The months wore on, and on, and on. Eventually I could no longer stand the monotony. I was seventeen today, and Anthony and Cindy were kind enough to give me a cake. For my birthday present, I was gifted a Bible. Either they were oblivious to my true beliefs or they were still attempting to ‘correct’ them. I begged them to let me begin taking college classes either online or at a local community college. It would even have been free if I was accepted at the nearby two-year college because I was still a high school student.
“How are you going to get there?” They asked. It was at least six or seven miles away. I had no car and no driver’s license. Cindy certainly wasn’t going to take me. Anthony would not permit that.
“I could get a license and drive myself in the minivan.” This was no good either. They needed to use the minivan, and they didn’t want me to drive before I turned eighteen. They were afraid of where I might go. Maybe that was understandable, viewing the situation from their conservative point of view. It was too far away to travel to on foot, and the buses didn’t come into our suburban gated ‘utopia’.
“I could take classes online then.”
“How will you pay for that?” Online classes weren’t free. Were they not going to help me pay for them? They were obviously rich. I was privy to the fact that Anthony’s income had six figures, and they sent Hector off to some expensive private college only a few weeks earlier. There was no way that I would be able to get any kind of grant funding while living here, so starting college early was out. I couldn’t even get a job; I wasn’t allowed to leave the house.
Tristan probably would have gone back into the bathroom and taken twenty times the amount of pills he had taken before, then slit his wrists until his hands were barely still attached to his arms. But Tristan was gone. It was time for Ivan to make other plans. My life no longer interested me, so it was time to do more interesting things. It seemed like a rather simple solution after thinking about it.
What would enrage these people as much as they had enraged me? There had to be equality in that respect or Ivan would not be satiated. There had to be a balance. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction,” as Newton said. I wasn’t sure if I believed in karma but I would do my best to make it real. I’d be sure to have some fun along the way too. If my haters hated my actions, then I would probably be doing something that was already fun. That sounded right to me.
It was a Saturday night, just before 10:00p.m. I was outside, standing in the suburban streets just outside the range of the streetlight that shone from the next house down. How had I finally escaped from the house? It was now ‘the’ house, by the way. It wasn’t ‘my’ house, and it certainly wasn’t ‘home’. This was very important to Ivan…me. What cunning and elaborate plan had I employed to make it to where I was standing? It must have been some secret that I hadn’t stumbled upon until just now, right?
“Are you a fucking idiot? It truly baffles me. Tristan was totally controlled by fear,” Shadowshade began. “And I have seen a great many baffling things. But I suppose that hiss fear doesn’t matter anymore. His time is over. Ivan is above fear.”
“Ivan is above fear,” I repeated. “I am above fear.”
“But I am not just saying this randomly, child. You want to get out of here, do you not? Have you really never thought of using the back door?” I was greatly embarrassed. I wondered if Shadowshade was actually me from the future. I simply exited the house via the back door, doing it ever so quietly. I made sure to keep the doorknob turned until after the door had closed to keep it from making that annoying click when it shut…annoying if one is trying to sleep, at least.
I walked through the lavish grass in the tiny back yard…‘the’ tiny back yard, not ‘my’ tiny back yard…this was very important. Then I walked through the easily opened wooden gate. It was all much easier than I thought it would be. The gate wasn’t even locked. Damn. I hoped that no one ever decided to rob us. There certainly wasn’t much standing in their way. So through the gate and out into the street I went, then down a few houses to where I was standing now. I was waiting.
Saturday night. One might think that I chose Saturday night because it’s the weekend, the so called ‘party night’…“Saturday night’s alright”…but no. That wasn’t the reason at all. I chose this night because it was ‘go to bed early night’ for the Anderson family. They had to get up at dawn to make it to the early morning service. I had to as well, but I would have plenty of time to sleep in church.
What was I out here waiting for? So many questions…but that was the interesting part. A few days before, I had sat in my room in front of the computer like I did on every other monotonous, mediocre, melancholy day. All of the days seemed to start melting into one.
It was as if everything had already been determined: what I would be doing on the day after this, the day after that, and so on. I knew what all of it was going to be, and that was devastating. I decided not to allow that to happen. I had finished my schoolwork early and was having a tea party with Anna and Shadowshade, only there was no tea, and it really wasn’t much of a party.
“Why are you still staying inside?” He asked.
“To be with me.” Anna answered the question for me, but I wasn’t quite sure that the answer was true. In fact, it was an excellent question. Kudos, Shadowshade. I wanted to go outside. Tristan had been too scared, but I wasn’t Tristan anymore. I had to keep reminding myself of that. Still, I didn’t want to venture out alone. I decided to conjure up some excitement.
Facebook. I knew of a few people from nearby schools who had accounts there. I found them, along with some of their most interesting seeming friends. Is ‘most interesting’ code for attractive? I couldn’t tell.
“Anything fun to do this Saturday night?” I messaged Soren, a kid with a ‘bad’ reputation…should his reputation have been called ‘bad’ just because people looked down on him? What if he wanted them to? What if he was an introvert? What if he didn’t give a shit? ‘Bad’ seems like a relative term. Anyway, he and Ivan were sure to get along.
“Not really…it’s a shit Saturday,” he messaged back.
“We should fix that.” I far too proud of myself for saying that. And so began the planning. I repeated my friend-finding process until I had thrown together a decent little gang. I felt like a social engineer conducting a symphony of people and places.
Soren had a car. He would pick me up, along with a few others, then we would go from there. I wanted it to be spontaneous. I hated making repulsively over-organized plans. They ruined the magic of not having knowing what was coming. That was the best part to me, the not knowing. Anna and Shadowshade decided that they would come along for the trip as well.
Back to the street! Saturday night. 10:00p.m. Suburbia. There were streetlights off in the distance, but they weren’t too distant. As the image floated back into your mind, lights appeared at the end of the street. Headlights. They’d be able to see me easily, especially since my address was plugged into Soren’s GPS…as long as the thing was working tonight. I have never found a GPS that was consistently reliable. They moved steadily closer and closer, zoom-zooming at a rapid pace.
Perfect. Excitement was coming. Ivan had finally made some appear. As the car moved closer I was able to tell that it was a black Dodge Charger, a fairly new model. This guy must have money. I would have thought it was a nice car if it didn’t look so much like it belonged to the highway patrol.
They were getting close now and his lights flashed in my eyes. I was nearly blinded. Then I wondered why I was staring into the high-beams of a car, quickly turned around, and faced the other direction. I could see the light banishing the darkness all around me. I could almost feel it. I watched my long disproportionate shadow as the glare overcame the Ivan-sized patch of shadow that had been standing still as one of the Queen’s Guard in London.
A few seconds passed and the car was suddenly right beside me. Its engine rumbled and hummed a low growl that made my body shake and shiver. It was a mechanical earthquake. It stopped moving and the one of the back doors opened.
“Get in,” Soren said loudly from the front seat. So I did, pushing someone into another someone as I squeezed in. A guy and a girl were back here with me. His halfway spiked up short hair gently brushed against the roof of the car, as if he was gently toying with it. Maybe the girl was jealous. Then the car granted him a response. The engine roared to life and the tires squealed loudly as Soren pulled hard on the steering wheel. The car slid around and began driving in the other direction, heading away from my house. We fishtailed along the way. I liked him already.
“Whoa man, let’s not crash the fucking car. I’m trying to live through the night,” the guy sitting next to me reprimanded him. Jesus, was this guy going to ruin my night already?
“Get out of the damn car if you don’t like how it’s being driven.” I looked over my left shoulder at him. The girl sitting next to him was holding a handle attached to the roof above her, a bit to the left of where she sat. She seemed younger than the rest of us; I didn’t think that she could possibly be any older than fifteen.
Her long brunette hair was kept in a ponytail and was a few shades darker than her bronze-colored skin. She seemed to be stunned shitless by the drifting, maybe even horrified. The girl in the front, however, was doing fine. I could only see the back of her head, and not very well at that. The headrest sitting right in front of me did a fine job of blocking my vision.
“Yeah…” Soren agreed. “Don’t come or don’t bitch.” No one said anything for a few moments, but I was quickly growing tired of the silence. We had just passed entrance to my neighborhood and were now traveling down a road that was all too familiar to me, flying away from lifelessness. I wasn’t sure where we were going. No one else seemed to be sure either.
“So what shall our evening escapades be, ladies and g-…men?” I asked. We certainly weren’t gentle men, so I cut myself off.
“I want to go to the Glassway,” the girl in the passenger seat suggested.
“That works for me,” Soren replied. I had no idea what they were talking about. The Glassway? What was that? It sounded like something worth hearing about.
“So what is the Glassway?” I asked. Soren was the first to reply.
“At the top of a tower there’s a walkway made of glass. It’s kind of a secret. Don’t tell anyone where it is.” This adventure was starting to seem worthwhile.
“I’ve never been there either,” the guy next to me said. We drove through the nighttime city and I noticed that a lot of other people had decided to venture out too. It made since. We were in the city on a Saturday night. As we passed by the cars around us I could hear stereos with the bass turned all the way up. Rap was the favorite genre among most of these, which I kind of liked. The delinquent nature of the songs was appealing. Some cars had neon lights underneath them…I liked neon lights. They were fucking pretty. I would put some on my car one day.
Street light after brightly glowing streetlight passed us as we traveled closer and closer to the arcane Glassway. I waited with anticipation. On our stereo, a gritty metal band was blasting through the speakers. I couldn’t tell what band it was. I liked the music, but I hated the singer’s voice. He sounded like a bear with throat cancer, attempting to make his voice sound as pseudo-machismo as possible. It was like some random guy trying really hard to be a scary Tarzan Chuck Norris. Was he beating his chest and flaring his nostrils? Was he insecure?
All the night’s lights seemed to blend together, creating a molten multicolored swirly stream of illumination. The heat in the car was turned on because it was still rather cold outside. I felt like I was floating inside a dream. The lights could be whatever I wanted them to be in this world of my creation. Ivan was coming alive tonight.
“Almost there,” Soren said. We were traveling down a busy street near downtown, but not quite there. How would we be able to get to the Glassway unnoticed? We began to slow down, still in the middle of this street. A few cars swerved into the other lane to get around us. Was this the place, or was the car breaking down?
“Ah…here we are,” the girl in the front said as we pulled into a parking space off to the right side of the road. I looked out the window and saw tall dimly lit buildings towering over us, hiding just behind the parking meter in front of me. “I remember this spot better than I’d like to.”
I could think of a great many places that I could say the same about. Maybe she could understand my persistent time-traveling dilemma. We piled out of the car and filed out onto the sidewalk. I remembered that she and Soren had been here before.
“Have your ghosts started walking? Are they circling around you now? Are you flirting with your demons? Have your skeletons let themselves out of the closet and come to play?” I asked. She didn’t enjoy this question at all. She looked up and down the street and then at one of the nearby buildings, staring at the far right side…ah…that had to be it.
There was a small staircase, barely visible, leading up and around the back of a very tall building on the other side of the street. Her now starry eyes filled with longing and a dazed kind of sorrow as she daydreamed into a younger world. Soren seemed to be doing the same. His face formed into a scowl that was quickly replaced with his usual deadpan expression.
“This way to the Glassway,” he said as he kicked a discarded jagged half of a beer bottle out into the street, eagerly hoping that some poor and unsuspecting driver would come along and run over it. He began walking across the street, heading toward the building with the little staircase. We all made it across just before the next wave of Saturday-nighters drove by. Soren’s bottle-half made a shattering noise, but it hadn’t busted any tires yet. Damn.
Up and up the stairs we went, one after the other in the dim white light that poured from slits in the sides of the walls. Soren and I were at the front of the precession, then the two girls, then the guy who didn’t really seem to want to be here. We circled around the building until we came back around to the front of it. We were much higher up now and facing the street once again. Here the stairs leveled out and became a metal balcony. I looked down at the glittering street below me, mesmerized by the view of the city. The cars were as small as Hot Wheels now.
I could see the future. Each of the cars driving past came with a destination attached. Bars, clubs, shows, nightlife…they would pull into crowded parking lots or alongside of the street. They would go inside a building and socialize, add some new drama to their lives, and probably intoxicate themselves along the way. Then they’d drive home alone, angrily depressed, sexually frustrated…or as a duo or trio, maybe more, a bit happier and probably not quite as frustrated. They would try not to be pulled over and charged with DUI’s. Most of them would succeed, and the unlucky few would have their nights ruined.
“Almost there,” Soren said as he passed under the archway that was now behind us. It lead back away from the street. I went through next, then came the girl directly behind us. Her long dark hair hid part of her face until she shook her head, then whooshed behind her ears. She was rather attractive and looked kind of like Veia…but only slightly. She seemed far less aggressive than Veia though, slightly more feminine and reserved. She paused for a moment to run her hand along the cool cement side of the archway, gazing at it like a long forgotten friend. I definitely had to comment on this.
“What a picturesque little walkway, hmm?” I began. “It looks almost as if it could be in a scene from a movie, doesn’t it?”
“I suppose it does. It certainly was a…”
“…a scene from yours?” I interrupted.
“You’re starting to unsettle me.” I assumed that would happen but I didn’t really care.
“But I prefer to be unsettled. I don’t like to settle. I’m enjoying it.” This I didn’t expect.
“If you wish to be unsettled then we’ll be the best of friends. My name is Ivan… Ivan the Terrible.” She looked at me with a strange expression. It meant something like “really? Okay, mister cool guy.”
“Alright, Ivan the Terrible, my name is Simone.” We were all past the archway now and I finally realized what the name ‘Glassway’ really meant. On this side of the archway was the roof of one of the shorter sections of the building. It stretched out for about thirty or forty feet. On the other side of this was a sort of tunnel-bridge that seemed to be made mostly, if not entirely, out of shining turquoise glass. It sparkled brilliantly as the city’s molten lights shone upon it. How had this place stayed hidden from the public eye? Somehow it remained a well-kept secret that I had now become a part of.
“Come on, silly boys, into the afternever!” Simone raced across the roof toward the Glassway. We all followed close behind. As we reached the bridge, I noticed was a gap about two or three feet wide in between the roof and the beginning of the glass. It wasn’t a terribly difficult jump, but it could definitely be fallen through. Simone leaped over it, giggling along the way. Soren went next. Now it was my turn. I was a bit nervous, but I had sped up my pace. I could make the jump.
What if I fall? It seemed like a legitimate concern. But what if I don’t jump? Not jumping would have been far worse to me than falling through it. If I didn’t jump, I wouldn’t be living, so I might as well be dead. I would be living a life that wasn’t really life at all.
Of course I was going to jump! Though it filled my body with adrenaline, it was far easier and less thrilling than I had made it out to be. I made it to the other side, landing a couple of feet past where the bridge began. After me came the shy girl, then the backseat driver. He barely made it across. Would I care if he fell to his death? I wasn’t sure.
“You haven’t forgotten about me, have you?” A voice asked me. Of course I hadn’t. I wasn’t very skilled at forgetting, and things like Shadowshade were hard to forget. Why was he even asking? He could read my mind. “The ‘backseat driver’, eh? Ha-ha…no I don’t believe you’d care if he fell to his death. He will, by the way. Now I’ve told you. What will you do about it? Will you warn him? Will you try to save him? Of course you won’t.” He was right. I wasn’t going to tell him. He wouldn’t believe me anyway, but how could Shadowshade know that this guy was about to die? What the hell was he?