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LJ Idol Week 26, Part 1: Open Topic
cap, captain miss america


It started with the mail. One day, it just stopped coming. Henry didn't notice at first. All he got were bills anyway, and the occasional junk mail, so not getting anything he had to clean out of his mailbox was actually quite a pleasant turn of events, as far as he was concerned.

But slowly, other things began to change, too. His email inbox filled up with spam. Nobody seemed to Like his Facebook status, no matter how clever it was.

And then one day, he came home to a dark and empty apartment. His furniture was gone. His books were gone. It wasn't just a robbery-- everything he owned had vanished, without a trace. There weren't even any scuffmarks on the floor.

He checked the apartment number on the door, to make sure he had actually walked into the right apartment-- but no, his keys had worked. The electric outlets were in the right place. But...even the carbon monoxide detector was missing.

He reached for his phone.

But there was nothing in his pocket. It was gone.

There was a very little voice in his head that was incrementally getting louder, telling him that now would be the time to panic. He tried to remember the last time he'd received a call. He'd talked to his mother recently, hadn't he? Had it been a week? Two?

He took a deep breath, and turned around to retrace his steps.

But when he got to the door, he realized his key was no longer in the lock where he'd left it.

But-- the door had been open! The keys had been in full view! No one had taken them. He checked the kitchen countertop-- the only surface still remaining in the apartment. Of course they weren't there.

He heard a thump in the hall, and went outside to see what it was.

Mr. Lopez, the little old man from the fourth floor, was shuffling down the hall, bumping the rubber end of his cane against the linoleum now and again.

"Mr. Lopez!" Henry started. "Have you seen my--"

Mr. Lopez didn't look at Henry. Now, Mr. Lopez had always been a little hard of hearing; at least, he had been for as long as Henry had known him. But Mr. Lopez didn't even acknowledge Henry's presence. He just shuffled on by.

Henry shut the door to his apartment, and left it as it was-- after all, there was nothing to steal.

He went outside.

It was the same everywhere-- it was as if no one saw him. He kept having to dodge out of the way, narrowly missing the people outside on the street who were going about their business as if he didn't exist.

He wondered, morosely, if maybe it didn't matter-- if he stood right in the midst of the oncoming commuters, would they bump into him, or would they float on through as if he were as insubstantial as a ghost?

There was a young girl sitting on a fire hydrant with a grubby styrofoam cup in one hand, repeating the same monotone phrase over and over, mantra-like.

"Spare change," she said.

"Spare change."

Henry went up to her. He took out a quarter and dropped it in her cup. "Excuse me?" he asked. "Can you see me?"

"Spare change," said the girl, her eyes fixed on an invisible point several yards away. She didn't pay any notice to him.

"Spare change," she said, again.

Henry went on his way. He went to the bank, and stopped at the ATM. The machine took his debit card, but when he tried to press his fingers on the screen to enter his pin, nothing registered. He jabbed at the glass with his fingertips, over and over again, with increasing frustration.


It prompted him to hit YES or NO. He tried to hit YES. Nothing happened.

By now it was getting cold and dark. He didn't have any cash, and even if he had, it seemed as if the checkout clerks in the stores just skipped right on by him to the next customer.

He decided to go back to his empty apartment.

But when he opened the door, it wasn't empty...

Author's Note

This is my first time working entirely with a brush. Instead of using a dip pen like I usually do, I inked this entire comic with a brush and ink, with various levels of grey wash. Some of the cross-hatch shading and all of the lettering were still done with a dip pen.

This entry was written for therealljidol, Week 26, Pt. 1: Open Topic Part 2 will be posted later this week.

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Very Kafkaesque (and I'm a bit of a Kafka fan)

Dammit! You guessed the ending where Henry gets tried for a crime without being told what it is, and then turns into a cockroach!

Cockroach? I thought you'd go for the twist and make him a praying mantis. Nobody would see *that* one coming ;o)

Maybe I should make him an ice cream cone!

What if he's not dead? What if his life of solitude made him disappear?

Hmmm. Speculation, speculation.

I think I will definitely have to make a point of reading part 2!

It's funny, I assumed the deadline was going to be tomorrow already but I just now realised everyone has more time. No wonder there's hardly anything to read yet!

Yeah! I just deliberately got in half my work by the "usual" deadline to keep myself on track for finishing the whole thing. Thanks!

I really liked how you made his apartment bright while shadowing him, when he walked into his "dark" apartment.

Thanks! I love when people notice weird little artistic things!

I am anxious to read part 2!

Aw, poor dude. I like all the brushwork!

Thanks! I'm not very good at it yet but I did a little more yesterday and it looked better-- though it took a long time!

I'm beginning to believe ...

Has Henry crossed over to the AU???

Re: I'm beginning to believe ...

Yes, Walter.

oooooooooooooo it reminds me of Neverwhere. I like this kind of ink, lovely!

I was actually thinking about Neverwhere after I started it! It...you will see when I post part 2.

I like the effect of the wash. It suits this story. Can't wait to see the continuation!

Thanks! The continuation will be up tomorrow night! And I'm glad you like the wash; I had fun with it!

Ooh, this is wonderfully creepy! I can't -wait- for the second part! Awesome cliff-hanger :D

I liked the element of mystery in this. How nothing is really clear. I thought that maybe he was dead, because other people don't see him... but then he's able to interact with some objects, which makes me wonder...

Poor Henry and his spooky, spooky day.

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