it’s early in the morning. but we are late. i am late. i have to be somewhere. anywhere. not here. i desperately want to leave. but i can’t go alone. i can’t leave without them. maybe if i wait in my car, they’ll take the hint and hurry things up.
and so i wait. hoping they’ll notice my absence. search for me. their search leading to the car. my car. or at least i think its mine. they’ll get in and we can get out of here.
and so i sit. back seat. mind racing. no leg room. no head space. no room to sit up straight. no room to think straight.
waiting feels like an eternity. and waiting is an eternity. i am eternally waiting. waiting for the next thing. escaping the present. anticipating the future. living in the past. my brain is scattered. and i am waiting for the pieces to find each other.
they open the door. get in the driver’s seat. we’re ready to go. and then. the friend. takes their place. the new friend. they picked him up while i was waiting. this friend is not my friend. this friend is their friend. and this friend is a stranger to me. we do not speak the same language.
the friend asks for a ride. where to? they aren’t sure. they aren’t from here. unfamiliar with the area. they’re only visiting. and they want a ride. i am bitter toward the friend because the friend has no sense of direction. i don’t want to help them. i want to get to where i need to be. wherever that may be.
why is the friend driving? how did this happen? this is my car. are they going west? north? certainly not east. certainly not where i’m headed. and they can’t go south because we are already headed north. we can’t turn around.
i’m using my energy to fuel my car and he’s taken the wheel. he’s driving like a maniac. i can’t even see where we’re going. does he even know? his head is blocking my view. so i close my eyes and wait.
we continue north. i guess we’ll take this highway till we hit the crossroad. we’ll get rid of the friend so we can go east. and they can go west. we’ll drop him off at the airport.
when i open my eyes, we are driving over a lake. a flooded lake. people are living out of boats on this lake. i thought we were on the highway that takes us to the airport. i take this highway every day and have never seen this massive lake. has the lake always been here and i’m just now noticing? or are we on a different highway, heading into the unknown. i panic. where is he taking us?
we reach the end of the highway. and we’re at the airport. the airport is a beach. sandy and dry. and we are no longer in my car. the car has dropped us off and has driven away without us. and i don’t think it’ll ever come back.
i feel abandoned. alone. lost without my car. but i should have known. the car was only temporary. the car never cared about me. it was only a vessel. taking me where i need to be. but i’m in the wrong place. there has to be some type of mistake.
i guess i’ll wait. comb the beach for interesting objects to pass the time. and there are plenty of interesting objects here. washing up onto shore. rocks. tumbled glass. beautiful distractions.
i want to collect them. to feed this innate compulsion to acquire things. not really thinking about it. just doing. i reach out into the sand and a wave crashes over my hands. the tide is rising. the sky is misty and grey. everything is grey. even the water.
i run away from the water. it’s coming for me fast. my feet are sinking into the sand in this attempt to flee. the ocean wants to swallow me.
but i escape. just in time. i get off the beach. through the bushes and on to a gravel road. i hear noises. distant clatter. some. bodies shuffling in the bushes. i thought this place was deserted. but they live here. on the fringes of society. chased away from the concrete structures. how many are there? what will they look like?
they never come out of the bushes. i go in. a hidden colony. is this my new home? i hope not. i don’t look like these people. they don’t look like people. they have no identity. only a few still look like people. the new ones. the ones who have been here longer have white hair and greying skin. and the oldest ones are completely grey. hairless and naked.
the longer you stay here, the more you blend in with the grey. nobody seems to notice me despite my appearance. i’m sure i stand out. i am the fresh meat.
an alarm sounds. drums beating. echoes muffled by the sand. somehow, we all know where to go. what to do. lay down and close your eyes. don’t you dare open them. don’t you dare move.
the drums pound through my chest. we’re waiting for someone or something terrifying. waiting for it to come out of the bushes and inspect us. this creature is hungry. i’m so overwhelmed by this new environment that i have no room for fear. i am surprisingly calm.
the creature comes in through the bushes. he has arrived. the moment we’ve been waiting for is here. he has long white hair and is wearing a blue uniform. slowly pacing through the crowd. a mist falls down upon us.
our eyes remain closed. curtains shut. a screen commanding me to clap my hands is projected onto the darkness of my eyelids. i obey. i hear others clapping along. but not everyone. not the person next to me. they are silent. they are still. and they go limp. i hear a thud. they get dragged out of the bushes by this creature.
we can open our eyes now. everyone is so glad it’s over. so glad he is gone. i look around and notice that the others seem to be traumatized. but not me. perhaps i’m in shock. too much information coming at me at once. no time to process it. or maybe i’m immune.
we gather in a circle as a woman hoses us down. urgently washing the mist from our skin. white fuzz begins to grow from their faces. soft white fuzz.
am i growing this fuzz? what does my face look like? did i get sprayed? am i even here?