Friday, November 15, 2013

The Unbroken White Line, Chapter 2

Read Chapter 1

Chapter 2

The car hit a small bump on the highway, causing Jake’s head to move slightly as it leaned against the window. The friction made a squeaking sound and Penny giggled. Jake wasn’t really in the mood for humor, though he wasn’t in a sour mood either. He just was.

Taking his head off the glass, he looked at the place where his forehead had rested. Instead of a nice, clean, glass window, an oval grease spot stared back at him. Jake sat up a bit straighter and looked through the grease at the white line rushing by. It was now distorted. Instead of being crisply edged, it wiggled and jumped around. Keeping his eyes on it, Jake  lowered his head a bit to allow the closer edge of the line to leak from behind the grease, showing its crisp edge again.

“How you doing, Jake,” Jake’s mom asked from the front seat.

“Fine. Just tired.”

But he wasn’t fine. Every so often, he wasn’t. He didn’t know why. It just happened. He would be sitting there and his chest would begin to tighten, his breathing would quicken its pace, his heart would beat faster, making him feel like he could run a few miles. And here he was, feeling all those numbing feelings again, trapped in a car, wanting to stop and get out.

Jake looked away from the window to ask his dad if he could stop the car somewhere, just to get out and walk a bit. But instead of his dad driving, as he turned his head in that direction, he was looking through metal bars, painted green, one with a chip in the middle at about chest height if he had been standing.

His heart sank. He was sleeping again. He hated this dream. Every single night, the same dream. If he drifted off in the car, the same dream. Anytime he fell asleep, for that matter, which seemed quite frequent to him, the same dream.

He was in some sort of prison, going through the motions of a pointless day, waking up, sitting, eating tasteless meals, being acquiescent to the guards who seemed to constantly be looking his direction until he looked their way, just in time to see the last fleeting glimpse of their eyes flit away. The guards would whisper. He was sure they were whispering about him, not that he was a bit interesting.

The other prisoners were the interesting ones. They walked around, pretending he wasn’t there. Sometimes, they would laugh under their breath and nod their head sideways in his direction, speaking inaudible words to their friends or whatever they were. Sometimes, Jake would walk through a group of them and they would part, as if he had some sort of disease.

The other prisoners were interesting because they enjoyed their food. They would take their trays up to the mess line twice, sometimes three times. Jake could barely finish his first tray, let alone want a second. The food had no flavor. He would sit alone at a table, tapping his white shoes against the concrete floor, the cold concrete floor. The food had no flavor, yet the floor had a temperature. Jake always found this part a bit disconcerting.

But the prison life in his dream didn’t bother him that much. He could handle the repetitive nature of his sleeping life. Sure, it was boring, but it wasn’t a bad dream, by any means. What did bother him was that new things started to appear.

One time, he had fallen asleep and found himself standing in the middle of the aisle outside of his cell. It was dark outside. The moon was shining its bright rays through one of the roof skylights, illuminating a path forward. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see two guards behind him.

“Jake. Walk,” the one on the right softly whispered.

So he walked. Somehow, he knew where to go. One bare foot in front of the other. The floor was cold. He walked straight ahead, then turned right. The hall became dark, no moon to illuminate it. A faint light began to appear in the distance. He turned left into another corridor and the light disappeared, replaced by piercing light coming from light bulbs, hanging from the ceiling by wires.

The wires were so thin, that Jake always wondered if the bulbs would fall, one by one, crashing to the floor, breaking the thick stillness of the air as they shattered on the concrete, leaving everyone in the corridor in complete darkness. Instead, as he approached each bulb, they appeared to swing ever so slightly his direction, trying to reach out to him, though they were far above his head. When he came directly under them, they hung straight down again, as if they hadn’t even moved.

Jake would stare at each bulb as he approached, trying to trick one into revealing its swing back to its original position. But try as he might, he blinked every single time he caught up to one. There were forty-six bulbs, never one unlit or broken.

He turned right, down another corridor, and entered a room. The room was illuminated with fluorescent lighting, more than anyone would deem necessary to read with. It was so bright, no mouse had ever dared to make a run for the raisin that sat in the corner directly ahead of him. His stomach growled, surprising him. His stomach never growled in his dreams.

Looking away from the raisin, he fixed his gaze on the glass wall in front of him and froze. He heard a squeaky sort of yelp come from his lips and at the same moment, spun around and ran back through the door where he had entered the room. As he turned back up the corridor, he quickly looked over his shoulder.

Penny stared back at him through the window.

Read Chapter 3

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