Lil’ Trevor sits in the back seat of his daddy’s car, snug and belted in his child seat. The car is a sleek and flimsy thing, but it can go really fast and apparently to his father, that’s all that matters. His mother says that it’s unsafe, especially since Trevor came tumbling into the world, but his daddy doesn’t listen.
He might love the car more than his son, but he’d never tell anyone that. Trevor hugs Mr Bumbles close, trying to get some warmth from his furry little body. Even in the heated car, the bitter cold outside cuts through. He watches the world fly past and the snowflakes fall in a blur.
The car slips on a patch of ice as his daddy races down the road as if he’s driving to beat the devil. The speed he is going at would be dangerous on a clear day and a clean road. With this snow and black ice hiding on the road like a trapdoor spider, it’s downright suicidal.
As the car momentarily swerves out of control Trevor’s daddy uses one of the words that his mummy always says, “Not to use in front of Trevor.” Trevor doesn’t understand yet what a word is or how you can ‘use’ it, but he knows this word sounds dirty and nasty, and it makes him ascared when his daddy uses it, because something bad always happens before or after he does.
His daddy regains control and Trevor looks down at Mr Bumbles, holding him at arm’s length. He stares into Mr. Bumbles serene, shiny little black eyes with his own beautiful baby blue ones. As the car swerves once more across the road, this time on purpose, trying to avoid something; Mr. Bumbles is wrenched from Trevor’s warm little hands and is flung forward through the windshield just as it cracks open, with a noise not unlike the pop and hiss of one of his daddy’s beer cans. Trevor will never lift his best friend and his lone, silent companion with the serene and all knowing eyes; ever again.
Mark was still walking, still focusing at that one spot on the horizon, still batting his demons, when the final pieces of his memories clicked together, as if he finally understood the last clue on his crossword, or finally found the right route to help Ronald McDonald find the stolen hamburgers. Except he didn’t feel elation, he felt sick to his stomach. How had he let such a thing happen?
He remembered snow and ice. He remembered shouting, screaming, and the screeching of the tires. He remembered the pain, the burning smell, and then everything when blank. They were in the car, careening down the road, he was holding on for dear life, and the driver was laughing hysterically, but with his face a mask of fear. It was the epitome of a bad trip, and the worst thing was that Mark hadn’t even taken anything. It was just another piece of his bad luck that the hysterical nut job with a bad tab of acid in him happened to be behind the wheel. He was probably going to die, and he wasn’t even high.
In the opposite lane, there was a car approaching, and in the seat beside him, stinking of sweat, drugs, and shit, Steve screamed, “Oh Jesus, look out Mark!”
He gestured wildly at the empty road in front of them while gripping the wheel with one white-knuckled hand. Mark couldn’t remember what he said in response to this but he could figure it was probably along the lines of, “Shut up and keep your eyes on the damn road.”
Steve’s response to this was less than rational but exactly expected from the man who was screwed up on drugs, and who used to be the kid that would tell you in nervous whispers that the aliens were listening to him through his teeth fillings.
“But Mark, look! It’s Bigfoot!” Flailing both hands this time and then pointing with both for dramatic effect, punctuating each word that followed with both bony fingers jabbing like daggers.
“Big. Freaking.Foot, in the middle of this Big.Freaking. Road!”
Mark decided the best solution would be to play along, Steve was out of his mind and Mark knew he always carried a pocketknife that he wasn’t shy to use.
“Run him over, keep driving asshole.”
“I’m not running down Bigfoot! There’s only one of him left.”Which was a fair point.
“So he’s probably lonely, put him out of his misery.”
“I can’t, he’s so majestic… how can I harm something so beautiful?”
He followed this up by swerving to avoid the big hairy bugger, right into the path of the oncoming car. As the car tried to move to avoid them and swerved on the ice, Mark caught a brief glimpse of a man screaming and a baby in the backseat eying his teddy bear placidly (funny how time seemed to slow down) before the impact, the smashing, and the agony.
The irony that Steve’s last words were probably the most articulate and intelligent thing he’d ever said was lost on Mark. He found nothing funny or ironic in the situation, or his recollection of it. Mark should never have got into the car with Steve, Mark never should have accepted when Steve offered him a beer all those years ago. The same for when he offered him a cigarette.
The same a thousand times over for the weed, the heroin, the crack, and the acid. He should never have met Steve. When he moved in next door when Mark was 4 years old, Mark should have ignored him. If only he had known. Steve was the one that had offered all the poison to him, and then held a gun to his head and made him swallow it. This wasn’t a metaphor, Steve owned a gun. Steve was not a nice human being. Mark had often doubted Steve was even a human being.
Mark knew where he was now. He was in hell, being punished for his sins, punished for being weak, for not standing up to Steve, for not confronting his demons. For letting the drugs and his own sins ruin the life he had tried to build for himself over and over again, and now he was dead, and Steve was probably sitting in a cushy hospital somewhere recovering from minor scratches and telling them all about how Mark was insane and had forced him to do this and that and how he was so lucky to be alive and away from him. That was also the type of person Steve was.
But Mark was still walking, and still focusing on the horizon, even as all this raced through his head. He would keep walking until he dropped dead or until something changed. The drugs and the booze would go on ignored, and even if he slowly starved to death or died of thirst, he would not cave in. He had spent a whole life being weak; maybe in death he could be strong. This sounded really clichéd and stupid but at least it was something positive.
The landscape swayed around him and despite this world having no sun, it was blisteringly hot and his filthy clothes were matted to his skin by sweat. His thirst and hunger had intensified and he felt so hung over that he felt like he was literally dying, which was ironic because he was pretty sure he was dead. In the distance something had changed. He could make out faint shapes that didn’t match with what he had been staring blankly at for what seemed like eternity.
At first he thought it was a mirage or a hallucination brought on by withdrawal, thirst, and exhaustion, but as he kept moving he became certain that what he was seeing was real. Far off in the distance, there were buildings. From this far away the colours on them seemed strange, but their towering height was evident from even such a distance, reaching up into the sky like giant pencils. He began to move with new found resolve; maybe the buildings before him would contain people, or at least clues as to where to go from here or what to do next.
When he reached them he couldn’t believe his eyes, not for the first time since he reached this world. The last time he felt elated, but this time he felt just plain bewildered. There were buildings alright, but they weren’t made from bricks and mortar, they were built from Lego.
They towered high into the air, with mismatched colours and sizes of bricks all over the place. There were doors too high to reach, windows that were far too small or so huge they threatened the structural integrity of the buildings, and staircases that led to nowhere and bridges that dropped off into thin air.
The ground all around him seemed to be made from massive misshaped foam jigsaw pieces, with random numbers, small sections of incomplete pictures of cuddly cats or cartoon characters, and colours mashed all together with no real care for patterns or correct placement. It seemed like a world built by a child. Mark had a small brain fart when he saw this place and thought that maybe he had stumbled into someone else’s portion of this strange world. Behind him he could see the Cocaine Desert, and in front of him lay Lego Land.
He walked through the streets of this strange land, with life size toy cars littering the streets and taking no particular care to follow any sort of parking or driving laws.As he approached an intersection, a fat toy policeman lay on his side with one of his arms missing. The sight chilled Mark somewhat, and off in the distance he thought he heard an unearthly wail carried in the air.
He gave the body a wide berth and continued moving forward past a life size toy of an elephant. As he passed the cuddly plastic beast with the rosy cheeks, its head turned and followed him, its small beady eyes narrowing. Mark didn’t notice.
Moving further into the heart of the weird toy town, the wailing he thought he had heard grew louder and more intense, and he could no longer dismiss it as something from his imagination or a hallucination. He stopped walking and listened, closing his eyes and feeling the world seem to tilt on its axis ashis hangover and dehydration took their toll. Behind the wailing he heard a low rumble, like a growl or a roar, and Mark felt like it had suddenly grown a lot colder in this lonely world.
He rounded the corner of a building and saw more life sized toy animals and people scattered everywhere, with pieces ripped off them and spilled everywhere. It was like some sort of brutal massacre where there wasn’t a drop of blood spilled or an ounce of gore to be found. He was not really surprised to see that one of the plastic zebras with two legs missing was lying twitching in agony, and there was a man in a black suit crawling along the ground towards his plastic briefcase, with half of his head melted like wax.
The buildings leading away from the carnage were destroyed, the bricks lying randomly in towering piles, making everything as far as they eye could see like living inside the Lego box of a gargantuan child. Despite the little voice in his head telling him it was a stupid idea (oddly, the voice sounded a lot like Steve), Mark began to clamber over the piles of Lego bricks, following the trail of destruction deeper into the heart of the toy city.
At the foot of another mountain of Lego bricks, he stopped to rest for a moment. His clothes were now practically translucent with sweat and his tongue was blistered and swelling. The colour and clarity was draining from the world like someone had just pulled the plug on it. He didn’t know whether it was the hangover, the growing withdrawal, or the hunger and thirst that was destroying him.
It was probably a lousy combination of all three. He felt like giving up and lying down to die when he heard the wailing from before, this time crystal clear and in earshot. Accompanying it he heard a rhythmic thumping that seemed to make the air around him vibrate and thrum.
Everything seemed to rush back into the world, and he began to scramble up the pile of multi-coloured bricks, which for some reason seemed to be mostly yellow. As he climbed higher and higher, drifts of bricks tumbled down behind him and he almost stumbled and fell with them as the mountain began to fall apart beneath him. The wheezing of his breath, the tumbling bricks, the wailing and the thumping all seemed to mesh together into some sort of dramatic chorus, and he felt it about to reach a crescendo when he finally reached the top of the pile.
Far below him, he saw a small child sitting in a clearing between the buildings that looked like a play park. The toddler was surrounded by both giant and tiny toys, which all seemed to be rushing around in frenzy. A giant Lego donkey bumped into a toy T-Rex and exploded like a piñata loaded with bricks, and some of them crushed the smaller toys like ants. All through this the boy saw bawling his eyes out, making that high pitched wail Mark had heard earlier, and it made his head ache with the shrillness of it.
However none of this could detract from how damn elated he felt just to see another human being in this unexplainable world. A hot girl would have been a more preferable companion, but the presence of this baby suggested that maybe there could be more people too, and despite the fact that he didn’t particularly like kids, he felt some sort of deep seated instinct kick in and he felt compelled to protect the child.
The baby began to scream louder, and the thumping sound from before built to a roaring crescendo. A short distance away from the baby, one of the massive buildings suddenly smashed into pieces and as they fell, Mark saw a giant; skyscraper sized cuddly teddy bear destroying all in its path and screaming with rage.
It stopped and roared, beating its fuzzy chest with those giant stuffed paws, its mouth revealing rows of fabric teeth that Mark didn’t doubt were deadly anyway. The bear’s giant black eyes focused on the child and it began to slowly and laboriously stumble towards the mewling brat. It swung its legs in wide arcs, as if it couldn’t bend them, and it made it move with a waddle that would have been comical if it wasn’t around 100 feet tall and full of murderous rage.
Mark began to sprint down the pile of bricks, slipping and sliding - at one point tumbling head over heels and rolling down hill with the landslide - towards the child. The bear moved slowly closer and the baby wailed like an ambulance siren speeding towards the scene of an accident.