I'm not sure why I'm writing this down on paper and not on my computer. I guess I've just noticed some odd things. It's not that I don't trust the computer... I just... need to organize my thoughts. I need to get down all the details somewhere objective, somewhere I know that what I write can't be deleted or... changed... not that that's happened. It's just... everything blurs together here, and the fog of memory lends a strange cast to things...
I'm starting to feel cramped in this small apartment. Maybe that's the problem. I just had to go and choose the cheapest apartment, the only one in the basement. The lack of windows down here makes day and night seem to slip by seamlessly. I haven't been out in a few days because I've been working on this programming project so intensively. I suppose I just wanted to get it done. Hours of sitting and staring at a monitor can make anyone feel strange, I know, but I don't think that's it.
I'm not sure when I first started to feel like something was odd. I can't even define what it is. Maybe I just haven't talked to anyone in awhile. That's the first thing that crept up on me. Everyone I normally talk to online while I program has been idle, or they've simply not logged on at all. My instant messages go unanswered. The last e-mail I got from anybody was a friend saying he'd talk to me when he got back from the store, and that was yesterday. I'd call with my cell phone, but reception's terrible down here. Yeah, that's it. I just need to call someone. I'm going to go outside.
Well, that didn't work so well. As the tingle of fear fades, I'm feeling a little ridiculous for being scared at all. I looked in the mirror before I went out, but I didn't shave the two-day stubble I've grown. I figured I was just going out for a quick cell phone call. I did change my shirt, though, because it was lunchtime, and I guessed that I'd run into at least one person I knew. That didn't end up happening. I wish it did.
When I went out, I opened the door to my small apartment slowly. A small feeling of apprehension had somehow already lodged itself in me, for some indefinable reason. I chalked it up to having not spoken to anyone but myself for a day or two. I peered down the dingy grey hallway, made dingier by the fact that it was a basement hallway. On one end, a large metal door led to the building's furnace room. It was locked, of course. Two dreary soda machines stood by it; I bought a soda from one the first day I moved in, but it had a two year old expiration date. I'm fairly sure nobody knows those machines are even down here, or my cheap landlady just doesn't care to get them restocked.
I closed my door softly, and walked the other direction, taking care not to make a sound. I have no idea why I chose to do that, but it was fun giving in to the strange impulse not to break the droning hum of the soda machines, at least for the moment. I got to the stairwell, and took the stairs up to the building's front door. I looked through the heavy door's small square window, and received quite the shock: it was definitely not lunchtime. City-gloom hung over the dark street outside, and the traffic lights at the intersection in the distance blinked yellow. Dim clouds, purple and black from the glow of the city, hung overhead. Nothing moved, save the few sidewalk trees that shifted in the wind. I remember shivering, though I wasn't cold. Maybe it was the wind outside. I could vaguely hear it through the heavy metal door, and I knew it was that unique kind of late-night wind, the kind that was constant, cold, and quiet, save for the rhythmic music it made as it passed through countless unseen tree leaves.
I decided not to go outside.
Instead, I lifted my cell phone to the door's little window, and checked the signal meter. The bars filled up the meter, and I smiled. Time to hear someone else's voice, I remember thinking, relieved. It was such a strange thing, to be afraid of nothing. I shook my head, laughing at myself silently. I hit speed-dial for my best friend Amy's number, and held the phone up to my ear. It rang once... but then it stopped. Nothing happened. I listened to silence for a good twenty seconds, then hung up. I frowned, and looked at the signal meter again - still full. I went to dial her number again, but then my phone rang in my hand, startling me. I put it up to my ear.
"Hello?" I asked, immediately fighting down a small shock at hearing the first spoken voice in days, even if it was my own. I had gotten used to the droning hum of the building's inner workings, my computer, and the soda machines in the hallway. There was no response to my greeting at first, but then, finally, a voice came.