For a whole week he’s thought of nothing but the city. Skyscrapers towering over the busy streets. The streets littered with vehicles. He liked to imagine each person behind the wheel. Another life, another story. One of the many who clung to the dreams of the west coast, caught in the subtle urgency that hung in the air. And the tunnels… the burrowing tunnels bedecked with harrowing lights. Whenever he got the good stuff, he could hear the lights calling out to him.
“Hey!” a voice called. He thought it was the lights again. “Hey!” But then it hit him that he wasn’t quite that high. Not yet. Besides, the city was many miles away.
Pete found himself gazing out the window of the van, face pressed against the glass. Only minutes ago he’d been counting the trees along the side of the road. His body felt like lead. His hands heavy, his face numb. He tried to recall what pill he’d taken an hour ago, but the details eluded him. He wondered how Angel could bring herself to drive in the state that she was in.
“That’s the third time you’ve nodded off,” said Angel, watching him then the road, and then him again. The suburban streets opened up before them as if endless. A straight and aimless road, with infinite trees, still, under the Los Angeles sky. “I can’t believe he gave us the real keys. That fool really came through,”
Just last week, Pete was ready to turn himself in to the church and repent for a life of drugs and procrastination. And fornication, and a long list of other nonsense that he couldn’t quite recall. A few hours after his ‘enlightenment’, he’d decided to journey with Angel like he usually did. Only this time she had a plan for them to get ‘rich’ during all the commotion going on in the world. It had only just dawned on him: What if all that nonsense is true? What if the world would really end any day now?
“This shit again,” Angel wasn’t trying to hear it. “New Year’s Eve is long gone. Guess what? We’re still here. Bet those assholes who sold all their shit are feeling pretty dumb right about now. As for us…,” she stole a look at the back of the van. “I’d say we hit the fucking jackpot,”
Pete turned round to observe the heap in the back. Trinkets, old television sets, cellphones, toasters – the works. It wasn’t like they hit the lottery, but it was so much junk they were bound to make a killin’. Unless the world was really on the brink of the apocalypse. In that case, this whole operation would’ve been a colossal waste of time. Not to mention they’d both be going to hell boasting first class tickets. Pete tried not to think about it too much. Enjoying the drive was a much more constructive pastime.
“What about you, Pete? What do you say?”
He thought about it, “I’d say… we hit the fucking jackpot?”
“Ha! Course’ you would,”
Angel was a bright girl. Somehow, she was twice as bright when inebriated, high, or completely out her mind depending on the occasion. She was especially good at driving when NOT sober. She steered skillfully with one hand, while the other massaged the car door. Pete wasn’t sure what she was trying to accomplish, but he wasn’t going to worry about it.
“Do me a favor,” she said, peering over to the passenger side. Random cars streamed by in beams of light, as they burrowed deeper into the night. “Pass me those chips,”
Pete reached down to discover a bag of half eaten lays at his feet. He rattled his brain, trying to remember when and how they got there. He handed the bag to Katie.
When he returned his eyes to the street laid out before them, he saw it. “What’s that?”
“Not that – That!” That… was actually a human being. Stark naked, flailing at the intersection, only seconds away. Before they knew it, the man was in the middle of the road, signaling to them. Trying to tell them something. Pete could only think on this in hindsight. It was already too late.
There was a terrible screech. The world spun all around him. A tumultuous clatter consumed his ears and his mind. In the midst of the chaos he could see the naked man through his mind’s eye. Shouting. Signaling. Telling them something…