I do not know how long it has been since my escape, but they watch me very closely. The trees pass by on either side of the vehicle while I stare at the center of the road. My home has trees. Perhaps it's the dome and the molecules don't move fast enough or perhaps it is a chemical reaction, but it has trees.
I haven't felt such strong emotions since then and I don't know whether I'd want to. I can't believe how many trees there are. So this is how a forest is, it looks completely different on a television, I'm not sure how to explain it, but it does. They are watching me, up in the sky, I think, observing, wondering what I will do next.
Nothing but trees and road, it's a monotonous journey that I'm used to. I see an animal up the road and I stop, it looks like some kind of deer. I don't know what it's called, a jooz or muss or something but we stare at each other for a second and it darts off into the trees. Ah trees, Such fascinating beings but I cannot stop. They will no doubt take advantage of that moment.
Friend. I haven't felt right since I left him behind. No, no, he wouldn't have gone with it anyway, wouldn't have been willing, still... I would've had to take his family too which didn't fit into my plan of escape. As much as I would've liked to, I couldn't. I just couldn't.
Something is appearing in the distance. Over the hill is a city. It is a seemingly endless sea of buildings with no building in view over four stories tall. I'm not sure what I'll do when I get to this place but I have to do something. I see a sign coming up, it says "Welcome to Cooksville, pop. 147,786." I wonder why it would be called Cooksville. I'll have to ask.
I pull into a parking lot and I get out. I think it's time to look around. A man appears from behind a building and follows me down the street. He sneaks up behind me and pulls a knife on me. He puts it against my throat and says "gimme all your money."
"I don't have any" I reply.
"Check" he growls and so I do. Nothing in the front pockets and nothing in the back. "Maybe I should just cut you" he says.
"Why?" I ask.
"I don't know, it's a threat?" he sounds frustrated.
"You sound doubtful" I say.
He tries to say something but he can't decide what to say so his speech stutters until he finally yells "FUCK YOU" and runs off.
This place looks far less developed than what I'm used to. From what I've seen, it looks like this place never grew out of the '70s. Suddenly someone screams and I hear a thud. I go to check and it is the man who tried to rob me. He lays before me twitching and everyone around me keeps walking, ignoring him. I do not have a calling device with me so I look for one.
There is none nearby so I have to look farther. I go inside a store and see one. I go back outside to check on him; he is gone. Either someone else has taken care of him or he walked away himself. C'est la vie.
I look around for someplace to stay and I spot a large lineup starting near what I think is a convenience store. I decide to stand in it. I ask the man in front of me what he's standing in line for. He replies that he is standing in line for The Analog Man, someone who seemingly knows everything. You get to ask one question a day and he tells you the answer for free. "It's wonderful!" he says.
Intrigued, I see this as a chance to find out who exactly "they " are. The man turns back around to me and says "Oh by the way, my name is Elias".
"Hello" I reply.
"You don't mind if I get us a couple of drinks do you?"
I thought about it before saying "no, I guess not." He runs a short way back into the convenience store.
I take the time to look at my surroundings. Most of the buildings in this region are made of either wood or brick, it seems quite well preserved. Mostly stores and businesses on this street. A bright blue sky heating the jet black asphalt of the road beside me and a sweet, warm smell wafts from a bakery down the street. Not a cloud in the sky. I hear many of the people's voices; mostly arguing and a gentle wind caresses my skin.The taste of sweat is in the air and I smell garbage nearby... this is what it's like. This place is much different from where I come from.
Elias come back out with two 250ml bottles and gives one to me. He takes a bottle opener out from his jean pocket and opens mine first. He takes a sip and asks "So, what's your name?"
"Man" I reply.
"Really, where do you come from, Man?"
"I don't know" I say. "From where I come from, they... don't have names."
"They don't name anything?"
"Well, that's... different. How do you know what's what and who's who?" As he asks this I drink some of mine and I react strongly to it. The sweetness of it overwhelms my taste buds and I have to spit it out. "What's wrong?" Elias says to me with concern on his face.
"Too sweet" I say back.
"First drink I'm guessing?"
"You'll get used to it" he says as he takes another sip.
By this time the line has moved some and we are now in front of a barbershop about three or four stores down from that convenience store. I take a drop of the drink and swallow it as fast as I can. Still very sweet, but it's good. I look at the label, it's called Coca-Cola. Elias asks me what I do for a living and I say "Nothing now but I used to be a statician."
"Hmm, well I currently work as an architect."
"Designed any well known buildings?"
"Only in Cooksville" he replies.
"Then I don't know your work."
"No worries, almost nobody does. Want me to show you around after?"
"Sure, I don't mind."
Elias seems to be thinking hard about something. "Man", he suddenly says "that's an odd name."
"It's not really a name" I say "It's more something I call myself."
"Then lets give you a proper name shall we?"
"I don't know , George?"
I experiment with the sound, roll it around in my mouth, trying different pronunciations but it doesn't sound right to me. "No, not George", I say.
As we fool around with names we get closer to the line's destination which I can see now. It is but a small green tent, kind of like a tent used for camping but taller.
We're still trying to find the right name when we find ourselves at the tent flaps. I am about to go inside with Elias until he pushes me back and shakes his head. I step back, he steps inside and zips the flaps closed.
I can't hear anything despite being just a couple of feet away, can't even hear whispering. Perhaps the tent is made of soundproofed fibers but that doesn't concern me. I only need to know one thing. A few minutes later Elias comes back out and immediately I step into the tent and zip it closed.
The tent has no bottom and there is a pillow on either side of the tent. The Analog Man sits on one and I assume I should sit on the other. He looks exactly like a monk. All he is wearing is an orange robe and his head is shaved. Right now, he's sitting cross-legged and his eyes are closed, presumably meditating. The eyes open, revealing slate blue irises that challenge you to stare into them, focused and knowing looking back at you.
Then he says "What question is it you want asked?" His voice is soft and calm but at the same time authoritative.
"Who or what in the sky is following and watching me closely?" His face contorts into that of a surprised and frightened expression and he tells me to come back here at exactly midnight when I'll be told what I need to know. He takes a few deep breaths and he returns to his calm state as I nod and walk out.