Hunched over the wheel, five thirty in the morning, and the red blur of the tail lights is like a fire in my mind. And the rain only stifles this flaming fear, covering it with a useless pitter patter and a steaming hiss in my ear.
Nightmares work continually in the back of my mind while I shakily cling to the familiar habit of driving. I sit precariously on a fence, a yawning abyss behind me, and a familiar world sitting prettily before me. I love the familiar world that sits before me, and yet it treats me with a rough disinterest; it cares not for my predicament and completely denies the existence of the abyss beyond the fence.
The sun lightens the cold sky, and the people I pass seem so content and so oblivious. If only they knew what horrors lived in their very own world. And still I drive.
Soon, as the sun is over the hills and the world begins to mock the darkness of my thoughts, I begin to watch the fuel level fall. As the needle falls, my anxiety begins to rise. Do I stop for gas or do I stop for good?
I decide to pull from the highway as the needle fingers the empty. A shaky reasoning tells me that I will fall asleep if I continue, but sleep is the furthest thing from my mind. But I go with this simple solution, and decide to stop for good.
I roll slowly down the street, my eyes gazing from side to side as I wonder if I can ever truly stop the vehicle. Is there an end to this nightmare? The answer does not shine with any cheer, but I soon find an end to the driving in the back parking lot of a fastfood restaurant.
I step from the vehicle and kiss the morning air. Where the hell am I?
I stretch my legs. I walk around the vehicle twice, shake my shoulders, and then lean on the hood. What now?
I look up at the sky; it has finally run dry. I regard the mountains in the distance; they are unfamiliar and meaningless.
Finally, as time doubles over, I look across the parking lot, past the dumpsters, across the street, through the hedge, and into the narrow tip of a sniper rifle.
And what comes next is a painfully slow realization as my eyes widen, my mouth splits open, and my lungs fill with what could be my last breath. And all this seems to happen in twice the time necessary for me to dive out of the way. But my limbs are like honey.
And somehow, the moment holds. And then, as slow as a drip of blood, the tip slowly rises to the sky and the whole gun crumbles to the ground. And then my feet hit the ground, and I'm gone. I leave the car for dead. I leave the fallen sniper for dead. And I leave the sniper's killer for himself. I want nothing to do with him.
Hedges, railings, steps, open streets and sidewalks, I run through it all and more before I hear the deathly hum of a following vehicle. The job must be done. They're back.
I dodge across a playground, but a stab of fear and guilt hits me. I leave the children's place behind. I would rather die than fight in such a setting. Children--they have a right to be ignorant for the world they live is real. My world is real too...but it is one of life and death and struggle. The two must not mix.
I lunge down a blind alley and through a market place. Too many people! I dart across a busy road and up a hill to the highway. I can hear the vehicle still. It follows my every move.
Finally, with a terrible stitch in my side and a burning in my heart, I stumble and turn. A black SUV slides up the hill toward me, and the darkened window falls. I breathe hard with exhaustion and exasperation, and watch as the gun swings from the vehicle's window.
And then the world explodes, and I am thrown to the ground. My ears ring, my mind screams, and I feel a wave of heat wash over my entire body. Scrambling with the lose dirt beneath me, I look up from where I lie, sprawled upon the ground. The fire sinks in like the imploding of a giant heart, and I watch as the burning vehicle crumbles into a black ball.
I hear people screaming, I hear shouts of shock, and I can hear the roar of the flames, but all this is only a background murmur when compared to the screaming urgency in my mind.