Entry Seventy-six: Adam Mahoney, You Just Won!

[The next many entries are the current story I am working on. This is six of who knows how many will be posted. Enjoy it while it lasts...]

He moved through the house and out the front door, deciding to check in with his neighbors. It was now less about the letter and more about seeing a smiling, familiar face. He walked through his front yard and hopped over the two-step landing to the front porch of the Harrison home, his long time neighbors to his right. He knocked on the door and waited. There was no sound coming from inside the house, which was strange for a family with three children under eight, but he pushed down any negative thoughts and rang the doorbell; he would apologize if he woke up one of the babies. After two long minutes and several doorbell rings he decided they weren’t home. “I think they mentioned to me they were going out of town,” he thought. “I just didn’t realize it was this week.” He walked quickly to the neighbor’s house on the other side of his property, knocking politely and waiting. After two more knocks and three doorbell rings he started becoming concerned. “Why didn’t anyone tell me they were leaving town?” he asked out loud, not expecting an answer.

As he jogged across the street to see if the Broughton’s were home, something stopped him, an internal brake that sensed things weren’t right. He stood still and listened for a moment and realized there was nothing to listen to. No dogs barking, no trucks on the interstate, no churning of school busses or delivery vehicles. He had never heard it that quiet before, anywhere. It wasn’t right, the silence, it was too thick and still. Something was wrong but he refused to let his mind drift toward the contents of the letter and sprinted to the front door of Phil and Sue Broughton’s home. He rang the doorbell, pushing it over and over with his thumb, simultaneously banging on the front door with his fist. “There’s no way this can be true, it’s impossible. There has to be a logical explanation.” He kept repeating that thought, trying to convince himself but knowing with each beat on the door it wasn’t working. Then, just as the quiet had stopped him in his sprint, a brilliant thought flashed into his brain and he dropped his hands, turned and looked toward his house. “Television,” he thought. As he ran across the Broughton’s yard and into the street he yelled “Television! Television!” unconcerned about waking any of his displaced neighbors, convinced that seeing live, talking news people would finally poke a hole in the charade.

He bounded through his front door and threw the sofa cushions onto the floor, searching for the remote control. When he found it he wheeled around and aimed it toward his television, hands shaking, ready to be right. The black screen flickered and light grew from the center to reveal a commercial for floor cleaner, its existence proving nothing. He fumbled with the numbered buttons on the remote, trying to push the correct sequence for one of the 24-hour news channels but he was flustered and it took three tries before he was successful. In mere seconds he wished he hadn’t been. On the screen was an empty news desk, no anchors, no people on the phone behind them in the newsroom and obviously no one manning the camera which had tilted to the left, creating a strangely cropped view of the empty studio, cutting off what would have been the tops of the heads of the happy anchors. The only sound was the remote control hitting the hardwood floor as it slipped out of Adam’s hand.

All words and images ©2006/J. Colle

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