Alex lay in bed, tangled happily in his blankets. Still half-asleep, he found himself sleepily wondering about the quiet. It was never this quiet in the mornings. The neighbor kids should be screaming and squealing in the next apartment over by now. Cars and taxis should be blaring their horns at each other on the street below. At least one airplane should have passed overhead by now.
It was the absence of the airplane that made Alex open his eyes and frown at the clock. 8:15 am. The first plane of the day usually took off at around 7:30, screeching over his apartment building at barely more than 1000 feet altitude.
Throwing his legs over the side of the bed, Alex rose with a stretch and a strange feeling in his gut. Has the airport been shut down? he thought. Snatching up the TV remote he clicked the power button and watched as the screen came alive with static. He frowned, clicked to another channel, and then another. There was nothing but static on every station.
The optimist in him thought there must be some kind of communications black-out at present. The pessimist in him dropped the remote to the floor and sprinted for the apartment door.
Feeling breathless and more than a little foolish, he knocked gently on the neighbor’s door. When there was no answer he knocked a little harder and called out, “Jennifer, are you home?” Then across the hall he went, and put his fist to the door there. “Mr Ashford? Are you in there?” Then the next door, and the next, his fist striking the doors harder and harder as he moved on.
And then suddenly he was outside, standing in the middle of the street, wearing nothing but his boxers. A gentle breeze blew a discarded newspaper amongst the cars, abandoned all up and down the street with no sign of the people who owned them. Alex screamed out loud, voicing his terror, begging someone – anyone – to answer him.
It was so quiet.