Steve and Amy were greeted by a smiling realtor, ready to show them what could be their new home.
“Hi,” she said, extending her had. “I’m Heather and I’ll be showing you around today. How was the drive?”
“It was good, thank you,” Steve answered. “It’s a really beautiful drive.”
“I know, right?” Heather agreed with a little bounce in her step. “That’s one of the reasons we developed this neighborhood here. Not only are the surrounding mountains picturesque, but the drive is amazing too.”
The couple nodded, so she continued, “Would you like to see one of our Open Houses?”
“Absolutely,” Steve and Amy said in unison.
“Great, we can walk from here,” Heather said, and led them down the street.
Once they arrived at the Open House, she showed them around the outside, explaining the design behind the landscaping and the overall design of the house.
When they finished touring the outside, she led them inside and went from room to room, showing the points of interest for each with the same enthusiasm she had shown the outside.
“We love it,” Amy said when they had finished the whole tour.
With a broad smile, Heather replied with a simple, “Awesome!”
A week later, Steve and Amy watched as the moving truck arrived.
Amy couldn’t hide her excitement as she led the moving men around, showing them where everything went.
Even though they were both exhausted, they opened a bottle of wine, toasted their new home, and then went upstairs to consummate it.
The next day as they sat outside their front porch to enjoy a morning coffee, they watched as another moving truck came down the street to a house just one block down.
“Huh,” Steve said. “Looks like another couple is moving in today too.”
Amy studied the couple that got out of the car and waved when they made eye contact.
The other couple looked to be around the same age as them, so that was nice.
‘Another couple our age we can talk to,’ she thought.
“Once they settle in, we should go say ‘Hi’,” Amy suggested.
The next day they walked down and introduced themselves and even asked them to join them for dinner, where they became instant friends.
Over the next week, five more couples moved in, all around the same age them.
“Well, it looks like we won’t have trouble finding couples our own age to mingle with, I guess,” Steve said jokingly.
Within a month, everyone in the neighborhood were great friends and hung out regularly at the local bar.
“What the hell?” Amy heard Steve say from the bathroom.
“What is it baby?” she asked from the bed, where she was laying comfortably.
“I’ve got a gray hair,” he answered.
“Just the one?” she asked, holding in her chuckle as much as possible.
“Yes, just the one,” he said with clear aggravation in his voice. “But one is one more than I want or was expecting this morning.”
Not wanting to think she was laughing at him, Amy walked into the bathroom, wrapped her arms around him and said, “I think it’s sexy.”
He laughed, though he wanted to stay annoyed.
“Just pluck it and get back into bed with me,” she said.
Reading her eyes, he quickly plucked it and went into the bedroom, picking her up and playfully throwing her into the bed.
Each morning as they sat on the porch to start their day with a hot cup of coffee, Amy thought how lucky they were to have found this place.
Another month went by and once again Amy’s attention was drawn to Steve cursing the mirror.
“What the hell?” he yelled.
Worried, Amy jumped out of bed to see what was happening.
“What’s wrong?” she asked running into the bathroom
Her eyes widen, as half his hair was gray.
While the sight of his graying hair concerned her, his expression when she walked into the room sent chills down her spine.
Not knowing what about her had caused him to look shocked, she walked to the mirror and realized what it was.
She almost shrieked when she saw that half of her hair was gray too.
“What?” was all she could say.
After the shock of what was happening wore off, they decided they needed to show their friends. They hoped that maybe they were hallucinating, and their friends would just tell them their crazy.
The look in each couple’s eyes was enough to confirm to all of them that something was happening that they couldn’t explain.
“I just woke up this way,” Jennifer said pointing to her husband Adam, who was half gray too.
“Do you think it has something to do with this place?” Amy asked.
They all shared the same look of confusion.
“We should call Heather and see if she knows what could be causing this,” Amy suggested.
The other couple agreed.
“Hello, Heather,” Amy began once she answered the call on the other side. “This is Amy, at 612 Stewart Street.”
“Oh, hello Amy,” Heather started. “How are you doing?”
“I’m not sure,” Amy said. “Something weird is happening to us and our neighbors.”
“Something strange?” Heather asked.
“Yes, for some reason our hair is turning gray,” Amy explained.
“Whose hair?” Heather asked, not seeming concerned.
“Well,” Amy started. “Mine, by husband Steve, Jennifer and Adam from 621 up the street. I’m not sure about the others, but I’ll check with them.”
“That is strange,” Heather said, still not sounding concerned.
Sensing that Heather wasn’t being forthcoming with them, Amy asked, “Do you know what it could be?”
“I haven’t heard of anything like this happening before, but I will be happy to look into it for you,” Heather said.
“Okay, thank you,” was all Amy could think to say and hung up the phone.
Everybody looked at her expectantly, but all she could say was, “She says doesn’t know anything about it.”
They all slumped.
“Well, that wasn’t helpful,” Jennifer said, breaking the silence.
“So what do we do?” Adam asked, speaking for the first time.
“I don’t know,” Amy said honestly. “Maybe we should see a doctor and see what they say.”
Even though they all nodded in agreement, none of them went to the hospital. They just chalked it up to the elevation or anything else they could think of.
Except for their hair changing color, nothing else seemed to be different about them, so they didn’t think it was harmful.
After a few days, almost all of them dyed their hair and went back to living their life.
It wasn’t until another month had passed, that once again, everyone started to panic.
They all woke up to not only completely gray hair, but wrinkles and sore joints, and to make matters worse, winter had arrived quickly and before they could collectively go to the doctor’s, they were all trapped by a sudden snowstorm that blocked all the roads.
All they could do was stare at each other from their windows and talk on their phones.
“How are you guys holding up?” Amy asked Jennifer.
“We’re sore all the time,” she started. “I feel like we’re a million years old.”
“Us too,” Amy agreed. “As soon as the roads are cleared, we’re going to the hospital to find out what is going on.”
A few weeks passed and the weather never let up. Amy and Steve were regretting moving to the mountains.
“How are you feeling today?” Steve asked Amy a few weeks later.
“I feel like I have the flu,” she said. “I have no energy, and everything aches.”
He went downstairs to make her soup and brought it to her along with some water. It seemed like the only thing she could keep down these days.
As they come up on another month, they felt like they had aged at least 40 years.
Steve groaned as he looked in the mirror and looked like he was in his seventies. He felt like it too.
For weeks, the weather was relentless. It never stopped snowing. The roads never got cleared off, so ambulances were out of the question. Even after explaining what was happening, the hospital said they couldn’t send a helicopter unless it was an emergency, which they said pre-mature aging wasn’t one.
Adam limped down the stairs, taking them one at a time instead of hopping down like he used to.
Every day seemed to blur into the next as they spent their time eating, sleeping, and then repeating.
Each day, all they could do was stare out the window, watching the snow continue to fall, covering any snow that might have been blown away the day before.
While they always knew it was a possibility that they could get snowed in their new home, never in a million years did they ever think they’d be snowed in while aging rapidly.
Even though they had enough food to last them through a long winter, they found that their appetites were not what they used to be.
Watching their favorite shows, they held each other tight, relying on each other to keep their spirits up.
For some unknown reason, there cell phones stopped working.
The only positive part of the whole situation was they only seemed to age once a month. They remained the same throughout the month, then one day, they’d just wake up much older than they were.
When the next month came, only Amy woke up. She rolled over slowly to wake her husband, but he never moved.
Unsure what to do without him, she contemplated suicide, but knowing she only had a few months at most to live anyways, she didn’t want to die before she had to. She still hoped that a miracle would happen, and she’d at least be able to tell her story to someone.
She gently covered Steve’s body and went downstairs. She knew she couldn’t leave him there permanently, but for now, she couldn’t bring herself to decide what to do with him.
That night she slept on the couch and cried. She had cried all day and was surprised she could still cry at all.
Late in the following day, she made the difficult choice of dragging his body to the outside shed. She felt like she was sixty and she had to take several breaks to finish moving him, but when she finished, she collapsed on the couch and cried herself to sleep.
Every day, she stared out the window, hoping to catch a glimpse of one of her neighbors. She had often thought of walking to one of their houses, but whenever she stepped out the front of the house, the wind would become so strong, she could barely stand.
The whole situation she was now in seemed both surreal and supernatural. Nothing made sense. Their aging, the constant snowing, the uptick of wind whenever she tried to step beyond her front porch.
One night she took one last look at all the pictures of her and Steve, crawled into bed, and died.
The snowstorm continued for another month and a half. That was when the last of her neighbors had died too.
When the last one passed away, the storm ended and the sun came out.
It took a week for the snow to melt enough for the dozen moving trucks to get into the neighborhood, and it only took a day for them to clear the houses out completely and remove the bodies.
When it was all completed, Heather pulled out her phone and spoke to whoever was on the other side of the line.
“It’s all done, sir,” she said. “The houses are cleared, and the bodies removed.”
“Yes,” she said to something the man said on the other side of the l line.
“Yes,” she said after another short pause. “We will be ready for the next harvest by spring as usual. I’ve already been lining up another group of young couples to move in by early fall.”
After she waited for him to finish, she continued, “Yes, I agree. One more harvest and we should be able to maintain our youth for at least another century.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll see to it myself,” she said and hung up the phone.
Later that year, Heather watched as the first couple arrived to view the Open House.
“Hi,” she said, waiving to the young couple approaching her. “I’m Heather. How was the drive up here?”
Published on January 25, 2021 07:00
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