Read Disappearance Online

Authors: Ryan Wiley

Disappearance (3 page)

BOOK: Disappearance
10.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

If someone rings my doorbell three or four times, I'm off my chair ready to admire this person's tenacity. Which is why I begin venting my frustrating on this neighbors doorbell when they don't answer after a dozen rings. Unless this neighbor is deaf, they really must not be home.

OK, door number one is a bust so let's try door number two. Again, this is a neighbor I've never seen or met before. I forget what I plan on saying if they do answer. Something about the power outage and being their neighbor and that I'm crazy. Got it. As I ring this doorbell, I'm now starting to notice I can't actually hear the doorbell making a sound. It's been a long time since I've rung a doorbell, but I'm almost positive you can hear the "ding dong" from the outside of the house.

Then it occurs to me again that the power is out! Do doorbells even use electricity to function? I imagine so. I resort to excessive pounding on the door. As hard as I'm hitting the door, I'm guessing it's just as loud as the doorbell. If they are home, they should be able to hear this even upstairs.

I remind myself again that people do work at this time of day, but then remember nobody is out on the roads either!

I make my way to doors three, four, and five and get the same result. I go across the street, and knock on doors six through ten. Still nothing. This has to just be a coincidence. I persevere and knock on doors eleven through twenty-five. This covers my entire street so I make way to the next street over. Defeat is starting to creep in, not to mention a throbbing in my hands. I had to switch to using my left hand after door ten. I fight through the pain because, without any cars out, somebody has to be home. Somebody has to be sitting around in their pajamas waiting to answer their door. It's now that my worry scale goes from a five to six range to an eight or nine and quickly making its way to a 10. This isn't making any sense.

I hate to say it, because it sounds too ridiculous to think, but did everyone somehow disappear? I quickly dismiss the thought because there's no way this could be true. There has to be a logical explanation for this, although it's becoming graver and graver what that may be.

I make my way to the next street over to decide which house I'm going to try first. I decide on the nice two-story brick house with a tree in the front, perfectly mown and fertilized lawn, and a kid's rubber ball still on the front porch. They also have a nice black SUV in the driveway. As I get ready to knock, I take a deep breath and think this is going to be it. The craziness ends now when this person opens the door and explains what is going on. I knock on the door, again with complete confidence that someone is going to answer. Even knocking two, three, and four times I know they're going to answer. It's not until knocking five and six times that I start having doubts. And then knocking seven and eight times is when I know nobody is going to answer that door. I shrug it off and make my way to the house next door. Somebody has to be home. It's a numbers game, and that's all. I knock on the door, waiting and hoping, but nobody answers.

Now I start adding a thorough check through each window to my inspection process. Most windows I find have the blinds closed and do me little good. Some windows though have blinds that are only half closed or even completely open. For each window that I can see through it's more of the same.

The inside of the houses are, for the most part, clean and tidy with the occasional newspaper or shirt left out, but nobody is home. It's as if they were there last night, but gone today. I don't know if this realization makes me feel good or depresses me further. I suppose if every house was either in 100% spot-on condition, or if every house was completely empty of belongings, that would be a lot scarier -- scary movie type stuff. No, there must be a plausible explanation for this. I just haven't figured out what that is.

After I've knocked on around forty houses, I decide it's no longer a coincidence. I'm now convinced that nobody is home anywhere in this neighborhood. I don't know where they are or why they left, but I know they are no longer here. I try to calm myself down after coming to this conclusion. I keep telling myself there is a logical explanation for this and I can't wait to laugh later when I find out what it is.

If there were ever a person who would remain oblivious to what's going on, it would have to be me. After all, I haven't watched a news program in my entire adult life. I never look at or read any online news sites. Occasionally, I'll walk past a newsstand where I glimpse at the main headline. That's about it for me as far as keeping up with the news. I overhear coworkers discussing current events so, in a way, you could say that's how I keep up with the news. I just never found much interest in it -- too depressing for me.

With that, I make my way back to my house. I've spent the last couple of hours knocking on doors in the middle of the day on a weekday. I laugh a little at how silly that sounds. I normally like to follow a very detailed and structured routine, so this day has been quite the experience for me.

Before I enter my house, I check the gas gauge in my car to help with my decision process of what I'm going to do next. It looks like I still have about a half tank but I think the first thing I should do is stop by a gas station anyway. I have a very good feeling that, without power, gas stations aren't going to work. How could they? You do, after all, need electricity to display those dollars climbing higher and higher. Maybe by some miracle though the displays are battery operated and the gas gets filled into your car by a non-electric pump. Just thinking this makes me realize how far fetched it sounds. The gas station probably isn't going to work, but I still want to check it out first hand just to be sure.

The intrigue has me overwhelmed now, and I decide I must find out the answer. There's a gas station about two minutes and twelve seconds from my house, so it's a quick round trip I can make. If I weren't convinced that there's a good explanation why nobody is around, I wouldn't make the trip. I would save every last ounce of gas I have.

I pull out of the garage, not even bothering to pull the garage door down. On a normal day and a normal situation, I'm very cautious about leaving the garage door up. My car has a long history of being broken into. I join the long list of people who have had their CD players stolen. Another time, I had my car broken into for nothing more than the change that was visible in the cup holder. This thief's $2.27 robbery cost me a $500 out-of-pocket deductible to fix the car lock they ripped open. It would have offended me less if they had stolen something valuable.

There isn't much to steal in my garage anyway. It's big enough to fit my and Abby's car and that's about it. I do have a ladder, an edge trimmer, and a snow blower but I wouldn't lose a minute of sleep if those were stolen. I suppose it's the principle behind getting robbed that makes me want to prevent it by any means necessary. I rarely get upset but thieves seem to anger me more than anything. Abby feels the same way. If we had it our way, anyone who was convicted of stealing on more than one occasion would be sentenced to getting his or her hands chopped off. On the first offense we'd settle for a finger or two.

Pulling out of the driveway with the garage door still up speaks volumes to my confidence that nobody is around. As I make my way to the gas station, I'm already starting to regret my decision, even though it's only a five-minute trip. I push down hard on the accelerator and listen to the roar of my Chevy Cavalier's little four-cylinder engine. With nobody around, this is the first time I've felt the urge to be disdainful toward the law. I speed through the first stop sign and feel a rush of excitement. I can do anything I want now and nobody will know or care. I make my way to the gas station in record time -- twenty seconds faster than normal. I pull into the first available spot and look out my window with high anticipation. My fate and my next course of action depend heavily on what I'm about to witness. What I see is my worst fear; the display is empty. There's no power.

Still, I get out of my car, twist off my fuel cap and grab the gas hose. A couple drips of gas fall off the nozzle as I put it into my tank. I push up on the lever but I can tell nothing is coming out. I immediately look around as if to find some solution to this problem. Is there somewhere I can go where I can manually pump the gas? Nothing I see gives me that impression; I'm completely out of luck. Wherever I'm going to go, it better be close and I better have a good reason for going because now I only have about 130 miles of total driving left with this car. I know this, not because my car has any of those fancy mileage-prediction features but because I've driven my car for 150,000 miles now and I know almost down to the exact mile how far it will go with this amount of gas left. You start to pay attention to these things after you run out of gas four times in a span of two years. It's a dumb accomplishment that should also be worthy of getting your hands (or your head) chopped off.

What should I do now? In the worst case scenario, I can try to break into people's garages and see if they have a gas tank I can "borrow." I'm nowhere near that point of desperation yet though.

Seeing that there's no hope at the gas station and I have no further ideas left to explore here, I get back in my car. I take one last look at the gas station's mini-mart thinking about what I could do if I somehow broke into the store. Would I be able to turn on the pumps then? I realize there's nothing I could do. There's no electricity and no key to some magical gas door.

I think about other places I could get gas. Growing up I worked at a golf course. Those carts used gas. I know because part of my job was to fill them up every couple of weeks. It's a great idea but the course where I worked is two hours away.

I decide to file that away into the "try later" category if things get desperate. I'll go to the nearest golf course and attempt to steal gas from the pumps. There are four golf courses within ten miles of my house, two of which I know use gas carts.

I pull out of the gas station and decide there's nothing further I want to explore for now. I've learned now that gas is at a premium so I don't want to waste any more. On my quick commute home, a realization occurs to me... silence. I normally like to listen to the radio on the way to work because driving in silence makes me go crazy.

I reach down and turn the radio on, flipping through stations but nothing comes up. No white noise, no music cutting in and out, just silence. This seems more odd than usual to me. I switch from FM to AM stations and get similar results. I don't know exactly how far radio stations can travel, but I know when I make my way to my parents' house, I get my favorite station for about an hour and fifteen minutes of the ride, so I know radio stations can carry at least that far. If I'm getting silence from every station, does that mean that everywhere within a ninety-mile radius of me has no power? If it does, that seems like pretty depressing news. I suppose it's possible though that people have power and it's just the radio stations that are down. I consider my theory inconclusive upon further research.

When I pull into the garage and go to the door, my thoughts are being pulled in all sorts of directions. I know this because I reach up and again push the garage door opener to close the door. As I go over and pull it down manually, I take a moment to appreciate something as simple as a garage door opener. It's a little thing like this that I take for granted every day. This tiny little piece of plastic with a little electronic gizmo inside saves me and millions of other people a lot of time and energy each day. I've never appreciated it until now.

This gets me thinking about Abby. I'm not sure where she is, but when I see her I plan on giving her a huge hug and kiss and telling her how much I love her. I certainly take for granted how much she means to me. I'm always so caught up in work and other things that I don't think often enough about how lucky I am to have her. The saying that your wife is your "better half" certainly applies to me ten-fold.

When I enter the house, I shout out a weak "Hon, you there?" but not one ounce of me expects a reply. I reach over to look at the digital clock by our TV and realize it's electrically powered. Our house doesn't have any wall clocks in it, which never struck me as odd until now. Either wall clocks are an "old people thing" or we are just not with the times.

Seeing that all the clocks we do have are electric-powered digital clocks, the only way I'll be able to find out the time is by grabbing my watch. My parents bought me a nice expensive watch as a graduation gift. My father told me that since I would soon be in the business world, checking the time would be very important and that a watch would be essential. The reality, though, is I haven't brought that watch into work for one day. It's not that I don't like the watch -- it's very nice. It's just one more thing I would have to remember to do in the morning so I don't bother. At work my computer has a little clock in the bottom-right corner. Ironically though, all our office rooms don't have wall clocks. I think they have it that way so they won't realize how much time they waste in there. This seems to work because our meetings usually conclude with one of the bosses looking down at their watch and saying, "Oh, look at the time! I don't think I have anything further."

I search all through the house but I've never put it in a particular spot, which I guess is why I often forget to wear it. Our house isn't the most organized to begin with. Abby is neat and tidy while I'm a borderline slob. Like most kids, I grew up with a very messy bedroom. The only time it was ever cleaned was when my mom forced me to. Now that I'm out of her house, I never seem to do it.

After searching for another twenty minutes, I decide it's a lost cause and give up. After all of that effort, I realize all I have to do to know the time is check the clock in my car. My mind has been wandering so much today I never even paid attention to the clock when I was messing with the radio stations. I make my way into the garage, turn the ignition on halfway, and pause for a second until the time begins to display on the radio dashboard. It's 2:30 p.m.

BOOK: Disappearance
10.33Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Margaret and the Moth Tree by Brit Trogen, Kari Trogen
The Journal: Ash Fall by Moore, Deborah D.
Envious by Katie Keller-Nieman
About a Girl by Joanne Horniman
Salt by Maurice Gee
Breaking the Storm by Sedona Venez
Dark Alpha's Embrace by Donna Grant