It was a Thursday morning when Nessa didn’t get out of bed. She woke in her customary sleeping position, on her side facing the wall, legs splayed, arms and hands contorted beneath her pillow. Her apartment was fairly new, modern pop-up built to hide away humanities ever growing numbers. The wall was textured to hide dents. The paint was a yellow cream off white to hide stains and age. Urban camouflage that went with almost anyone’s furniture.
She traced the swirling texture of the surface with her eyes. Familiar shapes ebbed and flowed as her eyes ran over the same small patch again and again. Then she stopped and it was just a wall again.
Rolling to her back she extracted her hands. Like a crone’s they were bent and stiff fom laboring to keep her head afloat while the rest of her body slept. Straightening each digit let out a crack that rang through the room. The ceiling was an aggressive popcorn.
A large gray phone sat next to her. In lieu of a lover, it took the pillow next to her’s. Almost all of her life ran through its frequency. It knew her well. Well enough to forget that morning’s alarm.
Nessa rolled again. Face falling on her phone’s pillow, body curling into around it, shielding it from the outside world. She waited. With expectancy. With paranoia. With trepidation. The little black screen remained black. No calls, punitive or caring came forth. She reached to check the battery when the television clicked on.
It was puppets, marionettes bouncing in their parody of a walk. Heads held high, strengthless legs propelling them forward. Pirates hats and long swords stitch to their little bodies. They spoke to each other in grizzled voices belaying their soft felt heads. It was English but the structure of the words dissolved meaning rather than bestowed it. Nessa watched with dead eyes. Letting the outlines blur just like their words.
There was a knock at the door. A strong rap that lifted her head. She slid from the bed and walked to the door. The knocking became more insistent. The door shaking with every hit. The doorknob rattled in its casing. Nessa sat down with her back to the door letting it hit her head with every beat. Eventually, it stopped. The puppet’s nonsense again the soundtrack of the room. The words ‘throw’ and ‘rope’ filtered through.
She sat in the light of the television screen, giving her cheeks a false rosy tint. The puppets were still walking. The background cycling again and again behind them.
She reached for her phone, mechanically going through the various apps and sites that made up her social life. Glossy pictures of near strangers accused. Witty quips dissolved into their limited characters. Email suffocated. Dating apps groupe her from afar.
“Time to walk the plank,” the puppets had stopped moving, they stare forward. Face-splitting mouths smiling. Nessa got up and went to the bathroom. She started to fill the tub, sitting on the ledge letting all the water filter through her fingers. Her feet slipped in. Her pajamas billowed around her ankles. Slinking all the way in she bent her legs to lay on her back, wet clothes weighing her down. Head submerged, hair gliding about her face, she looked up through the water. It was a popcorn ceiling, off-white.
It was a Friday morning when Nessa didn’t get out of bed.
This is ensign Felicia Roberts, crew member of the USS Clarke. Day 453. I'm sending this to send it, mostly, I suppose. I don't want to die alone, but as far as I know I'm the last one left. Every three hours and twenty minutes they scratch at the door. They must have claws but every time you look at them its more like a sensation than a sight. I can hear the metal peeling off. It won't be long before they're through. We've gone to far. Us, all of us, we just need to stay home.
The once interwoven siblings hadn't spoken in years. Bitter fruit and rotting wood filled the place in their hearts where they use to keep each other. When he died there was no one else to call. Throwing the artifacts of an unfamiliar life into cheap cardboard boxes, tears welled and fell. The cauterized nerves that remembered him twitching with life.