by Jason Stotts
Note: This is a (probably short) story I started writing to see where it would go. If it sounds interesting, let me know and maybe I’ll finish it.
Delta Airlines Flight 8432 to Toronto, departing at 5:15, will begin boarding momentarily. Please verify your ticket and group assignments…
“I can’t believe we’re finally going!” She looked up at him with her big green eyes. She looked so out of place in her heavy coat in sweater in LAX, but he knew they’d need them as soon as they got off the plane in Toronto. “We haven’t seen my parents in two years now!”
“Yeah, we really should have made the effort and braved the holiday travel last year.” He looked around at all of the people already lining up to get on the plane and those rushing past him down the terminal to other flights. “If only they didn’t live in a foreign country, eh?”
She smiled and hit him in the arm.
“I thought Canadians were always nice!” he protested.
“Only when we’ve had our dose of maple syrup. Once it runs out, we’re downright deadly.” Ever since they met in college, it had been their running joke that she was from a distant land and was merely with him to stay in a civilized country.
“Ugh, I knew we forgot something! I’ll run over to the giftstore…” She cut him off.
“We’re about to board. Why don’t you run your happy ass to the bathroom so you don’t have to get up so many times on the flight.”
He got up and flopped his bag into the chair. “Okay, watch my stuff. I’ll be right back.” She blew him a big dramatic kiss and turned back to her phone. He looked around, spotted the bathrooms across the way, and headed over to them. On his way over, he noticed some sort of commotion with the TSA and police by one of the gates. He hoped it wouldn’t affect their flight and that they’d be able to leave on time. The last thing he wanted to spend the night in LAX, of all places.
There was a steady stream of men coming out of the bathroom as he made his way in. He felt a little out of place in his long pants and fleece when everyone else was wearing summery clothes. As he rounded the corner into the bathroom, he noticed a strange man was just standing in the middle of the bathroom looking confused. No one seemed to be paying any attention to him and one man seemed to almost…he must have just walked behind him, he decided. It must have been a trick of the light or something that made it looked like he had walked through him.
“Are you okay, buddy?” He said, approaching the strange man.
The man opened his mouth and it looked like he was talking, but no sound was coming up.
“I’m sorry, I can’t read lips. I know a couple of signs from ASL, if it helps.” He made the sign for help and raised his eyebrows. The man grew agitated and started gesturing wildly. His lips kept moving, but no sounds came out.
“What’s with that guy talking to himself?” he heard one man say to another as they were walking out. He looked around and realized it had to be him they were talking about, but he wasn’t talking to himself, he was talking to the weirdo who wouldn’t talk back to him. That’s when he noticed that he was alone in the mirror. There was just the stall doors and him staring back at himself with a dumbfounded look. He whipped his head around and, sure enough, the man was still there.
“What the hell??” He started, but the man, having grown increasingly agitated, pushed him. He fell backwards, catching himself on the sinks behind him.
“I can’t fucking believe no one can see me and now this asshole can’t even hear me.”
“What?” He realized he could hear the man now. “Who the hell are you and what’s going on?”
The man realized he was addressing him directly. “Wait, you can hear me now?”
“Yeah, I can. What the hell is going on and why did you shove me?”
“Huh, I didn’t think that would work.” He looked at the device in his hand, which was glowing a faint blue. “Well, you better put this on so you don’t slip out.” He said, extending a bracelet he had taken out of his pocket.
“Uh, I don’t mean to be rude, but what the hell is going on?” He demanded.
“Look, I’m not even sure I understand it myself. Just take the bracelet and put it on before you slip out and die.”
He snatched the bracelet and put it on his wrist. “What do you mean ‘slip out and die’?” He demanded again.
“I don’t really know. Look, I didn’t invent it. I’m just trying to keep it from falling into the wrong hands.”
“Whatever. We’re done weirdo.” He turned and marched out of the bathroom. Jenn would be a little annoyed that he hadn’t gone to the bathroom, but that guy was just too weird. He’d just have to go on the plane. As he exited the bathroom, he realized something was incredibly wrong. There were no people in the terminal. None. At LAX. During the holidays. Did the police clear everyone out? What was going on?
“You can’t see them, unless you’re holding this. Even then, they can’t see you. Well, I mean you saw me, but you were the first.”
He spun around. The weirdo was holding out the device. “Put your hand on it and you’ll see what I mean.”
Incredulous, he extended his hand and rested it on the device. It felt like he was thrown sideways, even though he didn’t move. Suddenly, the people around him were visible. They were walking everywhere, just like before he had gone into the bathroom. Jenn was still sitting there, with their stuff, waiting for him. The plane was nearly boarded, he needed to hurry if he didn’t want to miss it. He let go of the device to rush over to her, but the moment he did, they all disappeared again.
“What. The. Fuck.” He turned to the guy again. “Explain, right this second, what’s going on.”