Thursday, January 28, 2010

Whitlash - Chapter 4

Carson's View

Nothingness feels warm. I want to stay in the nothingness. I should stay. Ack, but something pesky is urging me that nothingness is code for dangerousness. Goneness. Emptiness. Worldlessness. Shut up. I want to stay...I want, that isn't right. Somethings not right. Carson, wake up. Wake up right this instant.
My eyes blink open, and the bright white pain strikes me like lightning. FUUUUUUUUUU---- Then the panic. I'm sucking air through my teeth in wheezy spurts. 
Calm down. Calm down right now!

Get ahold of yourself--situation analysis time: I appear to be wedged between the roughness of...roughness of bark. Tree bark. Okay, tree on one side of me and neon plastic on the other. Sled—get off, I can't...I can't breathe. Get off. Please. 

With my unpinned arm, I yank my helmet off my head. Air. Gulps of it, but it's filled with smoke. Coughing -- it hurts. Why does it hurt so much?

The engine is still running. I lean my weight into my shoulder and push hard into the shell. Two tries and the mangled mobile veers and hitches. A splintered piece of the frame swipes my forehead as the ski-doo launches into another pine. I barely feel it. Something warm is running down my temple now---and the irony of having just taken off my helmet doesn't escape me. Even here.

Safety first, kids... right?
Body inventory:
Head – check. Bit of a gouge, but fine. This incessant ear ringing, however, I could do without. 

Shoulders –  check.
Arms – partial check. My left is going to have a helluhva bruise.
Torso – ribs... yep. That hurts. Probably cracked a couple. Every inhalation is miserable. I'll just not breathe. That'll work.
Back – I tip forward gingerly away from the pine. Testing. As my spine sets in motion the lightning bolt strikes me again. FUUUUUUU....

I'm panting. What happened to the no-breathing resolution?

Everything is swimming before my eyes though it's so dark I can barely see anyway. Focus. Focus on a sense. Focus on taste. Mouth is dry – I run my tongue along the back of my teeth ---at least I haven't lost any teeth. Think of a good taste. I need to ground myself. Hostess. I feel for the crinkly package in the jacket pocket. Still there---flatted but intact. Reaching for the package with my right hand, I manage to rip the cellophane with my teeth. The texture is crumbly. Duh, it's a crumbcake. Crumbs and cake.

I chew slowly—soaking in all the details. The moisture in the cake---the grain of the body. The ease with which it gives way to my bite. When the sweetness hits my tongue, only then do I nearly cry. What the hell am I supposed to do now?
Stupid hostess...emotions the mostess. I indulge in the moment for just that--a moment. It's not safe to let me linger longer.
One bite only; the rest back in pocket--I'm not in Brooklyn. I'm in woodland.

Okay, what happened here---put the pieces together, Carson. I likely rounded a corner and launched right into a ridge. The ski-doo must've tossed me like a bouquet, and old evergreen here broke the fall. More like broke me while I fell. But how did...I guess the snowmobile caught up, and well, I can still hear it puttering out in the dark. 

Better get up and turn it off. Better...
Struck a third time. It makes me dizzy this round. My hands flail to regain balance. The striking point is in the small of my back. Everything radiates from there like a hot poker. I draw my left leg up underneath me for balance, and nothing happens.

Holy shit. Nothing happened. My left leg did not draw up underneath me for balance. I told it to—but it didn't. It didn't. Why didn't it! Move darn it!

Neither of them are moving. I reach down a slap my thighs. Nothing. It's like they've fallen asleep while marathoning Lord of the Rings. There's a vague burning in them, and my hip --- the top of my hip hurts like a mother flipper. The snowmobile must've crushed into it. Don't panic, don't panic---crap, too late.

Breathe and hold.

Exhale. Oww....
Deal with it, ribs. Adam had a spare ribs---be Adam.
Who am I kidding? I'm going to die out here, aren't I? This is it. I'm going to die, and I'll be remembered by the empty hostess pouch clasped in my cold, stiff hands.
Aunt Bea is going to whisper, “I told you so,” over my barely thawed corpse.
No, I refuse to give her the final word on the matter. Heck, I've never been to Rome or pegged out all 23 Dr. Pepper flavors. Death must wait.

As I close my eyes, I try to formulate a plan. Loose scheme is to crawl til someone finds me---someone, anyone, or die trying. Maybe I have a fairy godmother who could wave a wand. Alien abduction would be perfectly timed right now. I'd settle for a tardis.
The longer I dawdle, the better the chance that I never get moving at all.

Slowly lowering my chest down to the ground, I fight against the flashes behind my eyes---the very alluring ones whispering, “Rest---just resign. Succumb to the fade.”
I won't.
Flattening to horizontal, I lever my body one or two arms lengths forward---hoping my legs will follow behind. They're twisted and uncooperative. Reaching back, I struggle to unhook the knees from one another.

This has to be a bad dream. This can't be real life. I used to do sprint sets for fun, and now I can barely get my legs to just trail behind me. What a sick joke!

The icy wind whips my cheeks raw as I start to army crawl through the deep snow. It's slow and grueling, and I fight with sinking into the mashed potato layer over the earth's crust, but I manage a few feet without blacking out. Heading into the 4th foot, my chest cries out in retort. Shooting pain through back and side inspires a blood curdling yell into the deep night. The sound bounces off some unseen objects and returns in a faint echo. No one can hear me. There's no one here to hear me.

I rest my head on my sleeves in front of me. If this is it....I do have regrets. Wish I'd been easier on my dad. Given him more grace. Forgiven him for –well, you know what for.
Oh, and I wish I'd tried out for that play in 7th grade. Just like its name, I'd made Much Ado About Nothing and how it'd effect my middle-school cred with the other kids. Lesson learned too late in life: everyone's a dork. 

I wish for the average things too--the ones everybody regrets. Should've travelled more. Should've learned another foreign language (pretty sure the Latin I took doesn't count). Who wants someone whispering authentic Ovid romantically in their ear? Yeah---and there's that one. Really flubbed that one up. Romance. Forever on the back burner, always playing second (or 80th) fiddle to academic ambition. Academics don't keep you warm at night. Academics don't cry at your funeral.

Too late now anyway. I'm going to go out like a popcicle. Wonder what flavor I am---hmm, I bet I'm one of those ones with a lame joke printed on the stick.
What did 0 say to 8? ---Nice belt!
Or maybe I'm more of:
What happens when you illegally park your frog? ---You get TOAD!

I prop back up on my elbows as I start to tell myself horrible jokes.
Where should dogs never shop? ---At the flea market! 

With each rotten punch line, I pull myself a little farther. 
Why did the doctor send the duck to collections? ---Because he didn't pay his bill!

Soon, I'm army crawling along at a steady clip. That excruciating pain? Oh, it's still there.
Why did letter A and B go to the beach? ---To find a C gull!
The snow in my face and sleeves? Not going away.
Why can't you watch a movie with a cat? ---They always hit paws!
The jokes are wretched. They're not funny at all. Nothing is funny about this, this night, this whole situation, but suddenly I'm slithering along on my belly and laughing like a maniac. Realty seems warped. Delusions are creeping in.

What do you call a mathematical parrot on a hunger strike? ---A polynomeal
I can't tell if I've been crawling for minutes or hours. The crashed sled is no longer audible, so it either ran out of gas or I've crawled out of ear shot. Every muscle protests each inch forward. Indulgently, my eyes close as I continue to pull along the ground. Behind the lids I see a kaleidoscope of colored fragments.

This has to be it. 10 more paces, and I'm giving up.
8. What a waste...
7. Sorry, Aunt Bea...
5. Do I smell smoke?
3. That's definitely smoke.
2. Holy crap, holy crap it's...
1. It's a house.

IT'S A HOUSE! A HOUSE WHERE PEOPLE LIVE! Tears stream down my face. I'm not stopping them. Probably shed more tears today than I have summed over the last decade. Though my body shivers and shakes with the effort, I start the great incline up to the home. There's no bootcamp to prepare your adrenaline glands for this feat. My reserves are 130% tapped out.

A quarter up the ascent, I try to cry out for help, but the strange voice emanating from my mouth is too garbled and strangled to be heard. Sound lodges in my throat and comes out like a vocal sloppy joe.

FLASHLIGHT. That's right—I packed a flashlight. Digging it out of my pocket, what was once screwed together as one piece feels alarmingly like many pieces. Fingering the remnants, I can pick out the batteries and the spring as well as several sharp shards. Must be a crash casualty. Welp, guess I won't have to worry about creepily shining the light into any windows, or flashing morse code to get someone's attention.

Half way up. I can't. I can't move anymore. I can't. My lungs are wheezing---the ice cold air biting at my nose. I've tried three times to make it another foot, but I can't. I keep collapsing back into the fluff. C'mon, Carson. Man up. If you can't move your way out of it, think your way out of it. 

That was a lousy attempt at a yell. So raspy and faint, no one could possibly hear---let alone be woken. GOSH DARN IT! Slamming my fist against the resistance-less snow doesn't help, but I do it any way. So frustrated and exhausted that these childish impulses feel totally justified and cathartic. Grabbing a wad of snow, I pack it and hurl the ball up the hill in disgust.
The frozen projectile lands short of the house by about 20 feet. Huh, not bad. I pack another and repeat the game. Closer that time! My third shot is wide.
Artillery production begins as I line up my newly manufactured white cannon balls. Not top of the line in this fresh fallen snow. A bit powdery, but I'm banking on those years of pitching little league to compensate. After 8 or so attempts, I finally land a shot. The cabin up ahead is a nebulous target in the dark, but my scatter plot precision is narrowing. I'm honing in my spread. After landing 5 successful blows on the little house (that would feature excellently on syrup labels), I ready my next shot. As the snowball departs kyle's glove, I hear a pop in my side and a new rush of pain rocks my entire frame. I find myself let out a yelping, “Eeeeyaaahh,” as I curl in on the anguish.

Two minutes pass. I lie motionlessly--wracked in bone shaking agony. Then the sweetest, most timid voice pipes through the wind.

H-hello?...A-any-one out here? You...b-better watch out. I took karate w-when I was like 10 so, so whatever you are, you'd bes..
I try to answer the faceless voice, but my words swell, choke, and dissolve before they form anything coherent. The invisible stranger strikes up again. This time she casts a little more sass and an inexplicable Ghost Busters reference. I cough quietly and then manage a stammering appeal.

“mmmmpft. Help....please...”

Oh glory, whoever you are please hurry. Please---find me faster. There must be a rift in the space time continuum because cold molasses runs faster than these seconds. Our horrible game of echo-location finally concludes, and I hear the soft voice above me murmur.


The panic that had gripped me earlier has caught hold of her. She erupts in a slur of panicked curses, as I struggle to raise my head to meet her face. And then...and then there she is. The loveliest sight for sore eyes in all the world. Sure I would've been grateful at this point if Jabba the Hutt had found me—and maybe it's the gratitude, pain, or immense relief talking—but here I find I'm confronted with beauty incarnate.
Oh crap. Crap, crap. —things are fading and sliding again. My vision is swirling. I'm squinting to keep from blacking out, but I don't want fries with that... Huh? What's that? Calvin Coolidge did not invent kool-aid, did he? Voice sounds come muffled from underwater. Someone is asking me questions. I think I'm answering them.

There--I've agreed to something. Oh hell, oh hell that hurt. Am I moving? It feels like I'm moving. Maybe that's just...yes. Yes, I've always wondered what it would be like to have been born a pinball. Got the instant replay! No, nevermind—ow, oof. Thunder cats, hooo...


When I come to, everything is a blurry glob. Slowly the angel's face comes into focus. Features sharpening into view a bit at a time. Still beautiful. Sure an objective observer might rate certain features on their own as slightly flawed, but to me they draw together to form a perfectly imperfect angel. She's speaking kindly and looks concerned as she dabs my forehead. That smarts a little, but it's nothing compared with everywhere else.

These concussion-test questions are easy-peasy. Peter parker picked purposefully. Ugh. Consciousness is overrated---and so is superman.


  1. oh wow, i wish every day would be monday!! cant get enough of that story <3 i could honestly keep reading for hours!!!

    1. Thanks for being a loyal reader! Comments like yours make me want to write more. <3

  2. Fantastic chapter! Love the view points from each person. Now that we have more of the story, more questions are popping up for me!! What happens when Carson is more awake and realizes what has happened?? How long will they have to stay in the cabin?? On and on and on...can't wait for the next installment!

    1. I will try to answer most of those questions! Let me know if there's anything you'd especially like to see. <3

  3. Can't wait for the next chapter!

  4. So different and exciting! Can't wait to see where you go.

  5. Terrific, intriguing, superb!