LJ Idol Exhibit B | week twelve | 1520 words
Where Am I?
I wake up under a doorway in the middle of an alley. It's nighttime and it's raining, and this doesn't look like a terribly safe place to be.
Time to run.
I bolt up and head for the nearest cross-street, stopping short to peer around the corner. The street looks better—less run-down and deserted—but all the writing on the signs is in Cyrillic. Oh, boy…
Let me just say for the record that teleportation is not all it's cracked up to be. You might think it would be great for sneaking into movies without paying, but you have to be careful. Subtle. Is the movie theater dark? Will there be witnesses to your sudden manifestation? Or, say you want to dash over to Paris. If it's just for the day, great! But you can't take any luggage with you—only the things you're wearing will make it. How much fun is a trip where you spend half of it shopping for the things most people just pack in their suitcases?
The truth is, teleportation is as much a gift as a curse. I can't always control it—sometimes I can "jump" when I want to, and other times, nothing. I might send myself somewhere and get stranded for days, unable to jump back. I nearly got fired last May for taking a week of unplanned vacation in Argentina, and I didn't even have my passport or the money to just pay for a damn plane ticket home.
Even worse, more and more of my traveling is happening while I'm asleep.
I've learned a thing or two. I go to bed fully dressed now, including my ID and wallet and usually my shoes. I carry a few different currencies (thank god for the euro, and the fact that both Canadians and people south-of-the-border usually tolerate U.S. cash). But I've never found myself in an Eastern European country before, and who knows which one this is? I don’t have the money for it, that's for sure. I hope to God I won't need it…
I step out onto the sidewalk, and start walking toward a well-lit area in the next block. It looks less dangerous there, though probably also busier. If I can find a good, safe spot that's quiet enough, I'll lie down and try to go back to sleep. If I jump while I'm asleep, the next sleep-jump usually takes me back home. It's a risk, though. Anything could come after you then, as you lie there oblivious and unguarded—even if it's only rats.
I see an alcove behind the front of a clock shop, and slip inside it. I take a few minutes to try to send myself home: City, living room, home, bed, home…
I concentrate on those places. I'm not sure that even works, but I can't say it doesn't. It's all voodoo now—I grasp at whatever seemed to bring the magic before, keeping pace with the changes over time. What I wouldn't give to be able to control this thing, instead of picking up the pieces after it acts up on its own.
I hear a low growl, and open my eyes. Fangs. God, where the hell did that dog come from? Home-home-home, I think, and then, Ow! Sonofabitch!
I'm in my bedroom again, bleeding on the carpet and realizing I've just bought myself another round of rabies shots. God damn it!
Cleaning up in the bathroom, I dither over whether to go to the hospital now, or wait for morning. It'll be what, tomorrow...Sunday? No—Monday. Well, I can't miss any more work, so being sleep-deprived is better than being late. I gather a clean set of clothes and drive to the E.R. I'm pretty sure the second pair of pants is loose enough to wear over bandages. This isn't the first time I've been through this, and it won't be the last.
I don't think I could sell tickets to Rod's Guided And Unguided Tour Of Parts Beyond, but if I did, the itinerary would include things like this:
I wish I could talk to someone else about this. Is there a support group somewhere for people with defective teleportation abilities? "My name is Rod, and I'm afraid to go to sleep." "Hi, Rod…"
The doctors at the hospital patch me up, and I change my clothes and go to work. I explain my limp as a weekend basketball injury, but I feel like a school-kid who has given so many excuses for being absent that he's starting to run out of dead relatives.
After a long day, during which I promise free money to the three people who call after the pain pills wear off, I finally go home. I walk right through the door and collapse face-first on the sofa. I manage to turn the television on, but give up on finding any good programs. Maybe after dinner…
I wake up surrounded by trees, with the sound of roaring water nearby. I lean away from my bad leg and sit up, looking all around me. Flowered plants, palm trees, and a waterfall—someplace tropical, more beautiful than anywhere I've ever been. Even the air is soft here, and it smells like a mixture of sunshine, hibiscus, and damp earth. I move to the edge of the pool beneath the waterfall, content to sit there and watch the flow just tumble and mist down from the ledge above. It's soothing and hypnotic, and I soon forget the pain in my leg.
I come to with a jolt, and I'm back on the sofa. My clothes are damp and muddy—why do I even bother buying furniture?—and I force myself into the bathroom to peel them off and dump them in the tub before going to bed.
The next couple of days are better. With a little more sleep and some time for my leg to heal, I'm off the pain meds and down to wound-maintenance by Friday. I've cleared thirty-one client files since the disaster on Monday, and no one has taken me up on the offer of free money, at least not yet. Let's hope they never do.
My buddy Van calls, and asks if I want to catch the new sci-fi movie at the downtown cinema. Sure, why not? Especially since I'm here now, as opposed to that unplanned week in Argentina, when I flaked out on a playoff-series barbecue at his house. Van does not know about my 'special abilities,' but he's been the victim of a couple of no-shows because of them.
I haven't had a girlfriend in years, not since I started randomly teleporting out of the bedroom during the night. The friends I do still have, I try to keep.
We meet up for a beer beforehand, then walk to the theater. The movie is one of those Transformers things, flashy and loud, but reasonably entertaining. A good way to end the week, and an excuse to hang out together. I figure I'll call Van in a few weeks to come over and watch a game. If I make plans a day or two ahead, I'm usually still around to keep them. Any farther off than that, it's pretty iffy.
It's late, so I just brush my teeth when I get home and go to bed in the clothes I'm wearing. The only thing on the agenda tomorrow is getting groceries and doing laundry, so I can sleep as long as I want.
I wake up under a black star-studded sky, and look left, right, left… Everything is hard and gray and cold, with no trees or buildings. What is this place? I've never seen anything so desolate.
I suddenly notice a big blue-green sphere floating in the distance. It looks like—
But if that's Earth, then I must be—
Oh God, oh God, not this. Oh, shit, shit, shit!
I squeeze my eyes shut and try to focus over the panic. Home, home, home, damn it, HOME! Now, please, NOW! Oh God, why can't I—HOME! Come on now, HOME!
I hold my breath as long as I can. Please, if could just—
HOME! Why isn't it working? I need to get HOME!
Oh Jesus, my lungs are burning, my lungs, my head. Why me, God, why? What did I ever do?
The blackness, it's bursting inside me, exploding. It's tearing its way out.
Make it stop, make it stop, God, please, I'm begging. PLEASE, God, it all hurts
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