Andy brought his keys with him on the night of the incident. He kept it in the right pocket of his tracksuit and hadn’t left it behind like he did with his inhaler. He brought his wallet, too. He also made sure he had just enough money to catch a cab to Boulevard Beach and return home safely.
The cars were beeping persistently, as if to say, ”I don’t care what happens or what accidents occur, just MOVE YOUR FAT ASS!”
The roads were well equipped for such happenings, but it quickly became apparent that this was unforeseen; the traffic lights were powered off, and the whole place lost electricity. The blue light of The Spire fell into darkness, and only the meek gleam of the stars up ahead (and the cyan afterglow of the vortex) would pass the city of Violetwall into an artificial aurora-haze.
Andy, grasping the edges of his grey hood to keep it from blowing over, hurried through an unceasing stampede of footsteps and shoves, gushes of gales and soft lingering rain. Once or twice – perhaps even three times – Andy slipped on the pathway leading up to the Violetwall train station.
From there he made his way through even more shoves and footsteps until eventually he came across a taxi driver caught amongst the traffic congestion.
It was unclear to Andy whether or not the cars had already been congested before he got there, or if they only started clogging the streets around the time the hum rolled around. Likely the latter, he would later think.
Holy Christ! Am I gonna die?! Am I gonna die as a teenager? Am I gonna die before I get a chance to get married and have kids or even have my first kiss – before I get to see my parents one last time or before I get to meet up with Alex and Phoenix again? Well, am I, God?! AM I?! ANSWER ME!
“I-I need to get to Sugarplum Alley. Can you drive me there?” Andy asked the driver.
“Sorry, kid,” the man said, “there’s no way we’re gettin through all this ruckus. You’re better off walkin. All the bus stations are the same from what I’ve seen. But I know that place; you’d be lucky to get there by two o’clock in the mornin.”
“I can’t walk home in this!” Andy said. “It’s pouring out and I’ll catch a cold. Plus, my parents are probably worried sick, too. I needn’t even remind you of a roaring spiral in the sky.”
“Listen, kid,” the driver said, “beat it. I needa get this car back by sunrise and I ain’t wastin my time helpin some dumb kid who can’t even walk his way home. Get outta here!”
About a football field away, a strong ocean breeze came gusting through the intersection and whistled around the landscape.
Amongst the deafening thoughts of Andy’s mind was the emotional weight of knowing that he was going to have to walk through a city no smaller than New York. He tried calling his father but there was no signal. In fact, nobody had a phone signal for a couple of miles.
He walked home.
For an instant, Andy daydreamed. A black hole formed in the sky. The scene was fresh in his mind. He couldn’t believe what was happening – it was like reality itself was being stretched. He thought it was no different than living in a simulation, or a world predetermined by a machine.
Andy remembered the first time Gecko showed him the video of the alien dissection. How would something like that not make the headlines? Was it too far-fetched? The truth was he couldn’t believe it entirely either. Not until now.
Andy thought about those days he spent researching aliens. There were only sceptics who believed in them. And mentally dissuaded people who tried to convince the public that they were one of them.
Now watch this drive!
It seemed that the government had been trying to hide their existence under the public’s nose for a great deal of time, and it also appeared that people were too convinced of their existence without any plausible evidence. That was how most things were. That’s how most things should have been.
At the time – before the sky became twisted and malformed – Andy read alien novels. He read about lizards living as humans, aliens that could only be seen through a pair of glasses, and creatures that lived in the sky. None of this was the same, he thought. Not a single thing. Nobody had accurately predicted the end of the world; nobody had accurately depicted an alien invasion, and nobody had accurately depicted a big
hole in the sky. Nobody. Not a soul.
Andy got home around 2:30 A.M. By then the traffic seemed to have quietened down a bit. So did the hum and the rain; they became silent, still.
He had been walking for so long that his legs felt like rough pieces of timber. They were stiff, and he had to stop more than five times to catch his breath.
His house was semi-detached. It was turning white, but it used to be a fine coat of blue. There was a lifeless tree outside that morphed into a claw, and a tall steel gate that required a key to open.
The stars shone brightly in the dark patch of sky above it, and the milky way galaxy impaled the cosmos. It was a great big nebula that reminded him of sugar and milk; it had beautiful whirling circles of purple, bright auras of orange, and a brisk, snowy-white centre.
He pulled his keys out of his right pocket, popped it in the gate keyhole, and clicked it open.
Andy’s father was the first to come rushing out the door.
“Andy!” he yelled, breaking into a dash and rushing down the pathway barefooted. He wore a tight blue shirt with jeans, a pair of glasses, and a red cap pointing forwards. He was tall, six-feet even, and possessed a rather muscular build. His name was Michael Caulfield.
Andy fell to his knees after passing through the gateway, leaning against the stone. He was panting.
Michael sprinted through the sharp pebbles on the ground and grabbed him by the shoulders.
Andy’s mother raced after him.
“Diane!” Michael helped Andy to his feet and guided him towards the front door. “Grab his inhaler! He’s panting like a dog!”
By then, Andy had already passed out.