March 5th 2012
“I’m on my way, honey. Yeah. I’ll be home soon. Love you too.” Brian snapped his old Nokia shut, errantly shoving it deep in his pocket as he typed and clicked away. The office was dim, most of his co-workers were gone by now. Brian laughed at them in his head. Going home to their pathetic lives; their hated spouses; their dishonest relationships; their drug problems. Yes, Brian laughed deeply at them, only he had the courtesy to keep it in his mind.
None of them could understand what Brian had – happiness. People told him he needed to grow up, or get a life. People need to fuck off. As he logged out his World of Warcraft account and exited, Brian smiled at the sight of his beautiful wife on the desktop. Jan. He loved Jan; loved how they fit together like lock and key. He was the perfect man for her. That’s what Jan told him every night. The cool spring day felt tropical; Brian was warmed by the thought of going home and seeing Jan.
“Honey!” Jan kissed Brian’s head, “Your late – I thought traffic would be bad so I waited to start the soup.” Brian gazed appreciatively into her green eyes. Green like burning copper. Green like how he pictures trees on the Hawaiian vacation he wants.
“Your incredible,” He smiled and kissed her forehead. “What is it tonight?”
“Only our favorite: pea soup!”
Their favorite. Although he once despised the pea soup – Brian hated peas, and all vegetables, especially in soup – it was now his favorite. His ear-to-ear grin was enough response.
“Do you mind if I put the TV on, honey?”
“No, its fine. Go ahead.”
Brian turned on the TV. Jan had left CNN on, as always. But, it was great to be up to date on current events to discuss them with Jan. Brian looked down at his soup – pushed the thought about its vomit-like appearance out of his head – dug his spoon in and listened to the tube.
“…Trump was found mysteriously missing from his Dubai apartment on the penthouse level of the Palm Trump International Tower. There are no traces and no evidence of the body, or any entrance to his flat. The spokesperson of Trump Organizations has had no further comment for any reporters…”
“Wow, did you hear that?” Brian used to watch The Apprentice with Jan all the time.
“Yeah Bri, crazy.” Her eyes were fixed.
“The only clue detectives have found after a few hours of investigation is a somewhat disturbing one; behind Mr. Trump’s bed, on the wall, is a straight red line – with the appearance of blood – about five feet in length. Everything else: untouched. No one’s quite sure what it means.”
Brian and Jan looked at each other. Jan looked somewhat alarmed.
“Do you think it was terrorists?”
May 11th 2012
Brian pounded down coffee like he hadn’t drunk in weeks. He was tired. Brian wasn’t sure why, but was having sleeping problems lately. Jan thought it was from all the coffee he was drinking, so she had him start to drink tea in the mornings instead. Brian started drinking the tea; now he’s tired in the mornings. And still can’t sleep. He couldn’t concentrate on his work; he found himself taking more and more coffee breaks.
Carl and Steve were in the break room as well. Doing jack shit as usual – taking other people’s food out of the office fridge and talking about their menial life over a game of solitaire. Brian hid behind his mug and listened in on their conversation as he pursed his lips to get the foam from his mustache.
“There were more disappearances?” Steve was always so clueless about anything going on outside of his life.
“Yeah, man. Some guy in Israel disappeared two days ago.”
“That’s not even the craziest part; around the same time, a guy in Sri Lanka disappears as well.”
People actually believed this hype? Brian was shocked. Actually, he wasn’t too surprised his asinine co-workers would succumb to such deception. Brian found it funny the things people do for attention. Disappear for their mere fifteen minutes of fame. It’s idiots like Carl and Steve that give them their fame.
“The red lines, the blood ones, were there both times; people are starting to see more connections too, man.”
“Connections?” Steve never got anything.
“Yeah, like, well the first to disappear was Trump in Dubai. Then there was that guy in India. Now these two happen, together, in Israel and Sri Lanka. It’s like it’s spreading from Dubai.”
“Sounds like some secret terrorist shit to me.” Genius. Brian quaffed his last bit of coffee and got out of the break room before Steve made him put a hole in the wall. What is wrong with people? He pondered his question as he made his way back to his desk.
He sat down, smiled at Jan – what a great idea of hers to set his desktop background as her – and brought up the Internet. Brian had been looking for cheap tickets to Hawaii for the past couple months now. He wanted a vacation out there more than anything. Scrolling through tantalizing pages of plane tickets and hotel prices was heavenly. Brian realized he better get busy. He opened up yahoo to check his email. Yahoo’s opening headline was impossible to miss.
TINA TURNER DISAPPEARS FROM NORTHERN SWITZERLAND HOME – BLOOD LINE ONLY EVIDENCE. Brian was sick to his stomach of the media hype on these publicity stunts. Too frustrated to keep reading, he exited his email and began working on his presentation.
July 16th, 2012
101’s morning commute was always a stop-and-go jam. Brian had to trek through it five days a week. When he wasn’t fantasizing about his Hawaiian vacation, the radio usually helped; Brian flipped through the channels. He was sick of all the FM morning shows talking about the disappearances. Spreading like a disease, going to take over the world, apocalypse, aliens, monsters, terrorists, Al-Qaeda, Bin Laden; his patience was worn through. AM it would be – Hot Talk 560.
“…ith us today is Karla LaVey, high priestess of the Satanic Church. All the disappearances left unsolved have led many to search for an answer. Karla has a somewhat grim theory of which many are starting to give serious thought.”
Great. Coast-to-Coast. Who decided to put a show about aliens and ghosts on political talk radio any way? They should be shot. This is the last thing Brian wanted to be hearing, the epitome of mass-media hype: the ones who create it.
“Thanks George. Well, the words I bring forth are not quite a theory. They are a message, a prophecy. Satan has spoken to us. The end of mortal life is upon the human race.”
“So your basically saying we’re doomed?”
“The strong will survive; those who have conquered their own demons.”
Brian reached for the radio and turned it off immediately. The world is becoming ridiculous. Even Jan is under the spell. She warned him as he left for work this morning:
“Be careful at work, honey; the attacks are spreading.”
“OK Jan, love you.” How could she fall for such hysteria – no matter – he gave her a kiss and headed out the door. He couldn’t get mad at Jan for believing.
Brian slammed the breaks and lurched out of the morning’s memory as the cars before his came to a stop. Why did traffic exist? If everyone just stayed in their lanes, jams wouldn’t occur. Brian turned the radio back on – AM 740, the news – to ease his thoughts.
“…appears as if the whole village of Gorgora, Ethiopia has disappeared; entirely ceased to exist. No witnesses saw any of the villagers making a migration of any kind; everyone is just gone. All the dwellings were left untouched. There are helicopters at the scene now. From the aerial view – quite disturbingly – a huge red line is on the ground near the center of their village. Officials are still suspecting some kind of terrorst organization may be behind the attacks”
Radio off, again. Terrorists? People will do anything for attention. The world is crazy.
October 25th 2012
“How’s your schedule looking today, honey?” Jan was always interested in his day. They usually talked about their agendas over breakfast. He felt he craved some silence today.
“Busy. I have a lot to work on. I’ll be home as soon as I can, though.”
“OK – I love your shirt by the way, Bri. It fits you so well.”
Jan bought Brian the pink button down last year for Christmas. Brian blushed a little bit and smiled.
“Brian – something’s been bothering me.” He thought Jan looked like a problem was on her mind. He pulled his chair up next to hers.
“Well, I’ve really been wanting to go on vacation, and I know you have too. And, I’m not going to let all the recent attacks keep me from having fun,” yes, she wants the Hawaii trip. Brian could smell the pineapple, see the palm trees, he was reeling in a marlin, he was riding on the back of a sea turtle, “so, I really think we should go on that trip to Italy we’ve always talked about.” Great.
Brian let that settle in for a moment.
“Sounds great, honey.”
Brian told himself it was a smart idea. He always knew Jan wanted Europe. Italy really was a perfect compromise. Italy is nicer than Hawaii anyway; Brian figured he’d be able to relax there better. Especially with the wine. He was surprised Jan didn’t stray away from Europe with all the ‘disappearances’ going on there.
“I am – scared – of – you know.”
“Jan, how many times to I have to tell you, there is nothing to be afraid of. All it is is a bunch of people who are getting their fix for attention! You’re not in any real danger.”
November 14th 2012
Steve and Carl were back in the break room. Do they ever actually work? Brian couldn’t believe he was getting paid the same as them. He stopped in for coffee earlier and they were in there – probably playing go fish – now, two hours later, they’re still there. At least coffee is never annoying, Brian thought.
“I’m getting a little worried now.”
“Why, man?” Wow, Steve was bringing something to the table for once.
“Haven’t you heard? The first Americans disappeared this morning.”
Brian was surprised it took this long for the American jack-asses to start disappearing.
“Where did they happen, man, because last night I heard about the one in Japan.”
“Some lady in Virginia and some dude in Maine.”
Brian’s phone started ringing; he almost choked on his coffee – the terrorists were starting to seep into his conscience. He put down the mug, and answered Jan’s call.
“Hey, I’m at work.”
Carl and Steve stopped their conversation as they heard a woman’s frantic screaming coming out of Brian’s phone. Brian scanned the room with his eyes.
“No, I can’t come home. Look, honey, there’s nothing to worry about. They were on the east coast. No. No. Uh-huh.”
Brian wondered why Jan let this get to her so much. He’s told her so many times there’s no real danger. He was starting to run out of ways to console her.
“Jan, calm down. You can’t keep going on like this; I can’t deal with you worrying constantly. Nothing will ever happen to us. Yeah, I’ll come home early. Yeah, bye.”
Carl and Steve stared blankly over to Brian on the other side of the break room.
“What?” Brian looked pissed-off and stormed out of the room. Carl and Steve picked up where they left off.
“Well, we’re the next to go, man. The spreading theory seems to be correct.”
“Let’s see, Virginia, Maine, Japan. California’s got to be next.”
December 21st 2012
Brian exited World of Warcraft. That game was getting old. It felt fresher than home though. He spun around in his swivel chair and soaked up the empty office. This is when the office was best – dimly lit at 7:00 PM –no one there to pollute the peace. Brian had left some Hawaiian vacation websites open on his desktop; he started scrolling through them to reminisce. Such a beautiful place. In a few months they’d be leaving for Tuscany. What happened to the tropics?
Brian exited his virtual Hawaiian hiatus. There was Jan; smiling at him from the desktop. Brian smiled at that picture everyday. This time he didn’t. Things needed to change.
Brian slammed the picture facedown onto the desk and turned his chair around. The white wall on the other end of the office caught his attention. Something felt off. Everything was silent and the wall seemed to shrink, no, seemed to expand; Brian couldn’t tell. Brian was so shocked he couldn’t move, even to wipe the sweat dripping form his forehead to his eye. He knew what was coming. A red line appeared at the ceiling and slowly crept to the floor.