2020_07_21

The Day No One Showed Up

Imagine this. You get to work and no one is there. You work on the seventh floor of a tall generic office building. No one in the lobby of the building, no security. Elevator’s usually packed, but it’s empty. You press the button with a "7" on it. No stops at the other floors. Soon the display reads "7". The doors open. Empty. No one. There’s never no one. Even when you came in on a Sunday there were some janitors. But today is Tuesday. No one behind the reception desk. You walk through several rooms to your desk, peering in each cubicle and office. No one. You check the calendar on your phone. Nope, it’s not a holiday. You check your work email, then your personal email. No new work emails. No new emails at all. Usually there are at least a few spam messages. You dial a few coworkers, one after another. None answers. You dial your boss. Same. Now you start calling friends and family. You call your mom. You call your brother. No one picks up. The AC is on in the office but you’re sweating. You keep calling numbers. You go through all your contacts. You leave messages. You wrack your brain for old numbers memorized from childhood. You call those too. Finally you call 911. It rings for minutes and minutes, then abruptly hangs up. Dial again. Same.

You were a bit worried but now you’re starting to get freaked out. You think back. No one on the stairs in the morning. No one on the metro. Your work starts early but usually there’s at least a couple people. You haven’t seen a single person today, have you? No, you haven’t. You get back on the elevator. Go to "6". Lights are on but no one on this floor either. You check floors "5" down to "1". It doesn’t take long. You check the parking garage. Only a few cars, all empty. You ride the elevator back up to "8". Floors "8" through "10" empty too. You check the roof. From the roof you can see a long ways. No cars on the roads. No pedestrians. You can see the river and a few bridges. You can see where downtown makes way to suburbs that climb and vanish under the canopy of forested hills. You don’t even see any birds. Nothing. is. moving.

Imagine. You shout at the top of your lungs. You don’t even know what you say. Probably what you’d expect: "Hello! Can Anybody Hear Me!? Anybody!" Or maybe just inarticulate noises. You wait to see if anyone will poke a head out of a window, or come out onto the street and look up. You wait five minutes. Maybe ten. You shout again. Nothing. There’s a metal trash bin on the roof. People throw their cigarette butts in it mostly. You used to throw your cigarette butts in it. It’s heavy. You heave and roll it to the edge of the building. Have to make a noise. Gotta see if anyone is around. This will get their attention. You hoist it up onto the raised edge of the roof. Breathe in. Breathe out. Shove it off. It plummets fast. Think how fast it falls. And just when it seems it might keep falling forever it crashes violently into the sidewalk. Crumples in on itself in an instant. The noise is satisfactory. It echoes down the canyons of tall office buildings. You stay leaning over the edge of the roof, watching, listening. Someone will come investigate. The raised edge of the roof is pressing into your solar plexus. You can’t breathe, but you don’t move. You keep watching, listening. Ten minutes pass. Ten more. Nothing. You stand up. You groan. You shout. You scream, you shriek. You clench your fists. You howl. Then you go back inside, take the stairs, go back to your desk. You fire up your computer. You open up some news sites. Nothing of note. Nothing anywhere to explain the sudden disappearance of thousands (millions?) of people, and maybe animals too. Nothing to explain a city turning into a ghost-town overnight. You open up several message boards and forums. You open up a new email draft and add all your contacts as CCs. You open up a text-editor to write a message which you’ll copy and past into the email, into all the forums and message boards. You’ll print it out too. You’ll mail it to random addresses. You’ll staple it to telephone poles and message boards in grocery stores. People will see it. Someone will see it. And they’ll write you back. They’ll come find you. You start to type. You should ask if anyone is out there. You should ask what’s going on. But your brain isn’t working right. It can’t handle what’s going on. It’s replaying everything. So instead of asking for help, instead of giving contact information, proposing a meeting place, your fingers clack on the keyboard and you type "Imagine this. You get to work and no one is there. You work on the seventh floor..."