by Tray Caladan
It was 3 O’clock on March 3rd, 2016, when Doug Davis noticed that apparently and inexplicably, everyone had disappeared in Northridge, California! He was on his way to the ‘weed store’ with his license in pocket when he saw it happen.
There was a sound before it happened, a strange sound like an electrical short or quick “fizz” and then total silence.
People instantly disappeared! People on the streets, in their yards and in cars and houses were all gone. Even the moving cars and trucks and a guy on a bicycle vanished and took the bike. One bus was a little ways down Reseda Boulevard and that disappeared. Parked cars were there. Vehicles that were driven were the ones that were gone at one moment in time.
Doug rubbed his eyes, but the vision of an empty town still stood before him.
Many questions pounded inside his brain: What did this? Who did this and why? Were they ‘beamed’ away? Where is everybody? How far does whatever it is go? Local or worldwide? Did airplanes disappear as well? Who’s left? Were weird things going to appear? Was it an alien attack? Was he dreaming or hallucinating? What the hell was going to happen?
Mr. Davis was left with an awful predicament: What to do in the next minute? Should he continue the half block walk to the Pot Store or jump in a car and search the streets for signs of life? He decided to go get the hemp because he might need to be a little higher for what he’d face and find out in the new, quiet and stationary world.
The sun shone brightly as Doug pulled on the door and it was not locked (shouldn’t have been at this time). There was no guard. In fact, there were no people and the doors were wide open!
But before the man dove into the smelly, green goodies in the other room, a far more valuable commodity was right in front of him: INFORMATION in the form of the lobby’s big television screen. It was on like he’d always seen it during other visits. Something was wrong because the picture did not display that anything was wrong.
Mr. Davis was incredibly relieved that the phenomenon was local and he was not the ‘Last Man of Earth.’ He took a big breath.
“Now. Wait a minute. That can’t be right.” He often talked to himself. “I looked for miles up and down Reseda; there wasn’t a car or…anything…for miles, huh.” Then he realized he had to change the channel off of the Comedy Channel and to possibly CBS. “I could go home…but I think I know where…” He made his way behind the glass and into the room where the receptionist was normally. He once asked her to switch to a Steelers game when the lobby was crowded.
Doug dashed to the controls and put on Channel Two. “Ah. Now I’ll know. Was this a terrorist attack? Watch, they’ll blame it on Isis. Wait. Everyone’s gone, how could they do it?”
The man thought he’d have answers because the screen showed a helicopter’s view over a freeway. But the scene was a news report of a stolen car [graphics showed] and a police chase of a white Chevrolet vehicle. Odd thing was it took place along Roscoe Boulevard in Van Nuys and moved east. It made no sense; the police would have passed right by the Dead Zone or empty area or massive, multiple car lanes with nothing on them. Why wouldn’t the local news cover hundreds if not thousands of vaporized citizens and their vehicles instead of a typical car chase?
Something’s screwy in St. Louie.
He turned up the sound to maximum and put NBC on. Doug Davis didn’t have to present ID or a doctor’s note. He walked directly in and filled the biggest, shiniest bong with a little sativa that cost $65.00 for an eighth of an ounce.
He toked and he smoked up once again. Minutes went by. The TV never changed out of an atmosphere of normalcy. It didn’t make sense that things disappeared and it didn’t make sense that he smoked the exclusive ‘Banana Jack’ for free. And yet…
Later, he drove his old and reliable ’94 Dodge Colt to the Tesla dealership that he knew was located in Beverly Hills. Doug now rode in a fire-red Tesla, his dream car, in a bizarre World of One. Neither Colt nor Tesla passed another car, truck or van. Hours passed.
No one had been on or off the side of the road, not hide nor hair. Not a single Rams fan.
There were no dogs or birds or any animals.
There wasn’t a plane in the sky.
He was supremely happy. He was alone. He rode a brilliant electric car 120 MPH down a completely empty freeway! Maybe Doug Davis was the Last Man on Earth?
Later still, after the thrills and chills wore off, he was back at his ‘occupied,’ expensive house he’d been in for months. It was dark. (Earth appeared to rotate. Time continued to move). Doug bent over his computer while the television churned out the same nonsense: Nothing was wrong. Nothing out of the ordinary had happened. There was a sad report of a dog trapped in a well, supposedly “thrown” there to die, which was one of the big, local news story of the day.
Mr. Davis hit on his new bong with the Banana Jack again. He wondered: Would all the days be like today? He thought of the ‘Last Man of Earth’ movie with Vincent Price, not ‘I Am Legend’ with Will Smith. He spoke aloud again, “I thought Romero started the whole zombie craze with ‘…Living Dead.’ All this time, it was Matheson.”
Normally, Doug would be in bed at the late hour. There was too much excitement and energy inside of him, like when he was much younger. No sleep tonight. He had more words to the four walls: “Why did I bring up? Oh, no. This better be a joke. Hope the zombies don’t come out tonight. I better lock all doors and windows in case.”
Doug laughed and was also worried about the future. He loved the change; he hated being a security guard. But what of tomorrow, in this brave new world? He wanted companionship. He had none in his usual and small world of very few friends outside of V and her ‘phony’ friends.
Be great to share this. This universe, my Kingdom of One.
He wondered if he’d remain alone. He thought it would be fantastic to come upon a beautiful girl also on this empty LA Island. He thought: That was something to live for …“Let alone having every material thing you’ve ever wanted. I am Will Forte.”
He sighed. He closed his eyes. He made a wish. “That would be nice, to find love…on a deserted island. Ah. Wish I wasn’t alone.”
Two seconds after those words were uttered…
There was a knock at the door.
“Now. Wait a minute.” Doug didn’t believe it and stood still. Maybe it wasn’t a knock? Then it happened again. “Oh, my God.”
It wasn’t a zombie. It was a beautiful and surprised blonde girl.
When he opened the door, she said, “You’re there! You’re…is it?” The green-eyed lady smiled and stood a moment and drank in his appearance as Doug also smiled and did the same. “Your light went off. I saw a light go off, a few minutes ago…”
She was a dream come true. He was stunned, frozen and then he realized, “Oh! It was the bathroom light. Right, I closed the light.”
The delightful girl laughed and put her hands on her hips. “Most people turn off a light; you close them. Something tells me you’re different. I know I’m different. Hey. Izzat why we’re still around?”
“Come in. Come in,” Mr. Davis urged…
“Kate. I’m Kate. You are?” the attractive girl asked as she entered the small, sweet house.
“Ah, I’m Doug. I can’t believe it…”
“What, your name? That everyone’s gone or we found each other?”
“Yeah. All of that.” Dazed, glazed, Mr. Davis had to comment on her looks. “You’re beautiful.” She was not Victoria Secret beautiful; some men might not find her that incredible. Doug did. Those facial lines and sharp nose were exactly what attracted him. She had nice breasts. He dreamed of nice breasts, which was the closest Doug ever got. Great body and legs. She was gorgeous! “Did you see it happen? It was at 3PM, I believe.”
“I was asleep,” she answered with a serious expression. “Not working today.”
“Asleep? Please, this way.” He led her over a tiled-floor entry and into a spacious living room. Modern art was on the walls. “Oh. I’ll get drinks. You were asleep at 3PM?”
Kate laughed once more. “Ha. Just a nap…at my place, ha. I live down closer to Ventura. When I opened my eyes, I was alone. I live alone anyway. Later, when I went out, I saw it…or didn’t see anyone. Incredible. So quiet. So lovely and peaceful.” She sat.
“Wine, beer, juice, soda, water…ah, coffee?” The refrigerator was full.
She chose: “Wine. This is a fantastic place. Love the soft, black couches.”
Doug grabbed the slender bottle of Reunite and poured it in fine, crystal glasses with one ice cube. There was superior wine more chilled, but they didn’t have a subtle hint in their name. “Not my place, love. I could never afford a house like this. Hate to tell ya what I do for a living. Did do. I’m only housesitting my friend’s place for 6 months, Venetia. She’s in Europe. Or, ha, maybe she’s not.”
“Ha. Probably not there, guy.” Kate’s eyes got big.
They clinked glasses with a low, solid sound.
“Yeah. I’m a poor boy.” He joined her close on the couch. “What do you do? Your job?”
“I sell marijuana. One of those co-op shops, you know?”
“Funny,” he said. “I was just at mine. You have a sativa better than Banana Jack?”
“We have Jack’s Dream. The best.” Kate’s green eyes lit up.
“With such a distinctive taste. Wow. Figured as much. Better stuff closer to Hollywood?”
She shook that great looking head and said, “Yeah. Ninety an eighth, it’s purple.”
“Gee. Wish you had some, like to try it.” Doug drank out of the fine crystal glass.
“I have a big bud on me. Let’s smoke,” the innocent pixie from Heaven stated the fact like it was nothing.
Mr. Davis was a frozen statue. It was everything; it hit him at once. Do I only have to wish something and it’ll come true?
They both sighed.
“You know there’s a fucking television show like this?”
He knew and also noted Kate tossed in a tiny F-bomb. Did her choice of “wine” mean…?
Doug replied with a smirk, “I think I’ve seen every episode. Let’s not say ‘farts.’ Don’t like farts; don’t even want to talk about them. Okay?”
“You’re cute.” She took another drink.
It wasn’t long before they were in bed and made love. He grabbed handfuls of things he’d never had the pleasure before. She was the aggressive one. She was a beast in bed. He followed her lead. It was extraordinarily exquisite and wonderfully rough. It was unbelievable to the man. This couldn’t be real. Reality had to be a dream.
They were naked and prone on top of messed, silk bedsheets of Venetia’s fabulous bed.
Doug said, between tokes of Jack’s Dream, “Tomorrow. Tomorrow we’ll get a nicer place. Bigger, better, you know?” It was taken for granted they’d move to some ultimate, Oceanside digs, the next step for the last two people on Earth.
They still felt the sweat on their bodies from the sex over the last hour when they heard it…
It was a loud and low moan of pain and agony from what sounded like a giant lion or bear maybe a mile away!
“What the fuck was that?”
“I don’t know,” she replied and shivered.
The lovers went over to the window, opened it wider and looked out into the darkness. Street lights were on as usual, very few room lights in houses and buildings. There were no movements, as usual in this Frightened New World.
They heard the cries of loud horror again! My God.
Then there was movement: a monstrously large, black silhouette suddenly towered over the buildings. It slowly crawled or skulked its way along Reseda Boulevard, or so it seemed. It could have been close to 100 feet high! The good thing was: The Monster appeared to be lost; it did not approach. In fact, the Beast turned and moved off toward the south. The terrible, blood-chilled moans of pain and agony lessened as the Thing shrunk into the dark distance.
Out of the blue, Doug told Kate that the last movie he watched on his free-film website was: ‘Forbidden Planet.’ What the hell was going on? Was the Monster from his ID? Did he create the Creature? Was IT responsible for the disappearances? Was the giant one of the aliens or was IT produced by the aliens? He suspected weird things would appear and they did.
The next day started with a tremendous dawn. Sunlight washed over everything and made everything ultra-bright, ultra-colorful. He was happy. What a morning. Strange that they had a short, but restful and very deep sleep with a Monster on the loose. Was it a night Beast and only came out in the darkest depths of fears and nightmares? Maybe everything was fine in the broad daylight, just like the films he was familiar with. Doug knew and freely watched a lot of films. Was he living in one?
Kate cooked. She was great at it. She made scrambled eggs with onions, bacon, sausages along with the best hash browns Mr. Davis ever tasted. Was the universe too perfect now?
Why question it? Yet it cannot be this perfect, the precision. Something had to go wrong~
“Dear. Never told you this. There was an odd, almost electrical sound exactly when everyone was zapped away. Poof. Zzzzzap. Gone.”
She responded, “I know. Like something got fried, a loud short.”
“I thought you were asleep?” Doug was puzzled.
Kate lied. “Oh, I was! That might have been what woke me. I didn’t have an alarm on or anything. I assumed I did. Must have dreamed the electrical spark, maybe same one you heard, Doug. So…that’s when they all got taken, huh?” She spoke fast and righted herself.
They took more bites of the delicious breakfast. Venetia’s huge double-doored refrigerator came stocked with special food from Gelson’s Market. Davis hadn’t had to buy meals or groceries in months.
Doug looked right into Kate’s pretty, light eyes and asked, “What do you think is going on? Really?”
She stopped. She stared straight back at him. They were profound statements and not what the man had conceived previously. “Or did they get taken? I think nobody took anyone away.”
He was intrigued. “What do you mean?”
After a swallow of coffee, “We might be dead spirits, forms that won’t die. What makes more sense: Something transported billions of people away somewhere to the Moon or Mars or a, a spaceship or dimension or…or…something took only us away?”
“Huh.” The man contemplated a new thought and one that made perfect sense. “You might be right. This isn’t like the movies. I’ve felt no need to repopulate the planet…”
Kate said coolly, “I think the Earth, the real one is spinning along just fine…without us.”
“Wonder why us? You think we could be dead, this some next phase purgatory?”
She winked. “Not a clue, hon. Let’s enjoy it as much as we can. Boy, this is good.”
Doug agreed and ate more. He added, “I see what you mean. A bit of a weight problem for billions of humans. Easier for us to be taken or beamed here, maybe? Where’s here? This not the world we came from, but a parallel one? I think. Or it’s changed. So…we’re ghosts? And what the shit is that Thing out there walking around at night?”
More surprises were ahead for the couple: A KNOCK was heard at the front door!
Doug and Kate gave each other emotional faces. Their mouths dropped…
Doug made a joke: “Well, the Monster wouldn’t knock.”
They laughed. They quickly got up and saw who was at the door.
They opened the door. The situation was, apparently, ‘non-threatening.’ He was a fairly young, fairly tall man with short, black hair and light brown skin. He wore simple, clean, plain and casual clothes that were white in color. His ancestry was not obvious. He spoke in an undetermined ‘foreign’ accent, almost from India. He softly, gently said, “I smelled bacon. I wondered: Who could be cooking the bacon?”
The three of them: Kate, Doug and Mesha (they found out) had a good, hearty laugh.
The last thing Doug expected was the fact that he had to now ‘share his scrambled eggs.’
Kate and Doug discovered that he was from Tangiers. Mesha called his homeland “Outerzone,” which Doug assumed was a temporary title because of civil wars, revolutions or other, violent and political disputes from neighboring countries. Land ownership disputes, no doubt. The thin man with kind eyes and a soft voice was an ‘exchange student.’ An American took his place in a poor Outerzone Academy, while he studied in good schools abroad. Mesha made it quite clear that he would never go back to his homeland and would permanently stay in America, almost anywhere other than a section of Tangiers, also called “OZ.”
They believed every word. Why would he lie?
Everything was different now. The old world was gone and so were their old lives. They’d make their own future. And it begun with a completely redesigned headquarters not more than 10 miles from the empty halls of Pepperdine University. The scenery was magnificent as another red, violet and purple sunset illuminated the skies like a glorious Maxfield Parrish painting.
The three left on planet Earth assumed a situation not unlike the television show with Will Forte. “Oceanside digs,” indeed. The view of the Pacific Ocean from the mansions on the famous and prestigious hills was beyond belief. A quarter mile separated each estate. Kate and Doug chose the one at the highest pinnacle. Mesha lived in an enormous mansion a quarter mile away, along the same ‘golden’ road and also had a lofty, breathtaking view of the ocean.
There was no sign of the Beast. It had not made an appearance over the horizon or along the horizon or anywhere around the high palaces near Pepperdine. Ever since Mesha arrived on the scene, they had not encountered the Big Black Beast of the night. Was Mesha, without a last name, a good luck charm? Was he an ‘old soul’ mystic that warded dark/evil Spirits away?
Kate and Doug noticed bizarre peculiarities when they had dinner that Mesha prepared at his place one night. He cooked them the finest, rarest, most succulent roast beef. It was fabulous. He ate his raw. It was very bloody and completely raw. They later thought he was a cannibal.
One time during the evening of the ‘bloody beef,’ Doug heard strange chants through the walls from another room when he was in one of the bathrooms. It was when Mesha insisted on 10 minutes of privacy where he meditated after his one daily meal. Doug believed it was an African custom or something they did back in his Outerzone. But when he heard scary, creepy, deep voices that absolutely came out of the mouth of his host in the other room…
He was convinced Mesha was a ‘ritualistic’ cannibal and later told Kate about the bizarre, unintelligible, Exorcist-like chants and whispers that were heard from their host. The experience left him shitless.
She laughed. She fluffed it off as if it was nothing. Kate only wanted to go home and fuck. They did.
It was 3AM at the elevated estate that looked out over an amazing ocean view.
A CRASH WAS HEARD!
The Monster returned and tore off a portion of the multi-roomed, main building! It went through the landscaped field and gardens and broke beautiful statuary and damaged topiary and pools of Japanese goldfish! The Beast was on a mad rampage and smashed through the walls to savagely kill Kate and Doug. Or so it seemed. That horrible banshee cry of total pain and suffering was heard, again, loudly!
They were scared, tossed a few clothes on and panicked.
More layers of rooms and walls were ripped apart by the Beast! Soon the bedroom core of the building would be reached.
By this time, Kate and Doug ran out of the front door and was not seen by the Monster…
Then the creature saw them. The dark giant of madness and nightmares glowed with red eyes. It rounded the corner of the mansion and bumped a large section of the façade to the ground, in pieces. The Beast was after Doug and Kate. It wanted to destroy them, brutally.
Kate tripped and fell.
Doug helped her. He would have laughed at his pet peeve in films if he wasn’t so damned frightened out of his wits. They ran.
Louder screams from the Thing shook them to cold bones. This was it.
They were about to die. They both felt it. Instead of a mad dash out into the open and into darkness, they stopped and passionately kissed. They accepted their fate and what was to come. They acted as if they blocked out the Monster.
Doug convinced himself that the Beast did not exist and gave in to only the kiss.
The Monster was ready to crush their lives out of material existence when it suddenly disappeared into the shadowy blackness…
Kate and Doug kept kissing and there was some tongue. They slowly opened their eyes. They appeared not dead. They were safe.
The Monster was gone.
Everything was quiet.
Each turned and saw Mesha. He appeared only after the Thing disappeared~
“That was pretty weird,” Kate commented to Doug when they were within an undamaged room of their devastated home.
Mesha was inside his mansion, a quarter mile away.
Earlier, they all said few words to each other outside of, “Are you all right?”
“…You mean M being there right after the Thing vanished?”
“There’s much more to him. He’s said nothing about his past? I’m sure he’s lying.”
“I get that feeling too, my love.”
“Is he the Beast?”
“I have…what maybe a stranger question on my mind, Kate…”
“Whaa?” she asked like a child.
“Why is it whatever I’m thinking seems to be happening?” He changed positions to be better believed. “I’m doing this. I’m the cause of everything, I’m afraid, dear.”
“Huh? No. That’s ridiculous. Get it through your head: You are NOT the cause of this.”
“I thought: I didn’t want to be alone and there you are, and just my type.”
They both smiled sexy smiles at each other which ended in their tongues out at each other from a distance, like children on a playground.
“Ha. But seriously…”
Kate laughed again. Then she listened to what her lover said, attentively.
“Then…I wondered what could go wrong? Suddenly, knock on the door and there’s exotic Mesha. Also, IT lurks in the night like a big zombie after I saw the end of Forbidden Planet?”
“No. I don’t get that at all, love. You’re not the cause of the giant Monster from Hell.”
“You think Mesha is the Beast?” Doug Davis learned to trust her responses. Kate was a playful child and a brilliant thinker also. He wanted to know her reply.
She stated in a lower register, “I think there is a connection between the two. Is he calling demons with the rituals you heard? Is the Monster what he manifested, or, or maybe a trick, a technique…what he learned in that crazy Outerzone Academy?”
“Those were insane, sick stories. More like he described Hell. Could he be an alien, K?”
“We talked about the possibility. What would he want? What’s IT doing? The giant his pet, under his command? I don’t know, my love. Is Mesha the Devil himself? Decide. Choose.”
“Or…” Doug finished Kate’s thought: “…Does he know how to summon the Devil?”
“That’s the ticket.” Kate had an idea. “I have an idea.”
“Let’s invite him over to dinner tomorrow night. What’s say, D?”
“What are you up to? And I don’t think I’m gonna like it, dear.” He made a silly face. “We’re gonna invite the Devil in, eh?”
Kate laughed. “Ha. I have a few choice questions for our boy about the Zone. After I’ll do a bit of study on his homeland, right? He’s not who he professed to be. I just know it.”
“You think it’ll come out over dinner? By the way, what are we having?”
The excellent cook answered with, “We’ll have rare sirloin and the finest of side dishes. He’ll have only the raw sirloin.”
“Let’s get to work on the computer. Google still works in the…Interzone…”
Kate snapped at him with an odd and unexpected tone: “Where did you hear that? Who called this Zone the Interzone?”
“Huh? No one. There is no one. I just made it up, dear. What’s wrong with you?”
[Only now did it not dawn upon Doug that he never knew Kate’s last name. The fact was artificially forgotten because of the strong influence of the alien bugs known as ‘Mugwumps’].
“Sorry. Don’t know what came over me, my dear? Don’t know why I reacted…”
At dinner, the next night, all was not as it appeared.
The sharp, hard questions to Mesha as he slurped bloody steak were a complete ruse. Kate was not Kate. She was not a human being. Neither was Mesha. They were manifestations from the Other Side or Outer Zone [larger] when compared to our Inter Zone [smaller] dimension. They were dark reflections from the other side of the ‘Magical Mirror,’ negative to our positive polarity and Dark to our Light.
Kate, who was not Kate, placed a suggestion in the head of her former lover that she had controlled for most of the time to this point. Doug went into a room and meditated, as was his ‘custom after every meal, every night.’
Now the space bugs from the Outerzone would talk. There was no reason for fake appearances anymore. Each saw the other yellow-grey, insectoid, Cosmic Centipede for what they truly were. Masks dissolved. The Mugwumps, the real couple, male and female lovers, finally had a chance to communicate. But first they drank the delicacy of their ‘jism’ through each other’s head-tubers that dripped with precious, intoxicating, yellow liquid.
They had British accents as the bugs ‘spoke’ in what was a natural and normal method.
The male stated, “Mrs. Benway, why in Moloch’s name did you not do the William Tell routine? You were supposed to die with a bloodless hole in and through your forehead. What happened? Why are you still here and talking to me? And, by the way…the beef was grand.”
“To answer your inquiry, Mr. Benway. Thank you on the meat. The test failed, sir. We cannot make Davis an agent. Tests clearly showed that. He would never have shot. He cannot be recruited to spread the yellow powder. We simply have to do the test again. With proof of concept, look how many agents we can have in the field, right? Right? Bloody, right, right!”
“Bloody right, right,” Mr. Benway agreed.
“What about Junior?”
“Totally wasted, I’m afraid, sir,” the female Centipede concluded. “Davis never believed it was external Fear, not totally, subconsciously, 100%. He always maintained he was the cause and thus rendered the Monster an ineffective placebo. It was all for nothing, Mr. Benway.”
“Scheisse. Put him back.”
How to order novels by TS Caladan
- http://www.twbpress.com/authortraycaladan.html Promo-page from publisher: TWB Press in Colorado
- http://www.twbpress.com/sonofzog.html TWB Press in Colorado
or go to publisher’s site: TWBPRESS.COM
TWB Press, publishing, electronic, e-books, ebooks, short stories, novels, science fiction, supernatural, horror, thrillers, fiction
TS Caladan's 3-Book "Traylogy" can be purchased thru TWB Press.
9" x 6" books with cover art are less than $18.00. EBooks are $3.99.