Chapter 3: A State
There I stood, in the middle of a restaurant in Santa Martinez that I knew somehow to be both an Indian and Thai restaurant simultaneously in the same space and time, with a cellphone in my hand and not a clue of who to call. No name, no number.
Where the feeling of recognition would spark in my head, a mild rush of dopamine as a reward of being a good boy and using my power of recollection, there was now a dull pressure, like that of a sinus headache preceding a low pressure system or as if someone had removed part of my brain and replaced it with cotton.
In the next 2 hours, I would find that both of these thoughts were fairly accurate as to what was actually happening to me.
The phone in my hand vibrated, followed by an unmistakable melody: the “I’m loving it” jingle that McDonald’s reportedly paid Justin Timberlake six million dollars to sing. The phone was ringing. I looked at the screen. It was blank. Without hesitation, I answered.
The Superb: “Hello?”
Caller: (the same cavernous background was present in this call) “…Yessssssah”
The Superb: “What am I looking for?”
Caller: “….” (sounds of chains rattling)
The Superb: “What is the point of this? I know you know.”
Caller: “…what are you doing?”
The Superb: “What do you mean? Why am I here in California? Is that..”
Caller: “NO.” (in this moment, the reverb on the other end of the phone coalesced like water into a drain for one moment of clarity as he spoke this phrase. He screamed while not screaming). I’m not talking to you. There is another.
The Superb: “Another person in the room with you?”
Caller: “…746 Holly Dr. Come…on….innnnnnnnnnnn.” (caller hangs up phone)
I pried the phone away from my ear, my arm completely petrified to the side of my head. As it dropped past my shoulder, the sounds of the restaurant began to seep back into my consciousness. I took a moment to collect myself and handed the phone back to the man behind the counter.
“Done already?” he said as he looked at me completely befuddled.
“Yes…thank you. Would you happen to know where 746 Holly Drive?”, I said.
In that moment, it was as if someone flipped a switch somewhere behind the scenes. Everything became very….automated. The man’s pupils dilated and his movement became extremely precise. He left his position behind the counter and walked towards the door.
“Follow me and I will take you to….746 Holly Drive.” he said in a voice that was absolutely not his own. At that moment, every person in the restaurant, customer and kitchen staff alike, stood and walked behind us toward the door as if they were on a rail. We exited the restaurant and a moped rode up by itself, balancing perfectly and stopping on a dime in front of us. The man swung his back end completely upwards and planted it on the motorcycle as if he was a poorly animated character in a mid-2000’s video game. His face looked like a husk with black fires burning in the eye sockets. “Hey come on aboard now come on aboard now com-“. His head twitched to the side and the black fire splashed from his eyes and onto the pavement. It burnt a hole in the pavement to reveal a shimmering prism below the road.
At this point, I had enough of my presence of mind back to realize that none of this was grounded in the reality I had spent 29 years in. But now I was on the track too, and there was only one destination on this rail. I hopped on the bike with him and gripped onto his greasy red t-shirt. The customers and restaurant workers lined up in front of us in the street in three row. Raising their arms in the air, the two outer rows bent unnaturally at the waist sideways towards the middle row, who had flipped themselves upside down standing on their necks with their faces staring at us, spreading their legs apart to meet the arms of the outer rows. They were forming double arches.
“YOUR DISPLAY IS SHAMEFUL. PREPARE OF RELEASE.” My driver rev’d the engine, shifted into gear, and barreled through the middle row, leaving a trail of broken and bloody meat. As we roared down the street, I turned in time to see one of the chefs quickly shoveling the roadkill inside the restaurant.
“NOW WE ARE ON TARGET.” he bellowed as we took a sharp turn. Something felt like it had clicked inside my head.
To be continued…