I was stranded, stuck on foot, with nothing but my backpack. I saw the empty race car driver’s seat and took the opportunity– and that was possibly the worst decision I could’ve made.
The car was a hybrid between a single seater race car and a go kart. Think a Jeep cut in half. I looked in the rearview mirror as I’m going down the highway and to my horror, there was someone in the backseat. He had a ghostly pale face and practically no hair. “Hey man, are you okay?” I said loudly over the wind. He kept coughing violently, and I noticed reddish spots on his jacket, face, and mouth.
“Hey, are you alright?” I got nervous, and kept glancing between the rearview mirror and the road.
“No, what do you think,” he spit out venomously. I hit a bump on the road that caused us to slightly lean forward. His body gave in to the motion more so than the usual, and that’s when I saw that the back of his head of missing. An entire half on the back of his head was gone, cracked; I saw the exposed top of brain, all that blood gushing out, and his eyes, fading in and out.
“What the fuck!” I almost yelled frantically. I stepped on the accelerator.
“Don’t drive so fast,” he complained, his body swaying slightly to each movement of the vehicle.
“We need to get you some fucking help.” I multi-tasked Grand Theft Auto-ing through traffic while rationing thoughts in mind: what happened to this guy? is he a murderer? what if this guy died while I was driving? what would I do with the body? should I stop and call 911? no, they’d take too long to get here… I need immediate help. I don’t know how long this guy’s going to last. Is there a town nearby? A road sign for a rest stop appeared on my right. They have to have emergency care in there. We pull into the roofed parking lot and I scrambled my way inside through a back door.
The lobby looked like a cross between a movie theater and middle school. A cascade of people waited on the main staircase to the second floor, and branched off into separate lines at the top of the blue steps. I noticed someone standing in the middle, a black man dressed in a vest, white button up, and work pants. “I need help,” I tried to explain.
“Mam, we can’t help you with that kind of problem here.” I was wasting too much time. Every second the guy was dying in the backseat. I brushed past the man and ran up the main stairs, pushing my way through. Some people looked at me in wonder. I reached the dimly lit second floor. People were all in lines for gendered restrooms, like sheep waiting to be slaughtered. I couldn’t find any emergency phone or first-aid kit anywhere I looked.
Going back downstairs will take too much time. I looked to the first floor, calculated the risk of me breaking any bones, and prepared myself to jump. A lanky mixed Asian man wearing a Hawaiian shirt, a hat with Goofy ears, and scattered facial hair, that was waiting in line made eye contact with me. In an instant I knew we were on the same wave length. He advocated for my cause, and so he began talking to the vested black man to distract him. I swung down the railing and hopped over the wheelchair ramp with the ease found in Assassin’s Creed. I opened the back door with the force of an explosion–
And stood there dumbfounded. He was gone. Instead, my backpack rested in his place. How? I rushed over and unzipped it, only to find my hoodie perfectly in tact with a note from Mom and Dad. Was this in here before? There was a light blue scratched up water bottle placed next to my purple one, and two stacked styrofoam cups filled with water. Blood had been washed off the seat, still damp (where did they find a hose?) and off the surface of the car. I searched around the parking lot, but no one else was around.
I left my bag, alongside the styrofoam cups, against the wall of the building. There was a mustard colored spot, intermingled with a muddy brown, on the concrete. Was that from recently or years ago? I guess you get what you give. Is that the right saying? And I woke up wondering.