Aer Cuid II (Air Part II)
Denía, España (Denía, Spain)
The ripple surged through Carla Rodriguez's car, sending it flying up the road, to a fork that had been a half-kilometre away. The car landed with a loud bang, still speeding towards the fork. Their traffic-lights were red, but Carla couldn’t brake hard enough. They shot into the middle of the crossing, just as a large black BMW came across their path. Diego Ortega raised his arms futilely in front off his face, his eyes shutting tight, and prepared for the collision that would surely kill both him and Carla.
It never came. Instead, Diego felt a pulling force, a force that seemed to lift him up and away from the imminent crash. He felt water all around him, saturating him. Slowly, afraid at what he might see, he opened his eyes.
Diego was several miles up in the air. Below him, he saw a small explosion, and some tiny cars coming to a halt before it. Then the wind tugged him away. He looked around him.
It appeared that he was inside a cloud, which explained why he was so wet. The wind swirled around him, carrying him off to the north. Just as Diego was starting to wonder how he’d get down, he felt the cloud burst.
He fell with the rain, straight down into a bush at the side of a road. The bush broke most of his fall, but he still smacked his head off the path, and was knocked unconscious.
Diego woke up an hour later, his head feeling like it had been smacked with a sledgehammer, which it might as well have done. He painfully extracted himself from the bush, its briars tearing into his exposed skin. He stood, all his muscles aching, and tried to get a bearing on his surroundings.
Beside him was a bus stop. Behind was a long, high wall, closing a housing estate off from the road. On the opposite side of the road was a shorter wall, a wilderness of trees and shrubs stretching beyond that, reaching out to the ocean.
Diego was sure it looked familiar, but he couldn’t place it. He tried remembering how he had got there, but realised he couldn’t remember much of anything. He knew who he was, and what he did, but apart from that ...
A bus lumbered its way up the road, its destination written on a piece of card in the windscreen:
Diego didn’t know why, but that seemed to ring a familiar bell in his memory. He felt a compulsion, telling him he needed to get there. And then... West, he thought. I must go west.
When the bus came to a stop, he jumped on, handing the driver the first note he found in his pocket, and took a seat at the back of the bus. The driver looked at the note in surprise: it was a twenty. The fare had only been seven euro. Saying nothing, the driver pocketed the note, and took a look in the rear-view mirror at this new passenger. He had no bags, which was unusual for someone heading all the way to Alicante. His clothes were ragged, his skin covered in small nicks. His face looked fearful and panicky, his small eyes studying every aspect of the bus.
The driver frowned at him through the mirror. He hoped he hadn’t let some junkie on the bus. Then again, he had paid extremely well for a junkie. He decided just to keep an eye on this new traveller, and make sure he stayed out of trouble.
Diego didn’t recognise a thing around him. All he had to guide him was that one instinct: Go west... He looked out the window fretfully, desperate for some kind of familiarity. After five minutes travel, he got it.
The emergency services had already reached the crash-site, The police were trying to direct the traffic around it, reprimanding drivers for staring too long. The firefighters were just leaving. The paramedics stood sullenly in the middle of the carnage, shaking their heads sadly.
Both cars were a mess, burnt to a crisp. It was hard to distinguish one from the other. Even the ground had been scorched from the explosion. As the bus passed, all the passengers stood to get a better look, and Diego got his sense of familiarity.
Through the twisted metal, he could just make out a beautiful face, miraculously unblemished by the flames. The face was clothed with long chestnut hair. A steering wheel had buried itself in her chest. Her eyes were closed, those brown jewels destined never to shine again.
“Carla,” Diego choked. He slipped to the floor, the other passengers backing away from him, frightened. Diego held his head in his hands as the memories came flooding back to him: the ripple, the BMW, Carla’s final smile ...
The next time the bus stopped, Diego stormed off it, tears streaming down his cheeks, not looking where he was running. He ran, hoping maybe he’d get knocked down, that he’d come across some rabid beast, that something would happen to rid himself of this misery, and do it quickly.
But when has life, or death, ever been that kind? Diego soon found himself on a beach, and didn’t stop running until the water had reached his waist. He wiped the tears from his cheeks, mixing them with the bitter, salty sea. He fell to his knees, the water almost covering his shoulders.
He gazed far off into the distance, as the waves washed over him, the ripples of the sea, ripples that flooded into Diego’s wide open mouth. He made no effort to stop them.
Eventually all strength left him, and he fell face flat into the ocean. His final breath bubbled around him as he sank. When his body screamed for air, he ignored it, having no energy to push himself back up.
Diego’s last sight was a shard of brown glass that had been tossed carelessly into the sea. Even as the salty water stung his eyes, he kept them open. He focused his gaze on the glass. In it he could see Carla’s gorgeous eyes.
And with that, Diego died.
Within four hours of each other, Carla Rodriguez and Diego Ortega went west. They went as far west as they could, far from the reach of Señor Rodriguez. Far from the reach of any mortal being. The ripple washed over their souls and brought them west with the sunset, beyond the horizon of the earthly plane. West, to paradise.