the moutain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic

It’s been a little over three months since I woke up to find the world empty of all other human inhabits, but I still remember it like it was yesterday.

As I feel the light breeze flutter over my skin, I see the sun shine through my closed eyelids. I breathe a sigh of relaxation and notice how oddly quiet my house is at the current moment. I think  to myself how abnormal it was that my little brother and sister weren't storming around the house, waking up everyone, yearning for attention.

After being alone for so long, you just get  used to the silence, but I guess it’s not total silence; you always hear the soft hum of the electricity running through the empty town. It honestly didn't feel that empty anymore, after so long you just become used to all of the abandonment. At first, I was so lost. I found myself drunk and stumbling, through the streets I grew up in, yelling out for somebody, anybody to come save me. No one ever came. I was so young when this all happened, it's crazy to think that a 15 year old could ever feel more alone than they thought they were. I was forced to grow up a lot faster than I had planned to.

At the beginning of this turn in my life, I cried every night. I didn't cry for my siblings or for my parents or for my friends. I cried selfishly; I cried about knowing that I’ll never pick out a pretty dress and find a date for prom or I’ll never walk across the stage and graduate. I cried thinking about never meeting someone, falling in love and starting a family. Looking back now, I hate how selfish I was. I hate how much I took for granted. I took my twin, three-year-old siblings for granted, I’ll never hear their high-pitched shrieks when I tickle them. I’ll never be able to tickle them again. I’ll never go home from a bad day at school and cuddle up in bed with my mom. Heck, I won't ever have another bad day at school. I won't try to beat my dad in a basketball game out in our driveway. I won't watch my siblings grow up anymore. I won't ever grow up normally.

This ghost town haunts me in my sleep. Flashes of happiness cross my mind constantly; flashes of my siblings playing in the backyard on the playset I helped my dad build when my mom was pregnant. Some dreams of my mom are of her smiling and being the beautiful, happy person she always was, but then some are so horrible to watch. I see her curled up in my bed, clutching my favorite hoodie, bawling her eyes out. She looks so miserable; I can feel myself reaching out toward her trying to comfort her. I always wake up before I can get close enough to grasp her in my arms.

I constantly think of all the experiences I missed out on these past three months; I never went to prom or graduated or even made it through a full year of high school. I never experienced the joys of high school when you're a teenager. I never went to any parties, or football games or even any pep assemblies. I was three weeks into my freshman year and then, poof, everyone disappeared.

I used to wonder why this happened to me. Out of the billions of people in the world, why was I chosen to be the “last one standing”. There wasn’t anything special about me, I put my pants on one leg at a time just like everybody else. Nothing about my appearance was extraordinary; I had long reddish-brown hair that looked odd against my deep black eyebrows. I had a face cluttered with freckles and murky greenish-gold eyes.. I wasn’t one of the appealing girls to the guys I went to school with.

It never  bothered me though, I wasn’t really interested in dealing with the awkward beginning stages of liking someone. The tense forced conversations that took forever to develop into more never really appealed to me. I mean now that I’ve became a couple months older, I yearn for the affection of someone, not even a boy, just anybody. I crave the warmth of another's human skin against mine. After some months of being so alone, you start to hallucinate things.

I open my eyes and see red everywhere. There seems to be a commotion around me, my eyes clear up, and I see two men in  dark-blue almost black colored tops. Their faces are covered in a look of anger. My brain begins to focus more, and I realize that I am laying in the bed on a van. What’s going on? Why can't I move my body? A scream erupts my confusion and try to turn my head to look. Mom? Dad?  Is that you? I suddenly feel hands around my neck and look up in fear. I see the face of a familiar stranger. His  grip tightens and I open my mouth but I don't hear any words come out. Then everything goes black.

Dreams like that constantly haunt me in my sleep. I had never been too sure about what they meant though. Maybe my brain was trying to tell me something. Who knows. All I know is that the night those dreams appear are the worst, most sleepless nights that I have. I know when the dreams are coming too. I can just sense it in my body, and no matter how hard I try to stay awake, it never works. My body turns against me and shuts off. It’s crazy how long you can actually last without sleep though, I’ve survived days at a time not sleeping and have felt perfectly fine.

I have found it a lot easier to exist ever since the world disappeared: no one to impress, no one to disappoint, nobody to tell me what to do, or what's right and wrong. I mean don’t get me wrong, I totally missed having that parental advice that my parents always decided to preach to me whenever something didn't follow my plans but... it was also extremely nice to have the silence.

Sometimes I’d lay in my bed and wonder if anybody else was out there. All of these images appeared in my head of me finding another human who thought they were alone. We would befriend each other and just live our lives out together. I knew there was a zero to none chance of me ever finding someone to accompany me on the rest of this life journey but I could dream. And I most definitely would dream; it’s what kept me from going insane.

I see complete darkness no matter where I turn my head. I feel my body start to fill up with panic. My breathing begin to come out of my mouth heavily. My heart sinks to the bottom of my stomach. A soft humming noise begins in my ears and slowly becomes louder and louder until it’s a loud obnoxious bang, bang, bang, and then, silence. Everything goes quiet again. But not for long, I begin to hear a faint sound. I can’t exactly tell what the sound is, but it sounds like birds chirping. I feel a gentle breeze cover my body and then realize that I had my eyes clenched shut. I open my eyes to the most beautiful scene; all kinds of delicate flowers flowing in the wind, trees as tall as the sky towering over me, a feeling of placid happiness and hope in the air. This has to be the most beautiful meadow I have ever seen in my life. The fear begins to slip from my body and I start to relax. Then, across the way I see another person, it is the most insane experience ever; not having any contact with another human being for a year and then finally seeing one. I begin to make my way toward whoever it is and then I start to feel myself slip back into reality. I try my hardest to grasp on to the moment but all too soon, everything goes black again.

That was probably the closest that I will ever be to human interaction again. I mean I always wondered if there could possibly be someone out there just like me, looking for someone else, looking for hope to keep on going. I use to be so doubtful of finding someone else in this empty world, but after that dream I thought, maybe, just maybe, there could be someone out there who is just like me, alone and looking for hope.

I always wanted to go looking for someone else, but I never had enough confidence to do it; I was too afraid of failure. That had always been one of my biggest flaws, the fear of failure. I was so hard on myself growing up; I never wanted to be a disappointment, and I definitely never wanted to seem weak. Weakness was the biggest “no-no” in my family.

My dad NEVER let me be weak. From the age of five, he had me involved in some type of competitive sport. He always yelled about something. I don’t mean a mean and aggressive yell; he was just always hyped up about something. Growing up, I wasn’t one of those kids who just did things for fun, everything was a competition. It was never on purpose, It’s just what was programmed into my head. I just wanted to make my dad proud. That’s all I cared about. I know he’s gone now, but there’s just that instinctive part of me that wants to please him.

My mom was a completely different type of person. She was delicate, and kind and never raised her voice much.  She had the kindest soul I had ever had the pleasure of meeting, I mean I know I’m only 15, and I never really met many people, but I don't think someone could ever been as kind and compassionate as my mother. She was so incredibly selfless; she never put herself before anyone else. She always put the needs of my siblings and me before her own. I know my siblings were little, so she didn't really have a choice with all of that, but I know she sacrificed herself a lot for me. Whether it was leaving work early to attend all my sporting events or taking time out of her weekends to teach me how to drive. She always tried her best to balance her three kids into her busy life.

I always figured if I never tried to find someone else, I could never fail. And like I said, failing just wasn’t an option. I mean I knew my dad wouldn't  be around to see me fail, but I had a glimmer of hope that maybe, just maybe he was somewhere watching me and trying to help me figure out what actually happened. I knew it wasn’t very likely at all, but I still could dream. It was the only thought that kept me going.

The patter of rain wakes me into this fantasy dream. I always think it is strange that I can tell that I am actually in a dream. Usually people just don’t even comprehend what is even going on until after they already wake up. I roll over in my fluffy, cloud-like bed and turn to look out my window. I am startled to see the familiar stranger who had inhabited my dreams standing in my bedroom when I look away from the window.

“Who are you?” My voice rings out shakily in the silence.

His ghost-like voice rings back,“Oh my dear, i'm your conscience, but you can just call me C.”

My brows crinkle up into confusion. My conscience? How can MY conscience be standing before me?  Is that even possible? This doesn't make any sense.

I guess I take too long to respond because my “conscience” irritably says, “Well, don't just stand there staring at me you fool, there is work to be done.”

“Work to be done?” I question.

“Yes, your brain has decided to hide some memories from you, and now, it is my job to gain them back,” he scoffs.

I feel as if I have irritated him, but I was too scared, of how he may respond, to ask.

His irritated voice rings me out of my internal dialogue “Well, hurry up now, get dressed; make sure that it’s comfy; we’re going to be walking a while.”

I hurry around to find an outfit picked out and put on before I rush out the door.

We begin our journey walking towards the mountains that line part of the outskirts of my neighborhood. By the time we are at  the base of the mountain, I am dripping sweat and extremely irritable.

“Uhhhhh about how much longer do you think this is gonna be? I’m not really a fan of sweat,” I inquire from my so-called “conscience”.

“Just suck it up and let's go. You’re wasting time, and your breathe. You’ll need all of the energy that you can get to make it to the top of this mountain.” He responds snootily.

We begin the treacherous journey up the mountain side, and after what I think is a ten thousand hour walk we finally reach a stopping point; a dark, mysterious, scary cave. Great.

“We can stop here for a while so you can recover.” I hear from inside the darkness.

“Yeah I’ll pass on the whole going inside thing,” I reply., “I think I’ll just stay out here and rest.

“No you imbecile, we have to travel through the cave anyways. It would be stupid of you to sit out there. Suck it up and come inside,” He yells out from deep inside the cave.

And so that is exactly what I do; I close my eyes shut really tight and run into the cave a couple of steps. I open them into total darkness still and began to worry that I have somehow been left behind.

“Hello….?” I call into the darkness.

“Well come on now, we haven’t got all day,” his voice echoes back to me.

I take a few more steps and begin to see a faint light in the distance. About ten more steps and the light gets less faint. A couple more, the light gets brighter. As I get closer to the light, I become overwhelmed with a sensation like i've been here before.

As I approach the light the feeling becomes so stronger than all of my instincts are telling me that I need to turn around. I ignore them and keep walking, I get up to the light and notice that I have entered a small room-like area. My “conscious” is nowhere to be found when I walk in. I notice there is someone with long reddish-brown hair, deep black eyebrows, and a face cluttered with freckles, lying on a cot-like bed in the corner.  She looked so peaceful sitting in the corner and I really just did not want to startle her. I slowly walk towards her and as I did so the, bothersome, sensation of familiarity was shooting through my body with every step I took closer. I could feel my breathing start to get heavier and all my instincts start telling me to turn around, not to stay.  

A voice breaks the silence behind me, “You deserve to know the truth, your brain has been betraying you and I think you need to see for yourself what has really happened,” he said with the most sincere tone. I look back at him with the most confused look that I have ever had in my life.  “Go ahead, take a good look at her, see who she really is, see who I really am,” he said.

I turn back around and stare at the girl trying to figure out what he was talking about, then… my stomach sank down and it hit me. I was staring at myself.

I feel my whole body get covered in chills, how was I staring at myself? I turn around to question C, but when I look back… he’s gone.

“C??” I call out, “Where did you go.. C’mon this is not funny.”

I pause to see if I would get a response but I was greeted with total silence.  Fear begins to take over my body. What was going on? I can’t tell if I am dreaming or if this was real. I pinch myself to try and see if I am dreaming but I feel the pain and then the horror starts to hit me… Why am I here? What happened? How are there two of me? I turn back towards my body and reach out and brush the hair from my face. The first sign of contact sends floods of memories into my brain, I see myself walking home from the library and two men come out of the alley behind me and grab me. I see myself struggling and screaming for help but no one comes to my rescue. I see myself lying in the bed of the van, struggling to realize what is going on. C is there too, what's he doing there? He gets on top of me and then starts to strangle me.

I scream out for him to stop and then reality came back to me and I am back in the room-like cave; drenched in sweat. Was I murdered? I reach my hand towards the neck of my body and see the bruised marks in the shape of hands around my neck. I check for a pulse and feel nothing, just the cold familiar skin that I had been used to for so long.

It all hit me, I wasn’t the last person alive… All of those dreams I had, the ones about my family… those weren’t dreams, I was seeing them struggle to get by without me. I always thought my mind was wishing they were still here but that wasn't the case at all, they were trying to accept that I was gone. My mind played me. Blocked out my memories. I don’t have some greater purpose to fulfill before I died. I’m not meant to save the world.

I was dead.

Submitted: December 19, 2016

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