Vanish Effect: Chapter 4

Jonathan Briggs

Jonathan got up to go into the kitchen, and as he did, he realized he was glad he had decided to attend his family event after all. Yet as he grabbed a drink from the dispenser, he began to feel odd. A light hum that he thought at first might be from a fan on the old refrigerator, started to get louder and more piercing. Within moments, the plates on the counter began to vibrate, adding their own noise to the chorus that continued to increase in intensity.

The pressure started to get to him, and dropping his drink, he covered his ears. A light began to glow from the nearby wall, and moved like a wall ever closer to him. Shrinking away from the wave, Jonathan pressed his back against the wall, and watched as the sweep of light touched him. The sensation was similar to that of one’s arm falling asleep. The pins and needles spread through his body, and the wave moved on.

Breathing a sigh of relief and confusion, Jonathan did a quick self check. Everything seemed intact. But then a quick shriek came from the next room, and he spun and leaped into the living room, to find Sarah ghost white and solid as a board. She was scared stiff, and even her hair stood out from her body.

Jonathan noticed two things at once: his mother sat clenching her chest, while Vanessa was nowhere to be found. “Where’s your mother? What’s wrong with your grandmother?” He stuttered as he spit out the words. His brain felt like it was going a mile a minute while simultaneously stuck in the mud. Nothing made sense, nothing added up.

Sarah didn’t even flinch, and his mother wasn’t moving either. Stepping towards his niece, he slowly reached out to touch her. He almost felt like if he wasn’t careful, she’d break. Instantly, as his finger came in contact with her shoulder, she began to scream.

Jonathan tried to quiet her, but no matter what he did, she just continued to scream and cry, taking gasping breaths, wailing and sobbing. He turned desperately to his mother, hoping she could think of something to console Sarah, but the woman’s eyes didn’t meet his. Finally noticing her face, and its eerie presence, he inspected his mother further. She wasn’t breathing.

It felt as though his whole world was coming down around him. Becoming frantic, he looked again at Sarah, who was still sobbing heavily, and then shouted at the top of his lungs, “Vanessa!”

Sarah stopped crying, and other than her heavy breathing, the silence penetrated his core. It left him feeling empty, strangely so, and he didn’t know what to do next. Typing a number into his wrist computer device, he contacted emergency services. It let him know his emergency had been placed in a queue, and that there were more than two hundred thousand issues at this moment in his mother’s district alone. The estimated time until arrival was over thirty minutes. With his mother’s body already getting cold, he realized that she would long be deceased before then.

Jonathan pulled up some first aid tips and began following the tricks and tactics displayed on the screen, trying to hear the audio as Sarah started crying again, almost drowning out the sound. He checked his mother’s pulse, and there was nothing. The cold, clammy skin felt almost reptilian, and Jonathan had to hold back his light convulsions.

His body wanted him to throw up, but he forced himself to remain focused on the situation. Continuing to push down on his mother’s chest, he counted slowly.

Eventually, Jonathan didn’t even notice that Sarah wasn’t crying anymore. He could hardly believe it when at last, two men pushed him out of the way, and took his place at his mother’s side, checking her situation.

Finally the two paramedics looked at Jonathan with sorrow in their eyes. “I’m sorry man,” said one of them, “she’s not coming back.”

Glancing at his wrist computer, Jonathan noticed that half an hour had passed since his first call. Grabbing one of the paramedics by his uniformed shirt, he cried as anger welled up from some hidden source, deep within his body. “Where were you guys? What the heck is going on?”

They both appeared stunned by this sudden turn of events, and the one that had been grabbed instantly took Jonathan’s hand and removed it. “I don’t know what is going on, sir. We’ve been too busy this evening to get any details about why there are so many emergencies in the city.”

As one paramedic walked toward the door and opened it, the second one paused and looked back at Jonathan. “One thing though…we have heard that this wasn’t the only city hit with whatever it was.”

Donald Southland

Getting on the lift, Donald was surrounded by a few co-workers, two maintenance workers, and Richard Jones, a man he’d just met and was completely intrigued with.

Descending through the floors, Donald was surrounded by silence. There was very little conversation that ever occurred in the elevator tubes, and even less when Donald was about. He assumed it had something to do with his status as the boss, but tried to not let it bother him.

Getting closer to the bottom floor, something felt off. It was a noise, a strange humming. It was irritating, and getting louder. It was hard to pinpoint the direction it was coming from, but it made the hairs on his body stand on end.

Turning and looking at the others in the elevator, Donald saw nothing but confusion in their eyes.

From behind one of the maintenance workers, a blue wall of light slowly leaked into the cabin, and lurched forward. As it washed over the men, they squirmed a little, and instantly, one of the workers vanished and only one remained. Absolute terror hit the other inhabitants of the elevator, and fearing for his life, Donald leaped away from the light. As he did, the doors of the elevator opened. His body spilled into the hallway and he watched as the light passed over the other people within and left them unaffected. They all seemed perfectly fine, save for their utter looks of horror due to the disappearance of one of the people in the lift.

The wave continued to move forward, the sound nearly deafening. Looking both ways, Donald saw no end to the width of the wave, and as he hesitated in indecision and shock, the wave had already begun to touch his feet. It climbed up his body, and he couldn’t resist the urge to scream, his cries louder than the noise emitted by the wave of light, though not by much. No one moved to rescue him, and he could move his legs. His thoughts went to his own life, quickly resigned to the fact that he could die, and he suddenly wondered if he had done enough for the world. He felt as though God was punishing him, singling him out.

He had watched many documentaries on the apocalypse, the end of the world, and the end of man, but had never thought it would be from a wave of light. Before he could recount his entire life, the wave had completely passed over him. He looked at the men still in the elevator and opening his mouth, quietly squeaked out, “Am I still here?”

They all nodded slowly, still confused about the event that had just taken place.

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