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.
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.
"I'M SORRY," read the screen of the ATM. "I DIDN'T UNDERSTAND THAT. DO YOU NEED MORE TIME?"
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...
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.