When you know something's wrong or off something kicks into your gut, turning it as a solid as rock. Your head seems to grow lighter, everything occurs more surreally and a dream like state, more than the mundane actions of everyday life.
Camden seemed to float, door after door as no one seemed to answer. Camden would wait longer at each door, hoping that somebody would answer. If asked he would snap and say so the weight of his bag could be lifted as his chest was sore.
"Or today could be the official, Ignore Camden Marshall day" He thought to himself as a joke, but this did not quench his bubbling fear.
The reality was, he wanted someone to answer, so things could be normal.
The apartment block Camden circled seemed to grow quieter with every step the distant car bleeps and shouting from the grey haze that made up Inner Delham, seemed to fade into the wind like Camden's own voice. Knocking on another door he decided to pinch himself to see if he was dreaming. No he wasn't.
And of course, the door had to open.
The man was fat, and and a eyesore with freckles coating his entire face, blotchy eyes, a large nose and thin, nearly invisible lips. Hidden beneath a dense dirty blonde beard.
"What the bleddin' hell am yow doin'?"
A voice as rugged and as rough as the sea, although Camden could hardly blame him for his confusion. If a postman showed up on his door, stood there pinching his hip he would be confused too, unable to dig up a witty answer for the obese man's enquiry he simply presented the man with the package.
"Package for you" he said, he voice shrinking in front of this man, A manly man, as ugly as he may have been he had a strong posture. Those beady eyes of his remained locked on Camden, Camden couldn't keep his gaze and his eyes found the floor. Tattoos slithered up the fat man's arms he held a can of beer in his right hand, in a steely grip that put Camden's shoddy handwork to shame.
"Ya could ave yelled" the man's voice had dropped a few more octaves and now sounded almost bored, snatching the package from Camden with a disinterested grunt. "A lot of people ain't answering their doors, seems kinda odd" Camden tried to say casually to try and start causal conversation with this man. "They'll have caught that flu goin' rand" he said in his thick Midlands accent.
"What Flu?" Camden instantly asked quite interested.
The man seemed to roll is eyes "Ah dunno, just flu really, get all kinda epidemics around this place can't blame anyone really. With all the vermin that run through here with diseases, and I ain't talkin' bout the rats". He let out a series of hearty guffaws at his own joke Camden let out a genuine smile. Not because the joke was funny, at all really (Too him at least). But for the fact, he had been given an official explanation to something he had found almost scary beforehand.
"PABLO! WHOSE AT THE DOOR?!" Came a screech from the hall, Camden saw a whizz of blonde hair rush past the front door as a small girl ran past. He sighed, Seeing her smile for a second before she rushed off again.
Camden wished he had kids.
"POSTMAN! PACKAGE ERE FOR US!" He shouted back, already half closing the door he muttered one last "Cheers" to Camden before closing the door.
Satisfied that the lack of responses was because people were ill with the flu. Camden got on with business in a more relaxed manner, some people answered some didn't. It all seemed normal now those that did answer were in a perfectly normal mood. Camden didn't bring up the flu again, he saw no need too.
However as he stood, waiting in front of unanswering doors he felt an eerie feeling. Every fibre of his being telling him to move, a prickly feeling on the back of his neck. It was almost as if the door itself was screaming at him to run, that whatever was behind the it was far from good.
Then, he got officially freaked out.
He listened behind one unanswering door, after he thought he heard someone cough. Pressing his ear to the cold metal, he could hear it clearly, hoarse coughing.
"Anybody in there!?" Camden shouted.
There was a distinctive THUD! It was as if someone had fell to the floor listening closer, as a breeze passed by, chilling his skin but it was the choking noise that Camden heard that made the goosebumps explode over his creamy skin. He could only describe the noise as that as resembling a snake when it hissed. He backed away from the door panic setting into his being and the next second there was a loud CLUNK! As the door bent in the middle, from behind the door, came an inhuman shriek.
Camden was out of that apartment block without even realising his legs had moved.
It wasn't like the woman who had screeched at the fat dad Pablo earlier, this screech was completely different. It made Camden cringe in a way that no chalk on a blackboard could and he had sat through many lessons in his youth cringing at that noise.
The screech haunted him for the rest of the day. He wondered if he should have called someone, or gone to find help. But he kept convincing himself he shouldn't have, or that the owner was pranking him "Yeah" he thought, he couldn't have helped the owner no matter what he did.
Camden Marshall was right in that sense.
The final package of the day came, he delivered it to a woman with short auburn hair and short of patience too.
"Give it here...!" she began to snap. Before coughing violently into a ragged tissue.
"You okay, Miss?" Camden asked politely.
"Do, I fucking look alright!? Just give me the damn package..." she snatched it off Camden. He recoiled at her touch, as phlegm on her fingers brushed on his own. She didn't notice Camden recoil she had already slammed her door into his face. Usually he would have labelled her rude, however he noticed she was distressed, very distressed.
"Caught the flu, but it's nothing to get that stressed out about" He thought.
Then again, was it?
Pablo hardly seemed like a guru of knowledge concerning the flu and Camden didn't know the symptoms, but he was taking no chances. His fingers still wet with the women's phlegm in disgust he wiped it off on his shining neon jacket, despite the ferocity of his wiping Camden still felt like the gross goo was implanted onto his fingers. "It will have to do" he thought as he called it another day.
He walked through Delham, his day's work finished. The city was fairly industrial in nature, with boarded up factories and shops making up the poorer parts of the city, the indigo sky clashed horribly with the almost rotting black buildings spread in uneven rows across these discarded areas of the city, groups of hooded youths and shoddy looking men in longcoats hung outside the buildings, like bee's outside a bustling beehive of crime.
Camden kept a neutral face knowing full well the golden rule, to avoid trouble in these areas was not to draw attention to yourself full stop and it worked for him. His shiny eyes found the pavement, like the buildings beside it these were also black as patches of grey chewing gum and stubbed cigarettes made this pavement the way it was. The damp urban stench of everything unpleasant wafted like a low mist throughout the area.
Elsewhere rather than decompose in the sunlight, the magnificent striped gems of skyscrapers radiated in the sunlight, exhibiting their brilliance to the city's residents the areas surrounding these tall buildings filled with tons of fresh faced yuppies and gleaming street art and benches. The creamy surfaces wiped down every morning exposed the shiny beating heart of Delham which slowly eroded and curled at the edges.
A typical medium sized city in western England, which housed just over a million either in swanky, gleaming apartments with a shiny steel nature, or the rotting and dampened wooden holes in the poverty stricken areas of the city, which nestled on the outskirts of the growing city.
As the beet red sun began to set, on the cloudless day, Camden dropped off his working equipment at the office and made his way home.
It didn't help, that he also lived in a high rise flat, just like the one he visited earlier today, his flat seemed like a solid white block from the distance, but approaching it, the black graffiti and mould stained itself on the walls, showing it's true nature as the familiar reek of illegal substances caused Camden's eyes to mould into silts.
Taking the stairs today (absent mindedly) he hiked to the twenty second floor. The staircase being a poorly vented, stuffy and narrow maze that ascended upwards to dizzying heights. Reaching level ground and exhausted from a rather odd, and long day of postal delivery he dug out his key from his pocket and turned it in the lock. With a satisfying click, the door swung open.
"Home sweet home" Camden mused aloud. Never in all of his life, did his two bedroomed apartment look so warm and welcoming, with a main living room, with a small table and TV. A kitchen to the left, With an even smaller table and a small fridge with other equipment. A small double bed to himself, and another single bed to the bedroom to his left. Usually for visitors. (Camden rarely got any). He got his own on suite bathroom though, which was a plus.
He plonked himself into a steaming shower the minute he stripped out of his stale uniform, wiping himself red and raw in paranoia of the none existent phlegm on his fingers the only thing he could think about was he dull grey bed that was waiting for him to sink into it's welcoming covers.
At times like these, (fuelled by the sickly people and places he had encountered today) he wished his small apartment was cleaner. His bald head gleaming, and slipping into some black boxers, Camden could now see through the tiny windows in his apartment it was getting quite late, as the city buzzed like a collection of fireflies beneath him, the distant car horns and chattering of the late night population, keeping the city in a blanket of normality.
Deciding he'd rather clean the apartment than watch the news that night, like he usually did. Camden set to work in wiping away the mould that had stuck itself onto the roof corners, he may have been weak handed but he was not squeamish.
From his past, he knew he was not squeamish. As he polished his parents photo, he smiled at them his father a complete replica of him, With the green eyes, and gleaming bald head in his old age and his mother, with her gentle face, and kind lime eyes.
"Why didn't you tell them Camden?" he thought to himself, regret clogging his being.
Moving onwards from his parents, he polished a few more photos. Including one of his brother Carl. Who Camden deeply admired, but would never tell him face to face.
Apartment shining, Camden collapsed on his bed, to exhausted even to take a quick glance at the dirty magazines stashed under his bed. It was a shame, sometimes he hugged a pillow as a placebo for a missing wife. He wanted at least one woman to warm his bed, to pleasure him, and a cheery child, like the girl he saw today.
He wanted a family. He knew it was a dream and not a reality, he didn't deserve a family, but the hell with it, he could still dream.
Just before he drifted off, his last thoughts were on the flu. It worried him only a little. "I wish the teenagers were the worst things that happened to me today". He whispered quietly but falling into a deep slumber a second later the flu flying out of his exhausted mind.
It was shame, he didn't watch the news that night.
Or wake up, to the screaming and the crashing.
Or see the fires, as the first plumes of smoke rose from the skyscrapers.