I woke up with a pounding headache. Something seemed very different, even though I was in the same place that I had collapsed in. It was very dark, and thick mist swirled around my feet. The streetlights were flickering on and off, and the world seemed to be colorless except for the bright, full moon.
I stood up and looked around more. The usual sounds of crickets and waves were gone. All I could hear was the sound of my feet crunching on the dead, rotting grey leaves on the empty street. “What?” I muttered, as I left the beach and started walking around the city I’ve lived in forever, everything desolate and filled with the shadowy fog that seemed to flow everywhere I went. Yet, whenever I stopped and glanced at a different block, or a different section of the city, there was no fog. It was like I attracted it somehow.
After what seemed like hours, I finally started to head back to the beach. In the distance, I could hear the waves lapping against the shore for the first time since I woke up. I started to jog, and then broke into a sprint. I ran across the city without tiring.
When I arrived back at the beach, I slowed back down and walked down to the water with questions in my head. “Where am I?”, I thought, “Where is all the life?”.
I was contemplating the answers when I noticed a shadowed figure sitting alone directly in front of the waves. It seemed to be a woman, with long, stick straight hair and a pale blue dress that looked to be from the 1800’s. I walked the last 20 feet towards her. She didn’t notice me.
“Hello?” I called, hopeful for someone to be in this nightmarish world with me. “Are you okay?”
The woman stood up gracefully, her dress falling to her ankles elegantly, but something about her movements seemed wrong. She turned around with her head down, but lifted it up once she was facing me. I let out a gasp.
Her eyes were ringed with black, grey, and shadows, and her actual eyes were pure black. Her cheeks were sunken in, and her bones were showing in her collarbone. I winced as she started wailing.
As she collapsed to the ground, her screams echoed. I could feel years of heartbreak and pain, lives lost and a tragic end. I collapsed in front of her, too. My body started shaking and my heart hammered in my chest.
The woman suddenly stopped her cry, and she looked back down before standing back up just as gracefully as she had before. As my pulse calmed down, I watched her calmly walk straight into the waves. She disappeared.
I sat there for a few minutes, wondering what had just happened. I knew that there was no way I was still in the normal world.