Destination unknown: Bayou leaves driver searching for reality

| October 24, 2012

Darkness engulfed him as soon as he exited the truck. Henry couldn’t see his hand in front of his face. Even his trusty Maglite couldn’t cut it for more than a few feet. As soon as he got close to the grill, the overwhelming smell of rot hit him full force. He stepped back and shook his head to keep from gagging. When he had composed himself, he shined the light towards the area he thought had been hit. There were bits and pieces of what looked like a very large lizard, but he knew that wasn’t possible. The smell was so strong, he couldn’t get any closer without throwing up.

“Sir?”

A voice in the dark scared him so bad he almost threw up anyway. The shadowy figure materialized beside him, holding a stack of dirty paperwork.

“Jeezo Pete, man! You scared the hair off my legs! You can’t be sneaking up on an old man like that. You’ll be the death of me.”

There was no answer from the figure. He couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman. The darkness was oppressive, he felt like he was breathing it into his lungs.

“Don’t y’all have any lights around here? This is the darkest damn place I’ve ever seen. And what the hell kind of bugs come up out of that swamp smelling like death’s asshole? I’ve never seen anything like it.”

“Your trailer is ready, sir.”

“What the hell? I’ve only been here 10 minutes. Y’all got jet packs on your forklifts?”

Again there was no answer. Henry took the paperwork and looked at it. The filthy pages were curled around the edges. He noticed the invoice was handwritten.

“Y’all don’t have computers either? No lights, no computers. What the hell am I hauling, covered wagon wheels?”

He looked up and realized he was talking to himself. He’d had enough of this weirdness and made quick work of getting back into the safety of the truck. He couldn’t put the load information into the Qualcomm, the screen had gone as dark as the night around him.

“To hell with this, I’m gettin’ out of here.”

The drive out was as creepy as the drive in, and for a minute he was afraid the gates weren’t going to magically open to let him go. But they did, and soon he was back on the pitch-black road. No longer concerned with anything other than making it to some semblance of civilization, he hammered down. The Qualcomm stayed dark, but Henry had an uncanny sense of direction and soon made his way on to a state route he recognized.

When Henry felt there was a comfortable distance between him and the strange warehouse, he started looking for a place to shut down. An old gas station, long closed and forgotten, offered an open, empty lot. It wasn’t the Petro, but it would have to do.

Unable to turn on the Qualcomm, he decided to wait until the morning to fool with it. He was exhausted and fell into the bunk. He was almost immediately asleep. Strange dreams of fire and people screaming filled his sleep. He tossed and turned fitfully, but did not wake until the loud knocking on the side of his truck brought him out of it. Daylight and a state trooper filled his driver’s side window. He had never been so happy to see a full-grown man in his life, and he jumped up to open the window.

“Yes sir? What can I do for you, officer?”

“You Henry Thorson?”

“Yes sir. Is there a problem?”

“I’d say so. You were reported missing four days ago. Where in the hell have you been?”

“That can’t be right, sir. I was dispatched just last night to pick this load up. This was the first place I could find to shut down. My Qualcomm fritzed out on me, so I wasn’t able to do my loaded call, but it sure as hell hasn’t been four days.”