A friend of mine sent an email to a few friends, myself included. The below excerpt is from said email.

Respond in the form of a short story or poem. 

Prompt:  You awaken one morning to find the world in a state of natural reclamation; streets and houses overrun by vegetation, vehicles rusted from disuse but not destroyed.  There’s no evidence of violence or conflict, no bodies or broken windows.  There is only you, the remnant of a society that has vanished, and a howling in the distance.

Describe your first 24 hours

It Crept in at Night

A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. The kids must have let the dogs out. It’s early. A low muffled howl echoes in the distance, how many alarms were set? How long does the snooze button last? A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. What day is it? Usually the kids sleep in. A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. The morning sun reaches through the blinds casting reverse shadow puppets on my inner eyelids. A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house, it’s time to wake up.

A long solitary stretch accompanied by a silent guttural yawn, I bury my face in my pillow, cool and crisp with hints of light mist. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) My eyes squint open, eyelashes like over grown vines in an unkempt garden. The bed sheets are grey, no its the sky. It must have crept in at night. Stretching my arms I reach out for my wife, she isn’t there. Her spot still warm, a welcome comfort like a lived in home. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. The kids must have let the dogs out.) Swinging my legs over the side of the bed I sit up and hang my head. Breathe in deeply, rub my face with the palms of my hands and open my eyes.

Morning, its grey.  Streaks of sun light dance in the morning haze. A Lark sings its song of morning or mourning or warning. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) As I wash the sleep from my face my mouth opens and I let out a sigh. Looking at myself in the mirror I can’t help but feel like my house, my home, is filled with the ghosts of memories long forgotten. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) Dressed, I walk into my kids rooms, crack open the windows, turn the ceiling fans on and make their beds. Still warm, a welcome comfort. I take a deep breath, it smells like unconditional love hidden behind layers of lost years. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) I head down stairs and look around. Turn on the coffee machine and press “Brew”. The morning is grey, it smells like a traditional family breakfast. Where’s my family?

It’s quiet. The morning is grey. My coffee should have finished brewing minutes ago. I check on it. It’s still brewing. It looks like it’s brewing in reverse. The mug is still cold. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) While waiting for my coffee to finish brewing I open the blinds and the windows and let the morning in, the sky is grey. The dogs should be out, I don’t see them. Maybe they’re on the side of the house napping. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) The morning is grey. I can hear the lark’s song ring through the haze of suburbia. Maybe the kids are out front. I’ll check.

I turn the knob to the front door and pull open the door. I can’t tell whether it’s the door or the sunlight that creaks as I step out into the world. The morning is grey, everything covered in a blanket of haze. And sunlight dances to escape the past. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) The neighborhood is still, an eerie calm holds close. Shadows of laughter can be heard running up and down the streets. The morning is grey, it crept in at night. Nothing is how I remember it. Nothing is how I left it. Or did it leave me? (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) I walk around the corner and down the street. Houses watch me through empty blank stares. The neighborhood is a shell of what it used to be. Shadows of laughter can be heard running up and down the streets. I smell coffee and remember my cup is still brewing.

I turn around to walk back home but I feel lost. Is this my neighborhood? When did the vines move in? The morning is grey, it crept in at night. The houses aren’t as friendly as they used to be. They stare at me with mistrust. (A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house.) I walk past my house several times before I realize it’s mine. It’s my home, buried beneath the reclamation, buried in the memories that never were. I walk up to the front door, lower my head and let out a heavy sigh. As I push the door open a bright light greets me, I don’t remember turning on the lights, and casts reverse shadow puppets as I close my eyes.

A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. The kids must have let the dogs out. It’s early. A low muffled howl echoes in the distance, how many alarms were set? How long does the snooze button last? A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. What day is it? Usually the kids sleep in. A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. The morning sun reaches through the blinds casting reverse shadow puppets on my inner eyelids. A low muffled howl echoes in the distance and footsteps plod throughout the house. My eyes squint open, eye lashes like over grown vines in an unkempt garden. It’s time to wake up.