by, Melissa R. Mendelson
On December 31, 2018, the media died. The broadcasts stopped. If the reporters went live on the air, they either fell ill or just lost their voice. The last machines of the newspaper industry died. The internet succumbed to a virus that claimed all leading headlines. Snow-filled channels met the eleven o’clock hour. It was as if a switch had been pulled but not by our hand.
On January 5, 2019, a young girl was seen walking through a snowy town. She was dressed for summer with long, brown hair covering her face. Her skin was pale, kissed with red. She wasn’t wearing any shoes. At first, no one wanted to approach her, but then one kind, old man did. He asked her if she was okay, and she stopped walking. She slowly raised her head and brushed her hair aside. She had no face, and that kind, old man dropped dead of shock. And she resumed walking until she reached the edge of town, where she fell on her knees and released a heart-wrenching scream. She then disappeared.
In the days that followed, more like her appeared. Sometimes, they were alone, but not always. Some of them were dressed for today, and others were dressed from yesterday. Their heads hung low, and some of their faces were hidden by their hair. They didn’t say anything. They just marched through town until they reached its border. Then, they fell on their knees and screamed a siren’s scream, shattering cars and homes for miles. Then, they disappeared.
I thought that would be the end of them, but they just kept coming. Each time, there were more and more of them, and we started to hide inside, afraid to come out. There were just too many of them, and then one day as they passed by my window, I recognized one. He had recently died in a tragic event, an event that seemed locked on repeat with no resolution, and I realized something. Someone was sending a message, but it wasn’t from us. It was for us because someone had had enough, and we weren’t listening.
As the weeks passed, they stopped disappearing. They just stood at the edge of town. The ones that had previously disappeared returned and stood with them. They stared at us, even without their faces. It was like they were waiting for something, and until then, they were not leaving. And an invisible barrier formed behind them. Nobody could leave town. All we could do was huddle inside our homes or come out and face them. Nobody wanted to face them because they were afraid, and they were not afraid of them. They were afraid of what sent them because whatever it was knew that we had failed them.
After a long time, the phones became alive. The internet sparked. We started to talk, and we talked about the lost souls and the tragic events that had claimed them. Then, we realized that we talked too much, and the time for debate was over. No more politics. Action was mandatory, and we were lucky that they were asking nicely. But if we waited too long, then they wouldn’t be so nice or whatever presence had sent them, so a decision was finally made, one that was a long time coming, and one that would finally prevent such tragic events from happening again. When they were certain that we were finally listening and willing, their faces reappeared, so that we could see them one last time. And then they stepped back and disappeared, finally released from whatever senseless violence had stolen them away, and on February 1, 2019, the media returned, giving voice to the faceless and not the assailant.