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There are just some things mankind has no business meddling with. I’ve always believed that, and I will continue to for the rest of my life.
I myself am a proud Las Vegan. I was originally born in San Bernardino, but I moved out here when I was just starting grade school, and that’s where I’ve been ever since. I guess you could say I’d lived a pretty comfy life. I worked at a bar, interacting with individuals from all different walks of life, and made good money for what it’s worth. I reside in the north side – no, not North Las Vegas – where I have a cozy little spot close to some of the bigger local casinos.
Anyways, I got stuck working the graveyard shift at ungodly hours over a year ago. I hated it at first, seeing as how I worked only afternoon shifts up until then.
One night, the bar manager and I were shooting our shit with some older guys that used to work at the North Las Vegas Airport (they’re regulars of ours.) Just another typical Sunday night; we’d discuss every kind of topic you can think of, ranging from politics to sports, women (big surprise right?), rock bands, and everything in between.
It was only 3:50am when I finally decided to check my phone. “Just two more hours to go,” I thought. Even with lively guests, graveyard shifts were agonizingly dull. Social media was out of the question, considering most of my friends were dead asleep by this point, even the self-proclaimed “night owls.” I glance back up and suddenly, the conversation shifted to the paranormal and otherwise unexplainable phenomena. My interest was officially piqued once more.
One of the older guys began talking about various local hauntings, some of which I had never even knew of, such as deceased construction workers whispering in hotel guests’ ears at the Luxor, or how the Mafia owned La Palazza Mansion at one point and several killings had occurred within the confines of its walls.
Even as an individual skeptical of many aspects of life, I couldn’t help my fascination with the paranormal. I indulged myself in this conversation and inquired about as much as I could. As an added bonus, the time seemed to go by much quicker, and I had long since finished my sidework and cleaning duties so I was golden.
With the other members of the group taking off, and the rest of the few patrons in the bar long gone, the old guy and I were alone in the room, continuing this discussion for another half hour or so. I can’t recall what exactly lead to this part of our conversation, but the old guy eventually brought up the concept of how transdimensional travel already exists, and can be performed by even the simplest of humans.
This just sounded ridiculously far-fetched, but I had to keep listening and see his thoughts through.
I’m assuming he was perfectly aware of my skepticism, because he looked back at me with slight disappointment. He then brought out a pen and paper from his bag and began jotting down what looked like instructions.
My memory of this encounter has become a bit fuzzy, but the gist of the conversation went as such: This “transdimensional” phenomenon – a portal to another plane of existence, if you will -could be used to “visit the physical manifestation of your mind”, containing memories in action, people both living and deceased whom you can recall, and places you had visited. The old guy described it as a personal universe of your entire conscience. The thing was, however, you could only visit the early portions of your life. He chocked this up to the fact that the mind produces some of the most vivid and detailed memories during childhood. Again, I couldn’t help but lose interest and I already began dismissing much of this segment of the conversation.
He further elaborated that this “portal” still exists and can be accessed, but McCarran had been built around it long ago. Regardless, I couldn’t help but feel that this whole conversation had devolved into complete hogwash. I didn’t want to be rude, so I excused myself.
I folded up the paper and slid it in my back pocket, and went to clock out for the night (err, morning I guess) and said goodbye to everyone.
As I walked out to my car, I unfolded the paper and reread the instructions.
“Hmmph. What a crock of shit.”
"Here goes nothing."
I carried out the rest of the week the same way I always do, which consists of: working my crummy shift, sleeping all goddamn day, getting fucked up on my days off, and playing Keno at the shithole casino down the street from my place. Yet, lingering in the back of my mind still, were those instructions. What got me was how specific the whole process was - too specific, in fact. I knew the guy was well traveled, but how could he recollect this entire process so well? Better yet, how in God’s name did he even find out about this? It just sounded, well, too bizarre to be true – on the other hand, it kind of sounded exciting to basically go back in time, even if it’s just to a place inside your head. I decided that on my next day off, I would go ahead and follow through with these instructions.
D-Day had officially arrived. The 215 beltway was rather far from my place, but what the hell. I read off the necessities in my head once more. Reliable transportation? Check! I drive a ‘97 Mercury Grand Marquis. Certainly not the most fuel efficient vehicle, but it gets the job done, right? And it’s super roomy inside. I wasn’t exactly concerned about my state of mind, since I actually felt kind of excited about this little adventure. Some pens, a highlighter, and a journal to document important events during the trip, some snacks to tide me over, and I’m all set! Oh, and did I mention that my car has a cassette and CD player combo? For this special occasion, I took along some of my old tapes for the ride. “No time to reminisce just yet”, I thought; I glanced over at the clock and saw that it’s already a quarter to 2am. After taking a deep breath, I started up the car (with a full tank of gas, no less!) and headed for the freeway.
Ya know, as much as I detest this city at times, driving past the neon skyline of the Strip had never gotten old. I have always taken it for granted, being a local, but some people spend their whole lives dreaming of coming to a place like this. “Lost Wages”, some call it, but that’s not our fault people blow their entire life savings on gambling. Either way, quite an enjoyable drive when combined with some of my favorite music as a kid, I must say.
Despite the beauty of the neon twinkling by my side, I developed an uneasy feeling in my stomach. I wasn’t about to let it ruin my trip though; I disregarded it and kept moving along.
Once again, my eyes shift to the time. “2:09”, the clock reads. As I’m getting ready to merge onto I-215 Eastbound, my heart begins to beat a bit more rapidly and I can feel my hands on the wheel tremble ever so slightly. Now I was beginning to have some serious second thoughts about this whole ordeal. “No! I gotta see this through. I gotta find out what this transdimensional…whatever the fuck, is all about.”
And there we were, Exit 10 – Sunset Rd/McCarran Airport. I felt my heart drop as I contemplated the situation I inserted myself in. “This was a big mistake. Why did I have to listen to that crazy old man? What if something bad happens and I can’t come back? What if it kills me? Or worse, what if this is just a setup and he’s going to kill me?” I definitely wasn’t thinking clearly at this point, and I was on the verge of a full blown anxiety attack. As I drive through the tunnel, I begin bracing myself for the worst.
The tunnel housed no other vehicle except my own. The tunnel itself is divided into two separate directions, each four lanes wide. There was no way for me to turn back now. I follow alongside the wall in the right lane, clenching my hands on the wheel, unsure of what was to follow.
The light signal turns red and I’m –“…Wait, outside?”
I recollect my thoughts and realize that my attempt to break through to the portal had failed. I sighed and immediately felt relieved that I was safe, but this thought quickly dissipated.
Confusion and disappointment sank in quickly. Part of me did want this to work, despite my own fears. But this just confirmed my skepticism. I started overthinking again, like I always do, and thought that this was a prank being played on me. I almost felt like everyone was going to pop up out of nowhere and I tell me I was Punk’d, but there was no way that was going to happen with the streets being empty as they were. In a sense, I felt defeated. I actually went through a process of preparation, treating this as a genuine road trip. Either way, it was time for me to go back home.
“I followed every step and did everything it said, why didn’t it work?” I couldn’t just let it go. At the last minute, I sharply veered away from the highway on-ramp that would take me back home, and drove towards that tunnel. At this point, I’m driving far more slowly, meticulously scanning my surroundings and analyzing each detail. The sense of panic started to engulf my being again. By the time I reach the tunnel, my body went on autopilot, and I took the wheel and forced it to the right. Without even a moment to react, I see nothing but the wall, followed by complete darkness.
I must have blacked out during this period in time because I can’t recall anything that transpired in the process. I awoke after what seemed like a few hours. The time in my car was stuck on “2:31”, and I unfortunately don’t wear watches. No idea what happened to my phone, and no definitive method of keeping track of time as a result. Any measurements of time I’d document were based solely on how long they felt, but who knows how long I really spent there. The two most important facts in my mind were that I was alive and well, and that I had successfully made the jump from the regular universe to…this one. For a moment, I was almost convinced I had traveled back in time, seeing as how I ended up back in California, within my old neighborhood here before I moved to Vegas. Looking at the world around me, everything was exactly how I remembered it. I was…completely overwhelmed with a number of emotions: Excited that I could explore and literally relive my childhood, anxious to meet relatives that passed long ago, yet equally frightened that this very well could mean the end to my own life. I tried to shake whatever bad thoughts I had and immerse myself in exploring this world.
First thing was first: I had to go visit the house I grew up in! As it was within walking distance, I jumped out the car and ran for it. I couldn’t believe I was revisiting this old house, as it had since been demolished along with the rest of the block. Two stories tall, unkempt, overgrown foliage out front, and my bedroom on the top floor near the back – that was my old house alright. I opened the front door with ease and darted inside.
Strangely enough, the inside of the house was barren, completely devoid of furniture or signs that it had been lived in. I checked the backyard and it too lacked any hint of life. Okay, so it wasn’t completely identical. So I understand that the components of this universe are dependent on both the structure of my mind and the strength of my memories. The thing is, while I don’t remember a large number of things from when I lived in California, I knew the inside of this house like the back of my hand. What does a blank house in this universe symbolize?
I rushed upstairs and inspected each of the rooms. “Nope, nothing.” Even my old room was devoid of my former presence, rendered completely unrecognizable to me. I left well enough alone and moved on. There really wasn’t much to this world so far as I had first pictured. I remember my hometown being so much bigger, yet it was essentially confined to my neighborhood, the elementary school I went to, and a few stores scattered here and there. But whatever, maybe I just have a shitty memory like my parents do. Feeling like this trip was already off to a mediocre start, I quickly drove off and away to the edge of the city and beyond the mountains, which I came to find out housed the Las Vegas Valley.
I had to remind myself that this was an older incarnation of Vegas, as it was quite a bit smaller than the current behemoth of today. I looked at the Strip and saw some of the old casinos before they were torn down, alongside a few of their newer peers. It was truly a breathtaking, yet somewhat unnerving spectacle for me to see them in person, and not just in textbooks or throwback photos online.
As I continued northwest through the US-95, most of the old neighborhood was also precisely how I remembered it: that dilapidated McDonald’s was still on the right side on Jones Boulevard, and the old 7 Eleven and Texaco gas stations on the other side of the street, each filled with cars. The soccer park by one of my old houses from when I went to middle school was lush and green, before they bulldozed it and turned it into a Walgreens.
There were plenty of my old stomping grounds to revisit, but I was getting hungry. I pulled into an AM-PM and decided I was going to grab a couple of jalapeño dogs. I wander through the refrigerated section and see a bottle of Surge, to my delight. Surge was my favorite soda as a kid; I liked it way better than Mountain Dew even. I immediately grabbed several more bottles and proceeded to the checkout stand. Nobody up front, but I don’t mind waiting.
It seemed like several minutes pass, and still no one to assist me. I leave the stuff on the stand and walk out to the car, but just as I’m exiting, I hear a voice call back. “Sorry about the wait, I can help you now!”
The voice sounded familiar. I turn back and it’s my best friend Jay’s father! He passed away years ago, but here he was perfectly healthy and alert. We caught up for a little bit just like I was a high schooler all over again. I did have to remind myself of the universe I was in, and essentially pretended I was still 16.
He was the first human being I encountered since I got here. This entire time, the universe was completely bare of any inhabitants, living or deceased. It didn’t bother me at first, and to be fair I had hardly noticed, but now it was a little disturbing the more I gave it thought.
The next couple of hours consisted of spending time at defunct amusement centers and stores that had long gone out of business. Nothing particularly unusual (and I use that term very lightly here, considering the circumstances of, well, you know…) occurred during this time. I travelled further northwest and saw the former livelihood of several shopping centers back in action. Remember Hollywood Video? That was my go-to place to rent video games after the nearby Video Tyme went belly up in the years prior. Blockbuster was always overpriced and very overrated in my opinion, but they did have a pretty nice selection of games, so I’ll give them that much. After strolling through the aisles of the horror section, I walked back to the video game section and browsed the SNES collection. There was no system better back in the 16-bit era, and no emulator online could beat the feeling of holding an actual cartridge in my hands again. I would’ve totally immersed myself in any of the games right then and there if I could, but I digress.
Thankfully, as I visited more and more friends and coworkers’ houses and different neighborhoods, other people began showing up. Some I knew as if they were my own blood, others I had minimal interaction with in their time on Earth. Curiously, those whom I was vaguely acquainted with remained silent, communicating solely through body language. Old neighbors also began making their way, smiling at me and greeting me in their usual ways. What each of these inhabitants of the universe shared in common was a complete lack of awareness of their termination. None of them acknowledged the fact that they had passed, each existing as they would in the real world. I did not dare to inform them of their fates, for fear of what damage the universe (and my own being) may sustain. I wondered if I would ever run into anyone currently living in real time, but I figured they would turn up eventually, whomever they may be.
As the novelty of the greater experience began to settle down some more, I moved on to explore some old houses my family and I once lived at. There was the old condo we moved into when we first got to Vegas, with the popcorn ceilings and the petite backyard. Similar to what I observed in the other house, there was virtually no furniture or hint of previous occupancy here. Yet, the swing set stood where it once was, as did the curio cabinet within the living room, filled with knickknacks and a couple old pictures from the carousel at the mall, arranged in the same order it had always been.
I felt a bit more hopeful this time about looking in my room, but I wasn’t about to hold my breath. And yet, surprisingly enough, some of my old belongings were in there: Tons of my writing pieces were tucked away in the closet, completely unharmed by nature; boxes containing my childhood memories that I had never since given a thought to, including some of my grandparents’ gifts to me. All of this gave me a powerful sense of euphoric nostalgia, probably the strongest I’d yet to feel, and I kept looking through each the assorted boxes.
Finally, I came across a dirty old box, musty as hell and frantically taped together. It didn’t look familiar to me at all, but I tore it open unapologetically and found a photo album. Don’t remember ever seeing it before, but I was ecstatic nonetheless, expecting to browse through some of my favorite family photos from when I was a boy. These photos did very well depict me, my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles, and my only sibling. However, I don’t remember anybody in the family taking any of the photos here. I certainly could not recognize the environments in which they were taken. I continued to flip through the album until there were only blank pages left. The very last page, strangely enough, housed the only photograph I recognized. There it laid, completely isolated from the rest of the collection: the final picture we took together before I graduated high school - though the background appeared to be more shadowy and blurred than I remember. I took it out of the album and placed it in my wallet for my own keepsake.
Before departing, I stood at my bedroom window, gazing at the courtyard just on the other side. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it felt as if I was being watched. I had this feeling after spending time inside the very first house too. Rather than stay there like a sitting duck, should anything actually happen to me, I kept moving, onward to the next destination.
For the remainder of my trip, I felt varying degrees of anxiety, for quite a number of reasons. For starters, there was absolutely no way for me to keep track of passing time; any clocks I came across were frozen at 2:31, much like the radio in my vehicle. The weather was all but static (not like Vegas gets anything besides constant sunshine anyway) and the sun locked in place, creating a twilight sky just past sunset. Secondly, the lack of any sound in this universe was very unsettling to say the least. I could play music when I was driving, but other than the occasional interaction with the inhabitants, this whole world was devoid of the familiar ambiance of city life. And, well, as excited as I was to revisit the houses I grew up in, I must reiterate that the vibes within their wells felt…off. I’ve always had a suspicion that the condo was legitimately haunted, but I thought it pointless to ever tell my parents as they disregarded anything related to ghosts and such.
I began to understand why that old guy stressed the importance of positive thinking – this world, this whole universe seemed to thrive off of negative energy, most notably emotions that leave me in a vulnerable state. I tend to be a rather anxious person as is, truthfully speaking, so I had to work hard not to let my mind wander and let fear sink in. No matter what may have transpired next, I felt compelled, obligated even, to visit each of the houses I lived in.
Next on my stop was the house I lived in all throughout my high school days, on Juniper Way. This was roughly 10 minutes from the condo, and I was there before I even knew it. I was well accustomed to the “routine” of exploring the surroundings of each of my previous homes by this point. I think I was getting desensitized to it though, as the sparse furniture (if there was any) no longer got to me.
Expecting a completely empty living room, I recoiled in fear when I saw a lone, dark figure, seated on a sofa. The figure turned on the floor lamp and I immediately recognized it to be one of my aunts. “Oh thank God…”
“You look a little pale, have you eaten at all? Here, come sit down and I’ll make you something to eat.”
I took a deep breath, then felt a grin forming on my face. That was my aunt for ya, loved to cook and feed everyone in sight. She was one of the most hospitable women I’ve ever seen, everybody who knew her loved her to death.
But wait, what was she doing here? She was sitting alone in the living room, with the blinds closed in darkness until I showed up. I went into the kitchen and rummaged through the fridge for something to drink. I had no clue what my aunt was making, but it smelled delicious! She started talking about her day at work, going on about how the new owners didn’t know their heads from their asses. I chipped in the conversation with how things were coming along at my job at the bar. She chuckled and told me what a vivid imagination I had. “Right, duh, she never lived to see me working my first job.” My aunt was involved in a gruesome car accident not long after my graduation, and she eventually succumbed to her injuries at the hospital. I couldn’t help but feel a tinge of depression, as my very last image of her lying mangled in the hospital bed took weeks, months to remove from my conscience.
“What’s wrong, sweetie?”
“It’s…nothing. I’m fine, really!”
I always wanted to be able to see any of my relatives after death, but when I finally do get my wish, it’s just not the same seeing what are essentially fixed, reanimated shells of their former selves, stuck in this state of purgatory. I think knowing that this is a world of people and places in the perpetual past is what depresses me most. Nothing here is truly real, in a sense, but just a snapshot of what once was, and will never be again.
Either way, I pulled it together for my aunt.
After dinner, I wandered back out to the living room and saw the house phone this time, even though I swear it wasn’t there earlier. Come to think of it, I never tried to see if phones or any technology worked here. I dialed the number of the first person that came to mind: my grandpa!
A few seconds of silence at first, then I heard ringing. After it rang three times, there was a moment of silence followed by a wave of static. Then, somebody answered.
I couldn’t believe it even with my own ears, that voice was unmistakably my grandpa’s! We engaged in a little small talk, nothing unusual, and then I asked him if I could come over.
“Of course, you’re always welcome! Come on by when you can!”
I wish I could bring my dog along with me, since grandpa loved seeing him. But even though he was put down, I haven’t seen my dog, or any of my other pets even once. Nevertheless, it cheered me up a little to hear grandpa’s voice.
I walked into what used to be my room, and discover that it’s fully furnished…with my aunt’s stuff.
Now I was truly confused. What the hell is going on here? She never lived inside this house let alone with my parents and I. Stayed the night a few times, but that was all. It didn’t sit well with me.
I ransacked the whole room, examining every nook and cranny to see if there was anything of mine. I pulled apart the dressers and drawers, all filled with her stuff. I went after the walk-in closet next, also full of my aunt’s things, and nothing of my own. I looked inside the closet one more time; on the floor inside the closet laid another picture I immediately recognized. This time, it was me at the water park when I was a freshman in high school. I noticed that, just like the other picture, the background was blurry and darkened, but even more pronounced in this photo. In place of one of my friends in the picture was a shadowy figure, with no way to make out what (or, perhaps who) it was. I held onto this picture and put it right next to the other in my wallet, at least as further documentation of my experiences during my stay here.
Suddenly, I briefly felt a rumble beneath my feet, with a thumping noise instantly following thereafter, from what seemed to have taken place just outside the vicinity of the house.
Fearing something horrible was about to occur, I was ready to book it and leave the universe for good. As I turned around, I jumped back and froze in terror.
It was my aunt, standing at the door smiling at me, but not at all like her normally cheerful way. The wild-eyed, sinister smirk she wore soon scrunched into a menacing scowl, and she began to speak in a low voice: “Now tell me something: have I ever went in your room and made myself at home? Have I ever disrespected you or your space? I don’t believe I have. So, I ask you, what exactly makes you think you can barge in and tear my room apart?”
I was utterly paralyzed with fear, helpless to take any action other than sit there and watch what used to be my dear auntie twist and contort into this demonic humanoid. It was as if a nightmare was unfolding before my eyes. No, this was a nightmare, one I once had very long ago, except it was my mother who had transformed into a monster.
I couldn’t take it anymore; somehow, I mustered up the courage to bolt at the door, knocking the humanoid down. Without looking back, I sprinted to the garage door and hopped in my car, zooming down the street on my way to my grandpa’s house.
He was the most recently deceased relative in my family, ultimately my one-way ticket out of this universe for good. I no longer cared about anything or anybody else here. All I wanted was to go back home and live my normal life, in the present time surrounded by my friends. I more than overstayed my welcome, and the forces of the universe sought to punish me at any cost.
I’m not entirely sure if it was my mood affecting my interpretation of the world surrounding me, or if it was the deterioration of the universe, but the sky gradually grew darker and darker during the drive. After reaching my grandpa’s home and stepping foot outside again, the weather had significantly cooled. It had been consistently warm, not unbearably hot though, and now it felt pretty chilly by comparison.
Other than my father, my grandpa was the closest male figure in my life. The complex in which he had resided had decayed and fallen into despair by the time of his passing, but its prestige was restored in this universe. In the duplex sitting directly to the left of his, there appeared to be a bright light in the bedroom window, resembling the glow from a television set. True to my word, I scribbled my observations down, regardless of whether or not it seemed trivial. I had long lost the drive to go exploring, however, so I chose to ignore the light and walked straight to grandpa’s house.
I had tons of respect for my grandpa, so I opted to knock on the door and wait for him to answer, rather than conduct my usual methods.
No response. It became difficult for him to get out of his chair in his later years, so it wasn’t unusual to wait a little for him to open the door. I knocked on the door once more for safe measures in case he didn’t hear me.
Minutes later, and nothing still. The blinds were closed, preventing me from peeking in the window. I pressed my ear against the door and heard faint chatter coming from what seemed to be a sports game on TV. Grandpa loved to watch football; he was a loyal Raiders fan no matter what their performance was like.
Going against my instincts, I reached for the doorknob and pushed my way inside the house. That door always seemed to give us trouble.
What I found troubling during that situation was the lack of insight I had as to what the code contained, or what its meaning could be. It had to have a purpose beyond granting an exit to me, but the old guy never went into detail. This was my sole mission, and I was determined as ever to accomplish it.
In stark contrast to every single place I’ve visited throughout this journey, grandpa’s house was fully intact, identical to its real life counterpart during his final years. But where was he? Not in the living room watching TV as I expected. The house was filled with silence, deafening silence. I glanced in each of the rooms and couldn’t find him anywhere here.
“What are you doing here??”
It was my grandmother, glaring directly into my eyes.
“You don’t belong here. You need to leave right now, go on! Get out!”
I was flabbergasted, not knowing what to say or how to feel. There was no doubt in my mind whatsoever - this whole ordeal was a huge mistake, and this just proved it.
“…Wh-where’s grandpa? I need – I need to talk to him about something impor-“
“Get out of here! NOW.”
“Grandma, please! Please hear me out on this!”
She began shoving me out of the house without further explanation. I tried and I tried to explain to her what was going on, but she didn’t give me a chance. I had to find out where grandpa was and head back home. I didn’t want to be stuck in here forever.
I pulled myself together and took one step back inside.
I could feel the color draining from my face when I laid my eyes upon a now empty building. The house was gutted, completely stripped down to the bones.
“Grandma? GRANDPA? HELLO??”
The sound of my voice reverberated throughout the house. I was all alone. All alone with fear and panic beginning to engulf my sanity.
“GRANDPA, I NEED YOU! HELP ME!!”
Beneath my feet I felt the earth rumble, this time with a quake much larger. The house started to shake violently. Fearing for my safety, I ran outside, back into my car and drove. I drove far away, now under a pitch black sky in freezing temperatures. Gusts thrashed at the trees while my line of sight ahead became increasingly narrow and blurry. The world around me unraveled, becoming ever more unstable, and I was helplessly trapped in its grasp. “Oh no…”
I became faint, lightheaded from my distress. My line of sight grew even more narrow, darker
until nothing was visible, save for the lights of the dashboard. I fought it valiantly, until my body gave out and I lost consciousness.
Safe and Sound(?)
I jolted back awake, this time just outside of the airport corridor near Russell Road. The sun was shining brightly in the sky, and I was parched. “Is this…is this the real world again?” I heard the sound of a few cars whizzing by and my question was immediately answered with a resounding “yes!” A wave of relief rode through me, knowing I was back where I belonged. Still somewhat disoriented, I reached for my phone. “Right, I lost it. Fuck…” I still had my wallet on me, and my keys.
“…MY CAR! Where the fuck is it?”
I got back up on my feet and looked around, spotting it in the tunnel. The front end was mangled, shoved right up against the wall. Was I in an accident? I felt alright overall, but my head was pounding worse than a New Year’s hangover.
Fearing my only means of transportation was totaled, I still ran for it and attempted to fire it up.
“Back to taking the bus for a while, I guess…”
Some of the electronics still worked, such as the radio and the power locks and windows. The clock read “2:32” this time. It struck “2:33” not long after, then the electronics went dark and completely died. Well, at least I had the reassurance that time wasn’t frozen.
Before I called a tow truck and took care of business with the insurance company, I inspected the car and made sure I came back with everything I took along for the trip. I popped open the trunk and grabbed my backpack, the only thing I ever kept in it besides some antifreeze. Music stash was right underneath the driver’s seat (thank God.) Journal was in the glove compartment, along with a random assortment of papers I didn’t need anymore, some napkins, my registration and insurance information, and those peppermints they give you at Sonic Drive-In.
I shoved all of it in my backpack and promised myself I would look through everything and throw away all of the extraneous paperwork later on in the evening. Given how long I may have been passed out, it’s nothing short of dumb luck that nobody decided to steal my shit.
One last thing left to inspect was my wallet. It contained all of my work cards, arranged in descending order based on soonest expiring; a few dollars, just enough for a single-day bus pass; my players cards, credit cards, debit cards (oh yeah, I definitely carry way too many cards); my ID, and those two photos I snatched during my trip –
Speaking of the photos…
I took them out and both of them were black. Pitch-black like the backside of a polaroid picture.
Well, I’ve been feeling the need to “document” the various happenings in my life again, so here I am. Everything’s been sorted out with the insurance company, so no worries about that. I’m stuck taking the bus until then, unfortunately. Good thing I don’t live too far from work.
I still dream about my trip every so often. I definitely feel like it’s changed who I am. Whether that’s a good thing or not is still to be determined. I’m not going to tell my parents, but I am weighing the possibility of letting my friends know about it. I mean, if I ever manage to get ahold of them again. No cell phone yet, and the ground line can't make outgoing calls. No Internet either! Talk about a total bummer in this day and age, right?
I sure hope I see the old guy and his group again, though.
It has now been two months. Two whole months since I woke up back to reality, but it only seems to get more difficult.
I’m going to be completely frank: ever since embarking on that trip, I have struggled immensely to carry out my daily routines. I haven’t truly felt like my normal, happy self since. I was laid off from my job last Wednesday, due in part to the outbursts I had been having at work, and also what my boss cited as “…inadequate work performances not up to standards set forth by Bighorn Bill’s Brewery, LLC.” In the weeks beforehand, I noticed that a lot of our regulars no longer came through, including the old guy and his group. I had so much to share with him, so many additional questions I was too arrogant to even think of, and no other way to reach out to him except here.
Then there’s the fact that I can’t sleep like normal anymore. My mind simply will not let me at this point. When I do manage to fall asleep, I am transported back inside that decrepit house that used to be my grandpa’s, trapped alone with nothing but the sound of ominous voices telling me to get out. I still hear my own grandmother’s voice amongst them too. And if it isn’t that dream, it’s the other one where the earth rumbles and that…monster, that shadowy entity, appears out of thin air and lunges at me, paralyzing me and forcing me to watch the universe disintegrate.
Worse still, the distinction between the “other” universe and this one is becoming increasingly blurred every day. I never should’ve stepped back into the condo; I knew it was haunted. It is my theory that while I was there, something ended up following me back. I do not know if it’s an entity that exists there, or if it’s the negative energy within me having manifested into physical existence, but it’s controlling what I see, who I see, and everything that I hear. Every day, I second guess my own memory; my own memories. Obsessively flipping through my journal no longer helps me cope. I must have gone over every single page dozens of times by now. Every day, new questions will form inside my head: “Am I losing my sanity? Had I already lost it in years’ passed? Is there an actual means of accessing this personal universe, a physical ‘superconsciousness’ of one’s memories?” I continued to write and add new information into that very same journal, having already degraded into a memory dump of all of my delusions and ramblings.
I can’t live on my own anymore, and not just for financial reasons. My uncle is staying with me now; if I even dare to spend any amount of time at home when he’s not around, that’s when the shadowy figures come about. Their voices are faint and unintelligible, but they sound so familiar, like family members. Daylight isn’t a safe spot there either. I swear, it’s like they’re immune to it. I’ll stay with friends or go job-hunting during the day. It helps keep my mind distracted from the mess I have to live with, at the very least.
I have some good news to report, for once: I’ve finally landed a new job! It doesn’t pay quite as well as my old one, but any compensation is better than being broke, and it sure beats feeling sorry for myself day in and day out. The nightmares don’t come to me as frequent as they used to.
Also, it is time for my happy ass to start saving up money for a sweet new ride! I was thinking maybe that Nissan Versa at the used car lot. Cheap, good on gas, and still enough room for me and the group. Plus, it’s actually from this decade.
Gotta get caught up on my other bills though, heh.
Well, I suppose I spoke too soon…
I swear I must have a form of PTSD, maybe some latent mental illness or something. These little hallucinations are NOT fun. I can’t even look at anything that reminds me of what I went through during the trip, or else the depersonalization sets in.
I woke up right in the middle of the night and went out to the kitchen. My uncle was dead asleep in his room, oblivious to the world. I was pouring a glass of milk and looking for something to snack on. When I’m ready to go back to my room, IT materialized before my eyes, glaring menacingly into my soul.
Next thing I knew I was back inside my room positioned how I had first awoken, as the young rays of the early morning sunshine penetrated my windowpane. I think that might’ve been a false awakening. Either that or this is just more proof I’m going insane.
I reenacted the false awakening, and instead of IT appearing, I noticed a photo lying in its spot. It contained an image of my grandpa holding me. I was no older than 4. I thought about putting in my wallet when I got back to my room, but I impulsively ripped it to pieces instead. I still didn’t feel like my old self, but I somehow felt an unusual sense of peace inside myself.
I finally headed back to bed and lied down, ready to turn on some Netflix and fall back to sleep. I was getting nice and comfy when the damn phone started ringing. I thought to myself, “Why do we even have a house phone? Nobody uses it, nobody can make calls, so what’s the point?”
I read the caller ID and saw my grandpa’s old phone number flashing. The phone rang several more times and then quit. My uncle, of course, is still in a deep sleep.
I sat by the phone, waiting for it to call back. I debated back and forth in my head if I should call it or not. The rational side of me reasoned it was a telemarketer or one of those political ads. The paranoid side of me thought it could’ve been something sinister.
I continued to drown in my thoughts, all while sitting alone in a deafeningly silent household with only the intermittent punctuation of tick-tock, tick-tock emitting from of the living room clock.
Eventually, I picked up the phone and dialed my grandpa’s number. I shivered so badly with anxiety I could barely dial the numbers correctly. A brief moment of silence; then the typical ringing sound began.
It rang once.
Then it stopped ringing. A wave of static filled the earpiece of the phone for a few seconds.
It was my grandpa’s voice.
Abandoned Vehicle in Airport Corridor
Posted: Jul 18th, 2013 11:39 AM PDT Updated: Jul 18th, 2013 4:16 PM PDT
Written by Andrew Lambardo
"LAS VEGAS, NV (FOX5) - Las Vegas Metro police were notified early this morning of an abandoned vehicle inside of the McCarran Airport corridor. The vehicle, a maroon Mercury Grand Marquis, appeared to have slammed against the walls inside the tunnel.
The crash happened some time between 2:00 a.m. and 2:30 a.m. The whereabouts of the owner of the vehicle are unknown at this time.
The crash remains under further investigation. Stay tuned to FOX5 for more updates."
Written by Diovengeance92