apart from the dull glow from the lamp perched on my TV. The lamp was named after a joke and a close friend of mine. Just seeing the lamp brought a smile to my lips, and pushed the memories of the nightmare out of my head.
But there was nothing else. I realized that almost immediately. There was no light shining through the gap in the curtains. No dawn light signalling a "time to wake up". More than that, there were no voices telling me to wake up. For the first time since my childhood I woke from a nightmare in the dead of night, but something felt wrong.
I lay back down and tried to snuggle down under the covers. I closed my eyes and tried to sleep, but after a few seconds it became obvious that I wouldn't get anymore sleep that night. My eyes refused to close and instead stared blankly at the ceiling as I realized, with a growing pit of fear in my stomach, that the world was silent.
My clock was no longer ticking, the constant buzz of the television had stopped, I couldn't hear my sister sleep-talking down the hall and my dad's snoring had stopped for the first time in 16 years. Outside, I couldn't hear the sounds of any cars on the road, the sound of traffic in the distance, no owls hooting, nothing.
We've all experienced silence; as you lie awake as the last one in your house, if you're in an exam hall during a test. When the chatter of your friends stops, or the music is turned off, it goes quiet. The world around you can be quiet as often as you please, but it's never silent.
That night the world was silent.
The first thing I did was check my parent's room. I eased open the door, no snoring and no breathing. It was dark; but I swear I could see perfectly. They were gone. The covers were folded neatly over the bed; the sheets were pressed clean and spotless. There was no junk or mess in the room, no clothes on the floor and no sign of life.
"It looks like it's never been used," I heard myself say. With a sharp jolt of panic I ran to my sisters' room; but it was in the exact same state - a state of disuse, but with all her belongings piled neatly into drawers. I ran downstairs; into the kitchen, the living room, the garage, the garden - everywhere, shouting as loud as I could.
No-one heard and no-one answered. It became obvious within minutes that my family had gone.
Alright, stop panicking, just calm down and think this through.
There has to be a rational explanation. People don't just disappear and leave no trace. You used to think your parents had abandoned you if they left you alone for an hour. There's a logically explanation, stop panicking!
I stop and look around, desperately trying to keep calm. They're gone; but they can't have gone far. Maybe they had to rush out somewhere, maybe someone was in an accident, maybe they were called to work...maybe they went for a walk.
But in my head I know those are feeble excuses. If they had to go out somewhere, if it just couldn't wait until morning, then they would have woke me up and let me know first. I double check their room; it's immaculate. The mess I saw before going to sleep last night has gone. Unless they cleaned up the whole house, left all their belongings and just ran for it...
On impulse, I run downstairs and check the front door. I see no keys but it isn't locked, and neither is the porch. I eased it open and see all the shoes arranged in neat rows on the floor. The street lights are on, casting a faint orange glow over the otherwise black world. My parents' cars are parked in the driveway. So they couldn't have driven off. Looking up, I see no moon or stars in the sky. I see no signs of life, no birds in the trees and no lights on in any of the houses.
Is everyone asleep? Does the entire world just drop dead in the early hours of the morning? What time is it anyway? I close the door and run back into the living room. An old clock hangs above the television in one corner. It's old and wrinkled with age, but it's worked for as long as I can remember.
"2:17," I whisper, and my voice seems to echo. "2:17 exactly..."
My lucky number is 217. Maybe this is a sign, the fact that you saw that number everywhere before, was that a sign? You used to be candidate 217 in your exams; you use to get 217 viruses on the computer every time you clicked something stupid. Heading back into the kitchen, I sit at the table and try to think. Maybe I should just wait for them to come back, maybe I should phone them. That idea seems smart, so I head back up to my room and pick up my mobile.
The screen is black. That's odd; I don't remember turning it off last night. I hold down the 'on' button, but nothing happens. A frown grows on my face; I press the 'on' button again. After a minute of no response, I start randomly jabbing buttons on the keypad. Why isn't it working?
A few more minutes pass and I give up. Maybe the battery has run dead. I pick up my charger and plug it into the wall. Even with the switch turned on nothing happens. Power cut?
No, that's impossible; the lamp was on. Just to verify that, I look over to the bright blue lamp perched on my television. It's still glowing dully. The electricity is connected. Maybe the fuse in the wiring has blown; maybe something's wrong with your mobile.
I give up on my mobile and go into my sisters' room. Her mobile is lying on her desk, but I get no response from that one either. I feel panics icy grip close around my chest, repelled by the idea of the home phone.
From my parents' room I pick up the home phone, but the screen is blank. Maybe all the telephones are out. What about the news, the internet? I rush downstairs and slam the 'on' button on the computer, then wait in vain for the loading screen to appear.
The computer is turned on; you can see that from the plug. But it isn't working. What about the TV? I run over to the television and press the 'on' button after checking the mains switch was on. The screen stays black.
It's got to be a power cut. But then why was the lamp working upstairs? I try the main light in the living room, flicking the switch but not expecting when the bulb lights up. So the power isn't out, but what about the other rooms? I try them all, the lights work but nothing else. The phones are all dead, everything battery powered is dead. I even try putting fresh batteries into every remote and gaming system I find, but even then it won't work.
This isn't right; only the lights are working. They've disappeared but left everything behind. I collapse on the kitchen table, fighting back tears. They just left me, were can I go? I don't have any keys to lock the door.
I don't hear ticking, just like before: the clock is no longer ticking. Feeling terrified for reasons I don't know, I raise my head slowly and look at the kitchen clock.
"No way," I breathe, then go and check every other clock in the house. The clock in my room was always 5 minutes ahead of time, while my parent's was always 10 minutes ahead. The living room clock was always five minutes slow. Yet they all read the name three figures, and haven't changed in the last five minutes.
"2:17 - my lucky number."
I sit in confused silence for some time. I can't count the minutes; all the clocks are frozen. The electricity is out, but the lights work. My parents and sister have just disappeared. The world is silent. Where did they go? Looking through the glass double doors of the kitchen, I see the trees of the Chase protruding over the garden fence. I laugh weakly. "Maybe they went for a run in a deep, dark forest at 2:17 in the morning."
How did I get here? How did I get back here? With a pounding heart I leap up from the table, I stop screaming quickly, but have to fight back the urge to cry. Oh god, someone moved me...someone moved me in the night. I didn't go to sleep in this house.
I haven't lived in this house for over a year.
I stop panicking almost as quickly as I started. This makes no sense; how come all of our belongings are here? We moved house five months ago, why am I here? I stand in the kitchen, hugging myself and shaking. Something is very, very wrong. All our belongings are here, but my entire family left this house five months ago.
An idea hits me like a wave of icy water. What if this is a dream? I stop and look around the kitchen; every surface clear and shining, no dust or dirt anywhere...the deathly silence hanging around like a fog. I look through the glass double doors at the Chase, a hundred tall trees protruding from behind the garden fence. There's no moon, no stars! On impulse, yet again, I walk slowly over to the double doors. The open as I pull the handle, they aren't locked.
I step down from the house and the cold slabs feel wet under my feet. With a startled cry I realize the garden's empty, too. Its pitch black! I look around the garden, which is dimly lit by the light of the kitchen. The light extends a few feet, but beyond that is darkness. I squint, but can't see or hear anything. It's silent. I've never heard the world this quiet.
Maybe there's someone down there, hiding in the darkness. I cup my hands to my mouth, and even thought I'm risking disturbing anyone sleeping in the neighbouring houses, I shout as loud as I can. "Mom? Dad? Is anyone out here?"
There's no reply. They're gone; maybe I should try the house. I rush back into the house, running up and downstairs shouting for anyone. No-one replies. Only silence is thrown back at me. I stop in the kitchen, sobbing quietly. This has got to be a dream.
I always heard that you pinch yourself to wake up from a dream. I don't know if that's true, but I decide to give it a shot. I pinch myself; a sharp pain shoots up my arm. Nothing happens. I try again, and again. Panic sets in and I try poking myself, over and over. My arm starts to ache. Dreams are painless.
This isn't a dream. I stop hurting myself, tears properly flowing. They're gone. I try and stop crying; in situations like this it's best to stay calm. The electricity's out, all except the lights - something weird is going on here.