Today is May 2 and I have no reason to hope for seeing anyone else on this road, a quiet road in the middle of a forest occupied by no one but me. It has been May 2 for many, many days and weeks. I walk forward towards an opening that never emerges, only to find myself right back where I started.
No problem. No other sound except for the slide and creep of my own shoes that echoes across the dark green forest floor. No voices, and at this point, not even mine, as I have learned after countless days that no one else is here to hear me or respond. A bird would be nice, even a fox or two. I think I grew a bit suspicious many days/weeks ago after I noticed the absence of flies and ants, but that was after I noticed the most glaring absence: change in the daylight, as in there is no sunrise or sunset.
It’s almost as if I am standing in the middle of someone’s screen saver, or a picture frame on a desk in some nondescript office. My own name no longer registers across my brain as I walk towards nothing.
About six months ago I noticed what I thought to be a faint hum in my work elevator riding down to the street level after staying late to work on an assessment report. For about three nights I had the impression I was listening to a radio or echoes from another floor, or at least a malfunctioning elevator mic. I wasn’t sure of the source, and I didn’t get confirmation of its source from security downstairs. Slightly spooky, but not enough to really care one way or another.
One month ago, I had another assessment project to complete, and this time my late night work sessions lasted until well after evening traffic melted into the night. This time I noticed two distinct voices engaged in what seemed to be a somewhat intense conversation, only I wasn’t the one speaking, and no one else was riding down 29 floors to the street. I began to record this strange, disembodied exchange with my cell phone, not knowing if it would make more sense upon playback at home than with me standing there hearing it.
It occurred to me that I was actually not hearing people still walking the planet, but ghosts. I do know that one sentence emerged from my computer when I uploaded the latest exchange, a distinctly male voice that seemed to carry a quiet sliver of pain as it crossed curtains of existence. It was a question, actually: