October 29, 2016 by dellanioakes
“If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly” ~ Macbeth, Act I, scene vii
August 28, 2015
He woke in a cold sweat, panting. The shadows of the room whispered and moved around him, reaching but not touching. Shaking violently, he shivered. The walls shook in unison, the ceiling cracked, dust of plaster dropping on his twisted counterpane. He didn’t dare move until it passed, or the tremors got worse. When they stilled slightly, his hand crept to his cellphone that lay on the bedside table. Hardly shifting in the bed, he scrabbled at it, searching quickly for the number he needed. It rang a few times before a bleary voice answered.
“It’s me,” he muttered. “It won’t stop! What do I do?”
The voice on the other end spoke calmly, almost hypnotically.
“Yes. I should be there by tomorrow night.” He paused, near panic rising inside him. “I can’t get there sooner. Believe me, if I could I would be already. I can’t take a train and I don’t dare fly—not like this! Driving is hard enough!” Clutching the phone, a whimper escaped him. “Yes. I’d like that. Thank you.”
He relaxed somewhat as the voice continued. Soon, his breathing regulated and he was able to stop shaking. “I’m better now, thank you. I’ll see you all soon.”
Rising, he went to the tiny bathroom off the somewhat shabby motel room. The fluorescent light flickered crazily, making his eyes hurt. Correction, making them hurt more. He already had a migraine to end all, that hadn’t quit for over a week. Sometimes, it was worse than others. He was sucking down migraine strength Tylenol and coffee by the pot, just to keep it at bay. Sleeping didn’t help, he just woke with the same headache. Dark circles ringed his eyes and he felt his stomach lurch.
Dry heaving over the toilet was non-productive and disgusting. He hated the taste of bile in his mouth, but he’d already vomited twice, losing his lunch and his dinner. Starting the shower, he stood in the stinging hot spray until his skin turned lobster red. The water turned to ice crystals, pounding in his unprotected flesh. Roaring with frustration, he shut it off, gasping against the sudden chill in his room.
He dried off and dressed, leaving a tip and the key card on the dresser. It was dark when he left the parking lot, but the faintest light graced the far eastern horizon. He hesitated to use the GPS, because it was even more erratic than usual—not that the GPS has ever really worked for him before, but now it couldn’t even seem to remember which way was north. That wasn’t too hard for him. North was behind him, far away from everything he’d considered important. Until three days ago, when the urge to drive to Mississippi became too compelling to bear, he’d considered North home. Now, still 11 hours away, he took to the road once more, traveling by the back ways so that whatever illness plagued him, wouldn’t harm anyone else. He’d found out the hard way, going through Seattle, that his peculiar problem could be devastating in heavy traffic. He’d nearly caused a major pile up when a semi cut him off and an SUV nearly rear ended him. It was then that he got of the interstate and took the back roads. It made his trip nearly twice as long, but it was safer—for him—for everyone.
He started music playing, some hard driving blues-rock to keep his mind off the trip and what lay ahead. He turned it up, listening to Jimmy Barnes screech as Joe Bonamassa wailed on the guitar. It set his toes tapping. He set his cruise, cranked it up more, and drove with a singularity of purpose he’d never experienced before. The compulsion grew stronger with every mile he covered. He wanted to go faster, but he was already doing 70 in a 55 zone. It was a narrow, dark road in the middle of nowhere.
All the more reason to go faster, a voice inside him said. Feel the road. Be free.
His hands moved automatically, taking off the cruise control. His right foot pressed harder and the powerful engine roared with renewed life. He became one with the night, with the dark. The sunrise to his left went largely ignored as he flew down the road, heading toward his destiny.
© 2016 Dellani Oakes