Close your eyes. Behold the glory of the untold snapshot that is your dramatized perception. A requiem telling of a network centered with estranged empathy wrapped in a fortress of apathy and your trademark simplification of how this experience is defined. Yet, you pause in an exemplary settlement of gratification, spilled across your plane of existence, like milk on the kitchen table. You spend countless time trying to comprehend its meaning in an effort to justify your presence, but are you even here? Would you not know if you were not here? Your subsequent thought process is a figment of your imagination. You tend to believe this idealistic perception as if it were truth, you know nothing of what resides beyond yourself, or, in reality, where here is actually located.
His words float into your mind. They seem muffled and hazy. You open your eyes to reveal the waking skyline of the city. The city lights are reflecting through the drenched windshield and every other second finishing in a blurry image before swept away to clarity in short intervals. His voice interjects subtly.
‘Hey, man. Hey, you with me?’ He nudges you. ‘Yea, hey. Man. That stuff must be really getting to you.’
You respond with some half-wit form of affirmation that you’re coherent and in this moment with him. You are not. That was a lie. You want to get back to your epiphanic ponderings.
‘It’s getting to me. I’m a little, well, I...’ You are annoyed. Not so much with him, but because your mind begs attention elsewhere. However, he insists. ‘I’m not feeling it, man.’
Take a deep breath. It is good for you. Reluctantly tell him to enjoy the ride. Focus his mind on something other than the Hale. Ask him about his wife, or maybe his kid. Do not make it too serious. Keep his mood light. You should calm down, too. He should not be killing your flight for long.
‘Yeah, my anchor. I’m just getting a little excited, you know.’ He looks to the sky, his eyes begin to gleam in the reflection of the lights. He begins to sport a goofy half-smile. You know its fake, but it is not you who he is trying to fool. ‘Man, I can’t wait.’ Good, he is forgetting his altitude and carrying on with something less entertaining than your mind.
So, what is it that defines this mind of yours? Think of the vehicle you are in. Forget about everything outside of it. You focus your thoughts on the structure. Invision it. The metal cage that holds you. Sturdy and hovering. Do not think of the ground, there is nothing outside, remember? Stop it. You are focusing your thoughts on the inside. Like your mind, it is trapped inside a cage. Your brain knows nothing of the outside, just like you know nothing of the ground.
His grown pierces through the dawning of a brilliant realization. You notice him twitching through the elusive haziness of your peripheral. It was almost a dance, a melodic rocking back and forth. You decide to brush it off with the dimming, grey undertone of the overcast dusk. You drift off, back to what is really happening. Your mind crossing from thought to idea, idea to belief, and belief to question. Thought stalls when you doubt your reality and justifying it with a roadblock only makes it worse. Existence is simply futile in self-thought. You have only memorized experiences, how you perceive them is irrelevant for the constant of perception actually varies.
‘Yo, man. Hey Bren!’
You answer him with frustrated haste.
‘Man, I don’t feel so good, man.’
He is reaching for comfort, but what kind of comfort can you be? Peers can only verify experience. The simple answer is mechanical, yet the complex side of the question is thought provoking. Is the human psyche that simple and, yet, convoluted at the same time? It is pretty much common knowledge that every life is different, but how different? You all just share experiences and put words to them, but all we can do is really empathize. Say you lose a pet, someone else could relate with you if they had lost a pet but there is no possible way to have the same connection between two different pets and two different people. Even if the pets are the same animal, those life experiences can only be compared to a degree. Your voice does not sound the same when recorded. How does that compare to looking at yourself in the mirror? Probably the biggest flaw in human existence is that we are alone in thought, exuberant in poise, desperately undignified and, yet, frequently lost in a whirl of disconnected retribution. It is a simple depiction of vision, once recognizable, instead of a display of ridiculous subtlety. It is more or less a dismembered déjà vu strung out amongst a silhouetted co-pilot of a day.
‘Bren, my head hurts. It hurts real bad, man!’
His voice chisels through your thoughts like an icepick through a block of solidified water. You are frustrated. You explain to him that what he is feeling is normal and that he is getting excited. You tell him to calm down and to think about the blast of a night you both are about to have, which should be amazing. You are looking forward to it.
‘Yeah, Bren.’ He pauses for a few blinks. ‘I guess you’re right. Man, I guess I’m jus’ gettin’ inside my own head, you know? Sometimes, I’m all over the place, like, I mean, you ever think about what if you were, like, someone else, you know? Like if you weren’t you.’ He rambles on. You just nod on as if you were paying attention, but you aren’t. Are you? ‘And, then, like, it’s too much. It’s just too much!’
Don’t even pretend. Thou shalt pay tribute to such falsified logic that acquiesces this reality. You will find your impediment of a humored, carnal and robotic method guiding you in this realm of being in absolute distaste. You will smite yourself. You will find yourself obsolete. You are incredulous and this you understand. Although, you must see what he sees. The perception must be mirrored. You must obey. This is all you have. This is the experience, no? This is what you came here for, is it not?
‘Hey! Bren! I can’t do this. Man, I’m pullin’ over...I’ve got to.’
You try to reassure him. He doesn’t buy it. Explain to him why stopping on the freeway minutes away from the tunnel to the inner-city is dangerous, especially this time of day. Tell him. Order him. Defy your friendship, his and your life may depend on it. You realize that you have yet to analyze what it was that made you feel so comfortable with the idea of letting this lunatic drive. You drive at a high altitude just fine, but what if you had a sour flight? You feel a little panicked. Breath.
‘No!’ His voice rains down. ‘Wait! Stop!’ It is deafening. You pause. You know good and well that if he freaks out right now, at this speed, you are both doomed. ‘Whoa! I can’t...I can’t. I can’t do this! Bren, man, take the wheel. I need you to take the wheel!’
With uncertainty you grab the wheel from across the car. Despite your sweaty palms, you have a firm grip. You squint as you force your eyes to adjust on the road ahead. This is the worse time for this. He has got to get it together. His breathing is labored. Why is he being like this? You have heard of bad batches of Hale, but you both got it from the same place. Why aren’t you freaking out? Maybe you are. You have not paid the best attention to the road. You are about to just miss that car to your right. Your heart thumps a few hard beats as you feel a rush from your near-miss. ‘Bren!’ He saw it. He is even more afraid now. ‘Bren! This is crazy! We have to pull over.’
He jerks the wheel from your grip, mashes down on the brakes and pulls the car over three lanes before you start to focus again. Where is your attention going? What does it do? Can you control it? Does it control you? Remember, pay attention. You are paying attention. Why is the car stopped? This lane is for emergencies only. You imagine another car not seeing you on the side of the road. You figure Pavlo is a dumbass anyway, and he would be one to forget about the hazards. The other car, the one that doesn’t see the one you are in, smashes into the rear bumper. Your head would snap. Lights out. Game over. That would be it. You would stop thinking. Your family would care less. It is a sad thought, but you know that they really do not care. Why would they?
People live their lives. Whatever happens, happens. You just go with it. Life is a twisting river with inconsistent rapids of white disaster. Chaos. Distant memories that do or do not exist accordingly. Lost, that is all any of you are. Staring at the stars, hoping to map out the path to enlightenment. You know that is a joke. Enlightenment, what a fickle idea. It is like an afterlife, would it not just be life continued? Or, is it supposed to be different? Something new masking this life obsolete. What is the point then? Why bother? These are the bogus thoughts that only skim across the conscious, sober mind before being ruled as irrelevant and ultimately dismissed. They really are irrelevant. That is logical. Why are you always logical? What does it have to do with a solution? Something to solve.
You turn to Pavlo. He is lost in some weird gaze. It makes you feel uncomfortable. He does not appear to even be looking at anything in particular. Fear begins to creep into the pit of your stomach. Is he dead, you wonder. No, that would be ridiculous. You call his name. No response. You call it again. You reach for his shoulder and shake him a bit. Call his name one more time, he will answer this time. He does not. Get louder, call his name and shake him.
Pavlo blinks a few times. You feel relief. It would have been crazy if he did die. You would have had to call the police. They would find out about the Hale. Then you would be taken to jail. Hale is an S-Class infraction. You would likely get a life sentence and become some prisoner’s slave. Cringing in disgust, you analyze the string of situations and circumstances your life would then become. Not to mention your family, who does not give even a figment of care for you, would shun your entire existence. The neighborhood you grew up in would rumor you as a druggy killer. You would receive hate mail. He can not be dead.
You focus on Pavlo’s triumphant return to reality. His eyes are slightly crossed with a focal plane of negative space just feet in front of the car. You say his name again. His eyes come to a parallel focus. He turns to you. A few drops of blood drip from his right nostril. You become hopelessly intrigued. You ask him if he is all right. He does everything but acknowledge you. He sniffs a few times before grabbing his nose in minor hysteria. He makes eye contact. You feel fear for him. His brow shifts to an inquisitive shock. You feel the fear with him. Blood starts pouring from Pavlo’s nose underneath the grip of his hand.
‘No! Wait!’ His words hasty and panicked. ‘Whoa. No! What? No! Stop! Make this stop! Help! Help me.’
Pavlo sniffles with a painful shudder. He starts with wordless whimpering before turning to display bouts of loud, obnoxious screaming. You clench your teeth in dismay behind an awkward wince. What can you do? How can you convince him that he is going to be okay?
After a gut-wrenching howl, Pavlo falls silent for a moment. ‘I can not do this!’
You ask him about what in which he cannot do.
‘Stop! Too much pressure.’ His nasally voice forcing its way past clenched teeth and a blood-stained arm, ‘I need this to stop, man. Release the pressure.’
Pavlo reaches for the door handle. He opens the door and steps out into traffic. Without smallest amount time to even connect what was happening, Pavlo was gone. Blood and chunks of fleshy tissue showered onto the windshield, the hood and the road ahead. The sounds of braking vehicles flood the atmosphere. Another car slams into the one that took Pavlo away. The one that ended him.
Car after car, a pile-up ensues. You do not know what to do. Searching for your next action, you to panic. Pavlo is dead. He is really dead. That just happened. Your biggest fear just manifested itself. You have to toss the Hale. It has to go.