Riley awoke with a shudder to the sound of his phone vibrating on his bedside table. He sleepily checked his notification, spam risk, one of those where the number looks similar to your own. He rolled over and went back to bed and fell asleep to the familiar vibration that they left a voicemail.
Riley is not like the other kids in his grade, no, Riley liked a little scotch in his coffee in the morning. When Riley was just 4 years old he saw his parents get trampled to death by bicycles at the Tour de France. He now lives in Narrowbrook, Oregon with his Aunt Madge, in a coastal ranch-style house he had bought for them with his significant payout from the Tour de France, who wanted to keep things quiet. Riley got out of bed and looked out his luxurious floor-to-ceiling windows as he stretched awake and was surprised to see how thick the fog was on the mountain.
“Breakfast is ready!” — yelled Aunt Madge. Riley drowsily got out of bed and threw on his robe and headed down to the kitchen.
“French toast again,” Riley said sarcastically as they both knew it was his favorite.
“You excited for pioneer day?” — she taunted him. Today at Riley’s school was a special day where all the children were to learn about the Oregon Trail and pan for gold or make moonshine or whatever. Riley’s limited knowledge of the events still led him to believe that this was not the way to teach this subject As Aunt Madge drove Riley to school, they both couldn’t help but notice the fog getting thicker and as they descended into town. Narrowbrook was often misty, but there was something else hanging in the air today. Riley’s phone was connected to the car by bluetooth and an incoming call interrupted his podcast, he quickly cancelled the call from an unknown number.
“I keep getting those calls today too!” said Aunt Madge.
Riley looked out the window, and a dark figure darted out of the foggy woods towards the car but in an instant was gone.
“Did you see that?!”
“What?” says Aunt Madge.
“There was… something in the fog.”
“Yeah a bunch of trees and stuff probably, it’s hella foggy.”
They pulled up to Narrowbrook Elementary late as usual and the school was nearly completely overtaken by the fog. For a moment it seemed like school had disappeared, vanished, and overwhelmed by the murky gloom.
“Oh wow you can hardly see it, it’s like it’s not even there,” she said.
“That’d be nice,” said Riley, as he pulled out a cigarette to light it.
“Hey! Not at school, I said!” Aunt Madge jolted and nabbed the cigarette out of his mouth. “This one’s for me,” she said, flipping it into her own mouth. “Call me when you want me to pick you up!”
Riley stepped out of the car, and Madge drove off, the brake lights faded into the void. The fog seemed heavier. And yellow. In the corner of his eye he spotted the shadowy figure again and Riley’s eyes darted toward it but it was already gone. Riley’s phone vibrated violently in his pocket startling him, it was another spam call. Riley let it go to voicemail again, as he stared at the phone.
“Why so many damn spam calls today?”
Riley knew better than to answer calls from unknown callers. He turned his phone to airplane mode and tightened the straps of his backpack and walked into the schoolyard. He could hear other children laughing and playing somewhere deeper in the fog.
Riley’s phone buzzed uncontrollably on his nightstand as his body looked cold and lifeless. The air around him was wavy. On his phone screen were several calls and emergency alerts. “GAS LEAK IN YOUR AREA, EVACUATE NOW!”
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