Pitch Black

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Steve sat up suddenly in his bed. He couldn't remember what had startled him. He rubbed his eyes and glanced around his room for any signs of disturbance. He lived on the 12th floor of an apartment complex in New York City. His nightstand stood in the corner, with his red lamp on top. His alarm clock said 5:15 a.m. His closet door was shut, the white door flowing seamlessly into the wall next to it. His light grey curtains silhouetted the dark color of the dawn sky. It was unerthly silent, as Steve slept with his window open. I must have closed it last night without realizing it, he thought to himself. Deciding that nothing was out of the ordinary, he went back to sleep.

He awoke the same way 5 minutes later. He caught a fleeting glimpse of his dream, but couldn't remember it a moment later. He realized that a reoccurring nightmare must have been waking him up. He attempted to sleep again, unsuccessfully. He finally stood up and stretched. He walked blindly to the bathroom and flicked on the light switch. Nothing happened. He turned it off and on again. Still nothing. Power outages were common in this area, and he didn't worry about it. He reached for his cabinet and felt the drawer. He opened it quickly and groped about inside of it for the flashlight he kept. He felt the plastic top and pulled it out. He thumbed the button.

The light was too bright at first, he let his eyes adjust. He put the light in the mirror and looked at himself. His light brown hair was cut short, and his icy blue eyes stared straight back at himself. He had two days worth of stubble, so he decided to shave. Almost subconsciously, he turned on the water and reached for its cool touch.

He felt nothing. No water flowed from the mouth of the faucet. He studied the metallic finish intently, then walked out the door to the kitchen. A refridgerator clad in white was in the corner, next to a dishwasher that should have been running. A rang stood next to that. Across the room, his couch was pushed against the grey wall, its brown cover riddled with holes and scratches, each with a unique story. But Steve knew all of this, and didn't even need the flashlight to tell him where to go, but he took it anyway. He stumbled to the sink next to the range and turned the knob expectantly. Still nothing.

Nothing to be worried about... I just need some air. He slowly walked through his room and looked out the window, at the apartment right next door. I really should have gotten a room with a better view. He instinctively reached for the bottom of the window to fling it up... but the window was already open.

When Steve realized this, his face froze over in shock, and he backed up to the opposite wall, using it for support. If the window is open, he thought, then why are there no sounds? He shook himself. Slow mornings are plentiful in New York, there wasn't anything wrong. But he still wanted a better view of the street.

He looked at the window frame and stood up. The view was terrible here, so he would need to go towards the lobby, and have a look there. He walked to the front of the apartment and unlocked his door. The darkness was palpable, and he fumbled with his flashlight to turn it on. The narrow beam of light pointed toward the stairs. He started down, walking slowly. Floor by floor, the only thing he saw was darkness. The beam of light was his guide.

He arrived at the lobby, and was surprised at the emptiness. The elevator doors reflected his his light back to him from the flimsy metal, the arches above showed that they were at ground level. The desk beside the door was empty, the gold lamp drooping to the wood. The rising sun threw an awful glare across the glass doors in the entryway, making it impossible to see through.He slowly strode through the lobby, his arm outstretching to the door handle. His fingers enclosed around the cold metal surface, and he swung the door open quickly. 

He gasped. Never in his life had he heard absolute silence, lest of all in New York. But now he had. Not a single angry driver honking incessantly, not a single bird chirping. But the thing that startled him most was the lack of life. The streets were crowded with cars, but none were on, none were running. Besides these, the streets were utterly clean.

The traffic lights weren't running, nor the restaurant lights. But the most chilling thing to him was this fact; there was absolutely no wind. Still nothing to worry about? he thought, Shut up. He snapped back at himself. 

He walked the streets, looking for any sign of life at all. He looked for two hours, combing every street he could. Nothing.

I won't panic. I won't panic. He repeated this to himself, his fists clenching, a lump forming in his throat. He walked into the first building he saw, a grocery store. Maybe this is all a joke. Maybe if I steal something, everyone will jump out and say 'Gotcha!' He ran to the drink section, set between the frozen food and pet supplies. The stench of the rotting food reached his nose and he suppressed a gag. He checked the store again. There were five registers, side-by-side. Ten aisles of assorted food, drinks, and miscellaneous supplies lined the back, and by the front doors stood two vending machines and a plethora of shopping carts.

He looked back down the aisle. He grabbed a blue bottle of gatorade and drank the whole thing. He looked around, listened, waited, nothing. He grabbed an armful of bottles and threw them onto the floor. Waited again, nothing again. The realization dawned on him that he may be on his own. What is this, the apocalypse? Armeggedon? No, that implies that ALL life is gone, but I'm obviously still here. He ran back to the lifeless street.

"Hello?" He cried, his voice shattering the illusion of peace. "Hello!" He shouted again, his voice echoing off the buildings. He fell to his knees, a lone tear streaking his face. "Please, answer me!" He tried again, to no avail. He put his head to the pavement, letting his sobs take control. He looked to the sky, screaming curses, gripping his hair in his hand. 

He suddenly remembered his dream. He was laying on his back, looking at the cloudless sky, waiting for dusk. He didn't know what he was waiting for. But night came then. Starless, lightless, utter darkness. A blanket of black surrounded him. He waited through dawn, until midday. But, the sun was dimmer. He sat up, still waiting for the inevitable. He knew it was only a matter of time until death called upon him, so he laid back down. The sun was dimmer than ten minutes earlier. He waited and watched, until it was wiped from existence. It was gone. No big explosion, no brilliant flash, it had just disappeared. Now everything was gone. Nothing remained, save him. The cosmic board had been wiped clean, except him, a speck among nothingness. But this was no dream.

The eternal darkness surrounded him.

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