Nothing But Dust

Where am I? Everything is pitch black. There isn’t a hint of light anywhere. No, wait. There is light. It just seems far away. Maybe if I blink a couple times. There. I can see now. But what do I see? Blue. Just a blanket of blue around me, dotted with fluffs of white. Just then, I realize that I’m lying on the ground. What ground, however is a mystery to me. The sun bakes my skin and my lips feel cracked and dry. I lick my chapped lips and close my eyes. How long have I been here lying in this dust? Minutes? Days? I don’t remember anything before waking up. Nothing at all. I try digging through my memory to find out where I am and why. But come up with nothing, just blank, blackness...
I sigh, frustrated. The action of sighing, however, makes a rock dig into my back. A sharp stab of pain enters my nerves. My eyes fly open, and I sit up hastily. A cloud of dust billows around me, and I cough, soil entering my lungs. It takes a while for the dust to settle. And finally through a veil of powder I see where I am. And gasp.
Everywhere around me is barren. There’s wind blowing dust everywhere, over nothing. The sun bears down on this bare patch of land, making heat waves skim the sandy land. Everywhere I look I see nothing… Nothing but ground. Nothing but dust.
Maybe I should stand up, walk around. But I don’t. Because where would I go? There’s nowhere to go. Instead of exploring this new place I’ll sit here. And try to remember. But remember what, exactly? I don’t know. I just don’t know. It’s like I was just born, and have no past life. I don’t even know what my name is. How sad. But should I have a pity party? Should I just sit here wasting time away? No, I shouldn’t. That’s not me. Or is it? I don’t know. Memories of me are gone. Like someone just opened my head and stole them. Memories of others are gone also. I don’t know if I’m the only one here, on earth. Am I even on earth? Maybe I’m on some distant planet deserted. But what would I have done to deserve that? I don’t know. This brings me back to square one. And I don’t even know what that is.
As far as I can see there is nothing. I narrow my eyes to get a better view, but still see naught. Except for dust. It’s everywhere. Blowing around. Settling on my clothes. Sticking in my hair. I squint, focusing the landscape. Now in the distance a dark shadow forms. Is it a mirage? Probably. Maybe. But it’s getting darker and taking shape. It looks like a, a building? Is it real? There’s only one way to find out.
Get up. But my body won’t listen to me. The urge to know what the building is, is too much. What if there are people there? I doubt it, but still, I’ll never know if I don’t get up. Just stand up. That’s all I ask of you, Body. Just get… Woah, it listened to me. I’m now standing up, walking towards the building. It feels like I’m not in my body and am really another being looking down at my body. I watch as I walk gradually, frequently tripping over dust, towards the structure. I look like I’m the walking dead, my hair matted to my head, my clothes ratty and torn. But I stagger with a determination. I want, no I need to know why I can’t remember anything. And to know who I am.
It takes forever and then some, but I finally make it to the building. It turns out to be vaster than I first thought, and is five times as wide as I am tall. Like everything else it’s covered with dust, and looks like no one’s inhabited it for decades. I first reach a sign in front of the structure, which sways with the wind. It makes a creaking noise that makes the scene even creepier than it first seemed. I stare up at it, trying to decipher the words on it and finally read, “Haven’s Diner.” What’s “Haven”? Or is it a person? I decide that I like the word, and name myself after it. “Haven,” I say it out loud, and like the way it rolls on my tongue. “Haven, Haven, Haven, Haven.”
The other word on the sign, “Diner” doesn’t mean anything to me, however. What’s a diner? Just now I get a feeling like someone punched me in the gut. I double-over, clutching my stomach. Bright images flash through my mind: Red, vinyl bar stools, overflowing glass sodas clinking together, three people sitting together, laughing and eating greasy fries. I open my eyes, and notice that I’m lying on the ground. Rubbing my head, I get up. The laughter and clinking echo in my head. What the heck just happened? Is this what remembering felt like? If it’s that painful then I prefer not to know. But what do I even know? Nothing of course. Except that I just realized that I’m hungry.
Maybe there’s food inside the diner. I highly doubt it, but I have nowhere else to go. I reach the door without really noticing it. My hand lies on the dust-covered handle, but I stay still. What’s keeping me from opening the door? Out here at least I know there’s nothing. But what about inside? Oh hush, coward. You’re just too scared to try. Am not! Wait hold up. Am I talking to myself? And answering myself? Am I going crazy? I need someone else to talk to, besides myself. Maybe they’re inside. After a long pause, I pull the door with all my might, but…
It doesn’t budge. Oh my God. All that work for nothing. But wait. What’re those words on the door? It says P-U-S-H. Push? Oh, push! I’m supposed to push the door instead of pull. Duh. With this new realization, I use all my body weight to try and open the door. Turns out I didn’t need that much. As soon as I push against the door, it gives way. And I collapse onto the ground, which turns out to be dusty. I don’t even bother wiping the dust off me as I get up. I’m too entranced by what’s beyond me.
The inside of the diner isn’t as big as it seems on the outside. But it’s much more enticing. Like everywhere outside, the diner is covered in powder. But what’s under the dust is the true find. It’s like time stopped and everything was stuck there. The tables carry trays and plates on them. Dusty of course. But the only thing missing from this pause in time is the people. As I walk through the diner leaving footprints in the dust, I wonder if anyone else left footprints here. So far I’ve seen no signs of people at all. Maybe this is Heaven. Or maybe this is H*ll. And I’m in eternal d*mnation, for something I don’t remember doing. Whatever it is I’m probably the only one left.
The diner turns out to have a back room where they store food. I meander over towards it, hoping that there will be food waiting for me. Please let there be food. Please let there be food. The room is tiny and cramped. Filthy counter-tops are crammed in here along with a large, silver box. Wondering what this box contains, I open it up. A blast of icy air hits me, as I peek inside the box. Refrigerator. This long word pops into my head for some reason. Hmmm… I wonder if this box is a refrigerator. The contents of the fridge are kind of depressing. All that’s in it’s a jar filled with a translucent green liquid and little floating seeds, and a little box that reads “Margarine”. I’m wary about the green liquid, but the margarine looks promising. I reach and grab the freezing box, my breath visible in the chilly atmosphere. Inside the box is a stick of the yellow stuff. I close the fridge door, peeling off the waxy outer layer of the margarine. Without the iciness of the refrigerator the air is double as thick and hot. So hot, in fact, that the margarine starts melting right in my hands.
Before the only source of food I have melts into oblivion, I lick it off my hands, the wax paper floating to the grimy ground. I feel the chilly, creamy liquid running down my chin, but don’t mind. Because my mind is only on one thing. The food. The margarine is so rich and velvety, I wouldn’t care if the world ended right then. Then that last thought brought me back to reality and out of my buttery dreamland. What if this is the end of the world. What would that make me? No, I can’t afford to think that way. I’m going to just savor this margarine until it’s gone.
When I finish the food I’m not satisfied like I thought I would be. I’m even hungrier. I sigh. I guess that’s just how it goes. Frustrated that the butter had to go, I slump against a counter. What’s the point of going on when there’s nothing to live for? Just now a gust of wind blows through the diner, sending sand flying everywhere around me. I try to duck down and find some air to breathe. But just end up sucking in dust. Hacking, I wait for the storm to settle.
After the dust storm calms down, I stand up. Some sand flows off of me, but most of it fastens to my skin, pinching it. I rest in about a feet of sand, and it goes up to my knees. I cough to get some out of my mouth, but it’s no use. The miniscule grains are glued to my tongue, and no matter how much I wipe it off, the taste of salt won’t disappear. To distract myself from the tang of the dust, I survey the tiny store room. And see some paper sticking out of the sea of dust. Gradually, I wade through the powder to the paper. I grab the gray paper, gingerly, so it won’t evaporate in my hands. The ink on the paper is grainy, so it’s hard to decipher the words. But after squinting, I make out a title above a picture.
“Human Race Diminishes like Dust,” I whisper. But what does that mean? The picture under the title is of a collection of buildings, like the one I’m in now. Although the buildings in the photo are much taller and high-tech. Around the buildings are chipped, metal shells, and people crowded around them. Wait people? There really are people out there except for me? To find out more I try to read the passage under the picture. “…Scientists are baffled at this phenomenon. Humans are just disappearing off the earth in large numbers. No one can understand how this is happening, but if no one does anything soon, then who knows what will happen. People are distressed, and we need to figure out a way to end this problem…” What does it mean by “humans are dropping off the earth”? What happened to them? To figure this out I read more. “…People describe the disappearance like the humans just vanish. One man says, ‘My wife was cooking breakfast, when all of a sudden she disappeared. The only thing left of her was a pile of this tan, sandy powder.’ Many other people are reporting of friends turning into dust…”
Oh. My. God. The humans are gone. Because they turned into dust. I glance down. And see dust. Oh no. Oh no. Oh God no. I’m standing in people. People are in my hair. On my clothes. In my mouth. I start freaking out, screaming. Scraping the dust, the people off of me. Now the small room seems claustrophobic. I need to get out of here. Yelling, I scramble to get out of the diner. I stumble over the chairs, trying to get out. Finally I’m out of the prison. I duck behind the sign and gag, trying to get all of the powder out of my mouth. But it’s not enough. Because it’s everywhere. Because all around me is dust. Is humans. And I’m the only one left. It’s too much to take. How come I’m the only one left? Why did everyone just disappear? I can’t take it anymore. I need a release. An escape. I crawl out from behind the sign, and stumble to the rear of the diner. I collapse, and sob my heart out. I wish… I wish I could remember. Remember anything but what I’ve seen today. It’s horrible. So disgusting. I keep crying, washing my face with my tears. Anything to get the dust off of me.
Finally, I stop bawling and gaze up. Not even bothering to wipe the tears away. Because I don’t care anymore. The land that surrounds me is desolate. Arid. Sandy. As far as my eyes can see there is nothing.
Nothing.
But.
Dust…





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takeitasitis said...
Apr. 17, 2012 at 5:30 pm
Nice job! Great idea!
 
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