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John slowly opened his eyes as his alarm began to go off. He threw off the covers of his bed and checked his phone.
“6:01, Monday May 10th, Great.” He thought to himself.
It was then that he realized the alarm that was sounding wasn’t his usual alarm. What used to be 10 seconds of “Hey Jude” by the Beatles was replaced by an eerie sounding bell, with a faint voice in the background that was indecipherable. He slammed his hand down on the “off” button and sat up on his bed.
“Probably my sister pulling a prank on me” he thought.
His sister, Julianne always liked to pull pranks and pick on John. She was 3 years older than him, a senior in high school, and was popular and very well liked, the polar opposite of John, a freshman in high school with few friends. This wasn’t like something she would usually do, though. Julianne was more of a “draw a mustache on you while you’re sleeping” kind of person, not someone who would set your alarm to something creepy.
John snapped out of his thoughts and looked at the clock. It read 6:10.
“S***!” He said out loud, “I’m gonna be late”.
He dashed into the shower, shampooed his hair and washed his body quickly, turning off the shower and drying himself off with his long, white towel. He threw on a shirt, jeans, socks and shoes and ran downstairs to make himself breakfast. To his surprise, there was a plate of eggs and bacon waiting for him at the kitchen table, with a tall glass of orange juice standing next to it.
“Mom?” John yelled, confused, “Did you make me breakfast?”
There was no answer. John decided not to question it any longer and to eat before he missed his bus. The eggs and bacon were the best he had ever tasted. They were both perfectly cooked, the eggs over easy, and the bacon thick and crispy. The orange juice was very sweet and pure tasting, almost as if it had been squeezed from an orange earlier in the morning.
“There’s no way my mom made this”, he thought, “She’s not this good of a cook.”
“Mom?” he yelled again.
Again, there was no answer.
This was a little too weird for John’s liking. He ran upstairs to his parents’ bedroom in search of his mother or father. He dashed into the room and flung the door open, only to see that nothing was there. It wasn’t just the absence of his parents, the room had been completely stripped of everything it once held. The giant king sized bed with an array of pillows and blankets, the huge mahogany dresser that a brand new television once sat on, the antique lamp that was once his great grandmother’s, all gone. Both windows had been broken, with only tiny jagged pieces of glass remaining on the edges of them.
“What the hell is going on?” he yelled. “MOM? DAD? ANYONE?”
A loud gust of wind blew into the room, nearly knocking John off of his feet. When he regained his balance, he sensed that he was not alone.
“John...” spoke a deep booming voice.
“Who are you?” John pleaded, “What happened to my parents?”
“You’ll find the answers to your questions soon enough” said the voice, “Just calm down and don’t do anything stupid. I’ll see you soon.”
Another gust of wind blew into the room, and with that, John was alone again.
“No!” John cried. “Please, just tell me where they are!”
There was only silence. He stared at the floor where his parents’ bed had once been. The worn wooden floorboards let out a *creek* as he walked over the area. His foot brushed over something that wasn’t floorboard and he stopped in his tracks. It was a piece of paper stuck between two floorboards. It still had a pure white color to it, and from what John could see, no creases either, almost if it had been put there the night before. He pulled the paper out from between the floorboards and turned it over.
“They went through hell for you.” The paper read.
He thought about the sentence. He thought about the time his parents bought him a Playstation for Christmas when he was 8, even though they didn’t have the money to do so. The time his parents took money out of their 401ks to take him on vacation to Florida, just because he’d never been on vacation before. He thought of the time his mother got a second job so they could keep their nice house in the suburbs.
It hit him. His parents had sacrificed everything for him, and he’d taken it all for granted. Now they were gone. They were gone and they might be gone forever.
John rushed out of his parents bedroom, down the stairs and out of the front door to the outside world. He needed to see another human being. Anyone. All of his unanswered questioned were driving him insane.
Outside was no better than inside. The world seemed to have completely disappeared. The skies were overcast, the trees were dead, and all that remained of the homes that used to stand next to John’s were large patches of dirt and dead grass. There appeared to be a cliff a few hundred feet from where he was standing, that his road led into. Desperate and curious, he ran over to the edge of the cliff.
He looked down. All he saw was complete and utter blackness.
“WHAT THE HELL IS HAPPENING?” He shouted out loud. “SOMEBODY JUST TELL ME WHAT’S HAPPENING TO ME!”
The wind blew again. He quickly turned around and saw what looked like a hedge stone a few feet from him. He crouched down to read it.
“RIP John Travis - 2/5/96-5/9/12”
“N-no” He muttered to himself. “There’s no way. I can’t be dead.”
“Are you sure about that?”
It was the deep booming voice again.
“How did I die?” John pleaded. “Why am I here?”
“You don’t remember at all, do you?” it spoke. “Let me show you.”
In the distance, John saw himself walking down his street back to his house. It appeared to be late at night, and he didn’t look like he was in the best mood either, as he was hanging his head, pacing himself slowly. He began to hear the noise of a motor, it began to get louder and closer. Finally, he could see it. The car sped down the road and slid up onto the sidewalk, hitting John and crushing him against a house he was walking past, killing him instantly.
“It was a drunk driver.” the voice explained. “You were the only fatality.”
“But, that doesn’t explain why I’m here.” John reasoned.
“Think about it. Remember the note?”
John thought about it again. “They went through hell for you.”
His heart sank.
“They went through hell for me...” he murmured. “... and now I’m going through hell for them.”
“There you go.”
“You think this is so damn funny!” John yelled. “I’m dead, and I’m in hell. How is that funny to you?”
“When you’ve been here as long as I have, you’ll understand.”
The wind blew again and the voice was gone.
“NO!” He pleaded. “PLEASE DON’T LEAVE ME ALONE! I NEED TO GET OUT OF HERE!”
There was no answer.
John tried to calm himself down.
“It’ll be okay.” he whispered to himself, “There’s a way out, there has to be.”
It hit him.
He got up and walked over to it. Once more he stared into the deep abyss. He wondered what could possibly be down there. All he could hope for was an escape. Anywhere but here.
He took a deep breath and ran off of the cliff.
After what felt like years, John woke up, but this time in a white room. There were no windows or doors, there wasn’t really anything. Just white. White in every single direction.
John fell to his knees in disbelief. All he wanted was to see his mom and dad again. He wanted to tell them how much he loved them, and how sorry he was for being so ungrateful for everything they’d done for him. He just wanted to start over.
“Mom.. Dad... If you can hear me, I love you and I’m sorry.”
He laid down on the white floor and began to cry.