My Fading Farewell

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

Travis comes out of a daze while driving to discover he's driving a stranger's car, wearing a stranger's clothes, and covered in blood; and he has no memory of the past 12 hours. He retraces his footsteps to regain his memories and get to the bottom of the mystery.

Several bright red lights reflected off scattered raindrops, turning my windshield into an impressionistic painting. I don't know if that was the trigger, but it was the first thing I noticed as I came out of my haze. Before that, my body had been driving while my mind wandered.


As my surroundings slowly came into focus, I tried to remember what I had been daydreaming about just now, but my thoughts were distant and confused. And that's when things got strange. 


It felt like I was thawing out; things came into focus in bits and pieces. First, I noticed that the steering wheel was black, instead of the brown one I was expecting. Then I realized my dashboard was set up strangely. The car seats and door panels were white, mine were beige. This wasn’t my car. 


Befuddled, I glanced around the car for clues about its owner. The center console had a cellphone in it but it wasn’t mine. As I searched the sides of the phone for its power button, I saw what appeared to be bruising and blood on my knuckles. I flinched when the sleeve of my shirt caught my eye and I realized it was unfamiliar. I looked down to discover I was dressed completely in a stranger’s clothes and they were covered in blood stains too. 


Suddenly, a blinding light washed over me. The driver behind me was riding my ass with their brights on. I tried getting over but I was met with a honking horn as the person in the lane next to me sped up and blocked me from merging. I swerved back into my lane and the asshole behind me honked too.


“Fuck you,” I yelled at both of them.


Squinting, I decided to flip up the rearview mirror. As my hand reached up, my vision caught the mirror and I was startled to find strange eyes staring back into my own. I nearly crashed into the center divider when I turned to the backseat to see who those strange eyes belonged to but there was no one there. I frantically searched back and forth, even reaching underneath the seats like a crazy person. I was definitely alone. My whole body was shaking. I flipped the rearview mirror up and left it that way for the rest of the night.


Those red lights on my windshield finally disappeared as the traffic in front of me cleared up. Behind me, the raging asshole was still on my tail. I frantically merged out of his way. He flipped me off as he sped past.


I pulled off the freeway at the next exit. I didn't recognize the area. There was a fast food restaurant on the corner with a drive-thru full of cars. It was too busy, so I drove on, listening to the combination of rainfall and my wiper blades, and searching for a more secluded place to stop. I was scared and I was also in shock. Everything felt far away, like none of this could possibly be happening to me. 


After driving for several blocks, I found an empty parking lot in front of some closed businesses. I parked in the most concealed spot I could find, behind some bushes and underneath some trees, and shut off the engine.


I picked up the strange phone again. It wasn’t the same brand as mine but I eventually figured out how to turn it on. Once the screen lit up, I swiped my finger across the screen to discover it was locked. Randomly typing in numbers got me nowhere, so I set the phone aside and tried for the glovebox. It was also locked. I looked over at the ignition and saw several keys dangling from the keyring. I pulled the keys out and tried one of them on the glovebox. With a quick turn, it popped open. 


Inside were two items: a piece of folded-up paper resting and a gun. I gawked at the gun in horror. My hand trembled as I reached inside and picked it up. As soon as my fingers touched the cold metal of the firearm, the deafening sound of a gunshot rang through my ears. Was this a memory? The stench of black powder burned in my nostrils. My senses became overloaded and distorted. 


Slowly, everything returned back to normal. The gun was resting comfortably on the catseat. I decided to return my attention back to the piece of paper. Unfolding it revealed some sort of drawing, but I couldn’t tell what it was a drawing of. There were some scribbles here and there, and a circle near the middle. Was this a map? I reluctantly, squeamishly grabbed the gun. This time there was no noise or smell, just a terrifying weapon in my hand. I gently placed it and the drawing back inside the glove box, shut it closed, and locked it.


I searched my mind for answers. I couldn’t remember much. I couldn't figure out where I was coming from or where I was going. I felt dizzy, like I'd been drugged. I had amnesia, but only from the past few hours. I remembered waking up. I had breakfast with my wife. I showered. I left my apartment to go to work. And then...then what? Total darkness. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t recall. I decided I had to retrace my steps. Maybe I could regain my memories if I went back through my day. At the very least, I had to figure out whose car I was driving, and whose blood-stained clothes I was wearing. First, I decided to go home, clean myself up, and get rid of these clothes.


I exited that quiet parking lot, drove back past the busy fast food joint, and got back on the freeway.


The clock on the dashboard read 10:42 PM as I drove into my neighborhood. I parked a few doors down from where I lived and killed the engine. The neighborhood seemed to be sleeping -- every apartment was dark and silent.


The rain had cleared up but the ground was still wet. My footsteps made soggy thuds against the concrete as I approached my front door. It was only when I got to the door that I realized I didn’t have my apartment key on me. I walked around to the side of the apartment, searching for a window I could crawl through or some other way in, until I eventually ended up at the back gate. I took a long look back and forth to make sure no one was watching me, and then I went for it. One of my pant legs got caught as I climbed over the top. The gate wailed and I crash-landed on the other side. That hurt. The grass made wet crunching sounds as I crossed over the lawn. Eventually, I ended up outside the kitchen window. The window screen squeaked back and forth for the minute or so it took me to wriggle it off. I set it down and, to my surprise, the window slid right open. It was so dark inside the apartment that I knocked over the dish soap, sponge rack, and who knows what else as I crawled through that tiny space.


Once I was inside, I was essentially blind. I fumbled through one of the cabinets until I found a small box and plucked a trash bag from it. Then, finally, I disrobed. I felt a small bit of relief as each piece came off, and I deposited them right into the garbage bag. I turned on the sink faucet and waited for the water to turn warm. Now that I was in a safe place, everything was sinking in as I sat there with my fingers under the water. I closed my eyes and wished I was dreaming. My mind wandered back to those blood stains, my bruised knuckles, the gun. I became so scared that I started hyperventilating.


I nearly yelped when the water became so hot that it snapped me back to reality and caused me to yank my hand away from it. I moved the knob over to cool it down and poured dish soap all over my face, body, and hair. I proceeded to give myself a bird bath, scrubbing my skin violently in an attempt to wash away all that blood and grime. I went over every inch of myself. As the blood rinsed down the drain I wondered who it belonged to. The thought terrified me. When that was done, I dried myself off with an entire roll of paper towels.


As I drifted through the living room, I stubbed my toe on a dining room chair. A shot of pain struck through me like a lightning bolt and I sharply bit my lip to stop myself from crying out. That pain crawling up my neck turned into a full blown headache in a split second. I fell into the thickest fog cloud I'd ever been in. I couldn't see my hands or feet. I felt something tugging at me, as if it were trying to pull me under water. I was pulled down, dragged into darkness. I wasn’t in control anymore. I was a passenger. I was in the background while something else was in control. I could barely see or hear anything. It was like trying to listen in on a conversation through a wall, only much worse.


Who knows how long I was in that state? When I finally came out of it, I was standing, naked, in my bedroom. There was a large kitchen knife in my hand, and I was staring down at my wife. I started convulsing in fear as the knife slipped from my fingers. I backed away as it fell to the ground, and I accidentally collided with the closet doors.


"Travis," she mumbled. It was too dark to see anything, so I imagined her confused eyes staring at me. 


"Yes," I said. My voice was barely a whisper.


"What are you doing?" She asked. I tried thinking of something to say, anything that would explain what was happening, but I just stood there, dumbfounded. "Come to bed.”


I panicked. I randomly grabbed some clean clothes from the closet and rushed out into the living room. I happened to kick the trash bag with those strange clothes in it as I ran out of the bedroom. I quickly dressed myself before collecting the bag and escaping the apartment. I don’t know if my wife had fallen back asleep, or if she’d woken up and was searching for me. I just had to get out of there. I hurried to the car, tossed the garbage bag in the back, and took off.


I broke several laws exiting my apartment complex: speeding, running multiple stop signs, and I think I even sideswiped a trash can. Once I was out of there, I turned on the radio to try calming myself down. Hopefully some rock music would distract me.


I worked for Sentry Incorporated, a firm that provides security services for other businesses. This particular office complex was run by a tech. company that designed and engineered computer components for all types of gadgets: machinery, computers, cars, aircraft, boats, e.t.c. Each shift starts with the guards reporting to the security office to sign in and pick up their assignments for the day.


It was 11:40 PM as I pulled up front and took a spot next to the security office. The security office was a small building, maybe 300 or 400 square feet. Just big enough for a guard and some equipment. 


As I walked up toward the security office, I heard some EDM playing from inside. The guard on duty beamed a flashlight on me. “Can I help you?


I raised my hand up to shield my eyes from the light. I recognized his voice. He  was kind of a squirrelly fella. The two of us had worked together a few years earlier. In fact, we had both started working for Sentry Inc. around the same time. "Is that you, Brandon?”


“What are you doing here,” he asked. “I thought you weren’t feeling well?”


“Can you put that light down,” I asked.


“Why are you here,” he asked again, purposefully not putting down the light.


“I think I left my phone and wallet here,” I explained. “Mind buzzing me in?”


"This couldn't have waited until the morning?" He didn't move an inch toward the buzzer. 


"No…” I tried thinking of a clever lie to say but I couldn’t think of anything.


"Really?" he asked. I felt like a criminal as he continued staring at me.


"What's with the third degree?" I asked. “Can you please turn that light somewhere else?”


He finally laughed and  buzzed the door open for me. “I’m just messing with you,” he said. “Come on in.”


“Thank you,” I said as I walked through. 


I searched through the day’s assignments to see where I was assigned: Building C. I grabbed a set of security keys and a flashlight, and made my way to the door.


“Take a walkie with you,” he said as he handed one to me. "In case there are any issues."


“Sure thing,” I replied as I grabbed it from him and left. "Thanks."


"No problem," he said. "Later, Tyler.”


That stopped me in my tracks because my name is Travis. As I was halfway turned around to say something, I decided to let it go. "See you later."


The office complex was a short walk from the security office. During the day, the courtyards were bustling. At night, they were barren and silent. The people who worked here made really good money, and you could tell from the aesthetic design and atmosphere. 


I went straight to Building C and used the security key to enter. It was even nicer inside than it was outside. Expensive paintings hung on the walls, and the carpets and furniture were all very fashionable. In the center of the lobby was a security checkpoint. I searched through the desk for my wallet and keys, but there was no sign of them. As I continued down the halls, the only sounds I heard were my own footsteps as they echoed off the walls. Eventually I ended up in an elevator. I pressed the button for the fifth floor and the doors closed.


The fifth floor was the halfway point of the building. It was full of laboratories and offices. Technicians, programmers, and engineers all worked here on various machine parts and computer components. As I entered the breakroom, my flashlight illuminated a trash can full of paper plates, wrapping paper, and some ribbons. I remembered those plates. Jessica, one of the engineers who worked here, had celebrated her birthday with her coworkers and friends. I examined those paper plates more closely and saw that they were covered in the same chocolate frosting from the cake they were eating. When I came through the break room earlier, I was greeted with cheers and laughter and offered a piece of that cake. How could I say no? It tasted chocolatey and delicious. I now wondered if that cake had been drugged. I remembered enjoying that cake on the way back to the security room. All the labs and offices were empty because everyone was celebrating Jessica’s birthday. If the cake had been drugged, it would’ve affected everyone, so there’s no way that’s what messed me up.


As I entered the security room, I found the dirty plate sitting next to the computer, where I had left it earlier. I sat down and tossed it into the trash can. I instinctively turned the computer on and checked the feeds. Everything was normal. I could feel my headache coming back, so I closed my eyes and massaged my temples for a while. When I opened my eyes again, one of the feeds had gone dark. I flicked the screen a few times, as if that would somehow fix it, but nothing happened.


“Hey Brandon,” I called out over the walkie talkie.


“What’s up?” replied Brandon.


“Is anyone in this building with me?” I asked.


“Nope,” he said. “Jacob is in Building B right now, and Edgar is in Building A. Why?”


“One of the feeds just went out,” I replied.


“Oh great.” He sounded exasperated. “Would you mind checking it out for me?” 


"I'm not on the clock right now," I answered.


"Come on, man," he begged. "I don't want to have to run all the way over there." 


I hesitated before replying: "Fine.”


The camera I was looking for was in a supply room on the other side of the building. As I passed by lab after lab and office after office, I had the sickening feeling someone was watching me. Occasionally, I swore I caught a glimpse of someone following me. 


I picked up the walkie again. “You’re sure I’m alone in here, right?”


“Yeah, positive,” he replied.


I eventually arrived outside the supply room where the feed was broken. As I walked up to the door, I heard faint noises coming from inside. I held my breath and put my ear up against the door. The noise went silent.


“Is anyone in there?” I asked rather timidly. 


No reply. I grabbed the doorknob and slowly twisted it until the door popped open just an inch or two. I pointed my flashlight through the gap but all I could see were shelving units with stacks of supplies on them. A shiver went down my spine. I couldn’t take the suspense anymore, so I kicked the door open and burst inside a couple steps. 


“Is anyone here?!” I shouted this time.


I swung my flashlight back and forth. I was alone, it appeared. I went around the cabinets and shelves to the back corner of the room where the camera was, and climbed up on top of a cabinet so I could reach the camera. I discovered the plug was hanging loose. As I wondered how that could’ve happened, the supply room door slammed shut! I fell from the cabinet and hit the ground hard.


As I picked myself up, I searched my immediate area for a weapon. All I found was a screwdriver resting on one of the shelves. I swiped it up and inched towards the supply room door. As I closed in on it, I heard what sounded like someone clawing at the door. I readied the screwdriver like a knife, swung the door open, and lunged at a shadowy figure I saw standing outside the door.


“Stop, stop,” the figure shouted. “It’s me, Jacob!” He removed a dark mask and I discovered it was, indeed, Jacob.


“You assholes,” I screamed as I dropped the screwdriver and fell onto my hands and knees. “I could’ve killed you! I could've died from a heart attack!” Jacob responded by rolling over and laughing. Moments later, Brandon joined in on the laughter over the walkie talkie. I shut off the walkie talkie and stormed off.


Back in the elevator, I hit the button for the top floor. I was nearly hysterical and I couldn’t control my breathing. Adrenaline was pumping through my veins. As the elevator started to ascend, I lost my equilibrium. I reached out as I fell down. I was sinking again. I struggled to pull myself up, but I continued falling. I was back in the muck. The sound of amplifier feedback screeched through my ears. My limbs weighed a thousand pounds, each. I was being buried. I could feel dirt landing on me, shovel full by shovel full. Eventually I was entirely covered in dirt. I laid there in limbo for a while. Then I regained a little sensation in my limbs. I started crawling out of the grave. My body got lighter as I got closer to the surface. The screeching noise gradually faded away.


When I came to this time, I was sitting in the top floor security office with a piece of paper clutched in my fist. I examined the paper more closely. The words, “Don’t come back,” were written on it over and over and over. I crumpled it up and dropped it on the floor. I didn't understand what it meant, or where it came from. I searched the office for my wallet and keys but I found nothing. There was one last place to check, the final stop of my security route. There’s a small security shed out back. It's where we turn in our security reports, fill out our requests, store faulty equipment, keep logs, e.t.c.


I avoided the elevator and took the stairs down all ten flights, instead. I exited out the back of the building, walked across the back parking lot, and entered the security shed. It's tiny inside there, you could barely fit two people. It's full of drawers and shelves covered in paperwork, files, and clipboards. I opened the top drawer on the shelf nearest the door, and scanned through it until I found today’s security report. My notes were there, clear as day:


  • 8:45 AM - A delivery person came into the building without identification. Removed him from the premises.
  • 10:30 AM - All Clear
  • 11:30 AM - Discovered faulty camera feed in one of the labs. Had to move all the
  • equipment to a separate lab and order new equipment to fix the feed.
  • 1:00 PM - All Clear
  • 2:30 PM - All Clear
  • 3:45 AM - Same delivery person from before returned. Still had no identification.
  • Warned the person they would be arrested if they returned. Removed from
  • premises.
  • 5:30 PM - All Clear

As I scanned through the report, something caught my eye: that wasn’t my handwriting on the final "All clear." Everything else was written in my handwriting but that last one was definitely done by someone else. As I tried to think of who might’ve written that last part, I heard a familiar tone coming from underneath one of the desks. It was my cell phone. As I laid down on the floor to retrieve it, I noticed some drops of blood on the shelf and ground nearby.


I quickly unlocked my phone to discover I had a new text message from my wife, asking where I was. I didn’t have the headspace to deal with that right then so I disregarded it. Instead, I opened up the security application for my car. Using the app, I asked where my car currently was. My foot beat against the floor like a maniac as I waited for it to track my car’s GPS and zoom in on its location. It was out in the boonies, some place I’d never been to before. I had a horrible feeling about all of this. I ransacked the rest of the room but found no trace of my wallet or keys, so I left.


I was back on the road and it started raining again. As I drove toward my destination I wondered what tomorrow would bring. Would this all turn out to be an elaborate prank? Would my life go back to normal and everything be okay? I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had done something terrible. If that were the case, nothing would ever go back to normal.


My car was about an hour away, in the middle of nowhere. I saw a gas station coming up, and I was tired, so I decided to stop by for some coffee. Maybe I wasn't tired. Maybe I was just trying to put off the inevitable. I pulled off at the next exit. Luckily, whoever owned this car kept a sizable amount of change in one of the cup holders. I took what I needed and entered the gas station. I felt like I was sleepwalking. I don’t even remember talking to the attendant, I just grabbed the coffee, threw the money on the counter, and left. The mirror was broken when I went inside to use the bathroom. The lights flickered, and only one of them worked. The floor was disgusting, wet and sticky at the same time.


As I was getting back onto the freeway, a cop pulled up behind me. I guess I shouldn't have stopped. I stared at that damn light for what seemed like an eternity, waiting for it to change. A bead of sweat dripped down my face. I was in agony, begging for the light to change. I nervously tapped my finger on the steering wheel, counting seconds in my head. I looked in my side mirror and made eye contact with the officer. I smiled, but she remained stone-faced. Finally, mercifully, the light changed to green. I turned onto the freeway, and the cop made a u-turn and went the other way. I let out a sigh of relief. 


GPS doesn’t work so well when you’re off-road. It does this funky thing where it loops back around on itself and it tends to lead you around in circles without ever getting you where you’re supposed to be. Frustrated, I decided to pull over and search for my car with my own two eyes. Before leaving the car, I took a look over at the glovebox. I’ve been mulling over its contents all night and now, even though the idea made me quiver, I decided to take out the gun and the drawing. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find tonight, but, for some reason, I felt I needed to take both items with me.


I wandered through the forest for a while. The trees protected me from the rain, mostly. A cold wind blew through. I spotted the tail-end of a wild coyote running away from me. After about a half hour of searching, I finally found something. It was buried under some branches and leaves and other debris, parked right under a massive tree. I pulled off all the branches and debris. I found my car.


I pulled out my cell phone again and used the security app to unlock my doors. Reception wasn't great so it took a few seconds to work. A beep and a click later, I was finally climbing inside. It looked like it had been cleaned out. My glove box and center console were both empty, missing registration and insurance paperwork that I always kept there and my personal hygiene kit for emergencies. I popped the trunk open and went around to the back of the car. I found blood stains on the back bumper and inside the trunk, as well as a shovel. The fabric was torn in there, signs of a struggle. My license plate was missing. That dreadful feeling I’d felt all night intensified.


I surveyed the area. As I looked back and forth, a particular tree caught my eye. It reminded me of the drawing I found inside the glovebox of the car. I reached inside my back pocket and pulled it out. When I compared it to the area in front of me, I was able to match up certain trees and rocks. I grabbed the shovel from the trunk and followed the map until it led me to where the circle was drawn. 


There, I found an ominous pile of tree branches and debris. I set the gun on the ground and started digging. With each pile of dirt, I knew I was coming closer to the truth. Whatever it was, whatever was at the end of this, I knew I had to face it. Scoop by scoop I worked as sweat poured down my face and body. After several minutes, I started to think there was nothing there. I was starting to feel relieved, like I was in the clear. Everything was going to be okay. And then I hit something solid. 


I tossed the shovel aside and lept into the hole. I was clawing at the dirt with my hands now. My heart sank when I uncovered that first leg. I stopped digging and stared at it for a while. This is what I was afraid of finding. I started weeping as I sat there, knowing nothing would ever be the same. Could I lie to my wife about this? Could I cover the whole thing up and pretend it never happened? 


I starred digging again as tears continued falling down the sides of my face. I uncovered the other leg. As the torso came into view, I could tell it was a man’s body. Whoever he was, he was dressed in the same style security outfits that we wear at my work. Was this a coworker?  I uncovered the arms. I saw a wedding band around one of his fingers. Strangely, it looked like my wedding band. I kept digging and pulling until I finally had the entire body uncovered and laid out before me.


I fell back in shock. It all started coming back to me. The strange car, the strange clothes, the blood stains, everything; it all made sense. I was dead. The body I was looking at was my own. I had been at work, in the security shed. I heard the door open but didn't check to see who was there. They attacked me from behind. I was barely conscious as they carried me to my car, dragged me into the trunk, drove me here, placed me in this grave, and shot me. They buried me while I was dying. I can taste the dirt in my mouth and feel it in my lungs. I was a ghost now, possessing my murderer’s body.


Tyler was the killer. He was one of my coworkers. I didn’t really know him all that well. He always seemed uncomfortable around me. I’d catch him staring at me sometimes. Whenever I would talk to him, he would act extremely weird. I figured he had an anxiety complex or something.


I had taken Tyler to my home. He took control while we were there. He was standing over my wife with a knife in his hand. He took control again back at work. He was the one who wrote that note. I could feel him fighting me this whole time and he was doing it again right now. I couldn’t let him win. I had to do something before I lost control again.


I clawed my way out of that grave. A flash of pain shot through me. I dragged myself over to the gun. I felt myself slipping. I picked up the gun. Hands were tugging at my feet. I aimed the gun at my temple. Those same hands now clawed up my legs. I pulled the trigger.




Nothing happened. I pulled the trigger again.




Still nothing. I pulled the trigger again and again and again. The damn gun was empty. I could hear Tyler laughing in my mind. I screamed and threw the gun to the side. I reached in my pocket and retrieved my cell phone. The darkness was rising up, over me. I unlocked the screen. Pain overtook my whole body. I pressed 9. Screeching madness in my ears. I pressed 1. The whole world flipped upside down. I was tumbling, head over feet, over and over into oblivion. Reality turned into chaos. Up was down, left was right, all light blended together and overwhelmed me. I could feel his grip on every part of my existence, pulling at me and ripping me apart. If he took control this time, I might never get it back.


I thought of my wife. I was back in the room with her when Tyler was in control. It felt like I was in a fog cloud at the time but I was really stuck in the back of his mind. I could hear his thoughts, though they were distant. His thoughts disturbed me. He wanted to torture her, control her, and murder her. His essence was overtaking my own. He wanted to devour my spirit and soul. When he finished with me, he was going to go back for her. I could feel it. The feeling made me violently ill; I fell down and vomited.


When I finally stopped coughing, I could feel I had regained a little bit of control, but I could still feel myself disappearing. The phone was no longer in my hand. I searched the ground; it had fallen into the grave. I reached down to grab it and barely got a finger on it. I stretched my arm toward it, the shift in weight caused me to fall into the grave. Finally, I picked it up and I pressed the last 1. I hit send, and then I waited.


“911, what’s your emergency?” I heard a voice say. I was barely there and fading quickly.


“I just murdered someone,” I said. My voice sounded so far away, so quiet. “You need to come arrest me right now.”


Then I was gone forever

Submitted: May 31, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Kenneth Wood. All rights reserved.

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