The clock tower struck midnight over the silent campus.
I’m still sitting in the middle of a field, staring at the stars. I’m cold. I’m numb. I’m wishing that I wasn’t here at all.
The sound of the clock tower is echoing through the night. Somewhere out there another person is gone. At the beginning of the week there were six. Now there must be three.
The few of us that are left don’t see each other much. We never talk. As we walk across the bricks and spot each other from across red square, we only exchange knowing nods. There’s no need for words.
Where do they go? What happens to them? My friend saw it happen once, a few months ago. Somebody disappeared into thin air, he told me. That was just a few days before he disappeared himself.
I’m not alone yet, but I feel alone. There’s a two in three chance that I’ll still be around twenty-four hours from now. And in forty-eight hours? A coin flip’s chance. And then if I’m the only one left, what happens next?
I sit up. The clock tower’s last echo fades into the dark. When it comes time for it to speak again, everyone will listen. What causes it? Why is this happening? Could it have been stopped? For years this has been going on. Somehow I’ve lasted this long. Pure statistics. Somebody had to make it this far. Who or what decides which one of us is next?
It started in my freshman year. Rumors were quickly spreading around campus that students were disappearing. Was it a serial killer? A plague? A monster? And then people started to see it happen. They knew what was really going on. The words could only be spoken in a whisper.
“Every time the clock tower strikes midnight, somebody disappears.”
I’m standing in the field. There’s only two people left for miles. It would have been more if they hadn’t tried to resist. Things only got worse when we found out that if we tried to leave campus, we would disappear the moment we stepped over the last brick. Throughout my four years here, the student body has diminished from over ten thousand to three. One thousand, three hundred and forty-seven students have been taken by the clock tower. The rest of them tried to run.
Just as I’m walking back across the grass, heading towards my dorm building, something breaks the silence.
A burst of light flies through the air near the center of campus. Red. Green. Blue. Somebody has set off a firework in red square, launching a crackling flare into the stars. What is this?
It’s a signal. A call. A message for the last of us. The final three.
One of us wants to meet at red square.
Kicking through the nighttime dew, I curiously move towards the source of the light, wondering what anybody could have left to say.