--This is just some writing I've done recently. It's not perfect, and it's not edited or proofread. But that's okay. It will be better developed and such over time. For now, please enjoy. And please note that there is a bit of language in it. I promise it's all for a good cause. A good moral of the story that isn't seen yet in this portion. Regardless, here you go.
Oh, and also, there were some italics in here for emphasis that were taken out whenever I copied it over, and I'm too lazy to go back through it all and fix it. So just use your imagination.
The rain had slowly subsided, so I figured it was in my best interest to get the heck outta my house. I swear, that place makes me suffocate if I’m within the walls more than twelve continuous hours.
Of course, there weren’t a whole lot of options to choose from in the glorious fortress of Chester Hills, so I headed towards the city park for a good run. It’s actually not that bad of a park for being in the middle of a town full of screw-ups and drug addicts. If you can get past thinking about all the crap that most likely goes down there, it’s almost enjoyable.
Plus, there are squirrels freaking everywhere, and who doesn’t love a good squirrel encounter?
Last time I was there, one had somehow ended up inside one of the trashcans. You know, the round metal ones with the flap at the top? Yeah. He was making all kinds of noise at the bottom. But you know, as a squirrel, it was probably a rush. I have no idea how he could have gotten back out of the trashcan, but I figured it was pretty irrelevant. As a squirrel, he probably found a load of food and crap down there to keep himself satisfied for a good portion of the day, and if he died in there, I bet he was pretty effing happy.
Besides, seeing the trashcan shake and quake as I ran by was just priceless.
The park was pretty golden that morning, actually. There was a slight haze hanging in the air—not enough to cause frizzy hair or whatever it is girls typically complain about—and it made the sunlight look pretty similar to how it’s depicted on the front of a Sunny D label. You know, orange, sunny, and delicious. Or something.
The park was also pretty vacant, which was surprising because I figured everyone would want to stretch their legs after that horrendous monsoon that attacked us mildly innocent figures of Chester Hills. Apparently not. I guess there are more lazy people in this town than I gave it credit for.
I really have no room to talk on that front, though. It’s not like I do some major power walking while I’m here. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not in terrible shape. Could be worse, you know. Could be better. I do enjoy a good run from time to time, though. Especially if it means getting out of the house for awhile.
And squirrels in trashcans, of course.
Alright, so, I was running through this golden, damp haze of a morning when I suddenly saw this chariot in the distance. It wasn’t quite like the kind you see on in remakes of battles of Gladiators in the Colosseum, but same basic concept. This thing, though—it had four wheels and was carried by three black horses. That’s how massive it was. Now, chariots in and of themselves are pretty spectacular to come by in this day and age, but this was different. Someone had caught this huge chariot on fire, horses and all. They were running as fast as they could manage—I mean, this think was booking it—but those flames weren’t going anywhere. It was just on fire.
It was all kind of amusing, if I’m being completely honest.
I stopped for a moment and stared at it in bewilderment, then got over myself and continued running.
I ran a good two minutes more, rounded the slow curve towards the other direction, facing the bridge in the distance. There’s this bridge in the middle of the park that is pretty phenomenal. It’s really wide and elegant-looking and goes up over the creek, which is also pretty heavy-duty, especially on days recovering from a miniature monsoon. I mean, it could be considered a river if we’re really being technical. People come from all over the area to get pictures done here—weddings, Seniors, family photos, you name it. It’s a pretty big deal.
I finally saw someone once I was able to see the bridge. He was riding a bicycle in the inner path of the park, the one that led over the bridge and around again. He had shaggy hair. I could tell because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. I guess people just don’t wear helmets after a certain point. I don’t know. But he had this brown, unkempt hair that I recognized immediately as someone I faintly knew. I tried to formulate a name. It was something like Jackson or Justin.
My memory sucks, I swear.
I kept running, looking at the path in front of me as I tried to remember his stupid name, and a moment later I saw a flash in my peripheral vision. I looked up again. It was that damn flaming chariot.
It was headed towards the bridge, in the opposite direction of the kid with the bike.
It wasn’t a big deal—you know, because it’s a huge bridge. But as I watched him, he didn’t even seem to notice this flaming chariot headed towards him. And I thought, you know, maybe this happens to him a lot. Maybe I just don’t get out as often as I should. So I slowed my running to a walk and watched how completely nonchalant he would be about passing this thing on the bridge. I kinda envied that kind of chillness, to be honest.
But as they got closer together and both crept closer to the bridge, I gotta say, I got pretty effing nervous. I got to wondering whether he had forgotten to wear his contacts. I had reached a diagonal view from the bridge at that point, about at the guy’s 5 o’clock. And what I saw was nothing short of that chariot headed straight for him.
I swear, time nearly stopped. It’s not like everything went in slow motion. It didn’t. People who say that are full of crap. It’s like…the silence of the park became clearer, more dominant, and I could feel every nerve and jolt and vein in my body pulsing. My lungs had stopped temporarily on a breath.
They were no more than a foot from colliding when my body heaved forward and my lungs let out an echoing yell. It was something like, “STOP!” with the force of 50 men behind it. Possibly impressive, except it was completely unintentional. Because the second or two it took him to look up and see the flaming chariot and continue his gaze to see where that blood-curdling scream had originated was last conscious second that he ever had in his life.
Because in the next moment, the horses had collided with his bicycle, driving him into the side of the bridge. The bike took the impact of the chariot and the side of the bridge, but the inertia sent the boy over the edge and into the creek, which had risen and flowing quite rapidly due to the recent days of rain.
He hit the water hard on the left side of his skull, and I didn’t wait to see him resurface. I knew the water would instantly wash him away, so I bolted to the creek as fast as I could.
I left the path behind me and ran downhill through all of these old trees that I had never seemed to notice before. My feet were moving fast underneath me, almost like it was natural. God, I thought, I hope he’s still alive.
The trees were getting thicker and I couldn’t understand it. Why were there such old trees right in the middle of nowhere, next to a creek? I didn’t understand. I didn’t understand why my feet were moving without me having to think, I didn’t understand why the sky had gotten cloudy and grey all of a sudden, and I sure as hell did not understand what kind of person would set a damn chariot on fire in the middle of a city park.
There were vines now and I had to stretch my hands out in front of me to fight my way through everything. I felt like they were alive—the trees, I mean. These vines were coming from every direction and I couldn’t get there fast enough and I couldn’t see what was going on and I just couldn’t breathe anymore.
I finally stumbled through the trees and vines and came face-to-face with the creek up ahead of me. It was flowing towards the direction I was in, and I looked all along it for traces of the kid on the bike. And then I saw him. His faded green jacket gave him away. There he was, being pounded by the water into this little…nest of rocks. He was struggling against it, but he was stuck. He kept getting pushed under and pelted into the hard surface of the stone next to him.
I ran; I tried. I went for him…to help him, to pull him out…and I almost got there. I almost got there.
Fifty feet away, it had to be. I was right there.
But these vines, they came out of nowhere, I swear they did. They caught my foot and I tripped. I fell to the ground hard, though I didn’t notice that much until I saw the bruises the next morning. My eyes were fixed on him, whom I knew but did not really know at all. The boy that I had every right and power within me to save, but was failing to do so.
I dug my fingers into the ground in front of me and tried to pull myself forward towards him. God, I can still hear him gasping and yelling out for help. I can still hear the splashing of water and see the desperation in his face as he struggled to fight for the surface. I tried to pull myself forward, by inches, but these vines came up from nowhere and tied me down to the ground. They wrapped themselves around every limb so I could barely move at all.
And they held me there; I watched him drown there.
I watched his hands grow still and silent against that cold, wet rock.
And even then, I still could not remember his name.