I died last night, out on the road. I came home and the world was empty.
I'd stayed longer than I should have. I always do this - go out for the evening, vowing to get back nice and early, have a good relaxing night's sleep. Every time she begs me to stay, and every time I end up going home after midnight. It's a good job I enjoy driving at night.
Last night when I had walked out to my car the rain-soaked roads were glistening silver in the light of a full moon. It had been raining on and off all day. The air was still warm and a gentle wind was blowing as I climbed in and sat waving my goodbyes to her standing at the door. I started up and drove away, opening the window to let in some air to keep me awake. It was a long journey back home, and as my eyelids fought to stay open I almost drove off the road a couple of times. I tried switching on the radio to keep me alert but I'd forgotten that it didn't work; it just sat silently, a blank display glowing in the darkness. Must get it fixed.
I had a dream, all in slow motion, all in silence. The car was somehow gliding, moving across the road, the warm air and the moonlight gently pulling me sideways. Headlights were bearing down on me, and slowly, noiselessly, our two cars joined together in a shattering dance of beautiful destruction.
I suddenly awoke to an empty road. I was almost home and I no longer felt so sleepy. I took the rest of the journey nice and easy, relaxing in the warm breeze from the open window. There were no other cars on the road all the way back.
I pulled into the drive and got out, locking the car and heading into the house. As I entered and went upstairs I realised I was no longer tired at all. Doesn't everyone have to sleep? I readied myself for bed and lay down, but still sleep eluded me. I tried switching on my portable radio, but there was only static. I switched on the small television and the same thing happened. Nothing.
I arose and went over to the window, opening it and leaning out. The air was still. There wasn't a sound, not even the slightest movement, nothing. I left the window open and lay back down. Hours seemed to pass, but when I looked at my watch it still said 12:47. Wasn't that about the time I had fallen asleep and had that strange dream? As I lay an idea flashed through my mind, spreading fear in its wake.
I quickly dressed and went downstairs, out to the car. A wheelspin threw the gravel up against my paintwork but I didn't notice as I sped out the drive and back the way I had come, through the dark and empty roads, tyres finally screeching to a halt in front of a pile of twisted metal. I left the engine running as I got out and walked closer to it. The wrecked car held that strange horror of something familiar smashed out of shape.
There was still not a soul in sight. Just an empty road with the horrific tangled remains of a car in the middle of nowhere. I was alone, and I was afraid. I could identify every piece of debris. This was my car.
Nothing but suffocating stillness came through the open window as I drove onwards. My mind was racing but going nowhere, the pedal was pressed into the floor but it felt as if I weren't moving at all. All the life was gone from everything.
It seemed to take hours, maybe even days, but I finally pulled up outside her house. I didn't know why I had come here but there was nowhere else to go. I sat looking out for a while before finally climbing out of the car and walking down her front path toward a dark house. Every building I had seen was dark, not a sign of life anywhere.
I didn't really expect anything to happen when I knocked the door. After a long wait I went across to her front window. No curtains, no lights, just an empty room. It was her room, only bare, without carpets or furniture, nothing. That was all this was - nothing. Empty. I was alone, nowhere, master of a nothing place. I sat down on the concrete and watched the road, still glistening in the sterile moonlight. I looked around - had the world somehow been frozen in that one moment? The moment when I had...
Had what? What had happened to me? I suddenly felt fragile and exhausted, and made my way back to the car where I collapsed into the driving seat. I closed my eyes and slipped away.
I awoke suddenly, feeling violently sick. I opened my eyes with a start - I was moving. I was driving. I braked sharply, pulling over and throwing open the door, running out of the car. I doubled over to vomit on the grass by the roadside. What was going on? I looked up to see a pair of headlights heading toward me, turning slowly into the discernable shape of a car before whooshing past. Where had I seen that car before? No, it wasn't the car... I knew those headlights. They had borne down on me before.
If I hadn't awoken, if I hadn't pulled over... would it have all happened again? I rushed back to the car and quickly turned it around, a daring hope in my heart. I sped away toward her place, the cool night breeze blowing in through my window. I arrived to see no lights on in her house, and looked at my watch - of course she wouldn't be up now, it was almost 1 am. I hurried out of the car and down her path, knocking the door loudly. My stomach churned with uncertainty.
There were sounds, noises, the door opened. "What is it?" said a tired face from behind a security chain. I had never felt such relief before. She let me in and even stayed up with me while I told her everything. I soon felt much better. It had all been so real - it was what might have been, I told her. She said it was all just a dream and that I should sleep over, but I declined. I wanted to be alone for a while. I left, exhausted, and ended up falling asleep in the driver's seat of my car, parked outside her house.
I once again awoke with a start. It was still dark, the air still stifling and warm, and I was still outside her house in my car. Was it happening again? Which dream was I waking from? Which dream was I waking into? I looked at my watch and my heart sank. Which one might have been... and which one is?