(Blacklight Test Image, 2011)
Close your eyes.
Take yourself away from reality.
When you wake you can hear screaming in the street below, then the honking of car horns, you look down on the street from your third floor window and you see something out a Holocaust movie. People lined up, slowly marching down the street, cars beside them, stuck in traffic, everyone trying to get out of there, but it's not easy, there's everyone trying it at the same time and the paths to escape are narrow. Why aren't you there you wonder to yourself, why wasn't I aware that it was time to vacate, to blow Popsicle stand? Were you asleep for a long time, did you miss out on the news reports on TV or the headlines on the paper, small talk about everyone needing to leave the city to where, you don't know where, but this is all happening, with or without you, and you're not sure if you should stay and or leave, and try to find a place in that endless line, walking somewhere you're not sure of where it is. Confused you just sit there, finding your favorite spot to normally admire the world but today, you're not really sure what to think, it's for a lack of a better word, surreal, probably one of the most surreal things you have ever seen. You know you are clearly awake but you question if this is a dream. The idea is floating a few feet above you, it looks almost like a horrifying hallucination but it isn't, is this the apocalypse?, you ask yourself. Is it, I don't know, I'm not sure if I should reveal that or not, for now I want us all to be on the same boat, being as confused as you are. We are confused, what is happening, please tell us, you.
You decide to go check it out, you grab a coat, a few things that you'd like to have on you in case you never return, and fill your backpack with necessaries for survival. You enter the street and the light looks different from the ground then when you were above, you had seen this difference hundreds of time, but the street before you is now another reality from which you came from. People all look stressed, tired, confused, and some even lifeless, moving aimlessly forward, unsure of where they are going. You stop and try to ask what's going on, what is going on, but no one seems to give you much mind, if anything, they just stare off to the distance moving forward. One by one, no one responds to your questions, even a little boy that look like a momma's boy gives you no time, no words, no attention, you do not exist, even to the sweetest level of humans. You give up and pull a sigh out from your throat, mumbling something like, this is useless. Someone looks at you, and you sharpen and give a what the fuck you looking at look at him at the same time as a hey wait I didn't mean that you're not one of them, I can tell, talk to me, please, tell me the heck is going on? The moment your eyes catch his he turns forward, acting like nothing happened, as if he was aimlessly staring like the rest, but it was too late, his sweat beaming down his forehead says it all, he was fucked you knew his secret. You gun for him, the crowd of slow moving zombie-like people barely move out of your way, having to push them, some to the ground, to get where you're going, and that lad that gave you the stare is trying hard to escape your approach but isn't as strong and as determined as you. Still he holds up a fight, scared that his secret is revealed, and when you catch up to him, he eventually stops, looks you in the eyes, and says, "ya got me, I'm not one of them".
Later you escape the crowd with him, no words are exchanged during the swim against the current, and you two walk for a bit where all signs of human life are gone, besides from the man-made structures that surround you, as well as support you (e.i. the concrete your feet rest on, the bench your butt rest on). He tells you his name is Willis, and the only thing that comes to your mind is Bruce, you tell him your name is Cynthia. He tells you that it is a pretty name, smiling then looking serious for a moment in your eyes, you cut his stare down with a you're not allow to look that deep into them yet look and he backs away with an awkward laugh. Ha. ha. haaaah...
"What is going on?", you ask him.
"Everyone's leaving, going somewhere neither I or nor them know, we're, err, they're just going."
"Why are they going?"
"Something happened, something real bad, and now people have something bad in them, and they're leaving."
"You're being vague."
"Listen, I'm not sure myself..."
"You're avoiding something, you're a bad liar."
"I'm not sure if you want to hear it, but I know by me telling you that it only makes your curiosity that much stronger, that much more unwilling to cease."
"Are you going to tell me or what."
"Fine, but I didn't want to. Everyone is dying. I know, we're all dying, no, I mean everyone is diseased, and has been for a long time, without ever knowing it, they just found out a few days ago, and some men in grey suits started announcing it on the streets, coming into offices, Starbucks, and wherever people are, they told us, with a serious look about them in their serious getup that we were all going to have to leave, that something bad has happened but the worst is over, and that there is no need to panic because it was already too late for that. Probably not the best choice of words, but surprisingly, not a lot of people panicked as if everyone just accepted whatever was coming for them, their fates sealed."
"Is that why everyone was so cold and distant?"
"Yeah, that was probably why."
"And what about you, why aren't you with them, why did you look me in the eye, and why did you give me a moment of your time?"
"Because...", he pauses, searching for the words inside himself. "Well, this is going to sound ridiculous but you were different, I had been seeing people that had no hope, no dreams, no will to live and yet they just carried on, mindlessly for days, I got sick of it, I didn't want to go, I wanted to stay, but we couldn't, I didn't want to be a part of that, "we", I was me, alone, like the day I was born. And then I saw you, I didn't feel alone anymore, you were not hopeless, you had dreams, you had a will to live, and so I assumed, and finally I decided about a minute ago that this is all true. Am I crazy, am I completely nuts or is this just me using the line, 'if the world is going to end in the next couple of days, rather then tip-toeing around surviving on our own, let's just stick to each other'. I don't know, all I do know is that I'm not alone. You aren't either."
You think about the boy's strange words for a while, he looks at you in fear without looking nervous, just unsure if he had said the right words or if it was the right moment, I mean, you just met him, who says things like that without spending at least a day with someone. But there was a strange truth to his words, that as odd as they were, and how they were said, it did make sense. And somewhere in all that wondering you realize that you didn't feel alone around him either. In the crowd, surrounded by people, they say you feel most alone, pick the right company and you'll never feel alone with them.
"Ok, you win, let's, 'stick to each other'." (with an implied, whynot in your tone)
"Thanks. Finally, I'm not alone anymore."
He heads in a direction and you decide to stick with him, who knows what will happen. The two of you carry on in the opposite direction the crowds of people were heading in, you sense you are heading towards trouble, you ponder if you should trust this lad, but you have a feeling it is ok, that he is fine, and perhaps even harmless as he looked. I could kill him if I really wanted to you told yourself, it was true, you could totally kill him if you wanted to. Over the next few days things get crazy, I'm not sure if you were ready for this, but it happens either way.
To be continued...