Three years later.
Alright, so that update took a bit longer than expected. Not because I haven’t been writing–more so than ever, actually–but because I’ve been focusing on other literary pursuits and regrettably forgot about this blog. Until a $120 bill served as a thankful reminder. Putting a monetary value on something can be quite motivating.
While I’m very much focusing on longer writing pursuits, I will once again rekindle this blog. I’ve said that before and failed. This time, I’m far more focused on writing, far more motivated with life in general, and in a better mental state overall. This time, if I’m being true to myself, I mean it.
Short post today, while continuing the short-lived tradition of including parts of Autumn’s Song. We continue where we left off, a meager thousand or so days ago.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more.
He drives for hours and the road is straight, and sometimes it is not, but always his car is alone and trees run on both sides, endlessly and seamlessly. He gets out and stretches and relieves himself on the roadside. His supplies sit in the backseat from door to door. Bottles of water roll across the stained red carpet. Cans on the worn black leather. He isn’t hungry or thirsty but eats and drinks just to say he did, to say he’s caring for himself.
He cannot endure silence for long, before he must stop and leave his car and hear the silence outside. It’s of a different sort, natural and one he’s accustomed to. The world was born silent, and it will die silent. His father, he thinks, died screaming because he knew he was dying. Maybe it’s best not to know, to just slip away.
Driving, he thinks too much, far more so than when he walks, or eats, or dreams, or sleeps, or does anything else. Driving, all he can do is think, and it’s worse here, where the road is unnaturally straight, as if an enormous ax descended from above and cleaved through the trees.
He can see forever in only two directions, and there’s nothing to see. Maybe this is all that’s left of the world. Green Lanes, a straight road, and on the other end of that road, nothing. Or Green Lanes again. Maybe the road continues forever in silence. Maybe the road will stretch on forever, until leaves bury it.
It begins to rain. Warm rain on a chilly day. It starts slowly, timidly, before picking up. He enters the car and shuts the door, starts the engine and hears the doors lock automatically. He turns the dial and the windshield wipers wipe the windshield. At least there’s sound now.
The rain washes away so much.
He drives until reaching a gas station, and beside the gas station, a tavern. The Resurrection Fern, reads the wooden sign swaying in the wind. A strange name for a tavern, or bar, whatever it is, and he sees no ferns nearby. Just trees, and even they have stopped a hundred or so feet behind him: a perfectly straight line where trees meet overgrown grass. But no ferns.
Weeds sprout from cracks in the cement. He sits in his car, headlights on the weeds and gas pumps and tavern side. Shutters over the windows, not a single light to be seen. The gas station consists of only two pumps and a building barely larger than his car. The red and white sign—GAS—lays against the building. The door is shut, the sign reading Closed. Posters inside press against the windows. Free hamburger with the purchase of four hamburgers. The best juice on earth—Juicejuice. Vanish, and you will be found. Silent observer, silent admirer, hear the music of life and speak, speak! Fine cigarettes and cigars and tobacco gum-Now chew it anywhere! He is watching.
He shudders. He doesn’t know who’s watching, but the sign insists that someone is. A menacing sign, the words dripping black on a white background. What sort of man puts that sign up in his business? He is watching. Who? And what, exactly, is he watching? He shifts in his seat, wonders if he’s being watched right now. He doesn’t feel another pair of eyes, doesn’t see anyone peering out of the windows. But it’s dark outside—dark enough to hide anything. An overcast night just like the day, stars nonexistent as a gray blanket covers everything. Fog hovers inches above the cement; headlights cut through it, adding dimension.
“Hear the music of life, and speak, speak,” he says to himself. “Silent observer, silent admirer.” Such unconnected signs, their meaning lost to him. “Don’t be so silent, please.”
He waits for a long time before leaving the car; he locks it behind him, but not before retrieving his knife from the backseat.
He could be watching.
The gas station is locked, but he expects this and solves the problem the same way he always does. Bricks and stones or something hard. This time it is a tire iron leaning against the building. It shatters the glass with ease, almost magically, as shards shower through the darkness, sounding like rain against the concrete. Not soft rain, and this glass does not glisten in the sun. It is night, and night is sunless.
He unlocks the door and pulls it open, turns on the flashlight and steps inside. He remembers gas stations from years ago, the candy bars and sodas and chips and cigarettes and gum. He’s not sure what should surprise him more: that the gas station is still stocked or that he recognizes nothing. Candy is still candy and chips still chips, but the brands are foreign. Zoozoos and Humpys and Barnacles Bars! and Cool Awesome Ranch Extreme are all new to him, and there’s dozens more. So much has changed. There are too many flavors of water. Chocolate water, tobacco water, caramel-toffee water, caloric and sugary yet somehow still water.
Of all the things he loads into his car—many hundreds over a span of hours, more than he can ever eat but it’s here for the taking so why not?—he does not take the flavored water. He ransacks the coolers—warm now—but those waters he leaves alone.
Tired from the trips back and forth, even when he pulls his car directly beside the gas station, he sighs and sits on the hood, questioning his actions and reasons for any of it. He will not starve, but gas will not last forever and he can’t figure out how to make the pumps work when electricity is a thing of the past. When he leaves his car, when the gas runs out, he will be leaving a treasure trove as well. A despairing thought—so much wasted time and energy.
He approaches the pumps, stares at them so silent and lightless. They don’t even smell like gasoline. The nozzles are dry, and as many times as he presses down on the clasps, nothing comes out. An ocean of gasoline beneath this earth. Perhaps if he had a drill. A very big drill.
He parks the car in front of The Resurrection Fern. The door is not locked. A good thing, since this door is of thick wood and not likely to shatter.
He enters and is immediately dizzied, jarred by some unseen force, surrounding and invading. He takes two steps and slips to one knee. Flashlight rolls across the floorboards, the single beam of light, so faint, terminating on the jukebox in the far corner.