A Pause in the Action

Content Warning; This story contains vulgar language, and graphic violence.

A pause in the action, our eyes meet uncomfortably. I can see the blood lust branching and stretching through the scleras, a miniature maze of deadly ambition and potential. Beyond the maze, deeper now, plunging past the cornea and into the aqueous humor—not even a hint of a smile from my opponent. Our warrior souls connect, the creature nods and swings away, pouncing from above, sinking its rows upon rows of jagged, offset teeth into the meaty ribcage of my soon to be dead teammate whose scream is as filled with curdled blood as the eyes of his killer.

I’m back in my hotel, it’s the same hotel as always the one with the elevator that is half-sized, and only goes sideways. Somehow I still arrive at my room. The room, my room, is unkempt, and chilly. I never allow the housekeepers to clean my room. When I leave it, I put up the “do not disturb” sign and leave the TV playing a loop of “Trading Spaces” and “My 600 Pound Life”. From a housekeeper’s point of view, I’m either the most boring or laziest man they’ve ever encountered. Maybe both, they often wonder. Whenever I check into this room, and it’s always the same room, the first thing I do is turn the air conditioning unit down to precisely sixty degrees fahrenheit; I draw the curtains closed; And lastly, I cover anything that looks like it could be, or could hold a camera. I don’t plan to be anyone’s entertainment.

The room is like any other. A menagerie of puke-toned patterns and vertigo-causing textures; cheap landscape art, slightly askew; and tiny versions of all things grooming related. I hate it here. I don’t stay long, I never stay long.

I’m in the parking lot. I remembered I’d forgotten something important in my car. Though as I look around I realize this isn’t the hotel’s parking lot, this is the parking garage at 123 S. Front Street. I’m confused for a moment, then remember where I parked. Unfortunately it looks like I double parked, as my Ram truck is on top of my Prius hybrid. I’m incensed. I know I didn’t do this, but both vehicles are mine. I decide to climb into the Ram and try, somehow, to get it off the Toyota.

As I reach for the door I hear a loud, gravelly “Best keep your damn hands off my rig boy!” Your rig? This is my truck. I turn towards the sound, it’s Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard, except younger and more muscled, intimidating even. I play along in an attempt to get my car freed from its current steel, aluminum, and plastic prison.

Yeah, OK Boss… he doesn’t like this at all

Can you get your rig off my car? Chief? a small but effective nudge. Am I starting something? I strain to hear, is that Michael Jackson on the Muzak?

I say, I say, what do you mean your car? Is this actually Foghorn Leghorn?

I just need to get something out of the Toyota you parked on top of. As I say this it sounds like the most ridiculous and asinine thing anyone in the history of mankind has ever had the occasion to mutter. I slouch, defeated.

Oh! He looks and sounds surprised

Well, I am truly sorry, I had not noticed that small vehicle until this very moment! Does he want some mint julep iced-tea?

Let me move my rig right this moment. he shuffles past me and up into the Ram, still my Ram, shuts the door, rolls down the driver’s side window, flops out his meaty arm adorned with an anchor and ribbon that says Olive Oyl, and looks back at me, this is when I notice the corncob pipe for the first time and he’s squinting one eye nearly shut as he puts the truck into gear and walks it off my minuscule motor vehicle. Yes, walks it. I don’t really know how to explain, it didn’t roll, the wheels kind of just tiptoed off my car and onto the concrete, something out of Roger Rabbit, maybe?

Uh, well thanks! I shrug.

He tips his enormous white cowboy hat, winks, and speeds off out of sight, I’m no longer in the parking garage. It’s now the long stretch of highway between Portland and Bend, Oregon, that length of highway that appears to stretch into eternity, or maybe it’s a mobius strip either way it’s long and objectively unending. My car, the Prius, is unscathed and sitting roadside. I open the passenger door as the passing of other cars cause myself and the Prius to shake, wobble, and rattle as they zip past, each causing a gust of wind that misrepresents my hair. I open the glove box to find my ID, the thing I’d come in search of, which is nothing worthy of Nimoy’s narration.

The inside of my glove box is dark and I can’t see its bottom. I reach in and can’t feel the bottom. I pull my arm out and look into the box again, darkness, save for a tiny pin of light in the distance, I climb through. I crawl for a distance that feels like it’s mirroring the highway, until finally I come out into the rafters of a giant warehouse. Below me hundreds of people gathered, seething, and cheering. They line the outer walls of the interior, in some places ten people deep. The middle of the stained concrete floor, is that blood?, has what looks to be two teams of some sort. One team looks to be comprised of humans, and from what I can tell at this distance, the others are Aliens, like the ones from Ridley Scott’s magnum opus. They appear to be engaged in some sort of winner-takes-all, underground battle royale.

Someone in the crowd points up into the rafters, directly at me, and shouts something I can’t quite hear, surely it has to do with blood and lust. I look down at myself, I’m wearing a gray and white jumpsuit, exactly the same jumpsuit that the human team is wearing. I’m on the team? Shit.

I look up, a pause in the action, our eyes meet uncomfortably.