“Who are you?”
Jack asked as they made their way down the abandoned road somewhere between civilization and hell.
“I am the man who is going to take everything.”
Jack said. Why was he so calm about this? This freaky fuck was in his car and he had no idea how he got there. At least he was wearing his seatbelt.
“Yes, my friend everything. I just need a ride.”
He was staring out the passenger side window.
“Need to get to where I need to go to do the good work that needs to be done so I can set the people free.” He started to whistle.
What was this guy talking about? Was he a preacher? He sure didn’t dress like one. He looked like a washed up, rode-hard-and-put-up-wet surfer hanging on to his thirties but pushing sixty-something and had just crawled out of a dirt pit. What he was doing in jack’s car was beyond him. Why am I so calm, he thought to himself.
“What…what is your name?”
Jack asked, a bit concerned but not enough to pull over and push the old surfer out of his car.
“Ah, come on now Jack,” the man said, “We have been through this.” and continued to whistle.
Had they? Jack thought. This was a bit familiar. Had he done this before? Of course he hadn’t.
“Look I don’t know who you think you are but…”
“Jack! Watch out!”
The man yelled and the world began to jerk as the car spun out of control.
Jack felt a sinking feeling in his gut as the car was tossed into a roll. He saw the world spin before him and heaved as the car soared into oblivion.
He was awake, in a cold sweat and out of breath. He looked around the room, sat up and ran a hand through his hair, stopping abruptly in disgust as he brought it back down, soaked. He looked around again and patted his legs, still there. He turned to look in the mirror over the dresser. No scars. No blood. Just soaked sheets and a roaring air conditioner. Not another one! What the fuck is going on? Jack said to himself scanning the room for nothing in particular. This was the third time he had had this dream. His heartbeat was beginning to settle a bit and his breathing was beginning to slow to a normal pace, as he ran through what he had just seen. His brain was really starting to scare him. Was it his situation? Was it the stress? The money? Whatever it was, he needed to calm himself to get things in order. He was off to start anew. Going as far West as he could. These dreams were just a nuisance, part of the process.
“People have recurring dreams all the time,” he said to himself out loud as he got out of bed and headed to the bathroom. Jack looked at himself in the mirror. He had been meaning to shave. Why do they keep repeating? He thought. No. Not repeating, continuing. Evolving. Every dream was like another day of the adventures of Jack and the filthy freak. Jack shivered a little bit, not able to tear himself away from the mirror; he was staring deep into his own eyes now.
What was his name? Jack thought. He told me on the first night. It started with a ‘J’, like mine. Joshua? Joseph? No….Jonas! That’s what it was. Jonas Clip. ‘You can call me Clip, Jack. All my friends call me Clip.’ Hearing that voice his mind flashed to the moment the car spun out of control. He felt his heart pick up the pace, fear running through him like a ghost. Even though the conversation was always different, the dream always ended the same, with the accident, the same exact one. Not a detail missing each time. Put it out of your mind Jack, he told himself, ain’t no thing, just a dream, slash nightmare. It was time for a complimentary continental breakfast in the lobby and off to his safe haven.
Jack drove through the morning and into mid-afternoon before he stopped for some lunch. He popped into a diner in an oasis of a town occupied by no more than a gas station, a bank and the diner. It looked so small against the sprawling, Western sky. It was time for some greasy road food. Jack pulled up to the High Vista Fine Dining Diner, dust swirling around the car like a spell, with pie on his mind. Yes ma’am, he thought I would like some pie to wash that burger down.
As Jack sat in his booth, eating his lunch he could not help but let his mind wander towards the dreams he’d been having. Was it going to happen again tonight? Shit, he hoped not. The sleep was deep but waking up was a mess. And the dream itself…Jesus, that accident. He tried to think about what had happened in the first two dreams. They swam around in his brain teasing at his memory. He really had to concentrate. Jack tried to clear his mind and hoped he wasn’t getting the straight-jacket look from anyone. Think Jack, think. He told himself. Think. He saw. It wasn’t much but it was enough to bring terror to the front of Jack’s senses. Those eyes. That face. They were…human…but…not human. Alien? No, they were definitely human, but those eyes. The eyes of a killer. And his face. Clip’s face was constantly drawn into the grin of a man about to commit murder. And not just one murder, but a spree. Clip’s killing spree starting with one Jack Pierce from New York City. Out of place on the West coast, trying to right his wrongs.
Clip slapped his hand on Jack’s shoulder. His skin was dark. The man must not have washed in days. He stared at Jack with that grin and had said,
“Let’s get some pie. You want some key lime pie Jack? It’s what you do on roa…Jack watch out!”
And with a jolt to the right he was back in High Vista Fine Dining.
There was a stillness to the air, save for the sounds of the greasy spoon. He looked around to see if anyone had reacted to anything he might have done, half expecting to see Clip give him a wave hello from some corner booth, gun in hand. He felt as if he had just been in a trance. What was happening to him? He was getting very worried. But, he had no one to talk to. He was on his own in a very different place, thousands of miles from anyone he knew. New start, damnit. He needed to calm down. He could handle this. It’s all a part of the change.
“Slice of pie, hon, for the road?”
the waitress asked, appearing out of nowhere next to the table.
“Yes please,” Jack said “I’ll take the key lime.”
He told himself he would drive as long as he could, to really gain some miles. He just wanted to be at his destination and be done with this stress. Night fell and Jack eventually got tired of seeing the headlight beams reflecting on an empty road. The rental had not come equipped with satellite radio, so he fell victim to the powers that be in the FM and AM realm. Meaningless talk radio and country music were all he had and he could stand neither. It was time to find the next exit and hit the hay. He was tired this evening. The pie must have been the capper. He was going to sleep deep tonight. Maybe so deep, he would not dream. Or, if he did, maybe it would be a nice one about the wonderful life ahead of him. He gave a big, “HA” out loud at that one and pulled up to the motel office.