ROAD #46 – FOLLIS AVE. TIME: 10:45 PM. WEATHER: DRIZZLING. PAVEMENT STATE: SOLID / NO CRACKS OR BREAKS / CLEAN OF DEBRIS.
[ Darkness uncovers certain predictions in the trees. The grey breath of the stars and moon show me the surrounding area, heavily forested; thick green hovers above the ground, the leaves healthy, hearty for summer. Coyotes can be heard faintly behind the treeline. A quick walk works up a sweat. Temperature outside recorded at 81 degrees Fahrenheit. Small mice skitter just out of reach in the ditch. No homes can be found, though lights in the distance betray somebody or something. Maybe a porch. Smell a campfire nearby. Smell no voices. Insects in the air whiz around, legs landing on my cheek, rustling the hair there, the skin there, felling dead cells, new ones. Something nests deep into my scalp. A millipede digs itself a room through me, its ass sticking up through to the sky a knot of matted hairs twisted through nervosa. I allow it the followthrough. Give it its proteins. Items fire through synapses. Christ and church congregate as orgy at the rods and cones behind my eyes behind the sight of a possum scampering across FOLLIS AVE., a child soon to be crucified in the snare. I cannot remember being so close to the street. The millipede pauses, and I watch the marsupial’s eyes widen as blistering fireflies shoot off phosphorescence, illuminating three things: red / pig iron / a wire tripped. ]
ROAD #47 – LOCAL BLVD. TIME: 11:03 PM. WEATHER: WINDY WITH BREATH OF RAIN. PAVEMENT STATE: HILLS ROLLING / GRAVEL SCATTERED AROUND TALL GRASSES OBSCURING VIEW OF ANYTHING ELSE / PAINTED LINES WORN.
[ Vastly abrupt stop motion mice mince words with each other at the rock knoll nestled into the grasses. Grasshoppers whisper my own words from years ago. My parents told me secrets here. Mom said Dad wasn’t who I thought he was and leaned down close so her perfume wrapped itself around my neck so tight I couldn’t hear the next words. She shook because she was cold. It is not cold here. I take steps farther and farther until I reach a part of the road that reaches up and up to a disquieting view. Roofs travel with the sputtered stars, my wavering eyes, moving forward with the horizon. The families down there all had something happen to them before I came here, something about fire, about forest fire, about arsonist assaults forest with fire. Brian was my friend and his body lies buried somewhere among the switchgrass in a constant state of denial, his arms outstretched toward oblivion as he lay down looking up into the passing smoke. He embalmed himself in his own lighter’s anger. I was there. I told him to light the grass on fire because I wanted something interesting to look at. Brian did. I am not looking for his body now, but for the sign that his body left me. Millipede claps against my balding spot, licks sweat. Beads of rain patter down on its shell. It ruffles down. Beneath the hair. My eyelids burn when I think about this hill and these roofs. All houses rebuilt. All houses. Now the families living there own 72-inch televisions strapped to the wall as they sit and masturbate to worlds in between. Now they have kitchen islands and private schools. They don’t know the switchgrass. Not what lurks within, the secrets secreted by Mom’s lilac eyes, her breath against my head, against Brian in my head and his crumpling body used by the earth he himself scorched. ]
ROAD #48 – LOSESELFWITHINEMBRYONICINCIDENT CIRC. TIME: 2:46 AM. WEATHER: CRAMPED AND CANNOT BREATHE / CANNONFIRE BLASTBEATS AND VILETASTE MEN. PAVEMENT STATE: I AM NERVOUS TO SPEAK OF THIS IN THE RECORDS.
[ Built onto a dying mall soldiers firing massive weapons upon the enemy. Humidity wrecks the halls of ditchwork efforts into which I crouch. This is a valley. Flatland. Nebraskaesquelike. Old generals approach me with bent knees. Blue eyes that match the grease spilling from sewage pumps. I sit in the quaff of stench. Generals greet me with toothless sneers. Blankness inside their mouths and drool spooling from the sides of lips chapped. They take their jackets off, cover me with them. Apologize about the loss in my family and suddenly I’m no longer in the grind of war. The generals stay with me for hours. They tell me things will be alright and hold me close to their chests, tobacco leaves running down from their gums. Patchouli fresh in the pockets of their shirts, denim threads dangling from loose buttons. I sleep here. I think about Dad. He very briefly shows himself, lying crying weeping draped over the ditch opposite. He whispers to the sky. Lieutenants march to my ditch, rub their pistol barrels to the generals’ heads. Tears fall into the sewage and birth seeds that float to the opposite end. Millipede’s halfway through now, its antennae tickling the part of me responsible for fear. Bullets pierce through the generals’ foreheads. Bullets and blood follow the tearseeds. Bullets take me away, from here. ]
ROAD #49 – LOCKHEED / WRAITH RD. TIME: N/A. WEATHER: LOST IN BOWLS ABOVE THE CLOUDS / DARK / DARK / DARK. PAVEMENT STATE: BLANK SLATE / OPAQUE TO THE GEARS BELOW.
[ Stop pulling pelts from the bark. Stop dumping chemtechnicals everywhere all over the acres. Ether seeps from the stumps of all the black walnuts that used to be here. I don’t remember, remember? I don’t remember. There’s a killer hiding here somewhere way back somewhen. Taped all in duct tape, wrapped like a mummified malcontent. Not used to being here above the workings of the world and it’s a guarantee the killer wasn’t either. The massive brass gears rolling among themselves, big as craters. Working the fumes beneath the lands, belts popping in torsion. I remember the scent, the greasebox keeping sprites hydrated until they came to the top to fill up on fire and explode. I feel like the killer now, walking on this clear road looking nowhere but down. They cut all this, all this beauty away while the reminder of why it’s important lurked just under their boots, their torn jeans and workman’s overalls. The trees bled. You saw it on the news. Spurting geysers of gore uprooted from the roots. Grass turned blindingly red. They caught the killer, but not after he fell through the street itself, the pavement cracking and plunging him down into the gears, ground up for the soil. They patched the hole long ago. They patched it all long ago, branded the zone a “highly polluted area” and cut it off from everyone else. Closing my eyes, I see it all before it all. Lush. Endless. Blue sky and puffed clouds dropping tangerine juices on oaks and pines and et. al. all over all over it was gorgeous it was oneofakind. The world before the world came to toss coins and lose every time. Closing my eyes, I feel it all as my body catches gravity’s rope and lures me down hard and fast upon a stump. There aren’t animals here. No sky since the halforbal coverings were implemented. For safety. Ours and its. Protection from space mites and shattering sun rays. I think instead: protection for everywhere from what’s crawling through the land here. Closing my eyes, I shove the millipede completely into my skull and change my past forever. ]
Alec Ivan Fugate is an award-winning writer lurking in the elsewhere of northeastern Indiana. His work can be found in Occulum, Bending Genres, and Confluence. His debut novel about recovering one’s humanity is being prepared for release into Lake Michigan. Send obnoxious dissertations to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.