short story i had to write for a Graduation Project/Creative Writing Course. Teacher loved it....let me know what you think..
The sun was setting now. Or was it rising? I was only conscious that I was lying on the cold metal hood of the 1992 Ford Mustang, a black machine adorned with thick stripes of gold rivers, seen only by a bird’s eye, down the length of the car. The icy steel was a comfortable contrast to the desert’s summer night.Staring off into the infinite beauty of the sky, I was mesmerized; pink flamingos swirled through orange roses, the thorns cutting into the pollution’s flesh, spilling crimson blood across the azure dreamscape, blending into wisps of saffron and double-helix ribbons of heliotropes and amethysts. I had driven all day and there was practically no gas left in the tank, so I was saving its transport until I was ready to return to sanity and have some sense of direction and motivation. That’s all I could remember, driving, driving, and then wham! …desert and nirvana consumed me.
I jumped off the hood of the car, trying to not lose sight of the sky’s immense perfection, and walk to the passenger’s door; takes me a little while to fumble with the handle but I get it open, then I fumble some more in the backseats and find the zipped up gym bag. My hands sweat as they work with the zipper, until its intimidating teeth are staring at me hungrily. Now I have the pair swimming through the deep waves of a change of clothes, searching…searching. Finally, I grasp a small, glass vial—the pearl from the sea. I also grab a plastic disposable razor and a smallish pocket mirror from out of the bag.
I lay these treasures out on the passenger’s dashboard; I am the only passenger. Life had gotten too much to handle back at “home.” It was time to get away—this was the start. I watch myself through the mirror—a monster lost in a life of chaos and the unknown—as I unscrew the top to the vial, full of what seemed to be solid milk. I pour all of the ‘milk’ out onto the reflective surface; it’s more of a powder than milk—pixy’s dust. My hands are rough and calloused; they work quickly and routinely helping my body feed its craving. They struggle a bit with ripping apart the razor, separating the plastic from the scarily sharp metal—I haven’t actually shaved in weeks. Using the razor, I hack at the mounds of snow or pixy dust; I can’t remember what it was two seconds ago. Now there are streaks of them across the mirror, like gunpowder running in rows upon rows upon rows. There’s a piece of paper on the dashboard, next to my workspace, and I snatch it hastily. At the top, it reads: New Year’s Resolutions, but that’s all that’s written; I suppose for a fleeting moment that this is my resolution. I roll the paper up into a long, hollow straw and lean up closer to the mirror. My fingers are shaking, but they manage to press the roll to the edge of a row. The other end is in my nose…I breathe.
Fuck! It burns. It burns so bad—I always forget this part. But I’ve also known that paradise only follows sacrifice, and it’s only momentary—one of the few truths of the Bible. I move from one row to the next, barely pausing in between; use it all now, and then there won’t be any more—but that’s exactly what I want, I want to stop—my dreams are my reality and my reality, my dreams. It’s unbearable. That’s the plain fucking truth.
Warping out of reality again, I catch a glimpse of memory. It is a woman—my Lady Madonna. Even the brief image in my mind’s eye instills a flooding in my face’s eyes, traveling down across the creases in my face. She was the only one I truly ever did love; I remember it wasn’t even that long ago—hours maybe— I tried to have her run away with me. I thought she loved me just as much as I did her; we were perfect together. But maybe that’s why she was screaming at me. I had truly metamorphosed into a breed of Mr. Hyde, and I was completely conscious of this change, but I was just as much out of control. This angel loved me so much that she couldn’t bear to see me like this— she wouldn’t do it. I remember telling her to forget planning for the party for the next day; I had our own champagne in the car. She thought I was insane. At this moment, I peer into the backseat; it’s still there, unopened, with two of those red plastic cups leaning up against it.
With this sin of artificial heaven, comes blasphemous hunger. I reach under the passenger seat and pull out a bucket of fried chicken that I was smart enough to pick up as I flew the corrupted society that had discreetly surrounded me—ambushed by guerrillas that had lost their sense of individuality. Everybody was wrong, their vision of reality so distorted. That’s why I first started doing this to myself, to see what their problem was—but they were all born like this, or that was my understanding at least. Humans couldn’t understand, couldn’t bring themselves to honestly understand and accept, that reality wasn’t for them—no matter how much they manipulated their surroundings, they could never transcend the experience of humanity in all of its boundaries—we weren’t gods.
In the bucket of chicken is a toothbrush, a weird combination, but I figured it was probably my doing at some point. I don’t bother with any details, the starvation is manifesting; my stomach feels like it’s eating itself. As I eat the mediocre foodstuffs, I look up at the sky, the magnificent colors calling to my eyes.
But instead, all that I can see is chaotic silver glints of metal scattered for eternity, displayed on an infinite black emptiness. I am confused and I am angry. Shit! I must be dying, this…is the end. I’m sorry for myself; I could’ve lived such a better life, I was supposed to fix things after today. Hell was behind me, and now I’ve come full-circle. I keep anticipating my final moment, when do I finally stop thinking—can’t be now…still thinking. What is happening? Why is this happening!? I drop the bucket. Artificial chicken rolls everywhere; I look down at the mess and see a snake kissing into my leg, filling its mouth’s open cavity. Funny, I don’t recall feeling the pain that is now akin to that of a thousand bee stings in one solitary moment. The bottom of my jeans are soaked all the way through, but it’s sticky and…not water. There’s no water in the desert.
I’m in the desert! My heart is pounding. I look down and see a snake coiled up next to me, a golden, shrunken serpent—a goddess come to rescue me. I look up and realize it’s nighttime—stars strewn across the sky, all focused around a large, bullion sphere of immense beauty. There’s fried chicken all over the ground. The passenger door is open. What the fuck happened? I feel light headed and…there’s the smell of fresh blood as I lay down. Maybe this is the end…if it is such, I take great comfort in knowing that it doesn’t hurt and, well... this would be a beautiful death, a romantic ending. I smile, and close my eyes.
I'm being pulled— ripped in two. Something is physically removing my state of being from the comfortable gravity of my subconscious; the reality—or surreality as it is—is summoning me. Though...I can't seem to summon my senses. All I am is a single car in a train of thought, suspended in nothingness. If I try to see, there's only a blackness of infinite depths...darker than fear itself, but oddly, I'm unafraid. And through my ears I hear the soothing sounds of the ocean that would pour out of the likes of a conch shell, grooving into the nothing, completing the ambiance. I wonder if this might be death; a collage of pseudo-senses that deceive my sanity— though the olfaction does not seem to be present at all, providing no further clues.
Then, almost sounding far off, there are shrieks of caw-caws. I picture hulking beasts with ugly heads and sharp talons, balancing themselves with oblong platforms protruding from their sides; the word for this creature eludes me. The pulling continues and the shrieks…draw closer...
Bright light pierces the darkness and extinguishes the images running in the darkness of my mind. The sudden contrast from dusk to dawn antagonizes my head with spikes of sharp, red pain. My eyes zoom in and out of focus like an inexperienced cameraman at work, but eventually my vision becomes clear and I am staring up at a clear blue sky. My other senses focus on their familiar settings— I am staring up into this electric blue sky and lying on my back, on the ground. There are massive vultures circling around me keeping a short, tentative distance and soft breezes kick up the desert sand. I lift my head to get a better hold on my surroundings and present state.
The birds scatter and begin to slowly disperse, disappointed that their breakfast must be found elsewhere. There's an empty fried chicken bucket on its side, rolling circles in the wind. What's left of the chicken is scattered all across the ground; it seems the vultures don't mind feasting upon their cousins as long as the cannibalism sustains their intentions to survive another day. My Ford is parked off to the side of the road, straddling the blacktop and creamy sand, looking like the Angel of Death gleaming in the hot sun. I can also see that the passenger door is completely swung open, but I can only wonder what exactly took place from the time I left town to…now…
I decide to take further inventory and move to push myself off the ground as if to stand. But as I go through these motions, I find an odd sensation, or lack thereof, in my right leg. I lift my head and look down the length of my body. The bottom of my jeans are soaked through— heavy and sticky. Instantly, the smell of blood reaches my nose and tells all. I vaguely remember a golden snake, a probable cause for a lame, bloodied leg. I crawl and squirm a bit to position myself next to the car, and from there, I pull myself upright against the machine. Reality begins to take hold, thoughts are rushing through my mind, overflowing— I can feel them overflowing out of my ears and eyes.
Champagne...in the car...better than nothing. I move quickly, panicked, and lean over the passenger seat into the back of the car and grab the cool, glass bottle. I also grab a shirt out of the gym bag.
Out of the car, I quickly unwrap the foil at the top of the bottle and pop the top off. The popping echoes infinitely, ringing in my head. I take a few long swigs and set the bottle down on the ground. The sun is so hot—I feel its rays flogging my back as I take off my shirt and roll up my pant leg. I sit down and pour almost all that’s left of the champagne onto my leg1 caked in blood. Using my old shirt, I spread the alcohol over the wound and watch the blood soften and melt into the ground.
Fuck! It burns. It burns incredibly—I hadn’t anticipated this; the alcohol was working to clean the wound. But it’s getting the job done, so I keep going. I throw the dirtied shirt into the backseat and pull a clean, lightweight tee over my head. My leg is still paralyzed, but I decide to try driving back the way I came to get some help.
Inside the car, I feel powerful. I make this heavy machine fly down the dirt road. Cacti wave in the wind, pointing me back home— as I race by, they swirl into patches of green, suspended and floating in the cyberspace all around me. As the vehicle exhausts its supply of fuel, I seem to physically reabsorb the gasoline and let it fuel my intense energy. Barreling down the road, I think I am getting closer and closer. I see an odd form on the horizon—unmoving; I don’t slow down. Dust is blowing in through the window and I blink. Suddenly the shape that was ahead of me was right before me, on the road, and not the horizon—I swerve off the road, my heavy leg refusing to move off the pedal.
I zoom through the green, subhuman bystanders, losing the battle for control over the vehicle’s immense power. I manage to roll my foot off the pedal and onto the floor of the car and use my good leg to hit the brakes—swerving and tearing up tornadoes of sand as I finally come to a stop. There’s no question the car’s a little beat up by this point, but there wasn’t much I could do; I was probably out of gas by now anyway. I shut off the engine and look in the rearview mirror to try and determine what that thing was on the road. Well…curiosity killed the cat; satisfaction brought him back…I open the door and step into the wall of settling sand.
The grainy silhouette is ahead of me. I have difficulty in trying to identify its form. My leg is still fucked up, so I’m freaking limping across the desert over to some piece of shit I have no clue about—brilliant. The limping makes the trek seem like an eternity—I watch my shadow grow as the sun gently sails off, into the night. I squint for an instant trying to will my eyes to see through the whirling sand and dimming sun, and in an instant I am standing right before a junkyard. It’s the dirt road.
Two cars mashed together, this coagulation forms one large heap of shrapnel. I can smell burning—rubber, leather, and a few others. Shattered glass is everywhere—just by looking upon this catastrophe, I feel queasy with the thoughts of my arm scraping against the damage. It looks like the end of an intense battle.The two cars collided head on, pitted against each other; there were no skid marks. I saw no bodies from my standpoint, so I continue to move around this awful…masterpiece.
As I turn around the trunk of one car—the one facing the direction I had been going—I begin to hear a faint groaning. My heart rate picks up, and I walk a little faster; this can’t be good.
Hanging out of the front, passenger door is the head and torso of some humanoid— gender is indiscernible. I step closer tentatively and rest my hand gently on the creature’s back—no reaction. I move around to the other side, to see its face.
It is a man. An old withered, Indian man. He’s dying; I can’t tell if he senses my presence or not. His face is pained yet calm; he knows that he is dying—accepts it—but cannot escape his physical binding soon enough. The poor man can barely open his eyes, but he lifts his head in direct line with mine and begins to speak softly. There’s an obvious, intended rhythm to his words and I realize they are incantations. As he speaks he slowly lifts his hands up by his neck and pulls a curious pendant out of his shirt; it’s a dreamcatcher.
I watch him move through time, slowly…deliberately. And he’s still speaking through all this. I wonder where this man could be pulling his energy from. He pulls the dreamcatcher up, over his head, and in one fluid motion, places it around my neck. I don’t even flinch, accepting his endowment. But, I do realize that after kneeling for what has got to have been twenty, long minutes, my good leg has fallen asleep.
I stand up straight, feeling the uncomfortable tingling in my leg, and try and walk the circulation back into it. As I’m pacing, the man’s chanting is getting louder. I look over and his hands are opened up to the sky— the sun is shining down upon him…eerily. I’m trying to take this whole scene in, make sense of what is going on. My damned paralyzed leg doesn’t help any as my pacing back and forth is more of a pathetic limping.
Suddenly, the man stops.
His eyes are open now, and all at once, he slumps against the ground—dead. Clouds swarm the sky and consume the sun. The tingling feeling that was in my leg is all through my body—I fear what is happening; I fear the unknown.
I don’t have any idea what I’m feeling—it’s not pain, but it’s not comfortable. Out of helplessness, I fall prostrate to the desert ground. The tingling does not let up—in fact, it only intensifies. I close my eyes…
Suddenly, I’m not in the desert anymore.
I feel like I am awakening from a deep, enchanted slumber. I realize I am, in fact, lying down, my face floating upwards to the surface of the shallow sky. The sun is bright and overwhelming, but after a couple of blinks, my pupils adjust. It seems I’m still in the desert, surrounded by the sea of green tridents and creamy grains of sand—Neptune’s Uprising. White whirlpools adorn the sky, summoning the kings of the sea—and waves of light crash down.
I sit up and try to grasp my present environment. First thing I notice is I’m at the rear of my car—deep black, and eclipsing the foreground of the sky. Its passenger door is completely ajar and there’s pieces of fried chicken scattered all around the front end. There’s also a bottle of champagne on the ground a little further down the road. Confused, I instinctively scratch my head, trying to dig into my memory and will it to recall what really happened. I come up with nothing, but the next thing I feel is a lack of feeling in my right leg. It’s stiff and heavy—immobile—and my shoes are a little bloody.
It seems that everything was a bit of a dream of sorts. The car is exactly how it was before I had “driven” it and I vaguely remember walking easily with both legs, just before my awakening. What of the Indian man? What of the car crash?
I decide to stand up and take further inventory, propping myself against the foundation of the car. As I begin to leave the ground, my neck feels heavy as well, just like my leg, but not exactly unmoving. Now standing up, leaning against the car, I try to roll my neck around to loosen any tension in the muscles. It feels good, but that weighted feeling is still there.
Slowly—curiously—I lift my hand to my neck, groping around for anything. There!I feel it! There is a piece of thin cloth around my neck. When I pull gently on this string, the weight subsides substantially. Now using both of my hands, I pull the string around, anxiously, looking for the source.
My heart is racing…I feel clammy and pale. The weight on this string is a pendant…a dream catcher. A perfect, organic circle intertwined magnificently with thousands of dark dreams, ancient memories, and even condemned souls. The feathers at the end blow in the gentle breeze and the wood and stone beads glint in the sunlight—winking at me. I put the Indian voodoo art back around my neck and rest coolly on the side of the car. I try to clear my mind, make sense of things. My long hair blows in the wind. I look up to the sky, where the gods would be watching…and I wink.