Reality Intrudes

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jethro's picture

Reality intruded, small pieces crystallising sequentially.

His hand, pressed flat on hot sticky bitumen, small hard gravel chunks. He lifted it and stared at his palm, reddened by pressure, black tar crumbs clinging.

The chrome metal bumper digging into his back, hurting. He stiffened, pulled away and sat up straighter.

A deafening roar; the blur of noise combined from multiple sounds became recognisable as a siren its Doppler effect indicating its approach, the screaming of an engine running at maximum revs, tyres shrieking in protest as vehicle drivers stamped on brakes, a highly tuned idling engine sound to his right.

Smells; the acrid bite of tyre smoke, the sweetness of petrol. A stronger smell of sweat, his own he realised peripherally, and another smell, the same as the taste in his mouth, vomit he surmised.

He opened his eyes and was blinded by the sudden light, throwing his hand in front of his face to shield them as he squinted, trying to bring detail out of the glare.

In front a car lay on its roof, wheels still spinning, crumpled metal body pieces protruding at angles. Suddenly the engine stopped and the mechanical sound of hot machinery whirring as the drive train spun down with entropy, and then stopped, leaving hot metal clicking sounds.

Bizarrely a magpie took this moment to swoop into vision and alight on the tarmac between them, cock its head and look quizzically at him. It took a few steps awkwardly towards the puddle of vomit there, then paused one foot lifted and stared. Time seemed to stop momentarily as he stared back.

The siren suddenly stopped and he heard doors banging. His focus snapped back to his other hand, the one not shielding his face, a lighter gripped tightly. He stared uncomprehendingly. The engine to his right revved impatiently.

Then like a paused tv show that suddenly jerked back into life the pieces flooded in around him, jerkily at first then with increasing speed and his deliberate introspection of details was lost in the sudden cacophony of sound and vision that assaulted him. Flinging his head rapidly to the left he took it all in, the car hard behind him, the truck trailer body to his left, jack-knifed at a crazy angle across the multiple concrete wall bound lanes, the piled up cars behind and to the side. Looking to the open road to his right and the motorbike stopped there its rider looking back at him one hand beckoning. The sound of running boots invaded and looking back he saw the helmeted heads of two soldiers advancing from car to car. He looked down and saw the rocket launcher tube across his legs, the end still smoking from the discharge of the rocket, and suddenly that piece of memory swung back into place. As if he was watching again in replay as he saw the truck coming rapidly towards the temporary road block of car parked across the road and his partner screaming into his ear as he pressed the launch control and the missile sped insanely fast toward the truck cab as it bore down on them. Then as if in slow motion freeze frame he saw the cab stutter as if a giant hand had grabbed it and lifted it; flinging it crazily into the air before slamming it down and skidding it across the road. The explosion was deafening and everything went white as the blast wave hit him.

2013-01-05 Maleny Dairies 049The present reasserted itself with another impatient rev of the motorbike engine. His hand hurt as he realised he was gripping the lighter with white knuckles. Pushing away from the car with his other hand he rolled to his knees, the discarded missile tube clanging hollowly as it hit the tarmac. Looking under the car behind him he saw the dark spreading pool of petrol. A flick of the wheel on his thigh brought a bright glow of flame to the lighter and he scrambled to his feet. Looking up he saw a soldier in the distance bringing his rifle to bear from behind a car but once again slow motion over took him as he saw out of the corner of his eye his hand casually toss the lighter as he turned and with long strides sprinted the few metres to the bike. Watching over his shoulder he saw the soldier begin to duck as the lighter wheeled lazily through the air and arced down toward its destruction.

Time slowed again as his leg slid over the smooth fibreglass and leather, his boot firmly planted on the hard metal peg, his fist securely grabbing his partners jacket as the rear wheel spun and slipped sideways under the sudden clutch release. Then as it bit hard and the front lifted his heart pounded until his other foot found its peg and the bike lifted away from the blast wave behind.

Reality intruded again. The wind tore tears from his eyes.

© 2013 Tim Miller