After a while, the road seems like a known entity. The black sterling rolls with beastly sighs of diesel relief. Motoring along with the silver logo of Sisyphus Inc. reflecting off the small sliver of the sun, “We carry the burden for you.” The snowy single-lanes, speed ramps, and posted signs act as a transition between imagined folk tales and certainty. It dawns on him, while the winter light fades; the strange plumes of white were making a symbol in the sky. Shyam Rafiq observes everything; he knows that single focus can drive a trucker mad. Distractions are important in journeys, and sometimes he gets distracted by thinking of his family. Mariam must be getting the kids by now; she and the kids come to his thoughts often, and they often leave too. Monochromatic images of bills appear in his mind: The evidence of existence. Payroll there or not there, but the trucker’s peripheral concerns are illusory. The only truth is that the road winds, unwinds, and gets narrow or wider. Drifting with a coarse blaze of horns, enflamed yellow headlights, middle finger salutes, slippery exits and a glimpse of that blind spot apparition– hanging on like a suspended dream, the thing seems to be getting closer. Shaking his head with violent denial, and it’s all rear-view mirror now, he thinks to himself. He turns up the radio, tuning into other frequencies.
Michael Ballard: “Welcome to KTX2, this is Michael Ballard, and you’ve tuned into ‘Lifting the Veil,’ we have a very special guest on today, world renowned author, Dr. Eliot Wiebe. Dr. Wiebe’s last book ‘Mysteries of the Sky: A closer look at Chemtrails,’ has been garnering a lot of attention and creating a lot of controversies. Dr. Wiebe, thank you for being on the show. ”
Dr. Eliot Wiebe: “Thank you for having me, Michael. I couldn’t have introduced myself better; plus, you pronounced my last name correctly.”
MB: “Weeb. That’s how you say it, right? Ha-ha… anyway, thanks for coming on, Doc. So, I read your book, and I found it very fascinating; stuff like this barely gets any attention in the mainstream media…umm… so, to start off, please just give our listeners a little bit of a background on Chemtrails.”
He’s half-listening and half-drifting to sleep. A car whizzes by him in reckless abandon. No turn signal. Typical highway antics.
EW: “Chemtrails, yes… Michael. So I want to ask your viewers if they have seen the sky, lately?”
MB: “I’m sure they have…not all of them live in their mother’s basement, you know? Ha-ha.”
EW: “Ha-ha. Yes, in the sky you might have noticed there are streaks of lines that run across the sky. Most people look at those trails and think that they are the residue of the smoke left behind by jets in flight. But actually, it’s much more nefarious than that. These streaks of lines aren’t contrails, as some government propagandist put it, these are Chemtrails. Chemicals released in the sky to alter the weather, or even alter us.”
MB: “How does that work?”
EW: “Yes, these are chemicals not only created to change the weather but also affect the health of the populace. Have you seen the cases of cancer that have been reported all across the world? The amount of fluoride in our water— isn’t it obvious? My book explores this in greater detail.”
MB: “This is truly incredible…so you’re telling me the government is poisoning us from the sky? Let me ask you this wouldn’t ‘they’ be affected too?”
EW: “They have the antidote, Michael. The elites have special medication that allows them to negate the effects. The sky has been poisoned; our sky has been poisoned with fly ash, sulfur, and chemicals with unpronounceable names.”
MB: “Wow that was very enlightening, Dr. Wiebe. Please, stay with us we’re going to continue this conversation after this break.”
He changes the radio again; for once he would like to hear something good happening in the world. He doesn’t want to worry about why everything isn’t working. For once he’d like to know that authority figures had the common folks best interests at heart. The past wasn’t kind, and the present wasn’t looking all too bright either. Mariam had a miscarriage recently. It was a traumatic experience and had put their marriage under a lot of stress. This would’ve been his third child, and he didn’t know how to grieve it. The guilt was impenetrable because he wasn’t with her when it happened. Needless to say, he was taking more assignments because he didn’t want to talk to her. He’s not good at saying the right things. Then there was the other feeling, the feeling of divine retribution–for the past, in the old country, for what he had done. He felt like he deserved this.
He knows that the only constant in his life is the road, and the truck is an extension of himself. Passing under the green billboards, leaving Barrie and his 76 km journey to Concord began. He realizes that if he keeps himself distracted enough, everything makes sense. All the regrets and even the guilt make sense now. The window is slightly cracked open so the smoke from his Belmonts can disappear into the ether. The slight Arctic chill and the flurries sharply bite his dry skin. He barely realizes that it should be spring, but the snowfall is picking up. Humming a tune; adjusting his beanie while yawning, and using his free hand to put the ash in the cup. It’s only a matter of an hour really, but it’s usually the smaller trips that are much harder, he says to himself. The road is somewhere between a mistress and a second wife. The radio now bursts out portents of a heavy collision which will slow down traffic to Vaughn, which was not too bad considering how close it was to his destination but he knows it’s going to be a long wait. But more importantly, he knows that he needs a little bit of rest; this was his fifth assignment this week, clocking in at least 2,000 km. Moving to the right lane, getting closer to the white forested area; the snow-covered, tall-branches-like fingers inviting him in; preparing to take the exit: Innisfil, a small town to the west of Lake Simcoe. The yellow deer crossing— open eyes wide and half-empty coffee cups drained and crushed now. Overhead wires beware. The half-smoked cigarette butts make a hissing noise when it’s thrown into the coffee cup, reacting to the brief residue. His eyes have bags, good’ol Adderall by his side. Trying to stay awake even though he knows, lack of sleep can drive a man insane. He repeatedly blinks to keep his eyes moisturized.
Following the serpentine ramp, he notices the diner, right off the exit, and his stomach gives a loud growl. Darting towards it, nearly overlapping a car that was following too closely. It makes wide turns! He mutters underneath his breath. Sometimes he’s too polite with the idiots he has to share the road with.
He pulls up to the parking lot of the diner, opening the door and welcoming it with a yoga-like stretch. Taking this opportunity, he also fetches the anti-smoking tablets that had wedged themselves between the dashboard and windshield. He doesn’t trust himself when he’s with nature; it’s the waiting-for-something-to-happen, that urges him to smoke. He knows it’s not a good idea to be smoking and taking anti-smoking tablets at the same time, but a reduction is all he needs. Yawning, he rubs his eyes vigorously; the crust comes off like a mask of insomnia. His beard had attained the height and the streaks of white to indicate the scars of wisdom. He pulls out a heavily-armoured jacket, wrapping it around his slightly round body, rubbing his neck (the snow always finds a way to sneak in at the back of your neck, he thought). He is making his way to the diner. After a few steps, there is a flash of pain on his forehead. Massaging his brow, he accidently bumps into someone.
“Hey, watch where you walk you dope!” the stranger yelled.
“Hey, easy buddy, I’m just—uhmm…” Shyam trailed off with his slight accent. He makes the mistake of looking at him. The man’s face is decaying; flesh hanging between his pale bones and worms were squirming in his eye sockets, blackened teeth as if they were dissolving in warm coke.
“You’re just what?” The man replied and as he spoke globs of blood and flesh fell to the ground. He stared at the piece of the stranger’s face on the ground.
“I’m just tired,” he said, assembling the courage to look up at him now. The man’s face was intact again. “Sorry,” Shyam put up his hands.
The stranger dismissed it and trailed off with harsh words for foreigners. Shyam knew it was happening again. He slapped himself a little. Snap out of it! He said to himself. He knew he had stopped taking his antidepressants. They made him drowsy on the wheel and made his mouth feel like it was stuffed with cotton. But it seems the hallucinations have returned. He took a deep breath and hoped a hot steaming cup of coffee, and some eggs, with a healthy portion of sausage on the side, would help matters.
He opened the door. Tnnng! A bell rings from above; the smell of breakfast can do wonders for the soul. The diner itself is an archetypal diner. Dark booths, with the leather, pinched to expose the mustard foam; specials, up above on the chalkboard mantle, sugar cookies encased in a plastic prison right next to the counter and black and white tiles stretched across the horizon. Shyam finds a corner near the window, and the aroma of freshly-made coffee follows him. He slides into the seat unbuttoning himself of his insulated skin. He looks outside: the snow is falling faster now. The cars are piling on top of each other like bodies on a pyre. Someone has started a riot, and the vehicles start to melt into each other; the flames don’t change their bodies—they return to their natural state of ash and up above there is a streak of poisonous green gas that forms a skull. He can make out the eye sockets and the mouth opens—
“Hi, welcome to Orla’s Inn, how can I help you today?”
Startled, it took him a moment to realize that the waitress was talking to him. “Oh yeah, I’ll just get uh…” he flips the menu quickly, knowing what he wants and pointing to the picture. She grabs the menu, flash of her red nail polish, tucks in the menu between her armpits.
“Eggs over easy that’s how I like them too,” She said, in a bubbly manner.
He took a look at her pink outfit. The blue eyes stood out like blood in the snow, and her dark brown bangs and square glasses made her into an odd figure in this place. “Yeah, and can I have coffee, black, thanks… Denise” he looked at her name tag, she had a heart on her ‘i’.
“Of Course, you can,” she said in a cheery voice. “You expecting the snow to hold you up for a while?”
“I hope it doesn’t… wanna get my delivery in as fast as possible but I know it’s not safe out there” he said, looking down at his hands which had decided to shake on their own and somehow the yellow patterns on his table began to move like a vat of liquid.
“Better safe than sorry that’s what I always say,” She said putting her hand on her hips. The hand shaking was getting violent; he quickly hides them under the table. “Just listening to the radio makes me cringe… a whole lot of collisions happening outside, whatever they put on the roads makes everything slippery.”
“Yeah,” the patterns on the table were moving and forming an image. Shyam felt the sweat and the feeling of being cold at the same time.
“You ok, sir? Looks like you’ve seen a ghost.”
“You won’t believe me even if I told you,” he said, staring absent-mindedly into the space in front of him, desperately trying to not show any more symptoms of his psychic fragility.
“Ha-ha, you don’t say? Personally, I don’t believe in that stuff. No offense to you, of course, but I think our minds are just so powerful that any suggestion can, you know…” She said, with an air of excitement. “Trigger something.”
“Thanks for that. Can I get my order now?” Shyam said in a frustrated manner. “If you don’t mind, I’m just a little hungry.”
“Oh, Silly me…I’m sorry. I just get excited about these type of conversations…I’ll be right back” She said still in a cheery mood.
His eyes following, Denise as she makes her way to the counter. He also notices an old woman behind it. The old woman met his gaze and proceeded to give him a very contemptuous look. He doesn’t know what that was about, but he turns away quickly and observes the other patrons: Bikers, truckers, and drifters. Transients in transit. They are all here, but they were meant to be somewhere else. More importantly, he recognizes that his darker complexion makes him stand out. Shyam had been trucking for almost ten years now, ever since he came to live here he had been to several of the small towns. He could always sense his otherworldliness. The distant stares, abrupt end to conversations or just general rudeness, he had developed a keen sense of when he wasn’t welcome; however, the problem is amplified if you are severely paranoid and also suffer from an acute case of social anxiety. He’s trying now to think of the past, but all he can remember is death, suicide and the stench of hospital rooms. In the old country, there was only that. He needs a distraction. Meditate now on the half empty salt shaker. Napkins are sticking out of the holder. Periphery visions of gaudy paintings hanging of the autumnal orange paths. Posters of local tourism initiatives. The low rumbling of voices, conversations turning into murmurs. The blatant chink of plates and crackling of cutlery. The snarl of the kitchen staff and then for a moment, as it all died down, the bell rings from above.
Tnnng! The entity walks in. The thing. The thing he saw in his rear-view mirror. He assumed that everyone saw it too because it had physically entered the diner, he had heard the bell ring, but there was no head turns, no staring— It was surprising because the thing wasn’t even human. It was a magnified cancer cell, deformed and mutating, with a plant-like body. It had a thick purple vein throbbing from its forehead, and as it walked towards him using its tendrils, it left a trail of blood and green pus on the floor. At this point, he closed and opened his eyes repeatedly, but the thing wouldn’t disappear.
“Here you go, Hun,” she said, settling the food below his eyesight. He looked up again; it was gone.
“Oh thanks,” he said, relief washes over him. The eggs stare with golden pupils, sausages thinly burnt but he knew if he sliced them their juices would flow.
“And here you go, coffee, dark as sin for you” she pours it with precision. “Let me know when you want dessert, OK?”
“Thanks, I’ll let you know.”
“Oh! Don’t mention it.” She said, waving her hand. “And what can I get for your friend?”
His jaw buckled, and he froze, the thing was sitting right in front of him. There were no eyes, folds of distended musculature and oozing liquid. There was a slit, in the middle of its bulbous face. It pulled up its tendrils to let Denise know it wasn’t hungry.
“Ok, I’ll come back again.” She left. Shyam couldn’t believe that Denise wasn’t appalled by its appearance. Its tendrils are rooting him in that booth. Then the thing spoke, and it spoke a foreign language. It spoke Shyam’s language:
“Astrological headlights. Green fingers. Chemtrails are nature’s curse.”
It didn’t move its mouth. It was communicating through some other medium. It was as if Shyam knew what it was going to say. The thing’s appearance. Chemtrails. Synchronicity. Something was unveiling for him.
Then he felt in his pocket. It was the shipping order— Sulfur. Fly ash. They are changing the weather; putting chemicals in the air. Heavy snow in April. That is abnormal. The trail of condensation has materialized into hands swooping down on the masses. Disease. The government is using the Chemtrails to change the weather, or they are creating diseases. That’s what he’s delivering. The thing tells him. Chemicals above, chemicals below. He knows before it tells him. He looks around the diner, and now everyone looks like a mass of pulp; he could see the effects of the plague. He looked at the Eggs. The yolk fluids, claws scratching; the fetus is trying to get out. In a moment, he lost his appetite.
“Hun, did you not like the eggs?” Denise asked. “You’ve been staring at them for an hour.”
He doesn’t know where these eggs came from; how they came to be made. Chemically induced. Poisons are being introduced into the system. Biochemical warfare. Infection.
“Can I get my cheque, please; I have to get out of here–”
“You’ve been saying that for ages,” She said.
“Please, Denise, I have to get out of here” He screamed looking up at her. It wasn’t Denise anymore. It was the old lady, who he saw behind the counter.
“Where’s Denise?” he cried.
“Hun, I am Denise” she pointed to her name tag. There was a heart on the ‘i’ though it was partially smudged.
He rummaged through his wallet and pulled out colorful wads of cash and threw it on the table and ran past the dropping plates and floating napkins, barely having any time to gather all his thoughts. He heard echoes of the yells as he left the diner behind but as he went outside he was met with gray skies and snow that had attained a force of a torrent. He could barely make out the dark beast as his face was being pummelled by glass daggers. Struggling to find his footing, he made it somehow to his truck, vaulting the door in a superhuman burst. Rummaging his pockets for the keys. He floods the engine with bronchial sounds. There was a figure standing in front of him. The thing covered in carbonic snow. It pointed to him, metastasizing into a smile. He knew what is going to happen. Purple tendrils burst out from the ground. Wrapping the truck, squeezing till it couldn’t breathe. Then he felt the feeling of drowning. A black hole opens up and drags him in.
The radio bursts out in snow:
Reports are coming in of a major crash on the 400. There was a four car pile-up after a truck—no survivors— carrying chemicals which slipped into oncoming traffic and collided with multiple vehicles. This incident comes on the heel of an unusual spring as most of the country has been pounded by heavy snow which has made visibility nearly impossible. Emergency crews have come up. The chemical fire has everyone baffled.
© A.R. Minhas 2016