Fiction American Contemporary

Beep beep beep! Marta slammed her alarm clock against the wall. The persistent lack of sleep she had been getting in the last few months was affecting her in disturbing ways. Dashing around her cramped and cluttered apartment like a mad woman, she rushed to get ready for work. Gobbling up a piece of dried toast she barely tasted she stormed out the door.

The heat of the scorching sun hit the back of her neck that was exposed by her newly cropped pixie cut. Marching down the once bright pavement while lost in deep thought, Marta berated herself for the one hundredth time for accepting an evening job. “This time reversal has really screwed me up,” she mumbled incoherently to herself. Something was definitely off with the city as well. The power outages were frightening and the days getting shorter this time of year was indeed strange. Marta accepted this evening job with the brilliant idea that she would be better rested. She wasn’t. If anything, she was more tired and irritable than she was at her last job.

The humming of the engine from the bus had a hypnotic effect on Marta as she glanced at the faces that were waiting in line with her. The rotund man in front of her was munching noisily on a crunchy apple while locked in on his iPhone. There was a beautiful woman dressed in a hijab absently observing her surroundings in deep thought, and a bespectacled elderly gentleman loudly blowing his nose on a silk paisley handkerchief. Marta missed a step while boarding the bus and caught herself before she fell flat on her face. She raced toward the very back while purposely avoiding the looks of the other passengers as shame crept toward her face. Marta slipped quietly into the last seat on the bus and observed that no one sat in the seat adjacent to her. Relieved that she would not have to converse with anyone, she allowed herself to lean back in the seat before she reached her destination.

That’s when it happened.

It was as if it was an ominous sign that something sinister was about to occur. The power outage in the metropolitan city had occurred 19 times in the past month. This time, however, seemed different than the other times. The darkness was eerily silent, and it enclosed around the city like a menacing cloak. There was not only the deafening silence but the lack of any type of smell or feeling. Marta could, however, feel the hairs on her arms rise as she nervously called out to someone or anyone on the almost crowded bus. There was no answer or any kind of sound or movement that acknowledged the presence of anyone being on the bus. Moving slowly across the sticky floor with her arms extended in front of her, she desperately desired to feel the body of another human.

The realization that she was the only one still on the bus prompted a horrified Marta to let out a blood curdling scream, as a collection of explanations stormed her brain, each one vying to rationalize the disappearance of the other passengers. Marta felt slightly relieved as she reached the front of the bus and felt the lever to the door. Using all her strength, she pulled the lever towards her opening the door.

In the complete blackness of her surroundings, she stumbled down the steps of the bus landing with a silent thud onto the hot hard sidewalk. Tears streamed down her cheeks as she pushed herself up from the pavement calling out to anyone who could help her feel less afraid. With her arms again in front of her and walking in the pitch black, Marta was by now completely petrified as to what was happening. “Where did everyone go? How did this happen? Who or what was responsible? It seemed as if she had walked for hours when she felt a touch on her arm. A hand with long fingers that dug into her flesh firmly gripped her arms. Marta let out a scream that even she could not hear. She felt herself being lifted and carried away to where, she did not know or want to know because at this point she was completely exhausted from the terror of the night.

When she came to, she was still in darkness and was resting on what felt like a hospital bed. Someone gently touched her face as if to help her stay calm and reassured. Her body was like lead. It occurred to her that a sedative had been administered because her body felt curiously heavy and she could feel herself approaching slumber.

The next morning when Marta awoke from what seemed like a long sleep, she was able to see some light and could now make out the blurred shapes of humans in front of her. There were tubes protruding from her ears and as they were being removed she could finally hear sounds again. A male voice gently introduced himself.

“Hello, I’m Dr. Watts, how are you feeling this morning?”

Marta began to speak slowly, her voice was scratchy and her throat felt as if hot coals had been poured in her mouth. The pain she was experiencing was unreal.

“Where am I?”

she asked, barely audible.

“You’re in the hospital,”

He explained while cleaning his glasses. The caressing tone in his voice calmed her.

“When did the power come back on?“

Marta whispered wincing from the burning sensation in her throat.

“What do you mean?”

“There was a power outage for the twentieth time this month.”

Marta could now see the doctor more clearly and noticed the shock of white hair that surrounded a tanned bald head.

“There hasn’t been any outages in two years. You, however, had a case of temporary blindness that seemed to also have affected your hearing and speech. You’re going to be alright now since we performed a laser procedure on you and you seem to be recovering beautifully. We will now leave you to rest.”

As the door closed behind him Marta leaned back into the fluffed pillow and rested. Smiling to herself, she immediately dozed off, feeling relieved for the first time in months.

May 01, 2021 22:25

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.


Angela Guthrie
00:52 May 31, 2021

Thank you Bonnie. I will remember that and thank you for taking the time to read my stories.


Show 0 replies
Bonnie Clarkson
21:46 May 30, 2021

Good job again. I liked the ending. "There was a beautiful woman dressed in a hijab absently observing. A professional editor recommended not starting a sentence with "There was". You may want to revise that sentence.


Show 0 replies
Angela Guthrie
18:53 May 08, 2021

Yes, please do. I want to learn and improve.


Show 0 replies
Charli Britton
17:47 May 08, 2021

Very nice! Can I recommend a bit of formatting?


Show 0 replies