Thursday, June 14, 2012(original post date)
We were tired of sitting around the apartment, staring at the sheer white walls, doing nothing. Well, nothing beyond breathing and sharing the occasional laugh, anyway. It wasn’t until Prim, my roommate, my best friend since grade school, and my uncertified shrink, suggested we trade our PJs for some jeans, and grab breakfast at the corner café we always go to when the fridge is empty.
May as well, I told her. Although we really should buy groceries. Rent was due in a few days and that’s NYC rent we’re talking. Translation: not cheap. After rent, it would be a few days before grocery money became available. But on a gloomy and uneventful day like today, those rainy days where you couldn’t really tell fog from smog, I could go for a bagel and 99 cent coffee.
Sam’s Café, a quaint little spot two blocks from the apartment on Delancy, the only place on the Lower East Side where you could drink your coffee in peace, was empty when we got there. Prim and I liked it that way. Sam wasn’t in that day; Sean, a cute recent high school grad who wasted no time in telling us he got into Hunter College, waited on us instead. We smiled and nodded our heads and congratulated him as good costumers should do. Last time Prim and I saw Sean, he was still working on growing his beard out; we were surprised that the peach fuzz had long since been replaced with a full mustache.
Sean brought us our coffee and bagels and we forked over five bucks. After he dropped the change on our table, he disappeared into the kitchen.
In his absence, Prim and I briefly discussed Sean’s newfound bushy lip. Bizarre; we agreed he should shave it immediately and grow a beard instead. The conversation then turned to hair in general and for a while we wondered what it would be like to have a fully-grown Karl Marx beard. Do men groom those things? we wondered. Speaking of Karl Marx, the conversation turned to a paper for a political science course we were both taking that summer. When was it due again? We decided it would be a good idea to get started after brunch.
That’s when it happened. Prim and I became increasingly aware of how quiet it had grown at Sam’s. Even the regular clanging of utensils and the sound of running tap water had ceased. We called out for Sean, and heard nothing but our own voices echoing. We paused, waiting for a sign of life to emanate from behind the scarlet swinging door. When nothing came, Prim pointed out the sounds of silence that seemed to radiate from the streets as well. No calls for taxis, no noisy drilling, no cars honking… Prim and I locked eyes, unspoken confusion evident in our shared looks. We stuffed down the last of our meager meal and headed for the exit.
Only, we couldn’t go near the exit. We were suddenly and inexplicably bound to our seats. The next looks Prim and I exchanged were of frightened confusion. What was going on? Why couldn’t we move??
More shocking still, water began to pour and flood the café at an alarming rate. Did Sean absentmindedly leave the faucet running and left the café? That still didn’t explain why we couldn’t just get up and leave.
Within seconds the water had risen to our knees. Prim struggled violently against her invisible bonds and I watched helplessly as she knocked herself over and fell headfirst into the water. Prim, get up! I shouted. She needed to get her head above water or she’d drown.
Prim quickly calmed down and stopped struggling. She had floated to the surface now but wasn’t moving. Prim? I called out. The water was at my shoulders now and I could feel my feet leave the ground. I craned my neck back and watched how remarkably close the ceiling was getting…
Sean! I screamed. Help! Someone must hear us. Someone had to get Prim out. She needed air.
I stopped moving and my head was suddenly scraping the ceiling, the water quickly creeping its way up my neck. I took as many deep gulps of air as I could. Prim had floated out of my sight. Was she still struggling? Could she breathe again?
Before I could suck in as much oxygen as my lungs could hold, I felt a large tug from under me, and I found myself completely submerged in freezing water. I could no longer recognize the folding chairs and white tempered glass tables that adorned Sam’s Café. Above me, Prim’s large mat of red hair masked her face, but my heart sunk at the realization that was now lost to me. Prim’s figure, still somehow bound to the chair, was shrinking as it was being pulled away from me. Except, I was the one being pulled away from her. I could hear the water rushing past my ears as several pairs of boney-blue toned hands pulled at me. I used whatever remaining air I had left in me to let out a bloodcurdling scream.
It was a scream that no one would hear…