The Happening

There had been many theories on how she had been murdered, but none of them had been correct. In fact, no one would ever find out what had occurred except for Mae herself. And Mae wasn’t talking — at least, she wasn’t discussing it with the authorities.

She’d been told straight away, before the one-eyed man hit her the first time, that she was being welcomed into the Happening. He’d backed her against the brick wall near a dumpster in the alley, where she’d been crouching like a cat while smoking crystal. Her fingernails, painted black, dug into the mortar and her heart  raced, which made her armpits dampen inside her pullover that she’d decorated with  safety pins.

“What do you want?” she asked, trembling, understanding at the same time that no matter what she said, she was going to die. She’d never seen the Grim Reaper, but she was quite sure he was standing in front of her now.

“I’m inviting you into the Happening,” the man said. He was big and bald, towering over Mae with a pickax in his hand.

“What … What’s the Happening?”

“It’s a new life, Mae. A new start. You’ll change the world.”

In spite of her fear, she frowned at this. “How do you know my name?”

“Oh, I know everything about you. I know that you came to San Francisco because your mom kicked you out. I know that you left your sister behind, with your step-father. And that you live with the guilt of what he’s doing to her every day. That’s why you do crystal, isn’t it? Because of the guilt?”

Mae’s eyes were wide. “How do you know this?”

“Because I’m part of the Happening. And we know everything. Come with us, Mae. Seek revenge of you step-father. Kill your mother.”

“I … I don’t want to kill anyone.”

The man smirked and raised the pickax. “Too bad. Because I’m not really giving you a choice.”

The Unconcerned

It was up to her to investigate how the accident really happened. She’d been put in charge of this one, her first real case. She couldn’t screw it up.

She adjusted her shoulder bag and looked up at the departures screen. Flight UA116 was departing on time. Of course it was. The one time she wouldn’t have minded a delay, the plane was actually on time. She betted that her luggage wouldn’t get lost either. That was the way air travel worked ; it favored the unconcerned.

She wandered to the Starbucks, feet shuffling and head down. She’d rather be with Alex this weekend. They’d planned to jog along the High Line in Chelsea and get lunch at Bubby’s. And yet, when she’d told Alex that she had to fly to Malaysia, he his face hadn’t registered surprise or even worry. In fact, if she’d read him correctly — and she was very good at this — he’d been relieved.

“Can I help you?” asked the dark-skinned woman at the counter.

“Grande misto please, with soy.”

“Name?”

“Maggie.”

The woman nodded and tapped the screen with her long, purple and silver-starred fingernail. Maggie handed her the company’s credit card.

“What’s this?” the woman said as she turned the card over. “You work for the F.A.A?”

“Yeah.”

“You’re not one of those air marshals, are you?”

Maggie laughed. “No. But I couldn’t really tell you if I was anyway.”

The woman smirked. Her lips were purple too. Maggie decided she was prettier that most fast food employees. She at least cared enough to put on make-up.

“So where are you going today?”

The Impostor

He left on a Friday afternoon and the room was more than empty. It was hollow. He had taken all of the energy of the place with him when he packed himself into the carseat and waved goodbye. She knew that he would return later, but she sensed that it would be different. There was no real reason to believe so. Just a foreboding premonition absently tickling the back of her mind. Sort of a feeling; one that is not all together dissimilar from the type of feeling you get when you have forgotten something but you are not quite sure what it is.

The house seemed cold without him. She had called into work that day believing that he needed her to drive him to doctor, but he had put her off, insisting that he was fine to do so himself.

“Won’t there be medications? Won’t you be groggy after the procedure?”

“No, no. I don’t want you to have to worry about me, darling. It will be fine. will be fine.”

She made him swear that he was telling the truth before she finally agreed to let him go by himself. But now she found herself with nothing to do today. She looked at her watch. Five hours. He would return in five hours.

She spent the rest of the day pacing up and down the hall, only breaking to eat a protein bar and some cashews for lunch. She didn’t really eat much and worried that the vegetables and fruits her doctor told her to consume were genetically modified. Even if the label said that they weren’t. She knew better. But you can’t live on protein bars he had said. She politely disagreed. Oh, she had lost some hair. Her teeth had yellowed a bit as her skin adopted a papery pallor. But she had survived. Just fine, thank you.

By the time she heard the car pull into the drive it was dark. The headlights blazed bright across the hallway’s dark walls and she could see that she had worn a smooth, bare trail into the carpet. It was the only evidence of what she had done all day.

The key in the lock.

The click of the deadbolt.

The flick of the light switch.

He was home.

“Sue. I’m back. Are you here?”

She looked up from the path she had been studying on the carpet and moved like a whisper into the foyer.

“How–” The breath caught in her throat. Who was this? This was not Tom.

“Sue. There you are.”

She backed away from him. She hoped it looked casual.

“Tom? Tom.”

“Yes. Sue, is everything okay?”

But it was not Tom. He looked like Tom, but that smell. Oh, that smell.  The stench of germicide masked the faintly human smell beneath it. But even that seemed manufactured. Injected. Created. Unnatural.

She would need to rid the house of this impostor.

Cloudscape

“Is it still missing?” I asked as I shut the door and stripped off my coat. The puppy jumped at my feet, her hind legs lifting into the air with each small hop.

“Yes,” he answered.

“How is that even possible?” I tossed my hat onto the table and dropped my bag next to it. The puppy pulled at my tights with her teeth. “Bad dog,” I said much less sternly than I’d intended.

“I don’t know, but it is.”

I glanced at the television. Yes. It was true. The plane was still missing. Flying through the sky one moment, fencing with clouds and shrieking through the atmosphere, like a great white goose migrating North for summer. Yet, it never made it to its destination. The bird fell out of the sky over the ocean, at some point when we had looked away, just when we thought that those things don’t happen anymore.

And what of all the people? What had they thought? Had they hoped? Did they even know until it was too late?

Or perhaps they’d never felt anything at all. I’d like to think that they plane is still flying. That it passed through a curtain separating this time and another. It’s still sailing through the sky, looking down upon our planet from a distance, wondering at its beauty and looking forward to touchdown.

This is what I  imagine happened.