Word Count 500
By Sam McManus
A sliver of moon peeked out from behind the dark twilight clouds, but no one was paying any attention to the scene. In fact, absolutely no one was outside of their houses in the entire town, the streets pristine and silent in the misty air. It was like a fairy tale, except no one had informed the three bears that Goldilocks wasn’t coming, the welcome wagon shut up somewhere behind closed barn doors like every other vehicle in town. As the sky shifted from pale purple hues to solid black shades, the atmosphere also changed from cool to cold, ushering in night on a pale train run rampant through the countryside and off across Main Street, which could have been Anywhere U-S-A. Still no people made an appearance, even as animals wandered in and out of the shadows, from steely armadillos, to starving dogs, to white rats in search of relevance in a world with no discernible owners or possibilities for them.
There, chained to a rack beside the old convenience store, sat a child’s bicycle, with twenty-four inch rims and a basket on the handlebars, sporting training wheels on a crooked frame. It was dusty with disuse and neglect, a microcosm for the town as a whole, a sign of decay and dissonance that would have been hard to ignore if anyone were around to witness it. As it was, though, it was just another abandoned aspect to the town that was more sad than notable. Across the breadth of Main Street, from the Baptist Church on the east end, to the town watering hole on the west, a slight breeze stirred up the hopes and dreams left behind by residents who seem to have disappeared, along with the town’s fortunes. The few animals who remained, out on the street, seemed sluggish, drugged by the lack of activity, the lack of food, and the reality that their days were numbered if they didn’t leave.
It was hard to tell where the people had gone, but it was clear they were no longer around. From the closed shades in each house, to the echoes across the town square from the smallest of sounds, to the ghosted streets, it was if no one had ever been resident there. If not for the personal touches to each house, and the banner across the road, down to the child’s bike itself, this would have been easy to believe, but these touches put the lie to it. A pigeon glided past on paper thin wings, obviously heading for greener pastures, but apparently mesmerized by the silence of the town. It landed on the spire at the top of the church, a living monument where not much else was alive, at least for a moment in time, before it took to wing and moved on, headed south. As the night enveloped the entirety of the space in stark shades of black, the only rustling that could be heard was from garbage, bustling on. Bustling on.