(Thank you ECB. This turned out to be the best thing I've ever written, at least in my mind. Hope you like it!)
Only two short months ago, Davis Tress had been alone. It was not like he ever went out of his way to avoid people, or was socially challenged, he had just never met anyone who really connected with him on any level deeper than daily small talk or random water cooler discussion. All he saw around him was masses of grey, the norm, hues in a world that should have been filled with full colors. Drones following a written path, leading to bleak futures that himself had been stuck to follow. He didn't want to be like he was, but the more he thought about deviating from the streamlined fates ahead, the more he thought it was already too late for him to be anything else. That was before he met Silvia.
The sun was blazing above them on a high noon, but the wind soaring through them in the convertible made the devastating heat bearable. They were out near the sea, but far from civilization, speeding on. Jacob looked perplexed in the passenger's seat, trying to decide which sunglasses to wear on the beach. Anita tried to keep the joint burning and from flying away onto the country road. Clay was still seemingly suffering from last night's rave, massaging his temples while burying his head inside his shirt. I had been up for two days straight and starting to feel a bit weary, but I couldn't help but smile, staring out to the ocean ahead. Silvia had the wheel, punishing the pedal as we rode at an alarming speed on the slightly curved tarmac road. Her hair was blowing wildly in the wind, unable to be contained by both her lavish attitude and the gales swirling around the car. I couldn't help but notice her green eyes glancing at me from the rear-view mirror, winking as her eyes met mine. These were the moments I had lived for, but never before was able to attain. I was truly happy for the first time in my life. Anita screamed in terror.
Silvia didn't have any time to react. A large white mass rumbled towards us with haunting speed from the hill next to the road and there was no way to avoid collision at this point as we hit it and veered off to the side of the road with way too much speed. It bounced off the hood of the car and for a single moment before losing my consciousness from the crash, I saw what it was all too clearly.
A polar bear. Out of fucking nowhere.
David was walking home from the office, carrying his dull-looking folder, getting ready to spend another evening at home, pondering what went wrong with his life. He dipped into the corner bodega to buy his dinner - microwave pizza and bottle of wine. He was shifting through the wine selection when he noticed a quite colourfully dressed girl in the corner, stuffing a large bottle of vodka under her large, pompously fluffy dress. She saw he saw her misdeed, giving a dramatic gasping noice and placing her hand over her mouth while she walked towards him.
”Oh no! Officer, please, I meant no harm! This… this refreshment is for my poor grandfather, living the last of his days. Soon he’ll be gone, and I want him to have the time of his life before he croaks off! Please forgive me!”
she said coyly while staring at David with puppy, green eyes.
“I… I, uhh, umm, I’m not a..”
She frowned, looking very amused. “I know that, you dummy. But since you’re now an accomplice, how bout we go and drink this anyway, for my grandmother’s sake?”
“I… I thought you said it was your grandpa..”
Her eyes lit up and she smiled deviously. “Ha! You catch on quick! What’s your name? Either way, let’s go already.”
“I… David, wait, where are we..?”
She grabbed David by his sleeve, causing him to drop the folder and his pizza on the floor dinner as she was pulling him out of the store and out into the warm, summer night.
Clay shook David awake. “Are you okay?! Shit, good, you’re fine. Jesus fucking Christ, that was scary. But looks like we’re all fine.
David looked around and saw the others on the side of the road, looking unhurt but seemingly worried about his condition. He looked down, feeling a bit dizzy from the crash, and understood why. His previously white shirt was now drenched in blood, as were his shorts and he could feel the slightly dried blood all over his face and neck. He stood up and looked back to the road and there it was. A gigantic polar bear, or possibly an albino bear, partly decapitated and lying in a pool of its own blood, most of which had spilled on him. On his lap was a broken collar, with small, golden name tag in the shape of an iceberg, with “Nelly” carved into it in cursive. Were there any zoos around here, he thought for a second, before getting up and joining his friends.
“So… that just happened?”
Silvia smirked. “That just happened. The front wheels are busted up as well, probably because that thing weighs a ton.”
David grimaced. “Triple A?”
“No signal, man. Or batteries, it’s not like we’ve carried a charger around for the last few days. But there should be gas station just a short walk from here, we should go check it out, maybe they have a tow truck or a cell to borrow”, Jacob replied.
David was still shook, but saw no other way to handle this right now.
“OK. One of us should probably stay behind and set up a warning triangle back a little ways so no one else hits that thing in the middle of the road. Volunteers? Clay?”
Clay seemed agitated. “…now how the fuck are you going to say ‘Volunteers?’ and then name me anyway in the same breath? Sure, leave the black guy behind, that always works for us in the movies. Fuck you, D. Fuck all of you.”
They all chuckled while Clay took the keys from Silvia and went to open the trunk for the warning sign.
“You best be fucking quick. I’m melting here.”
They waved him a friendly goodbye while he signaled back with a thrust of a certain finger, walking back to the animal carcass. They walked in a brisk pace on the side of the road, with no other cars coming any which way, and no longer what seemed like forty minutes later, they reached the derelict looking gas station.
Jacob looked at the worn-out sign, barely making anything out.
“Chad’s… Automobile Repair… Station and… Bakery Extraordinaire? Well I’m certain it wasn’t the name that killed this joint.”
They all laughed at the notion, but at the same time felt a bit worried as the place seemed a bit too rundown to be operational. It was very large structure, almost as big as the modern gas stations with combined stores and restaurants, with a single, large furnace pipe at the back of the building. It was giving out some smoke, so maybe there was someone still here. They walked in through the big double doors, slightly rusted on their hinges and creating a large creaking noise that bounded throughout the foyer of station. In front of them was the front clerk’s desk with all the shelves empty of any related paraphernalia. On the wide desk was a large cow bell, with a small note attached to it.
David picked up the bell and looked at the note.
“Moo me if you’d… do me? Where are we… Arkansas?”
He started ringing the bell loudly, hiding his friends’ laughter in the echoing entrance hall. As he clanked on the bell for the fifth time, he could feel someone breathing down his neck.
“You rang, Sir?”
They all jumped back in terror, almost bursting out of their skins due to the sudden shock of the man standing behind them. David stumbled back and fell on his ass, nearly suffering a heart attack. He saw a lanky man in front of him, the literal description of a grease monkey, with tattered and oily overalls, some random tools poking out of his pockets and an age-old hat embedded with the logo they had seen just before entering. He looked down to the man’s chest level, seeing a worn out name tag, saying –
“The name’s Chad, ladies and gents. Now, what are you in need of?”
Anita caught her breath first, her mind being the numbest, and told him about what had happened, the others staring on at her explanation while eyeing the creepy gas station attendant. Chad nodded with a slight suspicion.
“Is that so? A polary bear, down all the way here in the warmth? Sounds a bit farfetched, now doesn’t it. Are you’s sure you ain’t playing a fool?”
David stood up, looking at Silvia, thinking about the woman she had learned to love in these past two months. Her flamboyant and quirky attitude, her awareness of the world, her willingness to stray away from the norm – not because she felt it was cool or trendy, but because she didn’t fit any mold. She was a truly a person, someone with a personality that could not be contained and could not suffer through a life in the rat race, better to have been set free and show the way to others like him. That it was still possible to change your life, even in a single day, no matter how far you’d gone off the deep end. She had seen his torment and released him back into the world, back to enjoy the things he needed, craved, and loved. He regained his composure and voiced his opinion.
“Sir, Chad, if you will… it might sound a bit silly, but I think my shirt soaked in that bear’s blood is ample enough evidence to our story, not to mention that something like that… you just can’t make up.”
Chad nestled his dirty moustache between his fingers, rolling the other end to a sharper shape.
“You see, boys and girls, it’s not that I weren’t inclined to believe you, but more of the fact that no longer than ten minutes ago before I parked my van truck before the very entrance you see behind me , I drove past that road… and I saw no car, no man… no white bear.”
They all seemed shocked.
“What do you mean there was no pola… no car, didn’t you see our friend on the side of the road?”, Jacob asked. “Or a warning triangle?”
Chad seemed serious. “I assure you that I saw nothing of the sort, and neither did any of my associates.” He pointed to behind him with his thumb, clenched in a fist, and they saw three similarly clothed men peeking through the few spots in the windows that were not boarded up from the inside. David couldn’t see much, but it seemed as if they were smiling while peering in.
“Now, if you don’t believe me, then I shall offer you a ride back to where you claimed this e-vent happened. Duly noted, that you might not be from around here, see? It could be that you just got a little lost in your purty heads and… misjudged the distance that you walked and the animal that you hit. there have been cases of, how would you say, multiple simultaneous concussions, leading to umm, halluci-nations, as they seem to say.”
Jacob took Anita by the hand.
“Okay, okay. Take us there. I want to see our friend.”
Anita looked scared, but determined. “Yeah, you guys stay here and wait for us, okay? It shouldn’t take long, we’ll find Clay, we just probably walked longer than we thought, we had no way to tell the time.”
Chad opened the door for the couple, prattling on.
“My associates will take you where you need to go. But if you would not mind, little lady, then I would suggest investing in a reliable timepiece, with all your… techno-logical apparatuses down and out for the count, if you understand my patronage”, he said while tapping his eerily long index finger on his worn, leather-strapped wrist watch.
He closed the door behind them and they heard the engine start and the van taking off in the direction they came from. Chad smiled kindly and tapped David on the shoulder and walking to the back of the cafeteria.
“Now! Would you like something to eat while you wait for your friendos to come back?”
Before David could answer Silvia was already on Chad’s heels, turning back to David. “I’m starving, honey. Let’s go grab something Mr. Chaaad is offering us.” She winked and shook her behind playfully, beckoning David to follow, and follow he did.
Chad had prepared them a delicious meal, with freshly baked smoked bread, Wellington-like beef patties and a side of croissants straight out of the oven. He smiled as they dived in.
“Lookie here! You must’ve been starving to chow down with that speed!”
Silvia nodded and tried to say something, but her mouth was too full and she feared she would choke on something if she tried to speak, so she continued stuffing her face with the heart offerings. David chimed in between bites.
“This is truly spectacular, sir. I have to say, I wasn’t expecting this kind of hospitality and feast from a place that looks like sh…”
Chad raised an eyybrow.
“…sh…shuch.. such a remote place on a side road in the middle of nowhere. So, thank you again for this, it’s delicious! This bread, and the beef, they have such a weird, smoky flavor, you must have a very high-end oven to produce something like this.”
“Welp… it’s seen better days, I’ll tell you what. Times are tough all around, you see? And with us being all the way yonder, not too many folk come a-visitin’.”
David gulped while finishing his croissant, almost too eager to bite before swallowing his meal.
“We’re truly thankful of this dinner. When our friends come back, we’ll be sure to purchase a lot more of your *burrrrp* ..oh, excuse me, this is too delicious it seems.”
Chad chuckled nonchalantly.
“Hehehe, well take it easy now, boy! I ain’t seen anyone else chow down grub that fast other than my dear Nelly.”
Chad froze instantaneously. Silvia saw his reaction, unable to put two and two together. Chad frowned and buried his eyebrows.
“Ah, it seems ah’ve said too much. A misstep here and there. That’s what always happens to poor, old Chad. But don’t let me get started on what happens to those who hurt… my… Nelly.”
He sprang at David like a gazelle, throwing the dinner table over. Silvia screamed at their attacker and swung a chair at the gleefully smiling man who was punching her boyfriend. Chad stopped the chair mid-swing, rebounding the chair back into Silvia’s face and knocking her out cold. David tried to struggle, but somehow the nimble man was able to overpower him, squeezing his neck as he gasped for air, starting to see stars whirling in his vision.
Chad kept squeezing hard, not loosening his grip for even a second.
“You know… you really were stupid, weren’t ya… who leaves a black guy alone on a lone, country road… haven’t you seen them movies?”
David blacked out while the man called Chad depriced him of air.
He dreamt of her silky hair blowing in the wind, only to become soaked in the bear’s blood in as she screamed into the void, losing her grip on reality. He woke up sweaty, lying down on his stomach with his hands tied behind his back and his neck and feet somehow fastened to the metallic table under him. He was pricked in the ear and he screamed in agony. Feeling the pain subside, he tried to look around the room. He could see that it was a kitchen, with pots, pans and all kinds of utensils and appliances strewn across the walls on magnetic shelves. And lots of knives, each one bigger than the next, with large, bloodied cleavers attached to the wall, blood still dripping down them. He tried to look behind him and saw Chad, staring down on him.
“Sorry about that, sir. I had to tag you as… unknown… origin. We can’t be feeding just anything we find on the roads to our esteemed guests. Well, if you must no, the food you ate was worth more than a few million bucks, so consider it a going away present, ya hear?”
Chad released David’s neck from the brace and he was able to look around more properly. One of the associates, now dressed in a waiter’s uniform, ran through the kitchen carrying a hooded plate. He opened the door on his right, and as he did, David could see the adjacent, dimly-lit room, with glimpses of prestigious looking men in fine suits, clapping their hands together as dinner was served.
Chad looked very serious, dressed in a chef’s uniform, hat and all, with a thick butcher’s apron on his person, painted all over with both dried and fresh blood.
“That was your little girlfriend, stewed in a pot of cheetah broth and cauliflower, served with a side of rhino toe. She was a fighter, alright, compared to your other friends, a real gladiator. I don’t like to play with my ingredients, but her furor was so strong that I wanted to see how long she lasts before… taking the road to the good home, so to speak. If it’s any consolation to you, her last words were “David, I love you”. I’m partly assuming that this David, is you. So, David, what you stumbled upon today, was quite unfortunate. Unfortunate to you in more ways than one.
He tightened the apron around him and walked to the wall, grabbing a large meat cleaver.
“You see, had it been any other animal, endangered or not, that you happened to bump into, we might have forgiven you and let you go. Hell, maybe your automobile wouldn’t have even broken down and you would have been on your way to wherever and driven just on by our little establishment. But it was Nelly. My prized beast. I grew her up since she was a pup, and actually got her to withgo any feral ways; she saw me as her parent and wouldn’t have ever hurt a hair on my head. You were speeding, you see. My Nelly… was split in half! My beautiful polary bear… for taking her away from me, you have paid the price. The admission and the greatest honor you will ever see in your life, is to be served as skin soup and as a side of appendix marmalade to the leader’s of the Western world.
Chad coughed while sharpening the blade against a leather sheet hanging from the corner stand.
“We as a people, we crave things. Some are attainable, some are not. At least in the view of what they call “the normality”. The way we should live. The way we are taught and brought up to keep on making this ol’ world turning. But you see, it ain’t always been like that. Before any kings, any royalty, democratically elected pre-sii-dent, men in power had just that – unlimited power. Once you’ve had a lick, you can’t go back on it anymore. It’s like a game to them”, Chad said while peeking through the round kitchen window. “If you can have it all, why not have it all? Not just what we see are the limits of reality and consequence of modern society. They want it all. And me, my friend, am here to give them just that. I bid you good day, sir, and I hope there’s a place for you to go.
He lifted the cleaver high in the air, tensing his muscles.
I could see Silvia in front of me, a hallucination, a fickle dream, dancing before my eyes. If I had never met her, I would have never loved. I would have kept droning on, pushing forwards until I was too sickly to live alone, drenched in self-pity and experiencing my last moments in a sickbed in some God-forsaken home for the elderly, without a single soul wishing me back, and without me wishing a single soul to wish me back, either. But I had met her and she had released me from behind the moat that I had created for myself. She had taken me in like a sorry, stray cat from a back alley. She had shown me enough for me to be happy about my life.
Chad swung the knife down.
Does Crichton smoke? Does a bear shit in the woods? -Rex
"What's the point in being an outlaw if you've got responsibilities?"
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