Please Stand By (Part One)

An audible click floated from the front doorknob; Julius grunted as he heaved a large bicycle, with fading yellow paint, through an inconveniently sized open doorway. After tossing the hunk of transportation to the side — making a crashing noise against the nearby wall; then it landed on top of his shoes — he carelessly shuffled through a pile of envelopes he had found in the lobby’s mailbox. He slapped the bills on the kitchen counter, moved aside the three-month late birthday card from a family member, and came across the last one.

It was an envelope of the lightest, faded brown. One could fit two of them on their forearm; the paper was wrinkled and whatever folded contents in there might not have been money, but nonetheless, it was thicker than any average handwritten letter. Of course, it had all the necessities of any letter: his name, Julius Coleman, his apartment number and address, 24 Quove St, Apt. 3-A, and everything else, except a return address. At least, a legible one. There was definitely something written on the top left corner of the envelope; it was written quite clearly and in the neatest handwriting, and Julius was sure he could read it, if he had recognized the language it was in to translate it. It looked much like Latin, with elements of other languages such as Hindi, Swedish, and even Japanese. Whatever this was, there was no turning back. Not a very good way to start reading an unknown letter, was it?

Julius stared at the envelope. His eyes were growing heavy, he had faced a tedious day at the office from God o’clock to six p.m. Honestly, he wanted to do nothing other than eat something from the fridge and sleep.

So, while logic screamed to stop, Julius ripped open the envelope. A folded piece of parchment was now in his hands, the same color as the envelope. Curly handwriting, a single sentence, lay on this first fold and face. Thankfully, this was in English.

Please take your time to have a good look at your surroundings, and remember them.

This had no point at all, it couldn’t have, but Julius had the urge to obey against all logical odds. He blinked, yawned, and moved his glance around the room he was in and the rooms that surrounded. Julius’s apartment was a palette of dull beige and canary yellow light, mixes of white, black, and an excess of gray. The rooms were simple, there weren’t many to begin with, and descriptions of any inch could not go far. In front of him was a black, dirty counter. Near that was the small refrigerator, containing not much but enough.

A table covered in magazines. A cabinet full of hair dye. A mirror near the jackets. Julius himself. Short, bright red hair, short and skinny body; that body wearing a plain gray T-shirt and khaki shorts with all kinds of pockets, completely matching the palette of his home.

It was nothing special. Why was this needed? Why was this important? Why did Julius need to look at some of the most boring things on the face of this Earth; why his home, his sources of enjoyment, himself?

He knew why when he opened the folded letter further.

Once you are done with remembering your surroundings and the world you once knew, please stay calm and know that you are safe, no matter the circumstance.

Something seemed to be stuffed inside his lungs; he was no longer able to breathe, and no longer able to see as all went black seconds afterward.


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