fifteen gallons of crystal clear, bubbling H2O.
swampy blue and green backdrop displaying lake bottom plants and animals, mainly platy's, frozen in mid-sway.
it was a normal community tank filled with passive community fish, gouramies, ghost fish, tetras (neon and gold) and, of course, a scum sucking plecostomus or two.
not a bad starter set.
your face begins to take on another shape.
maybe this wasn't a good idea.
the blinking keg lights burn, brilliant piercing signals fading on impact and passing.
these lights have brief, cautionary life spans, entire galaxies fueled by car headlights.
your eyes remain frozen, mysteriously fearful of what lay in your peripheral.
shadowy figures peering out from darkened homes. arms contorted, form forever frozen in the act of
recoiling, a hissing escapes from an unseen maw. silhouette creatures, details and features lost in the umbra.
the closer they come to our passing car the more i notice their beady red eyes, gazed fixed on a single passenger.
the highway speed limit drops suddenly. you must bend to the will of the law, but instinctual fear spears and claws at your gut and spine, screaming at you shrilly, insisting you forget the speed limit and just go, as fast as you possibly can. you can't catch me, i'm the gingerbread man.
perhaps the signs had been erected for this single purpose, maybe multiple, who knows? it's almost certainly not going to be enjoyable for us. i almost can't think of it, my back stiffens, my head throbs, my ears ring. my entire body is in red alert. shit.
i can only imagine being food or some sort of sick entertainment for these monstrous humanoids, cut up and stuffed, served on a platter in a dark, musky barn full of shadowy figures. i see another precautionary speed sign: reduce speed. town ahead.
now that i look at them, slowly approaching and disappearing into the lids of my peripheral, they almost look sloppy and unprofessional. large, diamond shaped warning flags with a single, foot by foot white metallic sign, encompassing perhaps an eighth of the overall warning flag space, two digits in black and bordered by a thick black line.
"approaching town" it reflects.
we pick it up like sonar signals, directly, almost painfully, into the brain and gradually the car engine whistles and winds down to match the ordered speed.
i know better.
but i can't say so.
can't scare the fellows. the other passengers.
one, who's been texting for hours, and another who has been sighing stressfully the entire ride.
the atmosphere in here is suffocating. thick like vaporous butter and dead stiff as, say, frozen beef.
my joints creak and ache, from the lack of active motion, and my bladder sways within my midsection, a water balloon tethered by bits of generic dental floss. the howling wind, fighting it's way through the sliver of open window, beats at my unprotected body relentlessly. beach wear and a cold front.
home has so much meaning, a wrecking ball to this condemned, crumbling facade i mistakenly call bravery.
how's my face look? no visible look of consternation. still appearing calm.
hours ahead of me.
home has alcohol, bathrooms and ashtrays.
hours to go.