|The First Road Out of Here|
The first in a series of connected, yet almost completely separate short stories that I have up on DA. This one has been edited, and I will post the other two as soon as I get them edited. The three stories I have of this so far are definitely my favourite things I've written.
This is the second edit, and when I'm up to it, I will give it another good workthrough.
It's a surreal, modern fantasy type thing and has been compared to Dark City and David Lynch films multipe times, although I wrote it before I saw any of the those movies, so it wasn't intentionally influenced.
And advice as to how to improve it further would be great, and if not that, just an honest opinion will suffice.
The December air was cold as we walked down the city sidewalk that night. It had been snowing the last few days, and I honestly could not remember the last time I saw the sunlight off of the television. Caitlyn, a most cherished friend, walked beside me as we headed home from our friend Marky the nihilistic punk rocker‘s place. People were always too damned quick to jump to the assumption that there was something romantic going on between her and I, but there wasn‘t. We were good friends, that’s all. The final day of school before Christmas break was thankfully over, so we decided to go out that night, although that wasn’t much of a deviation from our normal routine. We were together whenever we had the chance; the three of us were practically inseparable.
Caitlyn was a fairly short girl with somewhat long brown hair and deep brown eyes to match it. She had cute little freckles dotting under her eyes, and she wore one of her many trademark pairs of baggy jeans and a heavy brown jacket that didn’t do it’s job of keeping the cold out as well as it should, judging by her constant complaining. The city streets were about the same tonight as they always were; the drug dealers and whores stood around in their normal business positions suffering from the cold just like the rest of us. And they were out here every night. You‘d think they‘d be used to it. I could see the smoky breath coming from the mouths of all the street loiterers as they huddled close together in groups talking and smoking cigarettes under the flickering street lamps which, along with the bright headlights of the night cruisers, granted a hazy illumination to this unusually foggy night. We thought that the snow had died down, but now it was back in full-throttle, padding the sidewalks with a soft white sheet of velvet for us to walk upon. The only sounds that we heard were the gentle din of music coming from bars, the thumping of car stereos, tires treading slowly through the gray slush, and the patting of our own footsteps on the slush covered cement.
“It’s been a long walk,” Caitlyn said, “Let‘s sit down for a second.”
“Okay,” I replied, sitting down on a bench under a flickering streetlamp. None of the lights ever seemed to work properly here.
She stretched her arms tightly to her side and yawned openly. Some old person probably would have said that she could catch flies.
“Can I bum a cigarette?” she asked. I pulled the pack from my coat pocket along with my lighter, tossed one to her, and kept the other to myself.
“Thanks." She took her lighter from her pocket and lit it behind a cupped hand. The northern wind grew fierce while I lit my own and sat there on the bench watching the black cars drive by. I hated this city. I wanted to leave. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to see all the beautiful places they show on the Travel channel. I wanted to do something with my life. As long as I stayed in this city, I was limited to a life of wandering the streets and smoking cigarettes. There has to be more to life than that, and if there is, I want to experience it. Caitlyn tossed her finished butt onto the ground and hugged herself tightly. I could hear the chattering of her teeth.
“You ready to go?” I asked.
“Yeah, this cold is really getting to me,” she said. We walked onwards into the night, the increasing snow trying its hardest to slow our trek.
At the intersection, a young black woman sat upon a bench with a little girl in her lap all bundled up with a little stocking cap atop her round head. Cute little braids adorned with beads representing the entire spectrum of colour poked out from under that little pink cap. The girl giggled, but the woman had a forlorn and defeated look upon her face as she sat there holding that adorable little girl with a half-full grocery sack next to her; probably waiting on a taxi. A bus. Something. I really have no idea why, but they just seemed so... alive to me. I‘ve never really spent much time thinking about the emotions and feelings of others or looking at what makes them human, but this helped me see. I can’t really explain why this young woman and her little girl brought such an... indescribably profound feeling to me, but I then came to the realization that I wanted to write. I can‘t explain exactly why, but I don’t think I need to. I want to make people come alive on paper with my words. Real people living in a world composed of paper and words rather than atoms and molecules. A world that I created for them. It was naught but a chance meeting on the street corner, yet I’d never felt so sure about anything in my life before this very day. That was what I wanted to do with my life; travel the world and write. Maybe get a book published someday.
“What are you thinking about?” Caitlyn asked me, her soft voice breaking my trance.
I jumped with a start. “Oh... Nothing.”
“Why don’t we go to Mac’s and get something warm to drink?” she asked.
“Sounds good,” I replied, standing up and following her lead. The sheet of ice below the snow was an impediment, but we made it through intact.
Mac was a bitter old man, but he owned a convenience store on the corner and sold cigarettes to minors, so we liked him anyways. We walked into the well-lit store, both of us stomping our feet violently upon the little red welcome mat and shaking the caked snow off from our bodies. I removed my stocking cap and shook the wetness from it, shoving it forcefully into my coat pocket and rubbing my shaven head to warm up my numbed hands.
“What the hell do you kids want this late?” Mac asked. I said nothing and began filling up two small sized cups of mocha cappuccino. The warmth coming through the cup felt wonderful on my near frostbitten hands. I handed Caitlyn her cup, and I placed mine on the counter, and as I fished out the money to pay the old guy, I saw a man all garbed in black enter wearing a ski mask. Generally, the most common assumption one would make when they see a man wearing a ski mask entering a convenience store late at night was that he intended to rob the place. Taking the weather into account, I dismissed that thought as soon as it entered my head. He was probably just cold. That was what I thought until he pulled a .45 caliber revolver from inside his black jacket and shot Caitlyn through the head. I stood there frozen in a shocked stupor for a short time that seemed like eternity as the world just span uncontrollably around me before my brain actually processed the fact that one of my best friends lie dead upon the floor of a fucking convenience store. The reverberating echo from the gunshot rung repeatedly in my head, never relenting. I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t feel. I was numb. Mack didn't even seem to take notice; he just sat behind the counter smoking a cigar like nothing had happened. Blood seeped from the exit wound, and spilt cappuccino and various snack foods that the killer had knocked over surrounded her body. Mac, totally unfazed, somehow didn't even even seem to take notice to the fact that a man in a black ski mask had just entered his store, shot one of his customers, and ran out. Like it was invisible. A daydream. A hallucination,
“Aren’t you going to call the fucking police!?” I yelled at him. How could anyone be so damned blind? I don’t know, and I still don’t know now.
“What the hell is wrong with you, kid?” he growled at me, looking at me like I was some sort of delusional, “Get the hell outta my store or it‘s you I‘m going to call the police on!”
I ran out the door.
“Crazy bastard,” Mac muttered as I left.
I ran, hoping to find the man that shot her. I ran until my cheeks grew red with the sting of the frosty wind. I ran until every breath felt like a serial killer’s bloodstained knife being plunged repeatedly into my lungs. No sign of the man. Nothing. I entered the nearest telephone booth struggling to catch my breath as the tears froze onto my cheeks and I telephoned Marky.
The telephone’s continuous ringing taunted me. Every ring told me that no one gave a damn; he wasn’t going to answer. Every ring told me to give up; no one was home. Finally, I heard the assuring sound of a static-ridden dogged voice saying hello through the receiver. I hastily told him that I had something important to tell him. Too important for the phone. He told me to meet him at his house, and that is exactly what I did, not even bothering to hang up the phone as I left. Upon my arrival, he was already sitting in the driver’s seat in his ’67 Mustang with the door open blaring his favorite Exploited album on his stereo with a half empty bottle of beer in his gloved hand. The fingers were cut out. Marky had always been damn proud of that car of his. I have my license, but I don‘t have a car of my own. Marky was all decked out in a patched up jean jacket that obviously didn’t bar the cold along with a pair of ripped up bleached out jeans with worn knees showing his pale, hairy white skin beneath. His tall red mohawk lay in awkward positions atop his head, because I, apparently, had awoke him from his slumber when I called. It seemed as though he had been waiting for quite some time now, because a tall mound of cigarette butts had already accumulated upon the ground beneath where he sat.
“What’s up?” he asked me in a raspy voice as he rubbed his eyes.
“Man...” I said. I didn’t even know how to tell him. I think he sensed this when our eyes met.
“Get in the car,” he told me. I complied, sitting down on the cold vinyl seat which immediately sent shivers throughout my entire body. It would have been a damn nice thing if that car would have had a heater in it. Especially then. In the cold, it took a while for the damned thing to start, but it did, and that‘s all that matters. Before leaving first gear, Marky lit himself up a cigarette and offered me one. Too lazy to reach in my own pocket, I took it gratefully with thanks.
We drove a few blocks upon the slush-covered street, passing all the neon-lit bars and barred up pawnshops and whatever else this God forsaken city had to offer. Our vapor breath was fogging up the windshield, so we had to role down the windows so Marky could see to drive. When we were idled at a stoplight, he asked me the dreaded question.
“So what did you want to tell me?”
I ashed my cigarette out the window and turned the music down before I spoke, drawing a glare from him for touching his beloved stereo.
“Caitlyn... Caitlyn is... dead. She got shot at Mac’s,” I sniffled in an attempt to hold back tears. Marky looked forward at the road silently, seemingly mesmerized by the arc of luminescence produced by his headlights, as if he were preparing to say something.
“How?” he asked me, coldly. It was all he could say; I could tell he had more words hidden behind those secretive, contemplating eyes of his. Years and years of friendship made me understand that he was never one to show his emotions, no matter how bitter and angry, sad or anguished they may be. I’ve always been one of those types that always likes to talk about other people’s problems. Maybe in helping someone else, I can help myself forget that my problems are much the same. He never was one to tell me much, though.
“Some guy just came in and shot her, man...” I explained painfully, “You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but Mac didn’t even seem to notice. There wasn’t even a flinch on his fuckin’ face when the guy shot her!”
Marky looked at me with empty eyes.
I continued, the tears coming on stronger. At first, I was too stunned to feel. Too numb to even realize what was happening to me. It‘s like... It‘s like... I never even realized the breadth of what had happened until this moment. I mean, I’ve experienced the death of a loved one before, but I was too young to comprehend. When I look back upon it, I hate myself for my lack of emotion, but this was different.
She was gone, and I felt it. It may have taken until now, but I sure as hell felt it.
“It was almost like she wasn’t even there to him.”
“Did you call the cops?” he asked me.
“Fuck no I didn‘t call the cops... “ I sobbed uncontrollably, “When I saw Mac‘s reaction, I knew something was wrong. Something that the cops don‘t know shit about, man. There’s some incredibly fucked up shit going on, and I don’t understand it.”
“Me neither,” Marky said, shaking his head. I saw a lone tear cascade slowly down his cheek. I’d never seen that before from him. He wiped his running nose with a fingerless glove.
“I don’t think we should worry about that. Our friend is dead, and that’s all.”
After cruising around for a bit, we wound up in the park. In this whole damned city, the park had to be my favorite place. Even on the best of days, reality felt different there. There was just this... this totally insane, yet completely mesmerizing feeling of fullness and warmth that I felt when I walked amongst the trees in those woods; Like it was some other place. Tied in to some other world or something crazy like that. I loved it. I basked in that feeling of solitude; of separation when I went there. Even though my friends and I paid frequent visits to the park, I never took them into the woods. It was my secret place; mine alone. They never even expressed interest in it. I’d always found it overwhelmingly refreshing to experience the closest thing to nature one could possibly experience within the bounds of this city. All my life, I had never left this city. In those woods opposite the lake, I could almost feel like slums and skyscrapers didn’t surround me.
The park was empty, as usual. You would generally think that such a place would draw people, but it always seems so barren and empty. So desolate. Marky pulled a small baggie from his coat pocket and a package of rolling papers he‘d bought off of his friend at work. I wasn’t big on the shit, but I’d make an exception for this night. It isn‘t every night that one of your best friends is murdered by some random gunman and no one seems to notice or care but you and one other. I was anguished; we both were. He took small pinches of the green leafy substance and placed it upon the folded paper. He rolled it up and sealed it with a lick.
“Let’s go sit by the lake,” I said.
“Sure thing,” Marky replied.
There was a bench that sat so near to the lake you could almost dangle your legs over the half-frozen water. I wiped the snow off of it with my coat arm, making enough room for Marky and I to sit down without the body heat from our asses melting the snow and soaking us completely. He lit it up and inhaled deeply, holding it inside as long as he could before exhaling the smoke, which rose quickly into the frigid night air. He passed it to me. I took a large hit, coughing it up quickly, already feeling the tendrils of inebriation spreading outward from my lungs, slowly and blissfully overtaking my body further with every cough. A wise pot-headed friend once told me you get more fucked up when you cough, so I guess that’s a good thing. We smoked the whole joint between the two of us, and looked at the reflection of the stars on the lake. Marky looked up at the sky, straining to hold in his emotions. I had never seen the sky like this in the city before. Every star visible, and I could point out the constellations from this book I read as a kid.
“It’s damn beautiful,” he said, beginning to cry. I was at a loss for words, because in all our years of knowing each other, i had never seen him so blatantly show emotion.
“Yeah,” I said, looking up. The inebriation made me want to laugh, but I cried.
Seeing him cry... It broke something inside of me.
“She’s gone, man,” Marky said, “We’ll never see her again. We’ll never hang out after school together and listen to music. We’ll never drink ‘til we puke and play Mario. It’s fucking hard to take.” He punched the hard wood. It was as though I could hear the sound of his knuckles splitting open on impact. He released his fist, and made another, watching the blood seep from his cracked knuckles with a fixated gaze.
I didn’t know what to say. I just sat and looked at the sky.
“Y’know, you’re all I’ve got now,” I said to him.
“You too,” he said, pausing for a second.
“I’m getting fucking cold. Come stay at my place.”
Feeling that crazed tingle in my body, I walked with Marky back to the car. The ride back was silent; no words were spoken between us as angry punk rock anthems spewed from the car’s speakers. The energy of his music always made me feel good, but it wasn’t working tonight.
Marky was eighteen and he lived by himself. His family situation was never the best, so he got himself the best job he could and moved out as soon as he gained his emancipation. Home, to him, was a small, one-room apartment with punk rock posters and concert advertisements covering the walls and no furniture besides the mattress laying on the floor. A small television sat across from the bed with a Nintendo Entertainment System hooked up and his collection of Super Mario games strewn out across the floor. He had a stereo in the corner and with a toweringly large C.D. tower that held his rather substantial punk rock collection, and his guitar and amp lay on the floor beside his mattress. He played the guitar really well and always talked ecstatically about how cool it would be to get a band together and do local gigs and shit. He told me I could sing, but I suck. In the small kitchenette, there was a refrigerator full of beer and microwavable foods. He had friends at work old enough to purchase the beer for him, and we, all three of us, were always grateful for that benefit. I found it hard to admit to myself that there were only two of us now, no matter how hard I forcibly drilled it into my head.
“Go get us a couple beers, man. Enough for the night,” he said to me.
I walked into the kitchen and came back out with an armful. Five bottles for each of us. We spent the rest of that night listening to Marky’s collection of Bad Religion albums on his stereo, drinking, and playing all the way through the first three Mario games continuously. We played those games so damned much that it was a miracle if any of us ever actually died. It was all we could do to keep our mind off of Caitlyn, yet even that brought back the memories, for this was the first time we had ever really had one of our nights of drinking and video games without her here to cheer us on.
We didn’t sleep that night, and we weren’t tired the next day. A bit hung over, but not tired. I woke up and walked into the bathroom to take a piss. A long piss. Five bottles of beer can do that to you, ‘specially when you‘re a skinny guy like me. When I was finished, Marky had finished his Bad Religion marathon and started listening to his new Refused album he’d been raving about since he got it a few weeks back.
“I’m going to go cook up some ramen,” I said behind a yawn, scratching my stomach, “I’m hungry as hell.”
“I’m hung over,” Marky slurred, massaging his temples. “Let’s get stoned first, eh?”
I really didn’t want to. I’ve never been too much into the stuff myself, and Marky was only an occasional pothead. Caitlyn‘s death replayed itself in my head. Every miniscule detail.
Sadly enough, I could envision the very image of her lying dead on the floor with spilt cappuccino mixing with the puddle of blood and snack foods strewn randomly about the area surrounding her corpse decorating an album cover or something. A poster, perhaps. Convenience is Death. I gave myself a mental kick in the groin just for thinking about that. I‘m such a bastard, and I should be put to death as soon as possible. Extremely late term abortion. Marky had already prepared the doobage, so I sat down beside him and we filled the apartment with a smoky haze; the sweet reefer smell lingering in the still air.
Marky still sat on the living room floor playing Mario while I stood in the kitchen stoned off of my ass cooking up some Maruchan Instant Ramen Noodles. Bring water to boil, insert noodles, boil for three minutes occasionally stirring, add flavour packet, stir and enjoy. I had the directions down pretty well, if I must say so myself, although I always preferred to drain the water before adding the flavour packet. After an eternity, the two packets of chicken flavored ramen were finally finished. I opened up the silverware drawer, only to come to the startling realization that there were no forks.
“You don’t have any forks. How are we supposed to eat this!?” I yelled so he could hear over the blaring stereo and video game music.
“Use a fucking spoon!” he yelled back.
You can tell you are a bunch of stoners when you use a spoon to eat ramen noodles. I grabbed two spoons.
While devouring our ramen painstakingly with spoons, I had a strange notion.
“I have an idea,” I blurted randomly to Marky while chewing, mouth wide open. He looked up at me with bloodshot eyes.
“I say we call Caitlin's house and see what her mom says.”
Marky looked at me for a second, his face reeking of contemplation. He nodded his head. Affirmative.
I picked up his cordless phone that lay by his mattress and dialed.
I had her number memorized by heart, and her last name is Harrison. Okay.
“Hello?” the older female voice on the other end answered.
“Is Caitlyn there?” I asked hopefully.
“I don’t know no Caitlyn,” she said, her voice showing a hint of sadness, “You got the wrong number. I‘m sorry.”
“Wait!” I yelped desperately, “You are Ms. Harrison, right?”
“Yeah,” the voice replied through the phone.
“You have a daughter named Caitlyn and she just died. What the fuck is wrong with you!?” I yelled. I didn’t understand this. It is like nobody even knew she had ever even fuckin’ existed! The bitch hung up, and I threw the receiver across the room, the impact on the wall likely waking the entire complex. I shook my head negative, as though the outcome wasn’t already painfully obvious from my reaction. I walked over to the bar by the kitchenette and sat down with Marky to smoke a cigarette. It didn’t make me feel any better.
I looked at the way Marky was looking at everything. I knew exactly what he was thinking. Caitlyn sat in that chair last yesterday. Caitlyn was here last night in my house. Caitlyn had hung out here nearly every night, the three of us together listening to our different styles of music. Getting drunk and playing Super Mario... We were all saving up our money so we could pitch in for one of those new Nintendos so we could play the new Mario games. It was going to be so rad, but it’s all gone now. I knew he couldn’t even stand thinking about it. I had the insatiable and completely random urge to take him somewhere he’d never been. Someplace where there were no memories of Caitlyn. Someplace that might not even be of this world.
“Let’s go the park,” I told him, “I need to get out today.”
“Alright, let me go change my clothes” he said. All his clothes were in two boxes next to his mattress. He threw on a random combination of his punk rock garb, taking some time to fasten his leather jacket and lace up his standard issue military boots. He changed quickly, discarding his old clothes onto the floor in a heap. He didn’t mess with fixing his mohawk before he picked the car keys off of the table.
“I’m ready,” he said. It was the first time I’d ever seen him leave the house with his hair not perfectly sculpted.
I stood up and followed his lead out the door.
It was still dark, as always, and the moon cast it’s light upon the gently rippling water of the lake as we walked around the lake that morning heading toward the woods. There was a patch of unfrozen water where two pure white ducks that must have missed the call to fly south swam side by side pecking each other with their little orange beaks. My feet had grown so damned numb that I couldn’t even feel them landing upon the ground as I plodded through the foot high snow; the wetness traveled directly through my flimsy old canvas Converses.
“I’d always known there were woods back here, but I’d never really been there,” Marky said. If there were any other woods in this city, I would expect that they would be cluttered with hiking trails, benches, and people. This woods, however, seemed to draw me in, and repel all else.
The minute I stepped into the boundaries of the wood, I felt a revitalizing force move over me. Fullness and warmth. I could no longer feel the effects of the cold. I could still see the white breath like cigarette smoke leaving my mouth when I exhaled, but it felt like a comfortable room. The thick canopy of trees prevented most of the snow from reaching the floor of the woods, but the ground was still covered in a gentle, sparse layer of white satin.
“These woods are kind of creepy,” Marky said, “but I like it.” He looked upwards, viewing the moonbeams as they pierced the holes in the forest canopy, dimly lighting the area. Tall pines swayed back and forth as the bitter wind whistled through their branches, whispering soft lullabies to the white figures that seemed to dance in the shadows.
We walked onward, toward the clearing where I had always went since my young childhood. A small stream ran across our path, but it was frozen hard, making for an easy, yet slippery passage across. Marky lit up a cigarette as he walked. It had always been his ‘thing’ never to want to smoke while walking, but this time I could literally feel the sense of awe emanating from him. I could see it upon his face. He wanted to keep going. He wanted to see more.
The clearing came up. My hidden place. The place I’d never shared with anyone. Not him, not... Caitlyn. It felt as though we were united in some strange bond. I looked up, seeing the gray night clouds above me in the clearing. A circle of identical pine trees surrounded the clearing in a perfect circle, each one lifting it‘s needle fingers towards the heavens. I believed in God when I was here, and it felt as though I was looking Him in the face when I came here. Marky and I sat down facing each other on the ground with crossed legs, each of us taking the initiative to light up cigarettes. He busted out a previously rolled joint from his pocket.
“I rolled this up at home,” he said, “Figured we might want it.”
“Sure,” I said, and he lit it up.
“This place is beautiful,” Marky said, exhaling and passing it to me. “I never imagined something like this being here amidst this decaying urban jungle.”
“I really like it here,” I said, blowing my thick smoke into the sky. “I want to see more places like this. I want to leave this city. I want to see the world.”
“Then why don’t you?” Marky asked me.
“Have you ever heard of anyone leaving before?” I asked, because I knew that I hadn’t. Television, books, magazines... Those were the only link we ever had to this supposed outside world.
“I’ve never really thought about it, but I haven’t”
“I’m going to try,” I told him, “I have to.”
“I hope things work out for you,” Marky said, “I don’t really have any hopes or aspirations in life, so it’s good to see that you do.”
“Why not?” I asked him.
He took a hit and shook his head.
“I don’t know. I just feel like everything is going nowhere. I’ve never been about being a constructive member of society. I’m content living in a cheap apartment and eating instant foods all my life.”
“There is so much more than that, though,” I said. “I want to write books maybe. See the world. I want to be somebody. It may not be productive, but I’ll be doing what I want to do, and that is all that matters.” I passed it to him after my turn was up.
“I guess I see your point, but I don’t have the ambition for anything like that,” he said.
“What about your guitar?” I asked, “You could go somewhere with that. You could get a band together and spread a message through your songs. That would be something.”
“I don’t know,” he said, taking a hit and looking at the ground, “I just feel like I don’t care about anything anymore.”
“Is it because of Caitlyn being gone?” I asked.
“No,” he said, “That only added to it further. All my life, I have done nothing worthwhile. I don’t think I am capable of it.”
“You’re a cook now,” I said, “It may not be the most prestigious job, but if society didn’t have the people that ran the lower level jobs, it wouldn’t be able to function any longer. That‘s what I think, at least.”
He laughed, but it was bitter with mirth. “I’m sure society would still operate if busy businessmen couldn’t feed more fast food to their fat asses on their lunch breaks.”
“Why do you look down on everything?” I asked. We‘d never really had a conversation like this before, so I was treading in weird territory here. I really don’t know why I try to meddle, because I’m just as empty and full of self-doubt as anyone.
““I don’t know. I guess it’s my nature... Why are you... whatever way you are?” he countered in jest. I had no answer to this, yet I expected him to when I asked. Marky looked at me and laughed. He knew I was always quick to bring up the faults in others before I’d even look at my own. I guess it is just people in general, including myself, that I despise. I get overwhelmed looking at the faults of others to make up for constantly thinking of mine.
“I have to work tonight,” Marky said, “I don’t feel like it, but I don’t want to be homeless.”
“You do have ambition,” I said.
“Yeah, enough of it to keep me living with a roof over my head.”
We both chuckled at that, even though it wasn’t all that funny.
“So you’re ready to go?” I said disappointedly. I wished we could stay here and talk longer.
“Yeah, I guess,” he said, stretching his arms and yawning, “I’m tired now, and I don’t have any time to sleep before I go to work. And I‘m all bloodshot.”
“Yeah, maybe you should get some rest before you go,” I said, standing up and stretching.
Sometimes in the woods, it felt as though there were beings of white light everywhere. I could almost see them. I don‘t know whether or not I actually see them. Maybe I just sense them Maybe I’m insane. A paranoid delusional schizophrenic or something of that sort. Maybe everything that has happened is all some fucked up dream. I doubt it.
The parking lot was empty once more, with the exception of Mark’s red car with the white stripe on the sides. I bet there is some fancy name for that that a car enthusiast would laugh at me for not knowing, but I must confess my general ignorance of anything involving vehicles. I‘d never really thought of this before (maybe it‘s something we‘re not supposed to know), but Marky‘s car and my brother’s car seemed to be the only cars in this town that I’ve seen that weren‘t black. This whole town is full of strange occurrences, strange coincidences. There was a black car parked at the other end of the lot that I hadn‘t noticed before. A fancy type car... like a Mercedes or something. I really don’t know. One would generally find it rather normal that there would be a black car in the parking lot in a city where everyone drove black cars. It started moving. This wasn’t really all that suspicious, because that is what cars do: they move. It doesn’t take the brightest crayon in the box or some cliché phrase like for someone to realize a simple, basic truth. It was gaining speed. Probably just some speed junkie crazy driver or something. That is what I thought until the car sped at us, giving us little time to dive away. I made it, but Marky wasn‘t so lucky. I stood there stunned, with eyes gaping, looking at the car as it left the parking lot and blended in with all the other black cars on the busy road that led from the parking lot back into the jungle of skyscrapers and people. I could bet my fucking life on the fact that the driver of the car was the ski-mask bastard. He waved at me out the window. He fucking waved at me! I looked back down at Marky’s body, seeing his obliterated head splattered red upon the pavement. I couldn’t bare to look at this! I turned away, falling to my knees and looking up into the sky. If there was a God, He had forsaken me this day. Swallowing the bile that rose in my throat, I pulled a pen and a cigarette from my pocket. On that cigarette I wrote In Remembrance finely with the pen, and that was the last damned cigarette I ever smoked. My only friends are gone. Everything I ever cared for is gone, and I don‘t feel a thing. I hate myself for it, and I think it is perfectly safe, reasonable, and wholly feasible to say that these two days were the most fucked up days anyone has ever lived.
It’s Christmas Eve; A young man sits in a forest clearing. He takes one last look at the ring of trees organized in a geometrically perfect manner around him, and at this time, he feels the presence of the figures more strongly than he ever had in the past. He puts his pen away and closes the notebook he had just written in, stands up, and walks home. He has nothing now, both his friends are gone. Both the friends that were the only reason why he hadn’t ran away already. He loves them, and he misses them, but he also feels liberated, for now, there is nothing to hold him back. Nothing worth staying for. He stands up and walks home, taking in the feel of the woods one last time, knowing that he will most likely never see them again. It doesn’t upset him, though, because outside of the city, there would be a whole world for him to discover and explore on his own. He looked forward to finding new secret places; places he could sit and write a book or something. Places where he could be alone and happy. Marky and Caitlyn would never leave his mind, though, and he wouldn’t want them to.
He goes home; His brother is home, but his father is at work. His father is usually too busy at work to give a damn about the kids, and when he gets home he’s too tired and grumpy to even say hello. He just plops himself down on the bed and sleeps, setting the alarm for the next workday. His brother sleeps soundly upon the couch, and the car keys to his blue Nissan lay atop the coffee table. He, also, is too proud of his car, for he spends so much on the payments that he hasn’t been able to move out yet and he’s twenty-three. The young man picked up the keys silently; his ticket out of here. He never much fancied himself a car thief, but he was leaving no matter whether his brother woke up and tried to stop him or not. His mind had been long set.
Snatching the keys, he left. His brother didn’t even hear it or suspect it in his deep, snoring sleep. He unlocks the car and starts it up, pulling out onto the road and heading towards the highway. The interstate spreads out before him, full of black cars driving about their daily errands, whatever they may be. Intimidating towers rose over him, looming like gods. He felt as though they‘d collapse and devour him, but he wouldn‘t allow that to happen. He’s been driving all of his life, but never has he felt this liberated. This free.
The city buildings begin to dwindle and decrease in size the further he drives with the petal to the floor; the speedometer steadily rising, but the limit is 70. He pays it no mind as he swerves through the traffic with the wipers on to deflect the oncoming snow. As he pushed forwards, cutting through any obstacle that impeded his goal, he began to see grass poking through the coat of snow. He sees the country. The last of the suburban wasteland dwindles, leaving naught but random strewn out housing divisions. He had never been this far out of the damned place in his life! The road eventually merged into two lanes, and the last of the housing divisions gave way to gently rolling prairie. It is still dark, but he can see the face of the sun peeking over the white horizon. It looks just like it does on television! His headlights light the windy road ahead of him, and the driving is still unsafe due to the slickness of the accumulated snow and the development of ice upon the roadway. Headlights came toward towards him, probably just oncoming traffic. Perhaps a person is coming from the country into the city. Something like that. It had to be... What else could it be? He can’t think of a reasonable excuse for someone to want to return, but it can‘t be anything else that he knows of. The black car veers into his lane. Swiftly approaching, he panics and loses control. It’s all going so fast; he doesn’t know what to do. There really is nothing he can do when two cars are advancing upon one another at such velocity. He hardly even hears the violent clash of the impact before he’s dead, the car in the gutter and his body mangled amongst the smashed frame of the vehicle.
At least he had the chance to see a proper sunrise before he was freed from his existence.
It‘s Christmas Eve and Ms. Harrison watches her television alone. She wishes she had a family to share the spirit the season with, but that‘s just an unattainable dream she shouldn‘t even bother herself thinking about. It’s almost as though she is destined to be alone with nothing but her television to keep her company. She had once dreamt of having a daughter... They were pleasant, lovely dreams, but unattainable nonetheless. She would have named her Caitlyn. It was such a beautiful name. She had always thought so. She never really pays attention to what channel the television is on; she just likes the sound. It’s strangely comforting when you’re alone. The news is on now, normally something she wouldn’t pay attention to, but the subject catches her interest. Perhaps people watched the news to fulfill some deep-seated desire to know the misfortune of others. To know that there was chaos in the world. The African female reporter spoke of a one-man car accident just outside the city that showed heavy signs of a front-end collision. No other car was found, so they figured that he crashed into a tree, yet none of the trees show any signs of a collision. The car is empty, and they have began a search for the missing passenger.
Ms. Harrison couldn’t really give a damn, so she pops some pills, hoping before she passes out that she’s taken enough to knock her out so she won’t have to experience another Christmas alone.
It’s Christmas morning; a man in his early twenties who lives alone with his father prepares for work. He isn’t overly fond of the idea, but he doesn’t have much of a family to share the holiday with anyways, so it’s no big loss, and a little extra money to line his pockets wouldn’t hurt at all. His father is sitting at the table in his underwear reading the newspaper, because he worked today as well.
“Merry Christmas, dad,” the man says.
“You too, son.”
He’d always missed the days when mom was around. Back when they actually celebrated Christmas together. He pours himself a bowl of Frosted Flakes and sits down at the table with his dad.
“I wish that Mom was still around,” he says.
His father shakes his head and places the newspaper down atop the table, pouring himself a bowl of cereal as well.
“I sure miss her,” his father says.
“I just miss being a family,” the young man says between bites. “I’ve always dreamt of having a younger brother. Someone that would look up to me.”
They silently finish their cereal, and the kid rinses his plate out and sets it in the sink. He’s already dressed, so he grabs his keys off of the table and makes his way out the door, not entirely ready for the long day of work ahead of him.
(February 9th, 2004, 4:14 pm)
This story is really gripping, and makes me want to keep going right on through. It's really great.
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