Coming Home to Silence

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic


College students Justin and Rachel are coming home to Justin's hometown of River City to find that the town is left abandon. Where did everyone go? Is it something logical? Or is there something
more sinister?

Submitted: September 26, 2017

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Submitted: September 26, 2017

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If you’re looking for a place where peace and tranquility are always the theme, perhaps living in a small town is a good place to start.  Living in small town can be a great escape from the everyday life in a bustling city.  For the residents of small towns, they are places where crime is low and everybody knows you by name.  However, what happens when a resident returns to his hometown and gets an eerie feeling that something is not right?

After two months of living in the dorm, Justin decided to surprise his parents by coming home to his small town for the weekend for the first time since leaving for college back in August.  Along with the surprise visit, he wanted his parents to meet Rachel, his new girlfriend of one and half months.  Justin and Rachel drove in Justin’s dark blue pick-up truck as they made the 200-mile drive from campus to Justin’s hometown of River City.

“Do you think your parents are going to like me?” Rachel asked Justin as she looked at the passing landscape through the passenger side window.

“I think they will,” Justin said as his hazel eyes were targeting the road up ahead.  “They’re really nice and you’ll love my mom’s cooking.” 

Justin looked over at Rachel before looking back at the road. 

“I hope so; I want to make a good impression on your parents, Justin,” Rachel said.

“I know you will, and you have nothing to worry about,” Justin assured her, which made her laugh.

“I believe you, Justin,” Rachel said as she reached over and grabbed his right hand.  The two looked at each other briefly and smiled.  They continued to drive on a lonely main road through the dense forest and rolling hills.  After several hours, they reached the outskirts of River City.

River City was a small community that lay on the Cedar River near tall bluffs that towered over 700 feet from the river’s banks.  Due to the town’s location, it was only two streets wide and 4 miles in length from end to end.  Railroad tracks ran alongside of the river and through the small town, which had a tendency to wake people up in the middle of the night. 

Justin and Rachel went past a green and white sign, which read, “River City, Pop 1034.”  As they got into town, Justin noticed something was different. 

“This is strange,” he said.

“What’s the matter?”  Rachel asked.

“I just have a strange feeling about something,” Justin said to Rachel.

“I’m sure you’re just nervous about introducing me to your parents,” Rachel suggested.

“No, no, that’s not it,” Justin said as he looked at the historic buildings and the sidewalks.  “Why does it feel like we’re the only ones here?” 

Rachel started to notice the strange stillness of the town as Justin pulled his truck over to the side of the road in the downtown district of River City.  He turned off the ignition, causing the truck’s engine to go silent.  The two got out of the truck, looking around their surroundings, and they immediately noticed the peculiar stillness.

“Where is everybody?”  Rachel asked Justin, walking over to the front of the truck, where Justin was standing.

“I don’t know, Rachel,” Justin said.  The two started walking down the sidewalk. “This is weird.”

“Are you playing a joke on me or something?”  Rachel giggled thinking that Justin had a trick up his sleeve since she was use of him playing practical jokes on her.

“If I was playing a joke, it wouldn’t involve the whole town,” Justin said looking over to Rachel, which caused Rachel’s expression to change.  Justin and Rachel walked down the cement sidewalk and passed a couple of cars with their doors left opened.  They soon walked across the street toward a restaurant that seemed to be open.

“Hello?” Justin shouted as they entered the main dining area.  “Hello, is there anyone here?”  The dining area had its lights on, but the room was vacant of any customers.  They headed toward the counter, where they noticed a cigarette was lying in an ashtray with smoke still coming off its lit tip. 

“O.K, someone is here,” Justin suggested looking at the ashtray with the lit cigarette.  “Hey!  If you’re playing a joke, you got us!  You can come out now!” he shouted toward the kitchen.  They waited for a response, but no one answered back.  Rachel could feel her heart beginning to pound as panic started to set in.

“This is really starting to freak me out,” Rachel said as Justin turned, trying to comfort her.

“Relax…,” Justin tried to speak, but Rachel started to panic.

“Relax?” she interrupted Justin.  “I am not going to relax; I’m going back to the truck!”  Rachel turned and bolted for the front door and Justin soon followed after her. 

“Rachel!”  Justin shouted as he chased after her.  Rachel ran out of the restaurant with Justin following close behind.

“Rachel!” Justin shouted her name again as he sprinted after her as they ran across Main Street.  “Wait!”  Justin finally caught up to her by grabbing her arm and getting her to stop.

“Listen!  We don’t know what the hell is going on here and the last thing I want you to do is be out here by yourself.”  Justin said with urgency.  Rachel began to panic as she pleaded with him.

“Please, let’s get back into the truck and get out of here.”  She pleaded.

“Yeah, let’s go.” Justin said in a calm voice as they headed over to his truck as he looked around at his surroundings for any sign of life.When they got to the truck, they got into the truck, and turned the ignition.  When its engine started, Justin put the truck into drive and sped off down the deserted street. 

“Where is everybody?”  Rachel asked, by this point she was beginning to cry.

“I don’t know,” Justin said trying to catch his breath.  “Maybe when we get to my place, we can find out what the hell is going on!”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” Rachel said looking at Justin before looking back at the passenger side window and wiping a tear off her cheek. 

As they made their way through downtown, they saw more cars parked on the side of the street with their doors open, and not a single person was walking on the street.  Justin turned left off Main Street and up Megan Avenue, where the street became steep as they went up the bluff to Second Street.  Once they reached Second Street, they noticed more vehicles standing empty on the side of the street and some with their doors open.

“It just seems as if everyone stopped what they were doing and left,” Justin thought as they headed toward his home at the south end of town.  They reached Justin’s home, which didn’t seem promising given how dark it was inside the house as they pulled into the driveway.

“O.K, here we are.  Let’s hope we can get some answers,” Justin said to Rachel. 

“Let’s hope so,” Rachel said as Justin turned the truck off.  The two calmly exited the vehicle, looking around their surroundings as if someone was watching them.  They slowly walked up to the front door as Justin grabbed his house keys.  He put the key into the keyhole and turned it slowly.  After hearing the sound of the door unlocking, Justin opened the door and both he and Rachel walked in.  Justin closed the door and locked it behind him.

“Mom,” he shouted, but there was no answer.  “Mom, dad, are you home?” 

They waited for an answer, but the house stood silent.  Justin made his way through the house, with Rachel following close behind him.

“Mom?”  Justin called out again, but once again, there was nothing.  They walked up a flight of stairs to the second floor and looked for Justin’s parents.  The search turned up nothing.  The two walked back downstairs into the kitchen, disappointed and all the more frightened about what was happening.

“That’s it!  I’m calling them to find out what’s going on,” Justin said as he pulled out his cell phone.  Suddenly, he just stared at it, causing Rachel to ask, “What’s the matter?”

“That’s strange,” Justin said flipping the phone open.  “I have no reception; what about your phone?”

Rachel pulled her phone out of her pocket, flipped it open, and said, “I have no bars.”

Justin walked over to the house phone that was sitting eye level on the wall. 

“I’ll try the house phone,” Justin said as he picked up the phone and put it up to his right ear.  “Yes!  It works.” 

Justin dialed his mother’s cell number and waited for her to pick up the phone.  Suddenly, the silence of the house was broken by the sound of a ringtone.  Justin and Rachel heard the sound, causing Justin to pull the phone away from his ear.  Rachel walked over to a wooden bowl, where she grabbed the cell phone that was still ringing.  Justin hung up the phone for a couple of seconds and picked it up again. 

“O.K,” Justin said, dialing another number as Rachel set Justin’s mom’s cell phone back in the wooden bowl.  “Let’s try my dad’s cell.”

Justin put the receiver up to his ear and waited for an answer.  This time, he got his father’s answering machine.  He waited a few seconds before saying, “Yeah, dad, it’s Justin.  Where are you?  Call the house when you get this message.” 

Justin hung up the phone and raised his hands to the back of his head as he paced around the kitchen in frustration.  Rachel sat down on one of the stools as her brown eyes followed Justin as he paced across the floor.

“So now what?”  Rachel asked Justin.  Justin walked up to the counter and leaned against it across from where Rachel was sitting.

“We could go back to campus,” Justin suggested.  “This is just too weird for me to stay here.”

“I agree.” Rachel got up from the stool.  “Let’s just go back.”

Suddenly, the house phone began to ring, prompting Justin to rush toward the phone and pick up the receiver. 

“Hello?”  Justin answered.  He couldn’t hear anything, but static on the line; however, he sensed that someone was on the other line listening.  “Is someone there?”

“You’re dead, Justin,” a faint voice said over the static.  Justin dropped the phone, which hit the tile floor with a thud.

“What happened?”  Rachel asked urgently.

“We have to get out here,” Justin said as he ran toward Rachel.  “Now!”

Justin grabbed Rachel’s hand and the two bolted for the front door. 

“Who was on the phone?”  Rachel asked.

“No time to explain...we have to get out of here!”  Justin said with fear in his voice.  They ran outside to Justin’s truck and got in.  Justin put the key into the ignition and turned it, but the engine wouldn’t start.  He tried again, but, it didn’t start.

“Come on, Justin!”  Rachel screamed at Justin as he got out of the truck and ran to the hood to see if the problem could be fixed.  He popped the hood open and checked the engine.  His hazel eyes surveyed the engine and realized that several electrical cords were cut.  Justin backed away from the truck.

“Rachel!  Get out of the truck!”  He shouted.

“Why?”  Rachel hollered from inside the truck.  Justin ran to the passenger side of the truck and pulled the door open.

“Someone screwed up my truck,” Justin told Rachel as she got out the truck.  “Get back inside the house!” 

The two ran back to the house, opening the front door and shutting it behind them.  Justin locked the door and leaned his back against it as Rachel looked back at Justin, beginning to panic.

“Justin, tell me what that call was all about,” Rachel shouted.

“Someone on the other end of that phone said that ‘I was dead,’” Justin said.  Rachel’s brown eyes widened at Justin’s admission about the phone call. 

“What?” she asked with disbelief.

“You don’t believe me?  Check the phone,” Justin said.  She looked toward the kitchen and could see that the phone’s handset was still on the floor.  She walked into the kitchen and picked up the handset of the phone.  She could faintly hear the constant beeping sound, so she put the handset back on the receiver.

Justin, meanwhile, began to walk into the kitchen as Rachel stared at the phone as if waiting for it to ring.  She looked over to Justin.

“O.K., why are we still here then?”Rachel asked crossing her arms and leaning up against the refrigerator. 

“We don’t know what the hell is going on in this town, but I’ll tell you one thing.  We are not going to just walk…”  Justin was interrupted when the phone started ringing again.  Both he and Rachel stared at the phone as it continued to ring.  Justin walked over to the phone and placed his right hand on the handset.  He looked over at Rachel and signaled her with his left hand to have her come over to where he was.  Rachel slowly walked towards Justin, lifted the handset off the receiver, and raised it to the side of his face so that Rachel could hear.

“Yeah,” Justin answered.  Rachel looked away so that her left ear could be near the speaker. 

“You’re dead, Justin!  We know you’re at home and we’re coming for ya,” the voice said.  Rachel turned her head toward Justin, staring at him with fear in her eyes. 

“Who is this?”  Justin demanded.  A click came over the speaker.  Whoever it was had hung up.  Rachel walked away and started pacing as Justin hung up the phone.

“Come on, Justin; let’s just make a run for it.  Isn’t there a place where we can go for the night?”  Rachel asked.

“Let me think,” Justin said, walking to the counter and sitting down on a stool.  “We could try to make it to the marina and get out of here by boat.” 

“How far is the marina?”  Rachel asked walking over to the counter.

“About three miles,” Justin answered.  Rachel looked at Justin like he was crazy.

“Are you insane?”  Rachel shouted.

“Relax, I got another idea,” Justin reassured Rachel.  “We could take the bike trail that goes up to a park that’s on top of the bluff.”

“Why there?”  Rachel asked.

“Maybe what’s going on here is not happening in the country.  Plus, we could go to a farmhouse for help,” Justin said.

“I’m not going out in the woods,” Rachel said, pointing in the direction of the bluffs.  “How do we not know that whatever happened here came from the woods?”

Suddenly, the telephone started ringing again.  Both stared at the phone as it continued to ring.  Justin turned and looked at Rachel.

“You got a better idea?” he asked. Rachel stared at the phone again before looking back at Justin and saying, “You made your point!” 

Now, the sun had set and with the cloudy skies, darkness came earlier than usual.  Justin and Rachel grabbed a couple of flashlights and quickly ran out of the house. They headed down Second Street toward the bike trail, a couple of blocks away going north.

As they jogged down the street, they could see their breath in the cold November air.  Suddenly, they could see shadows moving across the street under one of the street lights.  They looked back to see nothing, but knew that they were being followed by something. 

“Don’t look back, keep going,” Justin insisted as he held onto Rachel’s hand.  As they continued to run down the deserted street, they came to the town’s cemetery.

“Wait!”  Justin shouted as he saw the cemetery, and both came to a stop.  “We can get to the bike path faster by going through the cemetery.”

“Are you kidding me?”  Rachel shouted.  Suddenly, they could hear the sounds of rustling brush on the opposite side of the street from where the cemetery was and could see shadows appearing under the street lights.  Justin pulled on Rachel’s arm.

“Come on.”  Justin hollered as they ran into the cemetery, turning their flashlights on as they entered.  The sound of rustling brush was getting louder, and they began to hear whispers in the cold night air.  Justin and Rachel ran past gravestone after gravestone as they made their way through the cemetery until their flashlights, suddenly, went out.  They stopped running, trying to get them to go back on.

Suddenly, they noticed dark figures standing in the distance in front of them.  Justin and Rachel turned around and tried to run back in the direction they come from.

“Go back,” Justin said to Rachel.  They soon realized that more shadowed figures were entering the cemetery.  Rachel screamed as she realized they were trapped.  Dark shadows approached the two young people, and suddenly, the darken figures came to a stop and amid utter silence.

Justin and Rachel looked around at their surroundings, and Rachel leaned her body against Justin’s back. 

“Justin, who are you fooling?”  A voice from the shadows asked.

“What are you talking about?”  Justin said in a trembling voice.

“Don’t you remember?”  The voice asked.

“Remember what?  What am I supposed to remember,” Justin asked as he grabbed Rachel’s hand. He could hear the shivering in her breathing.  “Where is everybody?” 

Suddenly, he noticed that Rachel became silent and he could no longer feel her grip in his hand or her warmth next him. 

“Rachel?”  He said as he turned and could see Rachel beginning to fade into the darkness in front of his eyes.  “Rachel!”

She slowly disappeared in the night as Justin watched helplessly.

“She lives,” the voice whispered, all the words echoed throughout the other shadowy figures.

“What did you do to her?” Justin said as he became angry.

“We didn’t do anything to her.  Take your flashlight, point it toward the ground on your right,” the voice told Justin.  Suddenly, the flashlight came on as Justin did what he was told to do.  As he did, he noticed a freshly dug grave and pointed the beam of light toward the gravestone in front of it.

Justin went silent with shock as he read the words on the gravestone: “Justin Eric Taylor, Born July 9, 1990, and Died November 1, 2010,” was engraved on the polished granite stone.

“It’s coming back to you, isn’t it?”  A voice said.  Justin nodded his head as he walked up to the gravestone and fell to his knees as he began to remember.

“It’s coming back to me now,” Justin said as he began to break down, “Rachel and I were going to my hometown to meet my parents.  A deer ran across the road and I swerved to avoid it, but I lost control of the truck.”

“What happened next?”  The voice asked.  Justin began to tear up as the events of that day were starting to come back to him. 

“We rolled several times and it all went silent,” Justin continued as he tried to hold back the tears, “she survived the crash...”

“And?”  The voice asked Justin.  Justin looked up at the shadowy figures with tears running beginning to stream down his face.  He looked back down at the gravestone and took a deep breath.

“I’m dead and this is hell.”  He whispered as shock began to set in.

 

The End


© Copyright 2018 Christian Taylor. All rights reserved.

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