Chapter 1: Judgment Day
Part 1 of 3
Mooresville, MI. Earth
After Octavius Abel Keys slapped the digital alarm clock on his nightstand into silence, he got up, went to the dining room, had a breakfast of Frosted Flakes, mumbled his morning greetings to his father before the man rushed out the door to work, cringed as his mother rubbed his hair again (he knew that she knew that he hated it when she did that, almost as much as being called "Doc Ock" at school), walked back into his room and got dressed for school. Putting on his preferred fashion style, black and red hoodie over a t-shirt with black jeans and dark violet sneakers. After hauling his backpack, he went to walk out the door, and then noticed the calendar he had tacked to his billboard next to it. Or, more specifically, the date circled on it.
The calendar, by virtue of all the days crossed out the night that they ended, announced that the date was November 2, 2018.
A special note written in the box noted that it was now the six month anniversary of the "Kidnapping."
Six months from the day of May 2 of that year when, mysteriously, a grand total of over 500,000 people simultaneously vanished from the face of the Earth. Coincidentally, it was the exact same moment that the immensely popular 20-year running MMORPG, Elder Tales, launched its twelfth expansion pack, "Novasphere of Pioneers", and then promptly crashed, bringing the game`s illustrious and rich history and game world to an ignominious end.
Six months since Octavius lost both of his elder siblings, Aaron and Emilia, to the event that many have come to identify by a plurality of names, such as the "Kidnapping", "Vanishing", "Rapture" (this fell out of favor fast), "Beaming Up" (mainly just the Trekkies), officially known as the "May Mass-Disappearance", but most commonly the "Elder Tales Event", or just the "Event."
Octavius` tears had long since dried up, but he still bowed his head a little in acknowledgement. Although he looked up to his two older siblings, he wasn`t all that close to the two of them, as they both preferred to do their own thing together, a thing that either he wasn`t interested in or couldn`t be a part of. He remembered how they would play one game or another for hours on end at times, while he preferred to listen to his rock music while reading one of his many comics, from the universally-recognized "Batman" and "Spider-man" titles to the more obscure likes of "Midnighter". Although their sudden absence made him realize that he did indeed care for them, it wasn`t something he dwelled upon, although a professional psychologist or good people-reader would note his ever-darkening fashion-styles as a sign that their absence was having a bigger effect on him than he realized.
He then walked out his door, out of the front door to his house, to begin yet another monotonous day at school, from 8:30 AM to 3:30 PM. And it certainly was, by his standards. Except –
"No one said anything," Octavius murmured under his breath.
"Say what?" asked his friend, Kyle Pulaski, who was walking home with him after the bus dropped them off at the stop.
"No one said anything about the Event. It was six months ago, today. The teachers, the faculty, the other students, everyone`s parents, none of them said so much as a word about it. And not about them."
"Come on," Kyle said, placing his hand on his friend`s shoulder. He had lost his father to the Event, and his mother had remarried since then. "You know that it`s a painful topic, I mean, our town lost, what, over 900 people? And our town was a little below 15,000 people in all before it happened. That`s like," he looked up, doing some mental math, he had a good head for it. "One out of every fiteen people in Mooresville going 'poof' to God knows where. That means that, odds are, just about everyone in town has lost someone they knew, and that someone was friend or family. Most people just want to move on, and I think most people wait for yearly anniversaries to commemorate occasions."
"Yeah, you`re probably right, as usual."
"Besides, I didn`t tell you this earlier, but my step-dad yesterday succeeded in convincing the city council to fund and erect a memorial for all the town residents who disappeared in the Event, so as to coincide with the one-year anniversary."
"You mean," Octavius said in a low voice, as he stopped walking, Kyle beside him. "If they don`t come back first."
Kyle was silent for a moment. "Well, they were all just simply spirited away in the blink of an eye. And you know the conspiracies that have flown around. Alien abduction. The Apocalypse. You name it, someone`s theorized it. Hell, there are even cults springing up to steal people`s souls and money to feed off of all this. But, no one has a single shred of concrete evidence to explain what really happened."
"Yeah," Octavius muttered. Looking up, he saw his house down the street. There weren`t any cars parked out front, which meant that Dad had yet to come back from the office, and Mom was likely at that Bible Church again. She had joined it in the immediate aftermath of the Event. Octavius personally didn`t consider himself a part of any church, but Kyle`s Roman Catholicism was something he found interesting, with its grand ceremonies and pop culture mystery surrounding it, and his friend`s quiet and well-thought out reasoning for being a Catholic sounded very convincing, more so than his mother`s grief-driven "read-your-Bible" approach to theology.
"Well, I`ll see you later, `kay?"
He wondered then, why he suddenly had started to think about faith and God of all things, on a day that was, for him, nothing but monotonous sorrow. Because, that`s all today was.
© Mark Skrzyniarz, 2018. All rights reserved.