Part 1 (The delivery)

Keith’s heavy eyelids lazily parted; an overhead sea of white blinding his vision.

This roof… isn’t… familiar… he pondered; his foggy mind failing to grasp a coherent train of thought.

Then the expanse came into focus. A shattered fluorescent bulb dangling from exposed wire, a drywall embedded Pepsi can, all too familiar triangular grease stains. At the sight, Keith cracked a smile. 

Oh, this is my dorm, he realized; now able to make the connection.

Slowly, he sat up from his stripped bunk, empty cans clinking to the ground around him. His arm parted the sticky mattress with a tear, glued together by an unknown beverage.

Coming to a sitting position, he swung his legs across the bed’s border, rolling his sight over the carnage wrought upon his room.

Cans and wrappers of all varieties were launched in every direction. Pizza cheese had melted into his overturned laptop grill and his bedsheets had been stuffed into the faulty dorm heater. The room’s door stood agape, the center dented inwards from some kind of blunt object. The perpetrator of which sat a few feet to its front, the bowling ball having traveled this far from the alley by some magical means. Most surprising was his television, embedded in the wall across the room.

Throughout these observations, he remained surprisingly calm. I’m just glad the heater didn’t catch fire…

Then he looked towards the window, a wave of abject terror washing over him. It was shattered, a half-full bottle of Mountain Dew impaled on a protruding spike of glass. However, this wasn’t what terrified him to such a degree.

It was midterm week and the cloudy day outside was beginning to dim. Oh shit, I gotta get the time, He realized.

No use trying to find his phone amidst the heaps of trash littering the floor. It was quicker to ask his neighbors, he reasoned, throwing himself to the ground and staggering towards the ruined door.

Swinging the door open to its full extent, a cool, all too clingy breeze washed over him. Looking down, he wore nothing other than a soda-stained “Beaves Rule” Tee, and a loose pair of loom boxers. Yet, as his vision swam upwards, all thoughts pertaining to his current apparel washed from his mind.

The Callahan hallway he was so familiar with stood absolutely desolate. Stepping forwards into the hallway, he viewed a scene of carnage. Every door stood agape, some smashed open, others dangling on wrought hinges. Various items of clothing, trash, and dorm amenities were scattered about the narrow corridor. The walls proved a kaleidoscope of deep gashes, peeling wallpaper, and dark red stains. To top this every overhead light was busted; save a solitary fixture, flashing on and off intermittently at the far end of the hall.

It was an alien sight, a view to which Keith was wholly unprepared for due to his faith in University Housing and Dining Services. The experienced cool breeze blew in from the hallway’s end. The door occupying which having been completely torn from its hinges. The freed wooden slab leaning to the wayside close by.

‘Where is everybody,’ he immediately questioned. The floor was completely abandoned.

Perhaps this was just a freak prank; perhaps the entire floor had hosted the party night of the century, then everyone had gone to hang, and somehow passed out. If so, then he truly may have missed his midterms. A terrifying thought.

He returned to his room, rummaging for his phone, yet, only locating his roommate’s apple watch. The watch read 6:47. Unfortunately, he didn’t possess the unlock PIN.

Sighing, he chucked the thing back into a pile.

Maybe there’s someone I can ask on another floor. I mean, the entire building can’t be empty right? he reasoned, wading towards the elevators from his room.

Upon seeing the button plate completely torn from the wall, he opted to take the stairs instead.

The flights alongside each consecutive floor fared much the same as the 5th. Scraps of cardboard, paper, and trash, thrown absolutely everywhere; not a soul in sight.

Beginning to lose all hope of locating someone in this drab, Keith was about to return upstairs and locate his phone with renewed vigor; maybe he’d contact UHDS or campus services. But before he could, a crash echoed down the decrepit tunnel.

Walking towards the sound, he came to the 2nd floor common area. Luckily the glass door was intact, and he briskly pushed it aside, sending a stool crashing to the floor. Inside all the furniture had been piled into a corner, acting as a makeshift wall of sorts.

Nearing the crude construct, he caught a faint murmur. Dragging a padded armchair from out of the pile, he caught the sight of a lone disheveled girl, listing side to side while whispering incessantly to herself.

“I just wanted a latte, I just wanted a latte, I just wanted a latte…” she vehemently recited, eyes unfocused as she teetered back and forth.

“Um Hello… Helloooooo,” Keith called, waving his hand to grab her attention.

He now recalled the girl, Kelly. She was a 1st-year Mechanical Engineering major. 

Finally, he gave up on breaking her stupor, his attempts continuing to elicit no response. Dropping his hand he noticed a broken phone to her front; the irreparable device nearly torn in half.

“That’s odd,” he mumbled, bending down to take a closer look.

“Noooo, Don’t Touch It!” Kelly shouted in terror, grabbing him in a deathly grip, torn nails digging into his wrist.

“Don’t… don’t… please… oh god… please oh god…” she muttered, breaking down into uncontrollable sobs.

Keith was left in shock, uttering but a single word. “What?”

“It… it took them… they… don’t go there…please god don’t go,” she fervently pleaded.

“Ummm where shouldn’t I go?” He hesitantly ventured, now much more confused. He was not prepared for this situation. Being a Finance major, the closest he had come to this was Communication 101.

“The Service Center… yes… yes… McNary… McNary Service Center… that’s… that…” Kelly once again fell into uncontrollable sobbing fits, her nails digging deeper into his arm.

The clawing sting finally woke him from his shock, and he had had enough.

“Get the hell away from me!” He shouted, throwing Kelly off him with a wave of his arm. “I’ve had enough of this sick prank! Who’s behind it? Jack, Sam?” He demanded, bellowing towards the sobbing figure.

“Ya know what, maybe this dorm is full of crazies, I’m going to this cursed service center! Maybe they’ll give me some damn answers!” he growled, storming from the room.

As he left, he could hear the girl’s muttering resume. “I just wanted a latte, I just wanted a latte,” her faint voice echoed down the hall.

Keith plowed down the east-facing fire escape, the main stairwells entrance was blocked with what looked to be every piece of furniture in the area. It would take him some time to get back into the building.

Exiting into the McNary pavilion, a disturbing view graced his sight.

The area proved a neglected mess. A plethora of cardboard boxes were propped up and littered around the sparse metal benches. Torn cloth and paper lazily blew in the breeze as evening streetlights flickered to life one by one.

As light bathed his surroundings, a myriad of dark red streaks were illuminated, dying the rough pavement. Looking up, Keiths eyes fell on the decrepit hulk of the McNary service center.

The building stood completely dark, every light shut off, a stain in the brilliant night. Aluminum doors lay shattered on the cement, completely ripped from their hinges as the gaping maw of the service center beckoned him forwards.

Just gotta find a light switch, just gotta quickly take a look inside, he repeated in his head, not in complete agreement with himself as he cautiously neared the entrance.

Closer and closer he crept, the dark void slowly becoming reality.

Just as he was about to pass the cusp, a harried voice called out from behind him, freezing him on the spot.

“What the hell are you doing!” came a hushed, insistent call.

Shooting around, a stout fellow came into view, thick glasses adorning his shadowed face. The newcomer was looking around in a hurried fashion, passing a phone between his hands in apparent unease.

“Wha… well who are you, can you please tell me what the hell is going on here?” He questioned, eager to finally get some answers.

“Uhh umm, I.. I I am Gabe, a second-year Computer Science major and part of the App Development club. I’m here on a special… but, that’s not the point! What’s your identification?” He quickly recited, growing antsier by the second.

“Umm, what? Names Keith, I suppose I’m a digital media majo…”

“Ok ok, I get it, your new… no idea how you missed the last couple of days, but my friend, we need to get out of here right now!” Gabe interrupted, pointing exasperatedly behind him into the gloom of the night.

“Whoa, why so antsy man, I just wanted to see if anyone in McNary knew what the hell is going on.”

“Don’t go in there!” Gabe squealed, face scrunching in terror. “That’s where they load! Not one person has ever come out of there! Listen, listen, we really need to leave! When dusk falls, they make their deliveries, and we are in the worst spot,” Gabe continued, frantically waving his arms in a variety of directions.

“Whoa, whoa… slow down, what are you talking about?” Keith questioned, not sure if the guy before him was crazy. The gloom of the night almost felt oppressive now, darkness ebbing forwards despite the bright streetlamps.

“Here’s your delivery,” they suddenly heard, the line recited in a robotic upbeat voice.

Gabe immediately froze, shaking uncontrollably. Slowly, the two looked to their right, a small white machine rolling into view. It was a simple Starship delivery bot. A cute little cube-shaped drone suspended above the pavement on twin sets of triple wheels.

It looked rather standard aside from a number of gashes and dark red stains coming from its delivery compartment.

“What the hell is up with this thing…” He murmured, taking a cautious step towards the bot.

Before he could approach any further Gabe jumped in front of him. Grabbing him by his shirt, the tubby fellow passed the phone into his hands before shoving him away with surprising force.

“Run!” Gabe yelled. “They’ve seen us, you have to get out of here! Take that phone to Maranda in the Valley Library! The PIN’s all one’s, it has the key!” he screamed.

By now, more bots had appeared. A ghostly parade of white mice, the occasional gruesomely scratched machine standing out amidst the lot.

“Here’s your delivery… here’s your deliver,” they chanted in unison, quickly encircling Gabe.

“Stay back,” he cried, waving his arms in desperation as the circle closed in.

He tried to run by jumping over the machines. Yet, in exasperation his foot caught on one’s antenna flag, sending him crashing to the ground.

“Nooo!” he cried as they neared, more than a hundred delivery bots rolling from every direction. “It’s a bad campus! A delivery bot campus!” he cried as the bots surrounded him. 

Then their chanting changed. “Thank you… thank you” they began to repeat, the same upbeat robotic voice ringing out as their back containers lifted open alongside mechanical whirrs.

“Somebody help me,” Gabe screamed at the top of his lungs, the bots paying no heed to his distress.

Positioning themselves around the trapped student, they clamped the lids down on Gabe’s flailing arms, dragging him kicking, and clawing into the dark depths of McNary.

“AAAAAAaaaaaa,” his scream rang out, the sound progressively fading until it died out completely.

Keith stood there in shock, concealed behind the parking lot bushes. He had been slowly edging away from the scene the entire time, praying they wouldn’t notice him.

Just as the last echoes of Gabe’s scream faded from the air, his foot brushed across something smooth in his retreat.

“Here’s your delivery,” he heard from behind and Keith bolted.

Gabe had said to get to the Valley Library, and that was exactly where he was headed.

Clade in nothing but a Beaves Tee and pair of boxers, he dashed into the night, the sound of robotic tires crunching over asphalt growing steadily louder behind him.

Categories: Short Stories

1 Comment

דירות דיסקרטיות בחיפה · August 21, 2022 at 11:15 pm

Im very pleased to uncover this site. I need to to thank you for ones time just for this wonderful read!! I definitely enjoyed every part of it and i also have you book marked to look at new things on your website.

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