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Without a Trace

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I awoke to the sound of nothing. There was no sound of the wind in the large trees outside my bedroom window. The familiar sound of my younger brother watching the television before he left for school was absent. Neither could I hear the hustle-and-bustle of my parents as they left for work.

I opened my eyes and stretched. The eerie silence continued. As I stood up and walked out of my bedroom, rubbing my eyes, I noticed that all the lights in my family's house were off. I flipped the light switch as I entered the living room, but nothing happened. I figured we must have been having a blackout. Which was weird, as I didn't remember there being a storm that night.

"I'm up," I groaned as I padded in to the kitchen, expecting my mother to be sipping her coffee before she got ready for work. But she was not there. I grew confused. Maybe it was her day off? Yeah, that must be it.

I opened the fridge, not surprised by the fact that the light didn't come on. I grabbed a jug of warm milk and set it down on the table.

As I reached for a box of breakfast cereal, something else occurred to me: I had not heard a single car or bus pass by my house all morning. Usually vehicles were constantly driving up the road on their way to work this early in the morning, and the buses thundering past were all but impossible to miss.

Curious, I walked to the window and pulled back the curtain. Outside my window I saw nothing. Not a single car. Not a single man. All was still. Eerily still.

I began to grow worried as I poured my cereal. The milk was too warm, and I didn't want to finish my breakfast. But I did anyway. I had a test at school today, and I needed the energy.

As I was about to leave for the bus stop, I decided to tell my parents that I was leaving, as they had still not woken. I knocked on their bedroom door, to no response. Slowly, I pushed it open to find that my parents were not in there. My heart started to thump in my chest. Where the hell could they be? Were they dropping my brother off at school? They must be, I told myself, unconvinced.

Either way, I was about to miss my bus. Locking the front door behind me, I stepped outside into the gray morning. The air felt heavy, and there was absolutely no wind. I walked down the block to my bus stop only to find it deserted. Dammit, I thought. I must have missed the bus. Whatever though. My school was only a mile or so away. I had walked there plenty of times before.

As I walked however, I developed a very uneasy feeling. The street that I had to walk along was usually rather busy. And there were indeed cars on the road. Plenty of them. But the thing that made me uneasy was that none of them were moving. Every single car stood completely stationary. And on top of that, I did not spot a driver in a single one of the cars.

The longer I walked, the more this whole situation began to freak me out. I had not seen a single person, or animal for that matter, on my way to school. When I eventually did approach the school, I noticed that there was not a single bus or student in sight. I was by now completely unnerved. On any other day, the school lot would be completely packed with kids.

I began to shiver uncontrollably. Where the hell was everybody? I literally had no explanation for any of this. Taking a deep breath, I pulled open the hefty doors that led into school. Not surprisingly, I saw no one. The silence in here seemed to echo in my ears. I started to walk to class, but suddenly spun around. Had I just seen something move?

"Hello?" I called out, wanting more than anything for someone to respond. "Is anyone there?"

All I heard was dead silence. I started to cry. Why was this happening? What the hell was going on? I ran outside and started screaming.

"IS ANYONE OUT THERE?" I shouted as loud as I possibly could. "CAN ANYONE HEAR ME? PLEASE! SOMEONE! ANYONE!"

I ran around, looking everywhere I possibly could for any sign of life. I opened doors to houses that I found unlocked. I tore people's homes apart, all the while screaming, hoping that I would find someone.

Eventually, after what seemed like hours and hours of this, I found myself sitting against the wall of a large house, sobbing uncontrollably amidst the mess that I had created. I didn't understand. Where the hell was everybody? Why had they all vanished without a trace, and why was I the only one left?

As I cried, I began to develop the strongest feeling that I was being watched. I looked up, my eyes wide open, scanning the room for a sign of anything. As I expected. I saw nothing.

Managing to collect myself, I forced myself to stand up and step outside once more. The feeling of being watched would not go away. I felt a presence. I was sure of it. But I saw nothing...

It has been a few days since everyone went missing. At least I think it has. The sky has not changed a bit, remaining a deep, foreboding shade of gray. Night has not come, nor has it gotten any brighter. And the feeling of being watched has grown ever stronger.

Also, I've noticed that the plants are beginning to die. Without water or sunlight, most of them are starting to shrivel up. The trees have already begun to turn their usual shades of gold and orange and brown.

I've still found no one, however. I am almost positive that there is nobody left but me. But the presence I feel manages to convince me otherwise...

Okay, I definitely saw something today. It wasn't a person, nor do I think it was an animal. It was more like a shadow.

I was wandering aimlessly along the city streets, as I've been finding myself doing quite often of late, when I saw it. Out of the corner of my eye, for no more than a split second, I saw a dark shape. Thinking back on it, it seemed to be watching me in a manner that suggested that it did not want to be seen. As I spun around, it immediately vanished behind a building.

Sure, you could call it a trick of the eyes. But I was positive there was something there. I felt it. I ran as fast as I could over to the spot where I saw whatever it was that I saw. Once again. There was nothing...

I don't know how long it's been now. Could be a month, a year, or 10 years. I wouldn't be able to tell the difference. I have completely given up on meeting anyone by this point. All the plants have died. The trees are looming, stark monoliths that seem to be teasing me. They all have each other. While I am still completely alone.

At least I wish I was alone. The presence is undeniable, and I am constantly seeing dark, shapeless forms out of my peripheral vision. I have never made direct eye contact with one, but I know that they're watching me. Waiting for me to give myself up to them. Heh. Not a chance.

I've been constantly on the move. For I know that if I stay in one place for too long, they'll get me. And who knows what they'll do to me?

I can't take this anymore. These things are driving me completely insane. They've begun to whisper things in my ear. They tell me things that make me want to jam ice picks into my ears. And they never stop.

I haven't slept in weeks because of their whispering. The moment I stop moving, their voices seem to grow louder and more excited. I can't get more than ten minutes of rest without feeling as if they're going to catch me. I am never alone.

So that's why today I tried to kill myself. I climbed to the top of the highest building I could find and walked to the edge. But the whispers became shouts and the shouts became screams. They sounded genuinely angry at my choice to free myself from their torment.

I reeled back in shock as they screamed at me. Their evil screeching was too much to handle. I knew that if I decided to jump, they would enter my afterlife and torment me forever.

As soon as I stepped back, the voices returned to whispers, and I felt relieved. Maybe I'll just keep moving. Yeah, that's what I'll do. I'll keep moving. And they'll never be able to have me...

I'm so tired. I haven't slept in what feels like months. And the whispers. They keep growing louder. I still haven't seen them directly yet, but I don't want to anymore. All I want is to be left alone. For this suffering to end. Please. I'm so tired. Just let me sleep...

I've given up. I can't go on like this. I have lost every ounce of energy in my body. I'm letting them take me. I'm so tired...

I can hear them getting louder. But I no longer care. I can feel them inside my head. If I must give up my mind to finally rest, then so be it.

I can feel myself slipping off. The voices have stopped, and I know that they have stolen my body. but that doesn't matter. A smile has shown itself on my face for the first time since this whole ordeal started. I no longer care where everyone went. All I care about is sleep. Sweet. Beautiful. Eternal. Sleep...

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