He came down the road in no apparent hurry, slowing now and again to gaze into a window of a house as he passed. It was a Monday and the new year’s holiday and things were quiet on the street, kids and adults alike sleeping late, stores closed, no place anybody needed to be. No cars. A jet high overhead, silent, trailing a white plume that broadened as it tailed away, a slash across the pale blue sky. To the east clouds collided above the horizon, oozing reds and purples like an open wound.

Down the block across the street a U-Haul truck sat in a driveway, doors open, nobody around. As he drew nearer he could see that the garage door was open and inside, at the back of the garage, the door that led into the house was also open. Same with the front door. Still no sign of any person outside or in.

He looked over his shoulder at the house behind him, the curtains drawn closed in the picture window. Then he turned back and stepped off the curb, crossed the street and moved up the driveway alongside the moving truck and up the steps onto the porch.

“Hello?” he called into the nearly empty front room, loudly enough for his voice to carry deeper into the house. He waited, looked to his left at the truck, back into the room, then at the quiet street behind him.

He stepped through the front door and heard his foot clack on the bare tile flooring, an unnatural sound. Moving boxes sat in haphazard stacks against the wall. Beyond the living room through a wide archway he could see another room and, at the back of the house, a sliding glass door through which the low winter sun projected an angled slash of light. He stood silently and listened but heard nothing but the low-frequency hum of a refrigerator compressor and the thump of his blood pulsing through his ears.

Read part two

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