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Flicker

February 18, 2013
There's no detail because I've never attempted perspective drawing before, and the spacial centre of my brain fried.  There's smoke damage to both the motivation department and the project completion oversight.

There’s no detail because I’ve never attempted perspective drawing before, and the spacial centre of my brain fried. There was smoke damage to the motivation department and project completion was put on hold.

 

Dawn, and I’m driving the Inner City Bypass without being quite there.  Just one of the stages between sleep and work.  The road turns me, and streetlights here and there cut out according to their schedule, even though clouds are postponing the sunrise.  The road rises under me, and the sign, the electronic one they display warnings and directions on, comes into view broken.  I’m underneath and past it before I register the oddity. Instead of showing blank, it flickers a large orange rectangle.  The road dips me into a tunnel. I emerge out the other side, and all the lights go out.

Then they flicker back on. The road lifts me in the air and directs me towards the knot of overpasses, off-ramps and under roads before my exit and now I’m alert, trying to untangle the perspective.

I shift lanes – why was I in the far lane, there’s no traffic to get around.  Hold on.  There was traffic. There’s always traffic.  I contract the muscles in my forehead, trying to squeeze tight the memory of this morning’s drive. My mind plays a grainy film reel that could be today or any generic version of my daily commute.

The streetlights flicker, the sign flickers, they tap at the back of my mind.

My car cuts out, drags to a stop like something’s weighing it down.  I look forward, down the road. I can see other cars now; along the sides, rusting, gaping, dead.  I push my door open; it clunks and scrapes the road, the hinge has snapped.  I turn and eyeball my car.  It was always faded and scratched, but now it’s rusted and emaciated.  I can’t have zoned out that badly.

A flicker, and my eyes are drawn up.   Tiny people. Up on the overpass. One of them seems to be waving.

 

“Hello?” 

 

Alarm.  I turn to stone.  Then relief. Confused adrenaline.  I wave both arms and jump and call “Hello!”

 

“Stay there, we’ll come down to you.  Just hold on, it’s going to be ok.”

 

I cross my arms and jitter and glance to where the sun should be.  Heart chill, I wrench my head back and I stare fixedly at the group making their way down the overpass ramp, terrified they’ll vanish or decay if I lose sight of them.  It’s going to be ok.  People rarely say that when everything is actually ok.

They approach, life-size now, and I freeze up again.  The one that called out before reaches out a long arm to still me.  “It’s all ok, but we have to keep moving.  You can walk with us.  My name is Road.”

The group surrounds me, and Road, with his arm but not touching, ushers me around, and then forward.  I twist my neck and scan behind.  Two mismatched boys walk beside-ish me, and two behind, in almost-formation.  Another one far, far behind; he’s all shrunk inside a too-large blurry jumper with his gaze on the ground.  But nothing else.

“Don’t look back.”

Eyes to Road. “What’s wrong with that way?  What’s coming after us?”

“Nothing’s after us.”

“Then why do we have to keep moving?”

Road regards me fully, but I get the impression that he’s always watching ahead, and around.  “To be where we aren’t.  Nothing’s after us, but everything’s behind.  You walk, or you fall, or you fade.”

I look over my shoulder.  The last boy lags further behind, sluggish movements like it’s an effort to pick up his feet, like he’s not all awake.  He blurs; it’s more than the weak dawn light, shadows creep and cast him over grey.  His gaze still drags along the ground, too heavy to lift but hollow and rattling; an empty tin on a string.  It rings in my mind like a spoon on a can of cat food.

 

I should be writing, but I have to walk now, and I’m worrying what ears are pricking up to that call.

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