How the world ended and no one noticed... It is my theory, that there are only three types of people in the world: Sleepers, ghosts, and spiders. Most people are sleepers. They walk around and function relatively normal, but they do not know what is going on around them. The ghosts are not actually ghosts. They are a memory of people who existed before the world ended. Well, the world as we knew it, once. The ghosts do not do much. They are just there, really. The spiders, however, do stuff. A lot of crazy shit. This story is mainly about the difference between the three. My name is Ash Bourbon. This is obviously a fake name. If you do not already know me, or have already read some of my previous stuff, that is probably for the best. That shit did not paint me in the best picture, to be honest. In fact, a lot of that stuff probably made me seem like a fucking maniac. I am not. Not entirely, anyway. Let me explain...
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This one is for all the writers,
musicians and movies
that came before me.
I hope to do my inspirations justice.
The world has ended. This is the dreadful truth of it all.
It happened quite some time ago, although no one is sure of when, exactly. A good venture would be somewhere around the 1950's, which would mean, that I was born more than 30 years after the world ceased to be. Not a whole lot of people noticed, however, and those who did, was payed no mind. They were thought of as crazy, and still are, really.
So, why did no one notice?
To be honest, not much has changed. Sure, some will say that they remember people being decent in the old days, but I am not so sure that is actually accurate. People have never been decent. Not to my understanding.
Nevertheless, people do occasionally get a feeling of something being off. It is hard to say what, exactly, but I hear them saying it occasionally. Mostly it is the elders, but they could be referring to all manner of things. It is the younger people you have to pay attention to. Those of us who was born into a dead world.
I remember one time, not so long ago, I was sitting at the doctor’s office, having to renew a prescription, waiting my turn. There was just me, and a slightly older woman there that morning. She had that worn-out look on her face that young mothers often incline to. A mouth that would only smile with effort. No one talks while waiting at the doctor’s office, and we both seemed happy to honour this tradition. At least initially.
She was reading some magazine while I was practicing lies in my head repeatedly, when suddenly she spurted out:
“Do you ever get that feeling, like the world has already ended, only no-ones noticed yet?”
I would have sighed in great relief and talked for hours about this horror, had I not been afraid she would shoot her brains out right there and then, would she know the truth. So, I said nothing.
“I mean, you read about all the horrors of this world, and I just think to myself – maybe we're already in hell, and nothing here is real. You know?”
I know. I know too well, but still, I said nothing. I just gave her a slight smile and a 'what're you gonna do about it'-nod, which I had become quite proficient at.
A second later, a young teenage girl came out the door with the doctor behind her. She could not have been more than 14, and she had a shameful look on her face, to match her mothers.
“Contact the front desk and they'll help you setup an appointment to have it removed,” the doc said with a smile. They left the office quietly, without having returned his smile. Shortly after, I was called in.
I mention this incident only because it seems quite typical. These are the short insights people seem to get in to the truth, every so often. At the time, I seemed to be hearing it everywhere I went, from all manners of people. Well, that is not actually quite true. It was always a certain type of people. The worn-down, the beaten, the unlucky ones and the addicts. The people that seemed to have shed the glamor from their eyes. No longer pink and fluffy, they seemed to see the world as it is. Or, at least, had a short look at what is behind this world.
The grand, dark, nothing of it all.
I had my first look at it around the same time I realized that monsters are real. They are not exactly what I thought they would be like, giving my inclination towards B-movies, but they are without doubt monsters.
It was five years ago, which would make me 22 at the time. My last effort of trying out this 'school'-thing had been beaten out of me, and I was drifting around, not really accomplishing much. My parents were good people, and they tried their best, but in the end, all they could really offer me was a warm bed every so often. I never blamed them for anything, and I did not have to. They blamed themselves, and that was far more of a hell than anything I could ever say to them.
I remember it was a chilly summer that year. The grass never took to its green, and the leaves only just managed to come out somewhere in between the summer-snows. Still, I much preferred it to the hauntingly cold winters we had seen over the last few years.
I was at a party a friend of mine had dragged me along with. I did not especially enjoy them, but I disliked bars even more, so I would cope. Drinking alone was just too sad, even for me.
The people there were all younger than I was, as was my friend. A year younger might not seem as much now, but back then, it seemed to make all the difference. I think I was considered quite cool, but I cannot be certain. Thinking back, I am actually inclined to think I was entirely uncool. Had I gotten a look at myself, I would probably have kicked my own ass, to be honest. In any case, I felt left out. The girls were not much more than children in tight skirts and the boys all seemed to be laughing at something I had no comprehension of. I tried to join in occasionally, but whatever I said just seemed to get me weirded out glares. My friend, Easley his name was, a boy I had known since we were children, was the only one who laughed at what I said. He did not get me, he said, but I think that was what he liked about me. The constant surprise of how I would form sentences without the slightest meaning.
Despite myself, I found that I was chatting up a girl. I had seen her at parties before, but I had no idea what her name was. Someone might have mentioned it, but I had a tendency to forget people's names as soon as I was told. Possibly because I did not really care.
“So, uhm, do you like stoner-rock?” I said, while drinking a beer as manly as I could – by pouring it down my lap.
“What the hell is 'stoner-rock'?” she replied with a slight disgust on her face.
“You know, like Kyuss, or Sleep?”
“I'm not sure if what you're saying are actual words that complete a sentence,” she retorted and looked the other way.
I had not thought of the possibility that someone in this world did not know who Josh Homme was, and quite frankly, I was disgusted and considered giving up on girls altogether after this conversation. In any case, I left the living room where most of the party took place, and retreated into the yard with my shopping bag full of beer.
Thinking back on it now, I feel like I already told this part once. Slightly different from last I told it, but that seems to happen a lot these days. A weird sort of side effect to the world dying, I think. Anyway, I will tell it to you again.
I was sitting on the patio, lighting up a bash of a certain something, which had gotten me into a permanent state of depression the last few days. The guy who sold it to me had warned me of that. I think he called it 'black candy', which seemed like an accurate description. Actually, come to think of it, I think it was a girl who gave it to me. It might also had been in the form of pills, and not actually burnable. Not that it matters.
I felt my head spinning and my lungs burning, as you would expect, but the greater effect was on the eyes – which I did not expect. This was completely different from all the other stuff I had taken over the years. My eyes felt heavy, at first, but then, all of a sudden, they seemed to shed all their extra weight. Like I had been given new ones. Far from an accurate description, but I seemed to perceive things differently.
“Do you like whiskey?” she asked, sitting down next to me on the stairs of the patio.
“Actually, I think that's a bourbon you got there,” I replied, kicking myself.
She did not have a reply to that, and instead just handed me the bottle. She was pretty I seem to remember. Too young, but pretty. Her skin was soft and white and her eyes seemed huge on her little face, and way greener than what felt natural to me.
“Smells like weed out here,” she said. Suddenly I realized, neither of us had said anything for several minutes.
“Yeah. Wonder what that's about.”
“Probably someone mowing the lawn.”
“Oh, right. That sort of weed,” I laughed stupidly.
She looked straight at me with her peculiar eyes. The slightly naïve look of a girl well under the legal age of consent.
“Aren’t you a little young to be drinking?” I found myself asking.
“I'm not. Saw you out here, so grabbed a bottle for you.”
“Well, that's thoughtful of you.”
“You seem sad,” she blurted out, her social filters completely melted away.
“I'm probably just at a loss,” I accidentally confessed. A pain throbbed in my gut as I said the words.
“Because of the spiders?” she asked sincerely.
“Oh, nevermind. I thought you could see them as well.”
I did not at the time, but I would.
“You probably shouldn't go back inside, if you don't want to see them,” she said earnestly.
“I'll just stay out here with you then,” was the only thing I could think of saying.
“Actually, I'm going home now.”
“But you can walk me home,” she said. She did not ask.
“Yeah, I can do that.”
I walked out on the party and my friend, who was still inside, to escort a girl I did not know, and had no romantic feelings toward, home. I cannot remember if we talked, or what happened exactly. I just remember she seemed odd, and that she mentioned the spiders.
I woke the next morning out of breath, as if I had been running. I did not remember coming home, or where home was at the time, even. My surroundings were unfamiliar and alien. It was a small, studio apartment on the other side of town, with just a handful of furniture. I lived there for a number of years afterwards, but I do not remember moving in. I just woke up there that morning, and started paying rent. Everyone else seemed fine with that fact.
I also woke up a few years older which seemed, perhaps, even stranger.
It was now the year 2012 and I was 26 years old. I could not remember life or what I had done with it the past 4 years, but the calendar on the wall would hardly be pulling my leg, and in any case, I could clearly see the last few years piled up around my eyes.
I reached for my phone, which had not changed, and called up Easley. He picked up around the seventeenth ring.
“Wha?” he muttered. I had clearly woken him.
“Hey, man. Uhm. What year is it at your place?”
The line went quiet for a few seconds.
“You forgot again, didn't you?”
“Forgot about what?”
“What the fuck are you saying to me, Easley?”
“Shit, man. It's fucking 9am; why the fuck do you always wake up so fucking early?”
“-Whatever. Meet me at the pizza place.”
“Which one is that?”
“The one we've always gone to.”
Easley hung up on me.
I really needed a shower, but decided against it. I just wanted to meet up with Easley as soon as possible, so I just threw on whatever was lying on the floor. A grey Orange Goblin shirt, jeans full of mustard stains and a semifunctional, faux leather jacket. The fake leather had faded quite severely and none of the buttons were attached any longer, which meant you could not close the jacket.
I took a quick glance around the apartment before rushing out. It was dirty as hell. Clearly, I was still single. It also lacked any personal stuff, like pictures and whatever. I am not so sure if I was actually living there or just squatting.
What the fuck have I been doing with my life, I thought and walked out.
Easley was not at the pizza place yet when I came in. It was just next to campus, so it opened early. A surprising amount of students ate pizza for breakfast. Of course, they could have been studying all night, but I suspected a lot of them just forgot to buy cereal. Contrary to all matters of logic, students are fucking idiots.
“So, what'd you want?” said an elderly woman behind the counter. All light had gone out of her eyes years ago, and she was just running out the clock now.
“Is it too early for your lunch special?”
“You mean a pizza with a beer?” she almost sighed while asking.
“Beef. With extra chili.”
“Make mine with pepperoni, and I'll take a beer as well,” Easley said behind me.
I smiled, as if I had not seen him in years. I might not have, for all I knew at the time.
Easley was wearing a severely wrinkled, grey-blue, shirt and probably the dirtiest jeans I had ever seen. He had not shaved in at least three weeks, and I could tell he had not showered for several days, either. He smelled of sex, sweat, and possibly three different girl’s perfumes.
He pointed me towards a corner-cubicle and we sat down opposite each other.
“What's the last thing you remember?” was the first thing he said.
“Uhm, well, I was walking a girl home.”
“This was when?”
“Summer of 08.”
“You don't usually forget that much.”
“What'd you mean?”
“You usually just blank out a couple of months, a year tops. This is the first time you've forgotten this much.”
“This has happened before?”
“Oh yeah. Like eight times.”
“Oh, fuck.” I was not sure of what to say next.
Where the fuck is that pizza?
“Do I have like brain cancer, or something?” I asked, dreading the reply.
Easley just laughed.
“Dude, what the fuck? Do I have a fucking tumour in my brain?”
“No, dude, no. Nothing like that.”
“Then what the fuck is going on?”
“I have no fucking clue, man. You’re the only one that seems to be affected. I got the same doze you did, Syd probably had twice as much, but we remember everything.”
“Doze of what?”
“That black candy shit. From the spiders.”
“You mentioned spiders on the phone. What the hell is it with the spiders?”
“Oh shit, man. Summer of 08? You forgot what happened that year then?”
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