Page 9

   The road itself is beautiful – flat, broad, and black. New. Bordered by muddy ditches. Patches of fluffy snow pile up like white mould. Beyond the ditches lie half-houses, chewed up halfway by construction equipment that cut their swathe through the area leaving grime and broken walls, and curious pieces of furniture hanging off edges. I guess if the road project had been completed, those half-houses and the muddy earth would have been paved over, replaced by more dun chocolate and candy-coloured apartment buildings. Eight stories tall, endless pairs of apartments long. Fussy places with tiny wrought iron balconies. As empty as I think all the buildings I’ve passed have been.
   I’ve come too far.
   The man had spat when I left him behind. Funny in its own way because he truly did shout some word to get all that phlegm out, some heavily aspirated choking vocalisation high in his throat. I’d grinned. If nothing else, it had placed the guy pretty much exactly where I’d left him. Not following.
   Only now, I have to turn around and go back there because there’s been nothing here either.
   I grow colder standing there considering just what to do right now because I am standing right in the middle of the middle lane. Ahead is a flat and half-finished landscape of abandoned construction, the blacktop dipping down with the land before rising again through a line of older apartment buildings. Behind is the top of the rise I came up over and isn’t it interesting how exposed I feel. There’s no one I know of to come tearing up and over that hill. I’d hear a car, anyway, right? Why can’t I stand out here?
   Because rules, man.
   How the society used to work. You followed the conventions and had your way smoothed. And conventionally, big metal death machines – lounge chairs in air conditioned shells – cars – would use a road.
   And possibility being what it is, maybe you don’t mess with that kind of option just to make a point.
   Or you do, if somehow it’ll tell you what you’re missing, that key to what no one had before…. all the powers in the world.
   Wait, no one had this before? I could ask her, I guess. But I don’t think she’s going to answer questions like that.

   I can hear my stomach. I blow out a puff of the little heat I have left and turn around. Time to go….