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This is the story of Charley Charleston. Charley was just your average, ordinary, everyday, run-of-the-mill, office working American. And unlike most of the other people in his occupation, he was content. He never got bored of the constant, droning, monotony of his job. He never wished for more and he never had any aspirations for anything other than his current occupation. He just went about his life, questioning nothing. This was the life of Charley Charleston.
On a random rainy night in July, Charley set down his note book and smiled. Another hard day’s work completed. Charley got up and got ready to go home. He went over to Abe’s cubicle. Abe was his only friend at the office and he wanted to head over to his cubicle to say goodnight. Abe was gone though. Charley was not surprised to see this. Abe hadn’t been showing up to work lately. In fact, Charley couldn’t even remember the last time Abe actually HAD shown up to work. He didn’t question it however, and he went home. He lay down in his bed. Something was different though. He couldn’t quite put his finger on it. Was it the pillow? Was the bed too firm? He looked down and realized that he was lying on the floor. His bed was gone. What did he expect though? It was never there to begin with. So he just closed his eyes, smiled, and fell asleep. He liked his life. Even though he had no bed, no house and no friends at the office, he did not question it. He went back to the office the next morning after getting a full three hours of sleep and clocked in. No one was there today. It was quiet. Nothing out of the ordinary here.
He went to his cubicle, turned on his monitor, and got ready for another day at the office. He looked around and thought to himself, Wow, I really need to clean up around here! His cubicle was indeed quite a mess. Trash scattered about. Burn marks on the walls. A travesty. “The boss is definitely going to give me an earful about this one,” He said. He picked up a piece of tattered paper and read it. It said, "The storm’s coming. Are you prepared?" Charley pondered that thought for a moment. He really wasn’t prepared for much of anything. He just went about his routine, as did everyone. At least that’s what he thought.
Charley shrugged and threw away the paper. He made sure that the paper made it into the trash can. Littering was something Charley would never allow himself to do. He cared about the environment unlike so many other people who left trash and debris and cars in the streets. When his monitor finally turned on, it didn’t. Charley shrugged. This had been happening a lot lately. In fact, it always did. He wrote down a reminder in his notebook: "Get the computer fixed." He read back over his notes. They all said the same thing. "Get the computer fixed." Apparently he had wanted to get this done for a long time. He was about to report his problem to the manager, when he saw a note that stood out. It was apparently the first one he had written in this particular book. It said: "Shelter at 2348 South Westminster."
That must be an important address if he wrote it down in his job notebook. Charley decided that during lunch break, he would go check out the address to see what all the hub-ub was about. It was hard to tell when lunch was however. His watch didn’t work, and it was dark all day. Charley didn’t want to upset his boss. He didn’t want to break his routine. Curiosity overtook him however. During what he assumed was his lunch break he walked to the address. There was no house. In fact, there were no houses anywhere really. The only thing that helped him even remotely determine if it was the right address or not, was the large metal door sitting in the middle of the large, open clearing.
It was like no other door Charley had seen however. It was a door in the ground! “What an error!” He exclaimed to himself, “Doors are supposed to be standing straight up, and they should be attached to houses!” This door however was in the ground. It puzzled him and he chuckled. He then bent down and brushed the door with his hand. How cold and abrasive it was! It was heavy too. He opened the door and began his descent. He feared that there would be something lurking about in the shadows into which he was descending. He laughed. “You are not a child Charley old pal,” He told himself, “You are an adult. Monsters don’t exist.”
When he finally got to the bottom of the staircase, he looked for a light switch. He hit a switch and the lights flickered on. What he saw he almost couldn’t comprehend. Bodies. Bodies everywhere. He stood in shock as reality hit him in the face. They were DEAD bodies. He looked about the giant metal basement type thing and saw that the walls were covered in blood. Spoiled food rations and broken items were scattered about and the place was void of life. He was disturbed by this sight, but at the same time, it was normal for him. He had seen this same sight every day. The bodies. The broken and useless items scattered about. It was nothing unusual. He could go out into the streets and see the same thing. However, this was different. This sight brought back a memory. A memory that had been repressed. Something that seemed to have happened centuries ago. It was blurry, but there was a face. It was a woman. He didn’t know who she was, but he felt like he should feel some sort of affection for her, and rightfully so, because that was probably the closest thing to a living person he had seen in a long time.
The memory was a sad one he assumed. This mystery woman along with the many other blurred out faces were all scrambling about in frenzy as some strange force shook the earth. Charley assumed these people were all afraid of this force, and so he assumed this was a memory of something bad that happened in the past, and at that moment he got the idea that something wasn’t right. He denied it though. His life was good. He had a nice floor to sleep on, a nice job, his cubicle could use a little cleaning up though. Come to think of it, so did the whole building. Luckily, Charley was on the bottom floor so he didn’t have to deal with the trouble of cleaning up the other twenty stories that, come to think of it, weren’t there anymore. In fact, they were rubble. Destroyed. Charley started to question the situation but again shrugged off the thought. The twenty stories were probably just knocked off so the CEO could make some room for that new office remodeling he had been wanting to do. Yeah. That was a good thought.
Charley climbed out of the giant metal basement. Nothing particularly interesting happened in that little adventure. He knew he should have stayed in his cubicle for lunch.
The memory still haunted him though as he walked back to the office building where he worked. He walked the boring, trash scattered desert he always walked through on his way to work. He climbed over the rubble that usually blocked his way into the office building and made his way to the cubicle. He had been feeling sick lately. He had been running a strange fever and had mysterious blemishes on his skin. I need to go see the doctor tomorrow. He thought to himself. As yet another workday ended, he made his way home. The sickness had him feeling quite weak now. He started to worry, But good ol’ Charley stopped himself, put the thought out of his mind and lay back down on the floor again for another good night’s sleep. He shivered. The fever was getting worse, but as the black snow fell from the sky, Charley smiled, rolled over, and died.