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Journey, part 3: The highway
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Date: 05/05/02 01:05
Game Type: Other
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The journey continues.

Questions, you have. Questions about the fate of our charachters and where the plot is going. Those questions will not be answered today. Most of them will not be answered for quite a while. But as our journey continues, the answers will become clearer and clearer, like a ship passing through mist, or a camera coming into focus. Our final destination lies far ahead, and even then, it may not be final. But inevitably, inexorably, the journey continues. And if you have not yet embarked on this journey, you can find the first part of it here and the second part here.


He woke up on a thick matress in a small, well-lighted room. He was wearing a uniform colored grey. Why grey? He knew there was some reason for the grey uniform, but he couldn’t imagine what it could be. In his current state, he couldn’t imagine much at all.
A lovely quilt lay neatly on top of him. Next to the bed was a little chest of drawers, ornately carved of a dark wood and gilded with— what was it called?— brass. On top of it, at his eye level, was a squat grey hat with a black visor. Next to it was a small, brass, gold-glinting object.
Somewhere, seemingly far away, he could hear talking. Some foriegn language, with a distinctive accent. What was it called? Spanish.
Spanish. It rung a bell in his head; some distant memories coming faintly from the corner of his mind. But when he tried to think about it, he couldn’t remember any more, like something had stifled one corner of his brain and locked it out of his access.
He was too tired to think about it any longer. His thoughts were faint and garbled, like a buzzing in his brain. So, maybe it wasn’t Spanish. Portugese? Then, what’s portugese?
His thoughts drifted to the golden object next to the hat— his hat?— on the dresser. The golden object was important, he knew that. It was not in itself important, but it symbolized authority. He extended a sluggish hand toward it, picked it up, fingered it; delicately. He brought it closer to his eyes. There was writing on it. RICHARD BANON, it said.
It was as foreign as that language those people spoke, but it meant something, that name.
He replaced it on the chest next to his hat, rolled over, and went back to sleep, without bothering to question why he had a bed to sleep on.

* * *

In the midwest, it was broad daylight. There was a highway, cutting a black swath through golden cornfields and tree orchards. It was mostly empty, as midwestern highways usually were. Gerard was glad for that.
A tiny, stunted car sped down the highway at at least double the speed limit. Gerard, dressed in black and wearing sunglasses, was sitting in the drivers seat, and a boy named Greg (who thought he was dreaming and believed this to be the best dream there ever was) sat in the only other seat, the passenger’s. Greg had just recovered from a panic attack and was now hyperventelating.
“You okay?” asked Gerard.
“Don’t worry, we’ll be arriving there soon.”
“Arriving where?”
“You’ll find out.”
They drove in silence for a while longer. Then Greg noticed something.
“Hey man, there’s a car behind us.”
“A car?” Gerard looked in the mirror. It glinted. It was far distant, but it looked like a semi.
“It looks like a semi,” commented Greg.
“That’s nice.”
Gerard drove faster.
“Hey, man. You’re driving faster.”
“I know.”
“Why are you driving faster?” Gerard gave an exasperated sigh. “Do you ever shut up?”
They drove in silence for a while longer, the only noise being the rumble of the engine, the only break in the monotonous view an occasional house or farm admidst the endless feilds of crops and trees.
“Uh...” Greg said.
“The truck’s getting closer.”
“Is it now?” Gerard looked in the mirror. It was already significantly closer. It was a semi, alright, a blue and silver semi with a large trailer in tow.
“Don’t worry, we’ll get to our destination in time.”
“Worry? What’s our destination? What’s that mean?”
Gerard said nothing.
Huh, Greg thought to himself, weirdest dream ever.
They drove in silence for a while longer. Soon, Greg started fidgeting nervously. He looked back at the road behind him, then at Gerard, then back at the road again.
“It’s pretty close.”
Gerard looked in the rearview mirror. The semi was scarcely fifty feet behind. Closing fast, too.
“We’ll fix that.”
“Seat belt fastened?”
“Uh...” The seat belts in this car had two shoulder straps, two lap straps, one crotch strap (which made Greg wince) and a center buckle. Greg’s were fastened, right below his stomach.
“Good,” said Gerard. And Gerard slammed the brakes with force. Greg was thrown forward— hard. The crotch strap was painful. It never occured to Greg that one was not supposed to feel pain in dreams.

In a ship on the surface of Mars, the Magician jerked upright from his seat.

The air was filled with noise. The brake pads were groaning in protest and the tires were screeching, leaving a slick scar of burnt rubber on the asphalt. Greg was screaming like a little girl, curled up in as far a fetal position as the seat belts would allow.
In seconds, the tiny car had come to a complete halt, its tires smoking. The semi was coming up fast behind. Horn blasting desperately, it careened into Gerard’s car.
Upon collision, the car jerked, only slightly. The semi, however, was less fortunate. It exploded upon impact, blowing twisted metal and disfigured shrapanel everywhere, and it— quite inexplicably— didn’t scratch the paint on the car. The explosion completely engulfed them, filling the windows with churning red, but they did not shatter. Nothing shattered. Nothing broke. When the debris fell and the explosion dissappated, the car looked untouched, and the interior tempature hadn’t heated one degree.
The giant semi’s trailer flew in the air, burning bright. It flew in a blazing arc, drawing a swath of smoke across the sky. It fell majestically, almost gracefully, and landed sideways on the road in front of them. It bounced and rolled over a couple times, and when it settled, it lay lengthwise in front of them, completely blocking the road, flaming bright. Crates and boxes spilled out the end, also burning.
Greg said, “It’s completely blocking the road.”
“I noticed.”
“We take a shortcut. We’re almost there anyway.” “Shortcut?”
Without another word, Gerard slammed the pedal and threw the wheel far to the left, hurling the car thourgh the median guard rail and into a tall field of wheat. Greg shrieked and curled up again. Grains of wheat flew everywhere.
“Don’t panic. It’s just wheat. We’ll be there shortly.”
“Oh. Look, it’s wheat! I see now.”
The car cut through the tall stalks with ease, and the ride was suprisingly smooth. However, the view outside was completely yellow. Wheat covered everything. There was no way Gerard could tell where he was going.
“Dude, there’s no way you can tell where you’re going,” Greg commented.
That kid is so annoying!
Gerard felt like screaming, but he stifled it.
“WHAAAAAAT?” Glaring behind those sunglasses.
Greg shrunk back in his seat— he didn’t know dream people were capable of such anger.
Gerard pressured the brakes, and the car slowed down over time. Despite their decreasing speed. the ride didn’t get any rougher, and the stalks of wheat fell before the tiny car just as easily as before. The car wheeled into an open clearing, a circular clearing cut in the middle of the crops. Gerard stopped the car, unfastened his multiple seat belts, and exited the car. Greg followed suit, getting out the other side.

“What now?” Greg asked.
“We wait.”
“For what?”
“Oh, you’ll see.”
“Hey man, I never found out your name.”
Gerard swished his suit dramatically, like a cape. “My name is Zorro.”
“No. It’s Gerard.”
“Can I call you Zorro?”
“I’m gonna call you Zorro.”
This was the last straw. He siezed Greg by the shoulders and brought his face close.
“Now listen,” he growled. “You are going to call me Gerard, and you are damn well going to like it. Okay?”
Greg moaned.
“Okay!?” and he shook the boy again.
“Okay!” Greg groaned. Gerard released the boy, and the two stared at each other. Gerard with those unfathomable sunglasses. Hiding something, Greg thought.
They waited for a while longer. Gerard leaning against the car, twiddling a stalk of wheat between his fingers.
Greg spoke up. “Know what, Gerard?”
“This is the tightest dream ever.”
Gerard dropped the stalk of wheat. He paused there, for a second, then he walked up to Greg, until he was practically breathing on him. He looked at Greg, sized him up, examined him, as he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, hands in pockets. Then he brought out his hands and said:
“You know what?”
“If this were a dream, would this hurt?”
He leaned back, then threw his fist into Greg’s face. The world faded to black.

* * *

The ship rested still on the surface of the red planet. But not for much longer.
The Magician spoke. “Barnes.” The technician snapped to attention. “You will take us to the third planet, and I don’t care how poisonous the atmosphere is. And you will do so NOW. Prepare for takeoff immediately.”
“Yes, sir,” said Barnes, and he question the Magician only in thought.
The ship rose, kicking up a fine cloud of dust, turned toward the sky, and shot off.

The journey continues May 12, 2002.

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