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Ah, the escape key. Oscar thought fondly.
It was his favorite key on the keyboard. No one had ever asked him what his favorite key of the keyboard was, of course. But somehow, he still had one. He couldn't help but appreciate the fact that it made things so much more helpful, much like the delete button. There’d been so many times his old hand-me-down laptop had acted up, playing pranks on him, freezing the screen, not letting him the exit full screen on YouTube.
All in all, it was a wonderful function. He applauded the people who came up with it.
If only there was an escape option for life. He’d find himself often thinking. He was peculiar that way. The guy had no friends, as you’d probably be able to deduct.
Most people, Oscar noticed, never had any problems escaping life. Some relied on the people around them. Some preferred isolating themselves, usually with snacks, music, books, movies, TV shows, and in rare cases, without anything, just admiring nature. In exceptional cases, he’d encounter people talking about how they used sleep as a way to escape their worries.
Unfortunately for him, sleep was impossible. One could say he was an insomniac, almost. Self-diagnosed. Oscar chuckled, humorously. Inside jokes.
It was a little pathetic because he shared the joke with no one but himself. The male sighed deeply, tired of his isolation. Jeez, anything would be better than this. He was in his apartment, lights out, curtains drawn. The only source of light in the room came from his laptop as he click-clacked away on the keys of the keyboard, trying to finish up the editing of his second novel’s first draft before sending it to his team.
Alas, his thoughts wandered back to the escape key. It frustrated him, the fact that he was thinking about a goddamn keyboard at four am, but he couldn’t help it. Oscar was bitter about the fact that everyone else in the world had a way to escape. Even death didn’t dare knock upon his door (not that he had ever invited it).
Amidst his loneliness and comfortable silence, the clacking of his keyboard stopped as he jerked up in alarm and slight excitement. Footsteps. He’d heard footsteps outside of his rundown, thin-walled apartment. Not just any footsteps. Footsteps he had never heard before. A new tenant. He’d be having a neighbor. Neighbors. He corrected himself as he heard another pair of footsteps approach the door of his rented home.
Usually, he’d be too busy brooding about his escape key to be paying attention to the hustle and bustle about his room. But, it was different this time because, apart from footsteps, he heard nothing. “No way” , he thought. It was impossible. His new neighbors… Were they like him?
The young man dumped his laptop onto his mattress and rushed to the door, swinging it open before the newcomers could enter the safety of their homes. His eyes widened, and he grinned through his shock, showing off his pearly canines as he greeted the woman and her child lugging in their things into their new home.
“You’re… You’re…!” Oscar managed to whisper. He knew the neighbors wouldn’t have a problem hearing him.
Because, he had no problem hearing them, either. And the fact that they didn’t have a heartbeat. Just like him. They were his kind.
“You’re like us…!” The woman hushed out, surprised. Apparently, they hadn’t known any more of their kind existed, apart from them of course.
The cold-blooded ones, gifted with endless life and the sharpest teeth. Oscar wasn’t alone anymore.
He’d found his escape key.
Author ~ Suditi Mukadam
Editor ~ Aryaa Shah