TWO SOULS: INTO THE FIRE
Steve drove up and down some of the business area streets, then in the residential areas. Finally coming around to the diner, they saw that it was open.
"Thank goodness," Steve said. "I was beginning to feel like we're the last people on Earth, it's so empty around here." He half-heartedly laughed.
"Let's go in...I need to see people," Ghost said.
As they entered, they could see the waitress and the cook at a table, talking. They looked startled, then relieved to see Steve and Ghost come in.
"Hey, guys," the waitress said, as she came over. "You have your choice of tables, today, and we're glad you came in. We thought we'd never get any customers today."
"It's weird in this here town," Ghost said.
"I know, right?" she said. "It's deserted and that's just impossible. Where is everyone? Did y'all see anyone on the way here?"
"No, even the hardware store is closed," Steve said. "We know Terry and Kinsey left on their vacation, this morning, and we're checking on their places, but we've not seen anyone else, at all."
Shaking her head, the waitress said, "All I know is we we opened up this morning, and not a soul has come in, until ya'll showed up...not even the regulars. I'll tell ya, it's weird. So what can I get for y'all?"
"I want a cheeseburger, and I don't like it," Ghost said.
"Huh?" Steve asked.
"What? I said what I wanted," Ghost said.
Steve shrugged, then said, "I'll have one of those too, please, and Ghost...what don't you like?"
"Oh, the empty town."
"Now it makes sense," Steve said. "I thought you were talking about the burger." He laughed, then looked out the big picture windows of the diner. "Ya know what, Ghost, it's like some creepy movie, where every person was told to get out of town, except we didn't get the message."
"Yeah, or zoomed up by a UFO, or something," Ghost said, getting really interested in talking about it.
Steve knew if they kept on, Ghost would have him believing any number of strange and magical stories. He loved it, though, and so threw out possibilities, just to hear Ghost run with them.
"You know that happened one time, where a UFO snatched up a town, for like a whole day, and then put them back," Ghost said.
Steve smiled. "Where was this?"
"I think I heard it was over in Georgia...in the swamps. It was in the summer time."
"Um-hum, and, well...did they report it when they got back?" Steve asked.
"Well, yeah, how do you think I heard about it?"
"Maybe you had a psychic revelation or something...however that works?" Steve kept on asking.
"Naw, it wasn't that...it was on tv. I thought it was talking about a movie, but turns out it was real." Ghost said. "They talked to the people when they came back." He sounded pretty sure of the facts.
"How big a town was this anyway? You said everyone was beamed up?" Steve tried to keep a straight face.
"It wasn't very big. You know how those swamp people are...they stick together in little communities. And, besides, how many could fit in a UFO? Not that many, so it would still be able to fly around. You know how it is with these things," Ghost said.
"Uh-huh, sure do," Steve said. "Oh, here's our food."
They began eating, and Steve figured the story was over, but then Ghost said, "It wasn't a UFO that got Missing Mile, though."
"Really, how do you know that?" Steve asked.
Ghost gulped down some of his coke, taking a minute to look out the window. "Ya see that out there...the misty, fog stuff?"
"Yeah, so what? There's some cold, rainy weather moving in. That's what I heard," Steve said.
Ghost shook his head. "No, they don't really know, over in Raleigh, what's gonna happen here. And, it already did, anyway, early this morning." He narrowed his eyes, still looking out the window.
"What did?" asked Steve.
"The fog. It's just a pretend fog, Steve. It's just now creeping it's way over to this street. See?" Ghost shivered.
"Is that bad?" Steve asked, actually getting a little creeped out now.
"Yeah, 'cause it gets in everywhere...in the doors, and windows, and through the little cracks and stuff. And, whatever it touches, like living, breathing things, it disappears them." Ghost was getting nervous, now. He stood up, wringing his hands.
"Sit down, Ghost...you're scaring me," Steve said.
Ghost gave him a look. "Well, you should be. Where's the waitress? We need to seal up this place, before it comes in," Ghost said. He went to find her.
They came back, holding a roll of duct tape. "Steve, Ghost insists we tape up the windows and doors, before the fog gets in," the waitress said, looking worried.
Steve gave Ghost a look. "It's time to stop, now. That was a cool story, but you know it's not real. You just made it up, for fun."
Ghost seemed to be still in his fantasy world, for a minute, then shook his head, and took a big breath. "Guess so, Steve, but I think it was real to me, and it could happen. I mean, everyone is still gone away."
"Well, maybe, but not today. I'm sure people are in their houses, as usual," Steve said.
The waitress, sighed. "Ok, guess we don't have to use the tape then, huh?" She looked relieved, as she went back to work.
Ghost sat back down. "Ya sure it isn't real, Steve?"
"I'm sure...but I loved the story you told. I was getting a little scared there, myself."
"Yeah, me too," Ghost said.
Steve wasn't sure if Ghost was still kidding, or had truly believed the story. All he knew, was he wouldn't look at fog again in the same way.
"So, where is everybody, then," Ghost asked.
"I don't know. I'm going to call Zach, and see if he knows anything about it," Steve said. He dialed the number.
"Hello?" Zach answered.
"Hey, Zach, are y'all at home?"
"No, we're in Raleigh, at the grocery store. Why...what's going on?" Zach asked.
"Well, we're at the diner, and it's just us and the waitress and the cook...and the whole town looks empty. It's just weird, ya know," Steve said. "What time did y'all leave? Did you notaice anything going on?"
Zach took a minute to think. "We've been here a couple of hours. I didn't see anyone around, when we left. I don't know what's going on, but we'll be back home pretty soon. Oh, and we want you and Ghost to come over tomorrow around noon. Does that sound ok?"
"Yeah, we'll be there. I think Ghost and I are gonna hang around here, see if we can find anyone," Steve said, ending the call.
"Well, Zach and Trevor are in Raleigh, so they didn't disappear," Steve said.
"I know, let's go knocking on doors, and see if anybody answers," Ghost said.
"Like what, just random houses?"
"Yeah, why not?" Ghost got up, ready to go.
Steve shrugged. "Sounds crazy, but we might as well." He paid their bill for the food, and they left.
"Ok, Ghost, you lead the way...pick a house," Steve said.
Ghost looked around at the nearby houses.
"Why can't you use your special senses to find out what's going on?" Steve asked.
"I did...that's how I knew it was weird, but it didn't say why."
They'd been walking up the block, and chose a house with Thanksgiving decorations in the yard, and a fall wreath on the door. Ghost rang the doorbell. They could hear a tv on inside, and then the door opened. It was a middle-aged woman, who answered, and they could see a couple of teens inside, watching a movie.
"Can I help you?" the woman asked.
"You didn't disappear?" Ghost asked.
"What?" she asked, confused.
Steve cleared his throat. "Sorry, we just wondered where everybody is. The town is sort of empty today. Thought maybe you'd heard something about it."
"Oh, we're home, and the kids are out of school for the holiday. I expect most people are inside getting ready for tomorrow," she said.
"Yeah, probably. Well, thank you," Steve said, as he and Ghost left down the sidewalk.
"Ok, that's all it is then, Ghost. The stores are closed, and everyone is cooking and stuff."
"Yeah, guess so, but it's still weird," Ghost said.
"Can we go home, now?" Steve asked.
"Yeah, guess so," Ghost said, disappointed that something sinister wasn't going on.
Next part coming soon!
Peace, Love, & Writing