Sep. 14, 2017
Lucas started to think that he should pull over, but before he could press his foot to the brake and move to the side the road ahead of him exploded in a fiery blaze. The explosion shot upwards and out from the car ahead of him, shrapnel flew everywhere. He could smell the burning flesh and hear the screams of men and woman around him, suffering. Gunfire and more explosions erupted around him, his eyes darted to and fro in a panic. He stomped his foot, trying to stop the car before it flew into the flames but he car was gone, he was running full of heavy gear towards the flames. A rifle hung loosely around his shoulder and a grenade was poised in his hand, the pin removed and nowhere to be seen. His panic grew worse as the waves and flickering returned as suddenly as they had appeared the first time. Suddenly the car ahead of him was there again and he was sitting straight up in the driver seat of the car, beads sweat dripping down his temples. The brake lights flew towards his face as he screamed and cranked the wheel, flying around the vehicle on the right as it made a slow left turn.
“Shit!” Lucas yelled as he slammed on the brakes and skidded to a halt, throwing sand into the air and creating a cloud of dust and smoke that whirled around his vehicle. “What the fuck was that?” As he said it the world flickered and wavered again, the sounds of gunfire and explosions came and went with the images, fading in and out. He could hear people screaming, then the familiar sound of traffic, explosions, then a horn blaring at him as a car whizzed by. The waves started pulsing over his vision and his head swam. Lucas grabbed his head and held it as he rocked slowly back and forth in the drivers seat, one moment running towards gunfire, next reeling in the seat of the car. With a nauseating pop, the back and forth ceased and he succumbed to darkness.
“Shit, Jones, get up!”
“What?” Lucas’ head was pounding and his gut felt like he was carrying a bowling ball.
“Get up! We have to go, evac team is here.” Lucas lifted his head to look around. He gasped and squinted as the bright sun burned his eyes and his head screamed in pain. He could feel the grit of sand stuck to his face, he was lying on his stomach in the middle of a desert. Slowly the sounds of battle returned to his ears and the haze in his head began to lift, as did the pain. Someone was pulling on his shoulders, trying to lift him up. He pushed himself off the ground and turned to see a man in full soldier garb with a concerned look on his face. “What’s wrong with you? Move it!” The man took off running in the opposite direction and Lucas followed, his heart racing and unsure of what to do next. Bullets whizzed through the air and children cried out for their mothers. The steady crackle of fires breathed a constant supply of smoke, Lucas coughed and nearly fell back down. “Just ahead, get to the safe house.” The man looked back at him, lifting his arm to wave him on when he exploded in a fiery, bloody mist. The warm spray covered Lucas as he shielded his eyes and stumbled, barely keeping his balance as he sprinted through the cloud of smoke that was a man moments before.
“Fuck! Fuck!” he screamed as he sprinted for the doorway the man had motioned to. He pushed his hands outward as he reached the door and threw his weight against it, forcing it open as his body crumpled inside. His eyes tried desperately to adjust to the sudden darkness. The sounds of battle were dulled and he could hear the scraping of boots on the wooden floor around him, but he could make out no figures. He tried to stand but the wave of nausea struck him again, more violently this time and he doubled over in pain. When he opened his eyes he was back in the car, a warm stream of drool dripped down his chin and his pants were soaked threw. The vehicle stank of urine and sweat. Lucas looked around feverishly, trying desperately to figure out what happened, where he was, who he was. As he sat there in panic his head slowly cleared and his heart slowed to a normal rate. As he caught his breath and wiped the drool from his chin he reached a shaky hand forward and turned the key in his car. The engine purred to life. He checked his mirrors and pulled into the road to continue driving home. “I just need to get home, I need to sleep,” he said to himself as he pushed down on the gas pedal. “That’s all, I just need sleep.”
Later that night Lucas laid in bed, eyes wide open as he stared at the ceiling unable to find rest. He ran his fingers through his hair and his wife stirred as he let out a loud sigh. Not wanting to wake her, he quietly got up and put on some clothes. His wife stirred again and he paused in the dark, watching her roll away from him and pull the blankets up under her chin, settling back into a deep sleep. He left the room quietly and walked down the darkened hallway to his office. He always kept a bottle of Macallan scotch on his bookshelf, next to his copy of Moby Dick. He liked to think it was symbolic but really it just made him feel cool, like he was classy and educated, of a different society or class than he really belonged. He grabbed the bottle and a glass behind it and poured himself a double. For a moment he sat at his desk, sipping the scotch and thinking about what had happened but the anxiety it was causing was getting the better of him. “This is ridiculous,” he muttered to himself, finishing his drink and pouring himself another.
He left the office with a fresh drink in his hand and headed for the back door. The land around his split level home swooped up around the house in a sharp hill. The house had literally been implanted into the hillside and one could walk up the hill and then step onto the roof from behind, it was one of his favorite things about the otherwise mediocre home he and his wife shared. Many nights he had spent lying on his back, staring at the stars as they slowly twinkled and moved about the sky, tiny signs of life amongst an otherwise dead and empty expanse. It was exhilarating and exhausting at the same time. As he sipped his scotch and watched a satellite blaze through the sky his mind wandered from his own problems to the typical existential questions a man ponders when staring into the soul of the universe. The stars pulsed overhead, appearing to gain and lose power with the beating of his heart. The thumping in his breast intensified and the stars grew more and less pronounced with the rhythm. “No…” Lucas muttered as his head began to swim, “not again!” He placed the scotch glass on the roof as his hands began to tremble. He grabbed his head and tried to sit up but the dizziness was too much and he laid back down quickly, resting his head on the roof as the stars grew so bright that he was blinded with white light.
When the light faded he was laying on his back still, grass blew gently in the wind, tickling his ears and cheeks. The stars were far more numerous than they had been and he was lost in the beauty of it. He sat up suddenly, aware that he was no longer on his roof. He was laying in a small field, a clearing in the middle of the woods. Large pine trees surrounded the clearing and rustled slightly in the cool summer breeze. An owl hooted in the distance, perhaps calling for it’s mate or celebrating a successful hunt. As he sat in the grass he realized he wasn’t wearing the same jeans and sweatshirt he had donned when he got out of bed. He was wearing some sort of rough wool shirt with ties in the front, cotton pants that also tied instead of zipped or buttoned. His feet were bare and dirty, he could feel the thick callouses as he placed them on the ground and pushed himself to a standing position. He spun in a circle, scanning the woods, listening intently for any sign of life but found nothing. He was completely alone in this strange field, accompanied only by the creatures of the night and his own thoughts. He took a few steps forward, peering into the darkness when he stepped on something wet. He stopped short and knelt down to see what there was. In the glow of the moonlight he saw a naked woman lying in a twisted heap on the ground. Blood had pooled around the body but there didn’t seem to be any visible injuries. Her body was twisted and contorted in a way that looked entirely unnatural. He reached out a shaky hand towards her face, hoping to get a better look when she suddenly sprang forward, face contorted in a horrible scream, blood dripping from her lips. Lucas shot backwards, landing on his back in the grass as she sat and started to crawl towards him. He tried to turn to run but she grabbed his ankle. She was surprisingly strong and dragged him across the ground towards her as she continued to scream. He felt the warm spray of blood as she dragged her broken body on top of his and screamed into his ear.
“Stop! No!” Lucas screamed and squeezed his eyes shut. As quickly as she had sat up, she let him go and the warmth of her breath disappeared from his neck. Panting, he slowly opened his eyes. He was propped up on one elbow, the rough ceiling tiles biting into his arm and his glass of scotch sitting just in front of him. His hands were shaking terribly but he grabbed the glass and drank the last of the scotch inside. Suddenly overcome by the cold breeze, Lucas shivered and stood on the roof, walking unsteadily towards the hill and off the roof. As he stepped off the roof the grass was cold and wet, his foot slipped and he dropped his glass as his hands shot forward to break his fall. He hit the side of the hill hard and his hands slipped on the grass, shooting outwards in each direction and allowing his face to slam into the ground. He felt a sharp bite of pain as his chin split on a stray rock and he felt the cold lick of the wet grass on his forehead as he slipped out of consciousness and into a deep sleep.