Graffiti has been popping up all over town.
Strange, foreign words in glow in the dark paint on windows and stores and garage doors.
No one knows what they mean, no one knows who the vandal or vandals are.
There is one thing they know: anyone who reads the words out loud disappears.
That’s what happened to Mark.
He read the words out loud. Then, poof, he was gone.
Now he’s standing in the dark. No light, what so ever can be seen. There’s a slight breeze he can feel against his skin. All of his skin.
His clothes are gone.
All of them.
He calls out.
Hello! Hello? Is anyone there? Or here?
Where here is, he doesn’t know.
There’s an absence of smell.
Just the breeze.
He feels what must be ground under his feet.
He takes a step.
It’s hard to keep balanced when you can’t see anything.
He moves slowly. One foot firmly planted at a time.
He’s getting cold.
He feels totally alone.
A soft popping noise. Like someone opening a can of soda behind him.
He jumps, startled, but still cannot see anything.
He repeats the words to himself – trying to figure out a meaning, trying to figure out what happened or where he is or what happened to his close.
He feels ashamed, walking around in the strange darkness fully naked.
He tries to sit, but as he lowers himself he is overcome with an acute sense of vertigo.
He can’t tell how long he’s been here.
The nothingness around him skews time and any sense of actual movement.
He begins to panic.
But then…a light.
A small light. Tiny. In the distance.
He walks towards it.
He runs towards it.
It’s no bigger than a pinhole but he knows it’s his salvation.
The light is getting bigger, brighter.
He runs faster, at least he feels like he’s running faster.
He must get to the light, the light must be an exit.
He hits a wall.
He doesn’t see the wall, but he runs into it.
The light, now the size of a small hole, is still in front of him.
He runs his hands down the invisible hard surface.
The hole, the light is right in front of him.
He puts his finger in, feels a warm breeze on the other side.
The sides of the hole feel like brick.
His finger touches something wet, but it’s still too dark around him to see what it is.
He hopes it isn’t blood.
It takes a while for him to build enough courage, but he finally leans down and looks through the hole.
He sees a man, in clothes, looking strangely like himself staring at him.
Not directly at him, but in his direction.
The man is sounding out words, reading them, as if they were on a wall right in front of him.
The man finishes reading and disappears.
Mark feels his heart sink.
There’s no way out.
He doesn’t even know how big this dark place is.
He hears a sound behind him.
He can’t see anything, but he feels a presence near him. It’s a man.
The man speaks with Mark’s voice, breathless and scared.
They stand still, facing each other, when they hear their own voice coming quietly from the hole, reading the same mysterious words they had before.