Messages from Paradise – Ben Arzate
October 4, 2022
Hey, baby. I went to bed just a little bit ago. I just woke up though. Are you up? What time is it there?
Sent 2:35 AM
I just realized with the time difference it’s going to be like almost five in the morning there. You probably aren’t going to be up that early on a Saturday. I had a couple beers out of the minibar to try to get back to sleep. Didn’t help much. I don’t want to drink much more because I’ll get charged out the ass when I check out. I tried watching some TV but there was nothing on but infomercials for the dumbest shit. Who buys it all anyway? Stoners who stay up too late?
Sent 2:46 AM
I tossed and turned and still can’t get back to sleep. I’m so bored, and my body’s not letting me drift off. I don’t know what it is. Maybe I’m just missing you. I really wish you could have come. It’s nobody’s fault your dad got sick at the last minute. You know I’d be there if I could have refunded the plane tickets and hotel. It’s just not the same without you.
Sent 3:38 AM
Sorry, baby. I know that last message sounded really corny. Sitting here in the dark isn’t helping. I’m going to try going out. Most of the places around here are going to be closed, but there’s got to be a bar or something open. I’ll see if a couple drinks and talking to other tourists will do anything for my insomnia.
Sent 3:52 AM
It’s a little weird the night auditor wasn’t at the desk. The streets are strangely empty too. I know it’s really late, but I’d think someone would be out. I haven’t seen a car, a taxi, or anything. It’s a little creepy. I tried getting on the internet to check the hours for the bars, but I couldn’t get connected. The hotel WiFi must be down. I’ll just head to the street where the nearby bars are. There’s got to be at least one of them open.
Sent 4:13 AM
Tracey, I don’t know what’s going on here. The streets are all empty. The bars were open, but nobody was in any one of them. No bartenders, no customers. Not a single person. There’s just no way that’s possible. I’m starting to get freaked out. Can you call me as soon as you get up?
Sent 4:48 AM
I’m back at the hotel. I tried going behind the desk and seeing if I could find anyone. There’s nobody here either. It’s hard to process. All the signs that people should be here are there. The lights are on. The computers are on. There’s someone’s purse in the hotel office. I peeked through it. A wallet, keys, and other stuff was in it. Things someone just wouldn’t leave on purpose. Did I sleep through something? I was only out for a couple hours, but was there some emergency that happened during that time? I hope I run into someone and I can tell you I was just being a dumbass.
Sent 5:06 AM
I went back up to my room and tried sleeping yet again. I don’t know what I expected. Maybe I thought I’d wake up to everything being normal again. Of course, I still couldn’t sleep. I tried taking a small bottle of wine out of the minibar, but it’s not helping. I’m going out again. I don’t know where. Maybe down to the beach. I’ll watch the sunrise. I hope you wake up soon.
Sent 5:31 AM
I’ve been sitting on the beach, sipping from the wine bottle. It’s kind of pleasant, honestly. It almost made me forget about what’s going on.
Sent 6:01 AM
Jesus Christ. The wine and the sound of the waves finally got to me to fall asleep just for a little bit. The sun should be up by now. It’s not. It’s as dark as it was like five hours ago. Are you still not awake? Please, call me as soon as you are.
Sent 7:57 AM
I’ve been pacing back and forth on the beach. I can’t calm down. I’m scared as hell. Is everything normal where you are? Is the sun up there? There’s no way it can’t be here. I’m keeping the wine bottle with me. It’s empty, but it might make a good weapon. I don’t know against what. My mind keeps racing. The idea that I’m actually not alone is starting to become way more frightening than the thought I am. I’ll be happy knowing that you’re okay when you call.
Sent 8:03 AM
I just tried to call you. I hoped that you didn’t have your phone on silent and maybe I’d wake you up. It didn’t go through. As if I didn’t have any connection at all. I noticed my 5G isn’t working either. If anything’s happened, I have no way to find out. No internet. Are these messages even going through? I can’t tell. Sorry if they flood you all at once.
Sent 8:34 AM
I didn’t know what else do to. I got so hungry that I came back to the hotel. I broke into the restaurant and made my own breakfast. Just some coffee, eggs, hash browns, and sausage. They won’t miss it. They might get pissed about the broken glass. Whatever. They’ll understand. If they’re still out there. They have to be. I have to believe that. It’s the only thing that’s going to keep me going. It’s why I’m still messaging you, even though I’m certain they aren’t going through. I have to believe you’re still there. I have to believe you’ll miss me if I don’t come back. There’s no reason for me not to lay down and die if I don’t. I can’t believe it’s still this fucking dark out.
Sent 10:01 AM
I did a few laps around the nearest couple blocks. I tried knocking on doors and peaking in windows. Nothing. Nobody. If everybody except me really is gone, then how long until the power goes out? I’m sitting in one of the bars drinking some Jack. I need to calm my nerves. I’m worried I’ll crack and do something stupid. Shit. My phone’s about to die.
Sent 12:12 PM
I’m back in my room. Mostly to charge my phone. It’s only my room because it’s the only one I have a key for. If I wanted, I could probably raid the front desk and figure out how to activate the other key cards. This hotel could be my home now. No way I can get home if there’s no one to fly the planes, right? I guess I could try, but I’d probably just crash. I can’t even look on the goddamn internet to get an idea how to do it. I turned the TV back on. There are still infomercials playing. There was one for an erotic massage DVD set. What a fucking thing to be playing in the middle of day. I jerked off to it. It was pathetic, but I was hoping it would calm my nerves. It didn’t.
Sent 12:43 PM
Still nothing on the fucking TV but infomercials. Some bullshit juicer. Is this the only way I’m going to get to hear another person’s voice from now on? This fake happy barking about overpriced shit no one ever really needed? Christ. Thinking about it, I’ve probably heard more voices coming out of speakers than real human voices in my life. Probably more than half the time they were trying to sell me something. And everything I bought amounted to jack fucking shit. None of it’s really helping me out when I really need it.
Sent 1:29 PM
Man, reading over the last few texts is making me cringe. Tracey, if you’re still out there and you get these, can you delete them? We’ll laugh about them when I’m home.
Sent 2:00 PM
My phone’s charged. I’m going down to the beach. I’m taking a towel and my trunks. Maybe going for a swim will take my mind off all this shit. It’s still warm enough, despite how dark it is. I might find something in the ocean, too. I don’t have high hopes, but I don’t know where else to go.
Sent 2:18 PM
I just realized there are no stars in the sky. I don’t know if it’s cloudy or if they’re somehow all gone too. No moon either. If the power really does go out, I’m fucked. My phone will be the only light and that’ll only last so long.
Sent 2:35 PM
Something’s different. Something’s very wrong. Besides the obvious. I’m at the beach. I’m looking out at the horizon. Earlier, it was just black. Now something’s there. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s not the sun coming up. God I wish it was. It’s like I can see the blackness bending upward. The dark ocean is running upward where it should be meeting the sky. Flooding it. My hands are shaking. I can’t go in that water.
Sent 2:59 PM
It’s getting worse. The waves near the beach aren’t right. The whiteness of the foam is all wrong. I think it’s turning black as well.
Sent 3:04 PM
Oh my god. The ocean that crept up to the sky is flowing across it. It’s heading my way.
Sent 3:07 PM
Back in the hotel yet again. That was the fastest I ever ran in my life. My legs feel like spaghetti. My lungs are on fire. I made it inside, though. I can hear rain starting to fall outside.
Sent 3:19 PM
I’m afraid to go anywhere near a window, but I can tell it’s still raining. I don’t know if that’s even rain. It’s coming down hard. I wonder if it’s trying to bust down the walls and get at me? Maybe I’m being irrational, but even if what’s causing this doesn’t hate me specifically, it’s sure not concerned for my well-being.
Sent 3:54 PM
I was on one of the couches in the lobby staring up at the ceiling. The sound of the rain pounding outside was starting to be relaxing instead of terrifying. Then I sat up. I could see the water creeping under the front door. I hopped up and headed for the stairs. They were closer than the elevator, and I didn’t want to risk getting trapped. I’m sitting on the steps trying to catch my breath. I need to decide what to do next. My first thought was the top floor, but it might be coming in from the roof too. If it is, I only have so long. The second to the top floor or somewhere in the middle might be safer. If I can find a laundry basket, I can grab a towel or something and stick it under the door. I don’t know if that’ll stop the water, but it might buy me some time.
Sent 4:30 PM
Shit. It happened. The power went out. It’s pitch black in the stairwell, except for my phone. I might have to stop texting you to save the battery. You probably won’t ever get these, anyway.
Sent 4:42 PM
Tracey, I know I never told you I love you enough. But I do. I really hope you’re alive somewhere. I wish I could have seen you one last time. I wish I could have at least heard your voice. Can you believe the last real human voice I heard before all this started was someone in the elevator telling me they liked my Hawaiian shirt? I went up the stairs using my phone’s flashlight and kept going until I got to the end. The next door says it’s roof access. Nothing was coming through. I huddled up on the landing just before it and fell asleep. I just woke up. My whole body aches. Especially my legs. I can hear the water below. It’s in the stairwell. The whole building is filling up. It’s slow, but it’ll eventually catch up to me. Instead of letting it drown me, I’m taking my chances outside on the roof. I don’t know what’s out there. I hope these go through eventually. I hope you can see them. If you never hear from me again, then goodbye. I love you.
Sent 2:36 AM