They’re heading for Sangamon Street next. Can you hear them? The ragged hiss of their breathing masks. Can you feel them? The thundering stomp of their steel-toed boots. Can you see them? The sun glinting metallic gray off their curved hooded domes, above the rooftops of these foursquare homes, white paint peeling in the late autumn chill.
The Giant Vacuum Men. They were in South Essex two days ago. We got the call, and we couldn’t understand. Screaming and crying, and all throughout the silent suction of their hoses — as though sound were slowly drifting away, being repealed one note at a time. Everything is gone, came the faint shouts through the radio speakers. They’ve taken it all, and all is lost.
What won’t they take with them? Already, I’ve forgotten my history. I stare up at their enormous heads, black glass hiding their careless stares, and I can’t remember my name, nor my father’s name, nor any that came before him. I recall a sense of pride, but not what it was for. I remember love, but not as I felt it, merely as it was explained to me. I know fear, because I feel it now, and I know dread, because it sinks into every inch of me. But I don’t know hope, nor can I remember ever feeling its embrace.
They have taken my home. I watched it go. The hose, a giant black pit, sucked it up board-by-board, plank-by-plank, memory-by-memory. The yard, too. The trees, the flowers, the hornets’ nest above the garden shed. Everything. My family went with it, my wife and son, whose names and faces elude me. They disappeared too, and I ran, because I couldn’t help them. And the Giant Vacuum Men moved on.
Sangamon Street is vanishing. Can you sense it? That void in space, where a street used to be. They look at us, but they don’t see us. They laugh, but not at us, because we don’t exist to them. What do you want? I shouted at them, but their answer was silence. They didn’t hear me. They are incapable of hearing me. Their hoses absorb my pleas as soon as they leave my mouth.
What town is next? I know I should warn them, but it’s hopeless. The Giant Vacuum Men will march onward, consuming everything in their path, leaving no trace of us behind. Only a few stragglers, those of us unfortunate enough to survive. They will keep marching, until they hit the sea, and then they will sail. And when they have devoured the whole of the world, perhaps they will turn on themselves, and after that — perhaps reality itself will cease to exist.
DANIEL DAVIS was born and raised in Central Illinois. He is the Nonfiction Editor for The Prompt Literary Journal. You can find him at www.dumpsterchickenmusic.blogspot.com, or on Facebook.