I was corporeally sandwiched between two pillars of chronology: an inept date and a deadline. Time existed neither before nor after, and with a head full of solitude there would be no time for respite in dreams of the future. Reverie died as the chronometer began ticking down.
Charged with the onerous task of delivering a fortified package to a nameless beneficiary, I was a pawn who stood in front of a red, ’68 Chevy convertible in a low culture rental yard. Through a wisp of cigarette smoke, I listened, skeptically, to a smooth-talking rental agent’s assurances that it was the preeminent choice of the fastidious self-propelled car consumer. The thing was pockmarked almost entirely by commercial labels: cartoon effigies of Joe Camel and the Marlboro Man, priggish religious bumper stickers, a mass of fast food logos, etc. etc. ad absurdum. “Wouldn’t it be advisable, my good man, to side with a newer, perhaps, more reliable vehicle given these dark times?” I commiserated.
A peregrine grin crossed his face. “Times have changed.”
Ever the cruel gamester, his recommendation was pure public demand, but who could argue? I hadn’t the time to.
Segue. The vehicle took off and traveled like a rocket. As it thrust forward reality and all things cinctured therein deliquesced further and further into a maelstrom of pure delirium. I figured some sadistic fuck with a serious detestation for transit lounges must have tinkered with the engine. Efficient. Eye-sockets curled back, eyeballs quaked, cheeks and lips stretched and flapped. The G-force and heavy seat belt left me immobilized and questioning whether the human body could take such punishment. Avoid the thought, think of the mission. Owing to this growing conflict between objective and emotion, I consumed a hammerplant discovered during a curious rummage through the glove box. I needed equanimity. Otherwise, I would run the risk of doing something completely illogical.
I knew the blasted drug had kicked in when a cyclonic wind tore the labels off the Chevy, knocking me into a near unconscious recline. Without reason, I decided a gaze to the rear was in order. I had a gut feeling that something was amiss.
Holy tounges of Babel!
I was being tailed by a monstrous, bodiless black mouth, frothing at the lips, and swallowing everything that whizzed by. Taking a moment to chew o nthe labels, it provoked me into nervous contemplation. What was its next move?
Belting out a sonorous roar, lips thrown wide open, and out flew a screeching throng of bats.
“Reason’s useless on these fuckers!” I screamed, swatting as they surrounded the car.
The buggers put the Chevy in a precarious swerve and scattered overhead as the derailed vehicle dove towards a subterranean tunnel, wheels and side-mirrors snagging protruding pieces of wood, showers of water-droplets beating down, prompting automatic wipers, and closer and closer it seems we were duped to crash: a silver screen materialized, twelve o’ clock, dead ahead, the word “fin” and a dozen projector burns wiping into black.
I awoke; aquatic organisms swam disparately all around me. Package intact, clenched in hand, I floated gently within a breathable liquid. My chronometer was confounded: digital characters transmogrifying and wildly indecipherable. What was I to do? No time, no vehicle, geographically mystified, there seemed no other choice but to harvest what little resource I had. Sacrifice the mission, and time? With some tinkering, the travel case snapped open truculently.
A sonar device?
A description of the thing varied by interpretation; to me, it appeared a cross between a trumpet and a seashell. I hesitated pensively. This was too much a coincidence to be accidental. Its effect was completely unknowable to all cognitive faculties until a mammoth white whale swam to greet my request. Had I planned this trip all along? In spite of fear and relucance, I extended a precarious hand, and fastened my grip on the creature’s dorsal fin. Off we went.