Our Weird and Wonderful Chain Story – Number Two
This is the story that finished last Sunday.
Thanks to Danny, Sue, Laurie, Gail, Veronica, Justine and Loretta for contributing. Here’s our story in full – I topped and tailed it. What do you think?
That summer I was a mess of emotions, angry and edgy most of the time. I was like bubbling mud.
What I had thought to be real and tangible had really been just my imagination playing overtime in my mind, turning black into white and white into grey.
I found myself alone again, and death and suffering was all around me, so I got on the first bus out.
The howling pitch of the bus’s ancient diesel changed as the driver downshifted to a stop, only meters away from the mangled wreckage blocking the narrow tarmac, a plume of black smoke all but obscuring the red Land Rover in its path.
‘End of the line,’ my reply to the conductor, the irony not lost on me though he merely took my money and handed me a ticket. I sat back in the corner of the worn seat, I’d have plenty of time to go over the events of the last thirty-six hours – if the price of the ticket indicated the length of the journey ahead: whatever the length, I had already come farther than I could ever have imagined when I first set eyes on Carl Sandford.
I burrowed my chin down into the high lapel of my coat (oh god it smells of him it smells of him) and pushed my frozen hands deep into the pockets and there, in the left one, felt a scrap of paper graze my knuckles.
If I were to take it out to read it would be as if the course texture of sandpaper was scraping at my heart as painfully as his words of rejection had pounded on my ears until I was deaf to the attack and heard him no more. I had myself and only myself now. What was to become of me?
I headed to a dirty looking café on the other side of the street. The windows were so steamed up it was impossible to see inside, and as I entered, I felt suffocated by the air that hung thick with the smell of fried food.
Gazing blindly through the filthy window, I could see nothing but the look of horror on his face as we careered off the road and turned over and over. When the vehicle had finally crashed to a stop and I had crawled out, shaking, I had been barely able to believe I was still alive; if only it had been me who had died.
It was when I saw the flashing neon light of the café’s name that I realised I had, in fact, died in that Land Rover. It also explained the nature of that putrid decaying smell. It was human flesh that was cooking; and I was in – Hell’s Kitchen!
I ordered a brandy steadied myself enough to stare through the misted windows and that’s when it struck me. I realised I was, in fact, dead even though I had no cuts or abrasions.! It was human flesh that was cooking. At the far end of the car-park, the flashing neon light announced the cafés name; Hell’s Kitchen!
The grating sound of the abused gearbox dragged me out of the nightmare I had been enduring: the bleak landscape beyond the window did nothing to ease the churning apprehension that threatened to vomit over the back of the seat in front. Harsh overhead lights, a reminder that we had traveled through the night, made my eyes water as I peered into the lightening day: the revolver had worn a numb dent in my hip that now throbbed into life as I shifted to move away from the stranger who slumped beside me.
I took a deep breath, trying to ground myself. I was on the bus again. Before the accident? After the accident? Time was a broken mirror. I got to see some of the pieces but never in the right order. I could still smell Carl on my scarf, but I had forgotten who he was. My cold fingers held onto a scrap of paper but the words were dancing before my eyes refusing to make sense. I had forgotten how to read. I touched the hard metal thing in my coat pocket. I knew it was important but its name was slipping away from me.
Breaks shuddering. Again. Ripping up the road with a mechanical scream. The stranger next to me has woken up and is screaming too. I think I might be as well.
photo credit: invisibile al rumore del mondo… via photopin (license)