“On an unbound road, I’m travelling the snake upward and upward till I reach the mind of the creator.” Sarah Blank said, her pink-gloved hands on ten and two. The tape recorder had slipped into the corner of the dashboard, still on record; clutters of paper at rest, while the car smelled awful: debris of fast food, half-empty cups and wads of plastic wrapping strewn across the backseat of the car. Receipts floating, she had made origamis out of them as the speed accelerated and they too were in flight.
“Glad you aren’t here to see the mess, mother” She said, staring in the rear view almost wanting to see mother’s disapproval, “to see the ocean floor…” She smiled, felt like it was a moment ago that her mother asked her to do this on her death bed. The yellow lines broken but at these speeds they appeared like one. She got cut off by a truck and she welcomed him with a horn pressed firmly and the obligatory ‘asshole’ half mumbled. “The trucks, those damn trucks….hauling dairy, poultry and timber, what adventures they must’ve had, huh, mother?”, her way of getting over things, telling herself stories that filled her with wonder rather than dread. Mother taught me that. She hit one of the uneven surfaces of the highway and the urn emerged out of the residue left in the wake of her recent devouring. She looked at the glint of the urn. Mother’s smile. Barrie 27 miles. Keep going on the 400 and true north appears. She hadn’t applied makeup in days, but her cheeks were redder than usual. Even though she rarely did, she opened the window so she could feel the nibbling of the Arctic howl that was following her. Her curly jet black hair; streams of highlight blonde, unfastened, she still appeared young and stubborn. The dark blue hoodie over a white V-neck, on top of a parka and her grey loose training pants accompanied her carefree look. She took a stop at 85 B, Innisfil, nature was calling her and she obliged. The truck stop was piled with weirdoes. She smiled at them. When you are on a journey little things like that can’t distract you. Got a pack of ciggies, stick of gum and in the tradition of long road trips some Cheetos. Before she entered her black Subaru again she dug through the baggy underbelly of her pockets to rummage her cellphone, the power was off to distance herself from any contact. Curious, she turned it on to see the missed calls and the barrage of messages. Sarah where are you? UNKNOWN NUMBERS. Watsup? We met at the bar last night. Dad is really worried about you, we went to your room… She deleted them all. Kay was worried, big sisters always are but Sara couldn’t care less. She had to see true north. She had to pour mom’s ashes in the lake. She put on her dark shades to avoid anyone looking at her tears and she grabbed the recorder “We are born from the ejaculation into dust… paraphrasing Aurelius, of course” finally pressing stop. It was on record all this time.
She shoved the contents of the plastic bag deep into the recesses of the items collected in her travels. She had acquired dark knowledge of the true self. She got inside the car, forehead touching the steering wheel, her hands on two and ten. She exited the stop, flinging the cellphone and it lay cracked on a service road on its way to true north. Kay’s voice came through with static and concern.
“I saw the red-one again. He always comes at my time of the month. ” she said whispering into her recorder, which she held in her left hand. “He collects my dark blood. I know it. It came in my dream again and that’s why I have to leave” she paused and got her camel lights to burn. “Said it was harvesting my blood— my unfulfilled eggs— so the thing can come through. The thing that has haunted my nightmares. I won’t allow it. I’m leaving behind until the cycle begins again. I’m following the white moon.” Pressing stop this time. Stubbornness, paving way for defiance. Mother died a fortnight ago. She had cancer, brain cancer. She promised me once to take her ashes to the lake. The Red lake. She told me not to tell Kay and Dad, said they wouldn’t understand. She saw the creature after the first time she bled and then met him every twenty eight days for ten years. She hadn’t told anyone because who would believe her and thought of him as a part of her nature. A natural ugliness. But after her mother’s death, the thing appeared every day to her. His red skin, pointed teeth and his pupils dilated to the width of his eyes. The other worldly voice, the low hiss and the harsh rasp.
She passed through gold sycamores, leaves decorating the path, the roads will become virtually inaccessible soon. Visor on eye-level. Sun reflecting. People are strange, playing in the background and she hums to it. The road winds, unwinds and straightens; single laned then it multiplies. “You never know how crazy you are till you meet someone else.” The recorder receives her information without judgement. “I have to pour these ashes in the lake. Born to smoulders.”
The full moon and the headlights provides foresight and everything seems expanded. “Am I imagining things or am I being followed?” full beams in the rear-view mirror. “The car’s been on me since I got off that truck stop,” she said or maybe just paranoid enough. Watching carefully the road she adjusts the mirror, tailing lights. It doesn’t matter what the past holds, mother, the love of the future should be there. The open road. Lakes, even mosquitoes are welcome on still water. But the red thing whatever it was— whatever it is— it can’t have me, mother, I won’t let it. “Nature produces ugly things too.” Still following the route, now there was vast stretches of woods, creepy brambles, the odd animals reflective eyes and the yellow deer crossing symbols. She felt the fingers of uneasiness prickling her neck as she kept turning into dark corners of the highway. The heater didn’t provide comfort in the cold as she intermittently blew on her knuckles and adjusted her gloves— shivering— she drove on through the weird and ancient vegetation; observing the sharp turns on every corner and then from the periphery of her eye; she saw a ghostly figure waving from near a clearing in the forest, a woman in white with blood dripping down her skirt. When surreal things happen, they just happen, they don’t wait for you to accept them. She wanted to keep on driving and she did. “Hello, Sara, where are you running off to?” She turned quickly to the rear-view, a red creature with a smile of horror. She screamed, losing control and car skidding off the road. She slammed the brakes hard and avoided the trees, slowed by the undergrowth. She took a breath of relief and turned around again, the red came over— again— paying her a visit. She took a look back again just the trash staring back at her again. A glint of mother’s ashes. She slams her head against the steering wheel. “Why doesn’t he leave me alone? Why is he everywhere?
Thud. Thud. Thud.
AAA-AAH!” Sarah screamed.
“Help me! Please, help me” The woman in white, with bloodstains on her hands leaving scarlet on frosted glass. “There’s a man. He’s following me. You have to help me!” Sarah froze trying to access what’s happening. Inner habits took hold. Motherly concern. “Come in quickly!” She opened the door and then slamming shut. The tires whirred in reverse and then made skid marks going faster than usual.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!” she said, gaining in volume each time she muttered it.
“Jesus, don’t mention it—there’s a blanket and some water in the back— what happened?” she replied.
“He was following me. Full beams. Ran me off the road— I-I c-can’t, I-I can’t…” she said weeping and taking wild gasps.
“It’s alright we have to get you to a hospital” she said, consoling with her left hand. “Just-umm- hold on.”
She took a moment to notice her. Dishevelled red hair, pale face and those parched lips moaning for air, bruises beneath her eyes and her torn white skirt. The full moon made her skin blue, her skin pores like electric receivers transmitting information. It was like she was manipulating the light or the light manipulating her. Sarah smelled it, something was slightly off with this picture.
“Is there someone we can call for you?” She asked, turning to her while trying to concentrate on the road ahead.
“N-no, I-I d-d-don’t w-want anyone t-to see m-m-me like this…” she said wailing.
“It’s okay, shush, shush, you’re with me now, we’ll go the police, I’m sure there are some patrol officers prowling…” rubbing her hands on her shoulders. She also caught a glimpse of the junk food trail behind. “There’s probably some food at the back, as well, if you can find it. Sorry, I’m a bit messy, I leave crumbs behind…he-he. What’s your name by the way?”
“It’s okay, you’ve already done so much…” she said in a calmer tone. “Judith, names Judith…” she whispered taking the plaid blanket curling like a fetus, tucking in, she slants herself resting her head on the glass, closing her eyes. Sarah, drives with an eye on her. It’s terrible to be this suspicious. She just wanted to get out of the road— it’s getting narrower.
She has to take the next exit, if it comes. Scanning ahead her eyes moving back and forth her head was spinning. Then all of a sudden on her rear-view the man with full beams appeared. He is following too closely.
“Judith! I really need you to fasten your seat belts. This is going to get really bad.”
“He killed my baby….He ran me off the road… and he killed my baby…” She muttered to herself.
“Judith, please you have got to listen to me” she said shaking her violently. Judith was a cold statue and her yelling was like the echo a drowning man hears. “Shit,” she yelled, slamming the accelerator hard but the full beams now blinding her. Blinking rapidly, trying to see and the beams aren’t at the back, whacks into the bender, and then the car is on par. Looking at the side who it was, before she can see Judith emerges from her blanket with grey white eyes and a demonic look.
“HE KILLED MY BABIES! HE KILLED MY BABIES! HE KILLED MY BABIES!”
Lunging forward at her with jaw snapping viciously. “A-aah!” Sarah screamed and like a reflex placed her elbow on her throat, with her teeth biting repeatedly. The car then slammed hard on the other side and the now off course, breaking through to the fences and then drowning in the pool of water.
“When you dream, you dream about your everyday life. But dreams are edited by the universe. They are the extension of life, decay and death. They are, as anything in this life, bizarre, but they have their own system. Duality is just one component of it. Iterations of possibilities. The red is that, it is just the process that generates results it is the thing that takes all possibilities.”
Sarah stopped the recorder. She didn’t know the recorder was playing. She put her dark shades on. She took the exit left. The cellphone was still on the service road. I’ll be there back again. The gold urn smiled from beneath the water.