Eddy Cutmore grinned as he placed the large black briefcase containing the bioweapon next to the channel of water flowing into the city’s underground reservoir. Depressing the green button on the side of the briefcase, he linked it with the other bioweapons he’d hidden close to the city’s vital ventilation and water sources. All that was left was to activate the trigger and release the plethora of pathogens. He leaned forward and put his finger on the switch.
Inadvertently, his eyes fell on the reflection of his angry, twisted face in the water. Eddy’s thoughts drifted back to his youth, when the ghosting began. He remembered Derek Sullivan, the man who slapped him on the back and promised him a plum position in the municipal government if he gave him his vote for city mayor. He tried to contact Derek a dozen times after the election, but not once could he reach the newly minted mayor. Ghosted. Then there was Cynthia Sellen, the beautiful model who played freely with his affections, all the while mocking him behind his back. One day, she failed to return his calls. After that, silence reigned. He tried sending gifts, cards, messages. No response. Ghosted. And of course there was Hugo Pendergast, the big man about town, his closest friend. He too stopped returning Eddy’s calls and messages. Off running with new friends? Who knows? Ghosted. And there were all the others, innumerable others…
Loneliness became Eddy’s staple, his lot in life. The silence and isolation consumed his soul. One night, he found himself sitting on the couch in the dark, quivering like a big piece of jelly, depressed and helpless: unable to rise to his feet, unable to turn on the lights, unable to open the curtains, unable to breathe.
Eddy forgot the meaning of hope and happiness, but he never forgot the people in this city who had ghosted him.
He eventually recovered from his depression, at least enough to leave his apartment to walk in the dark, where he could look into the well-lit homes of the people who had turned their backs on him. One night he was walking near the cemetery when he saw a tall, beautiful blonde sitting on a park bench. The woman smiled and urged him to sit next to her. She introduced herself as Nadia Maximoff. Nadia was a kind and considerate lady, listening attentively for hours as Eddy poured out the tragic story of his life. Eddy was stunned when she said she had the answer to his woes.
Now it was Eddy’s turn to listen. Nadia claimed she was the offspring of a long line of anarchists dating back to the reign of Nicholas I of the Russian Empire. She said she would be more than happy to supply him with an effective means of revenge, if he had the courage to use it. She had a bioweapon that would affect the brains of its victims, breaking the contacts between people, isolating their minds and personalities, in effect ghosting them—casting their souls adrift in the lonely fringes of society.
Eddy grinned. Now he had a means to make those who had ghosted him suffer just like him. It was a simple matter of placing the weapons in the ideal locations deep in the undercity before triggering them.
Eddy drew his eyes away from his reflection in the water. When he squeezed the trigger switch, the briefcase emitted a loud buzzing sound…
Eddy sat up in bed and depressed the alarm button with the palm of his hand, shutting off the buzzing clock. Shuffling into the washroom, he splashed some water on his drooping face and combed the patch of thin white hair on the top of his head. Donning shabby clothes, he shuffled out the door of the blue brick house. Smiling eagerly, he crossed the street to the garbage-strewn parking lot and the entrance of the abandoned mall. Secreting himself behind a tree, he waited.
Soon, a run-down looking limousine with the words, Our Gracious Mayor, Derek Sullivan painted on the door came bumping across the decaying parking lagoon to the mall’s entrance. An elderly man with an immense pot belly exited the driver’s seat and entered the big building. Eddy followed him inside to the dusty food court, where the mayor sat surrounded by tables and chairs filled with cardboard cutouts of cheery-faced customers.
“It’s the same routine every day,” whispered Eddy to himself. “Derek has to leave the mayor’s mansion to come out here to sit with the people.”
Smirking, he turned and exited the mall. Eddy walked to a large intersection, where a small apartment building stood. Crossing the silent junction, he stood before the building and listened to the music blaring from the solitary apartment upstairs. High above in the apartment, an elderly woman’s face pressed against the window, etched with desperation and fear.
Still playing the old soundtracks 24-7, eh, Cynthia? he thought. What if someone shuts off the music one day? What will the roaring silence of the city do to you then?
Snickering maliciously, Eddy headed down the adjoining one-way street to an orange wood-paneled house with grimy, faded awnings. Standing off at a distance, he watched as a small, stooped man dressed in a bright green suit and tie exited the house and walked down to the curb where a hanging house sign with the words Welcome To The Home Of Hugo Pendergast hung on a wooden post.
“Waiting, waiting, waiting. Always waiting for someone… anyone to see you,” chuckled Eddy. “You’d give your soul for a howdy-do from a stranger,” he said as the friendless man walked back up the drive to his house, tears streaming down his cheeks. “Big man about town. Ha!”
Eddy walked past to the deserted machine shop at the end of the one-way street. Ignoring the tattered and yellowed emergency evacuation notices on the walls, he went through the building to the weed-filled yard in the back.
“Nothing better than a day of train-watching,” he thought, sitting on the hood of a broken-down truck, gazing across the rusty railway ties of the soundless railyard.
“Derek, Cynthia, Hugo. They’re quite mad. Thank goodness Nadia gave me the antidote…”
Image – Google images