I was late. It was my own damn fault. Three alarms had gone off right in my ear – three loud, buzzing alarms – but I had turned them all off and kept sleeping. Now I was stumbling out the front door to the sound of screeching steel, and the buzzing and grinding of workmen that had kept me up all through the night. Damn construction. I’d have to talk to the homes association about the noise when I got home. I was so tired, I barely felt alive.
By the time I dragged myself to my car, a steady progression of cars was already making its way down the way, bound for god knows where. I took only a half second to look in despair at the slightly dented front bumper. My wife, or someone else, must have bumped a barricade pulling out of the work parking lot the day before.
I climbed into the car carefully, strapping myself in. I checked the seatbelt twice, adjusted the mirrors, and pressed a few buttons for good measure. Confident I was secure, I melded into the progression of cars, bound for god knows where.
The sky was a thousand fluorescent suns, surrounded by dark clouds. It was strangely beautiful, in an artificial sort of way. I didn’t bother looking up at it, though. I couldn’t have, anyway, since my head was locked forward, my eyes on the progression of cars ahead of me as they melted away from me one at a time, bound for god knows where.
Soon, there was no one in front of me, just the open road. I could almost have smiled, in that moment, if I were not so set on getting to where I needed to be. There was no one in front of me, so it was rather odd that I suddenly heard a screech of metal and a loud thud right next to me.
For some reason, my eyesight ballooned white and something punched me in the mouth. My legs, which had already been dangling limply from my torso, folded all the way up under the steering wheel. Then, I was flying.
I was sure I had checked my seatbelt, so you can imagine my surprise when I found myself hurling forward, into the reinforced glass. It didn’t break, but I did. I didn’t feel a thing, though, which I thought was strange. I must have died right when I hit the window. That was good, I would have hated to have suffered.
I heard a voice from outside my window, in the sky made of a thousand flourescent suns. A man appeared in the shattered driver side window. He peered scholarly into the car, not making any move to help me.
Turning over his shoulder, he called out to someone I could not see, “I think we need to fix the seatbelts. These aren’t holding any weight at all.”
He fussed around with the seat belt for a bit, then turned to look me in the eyes. Though he did not seem unkind, there was no empathy in his voice. When he spoke to me, it was as if we had some great inside joke between us that I did not understand: “Sorry buddy, better luck next time.”
Photo by Chris Liverani on Unsplash