It was a little heavy, and the glass was smooth and cold in my hands. Late morning sunlight filtered over it making a refraction of patterns on the wall. It was like obsidian in color, with spiraling flecks that looked like galaxies dancing across the bowl. I was absolutely mesmerized by it, a perfect glass smoking pipe. It was a gift from my friend who was studying in Europe, and it had just arrived today.
“Gorgeous.” I whispered to myself, eyeing like it was a piece of fine jewelry.
I was almost afraid to pock its perfection by actually using it, but excitement made me give in as I packed it carefully and meticulously. I grabbed my lighter and fired it, hitting the carburetor as I took a deep draw and held it, marveling at its smooth delivery. I exhaled with a cough and leaned back in my recliner.
I felt an instant sensation of euphoria come crashing down on me in a wave of fuzziness. It was like I was slowly escalating on a roller coaster, a funny feeling in my gut that made my consciousness rise to the top of my head. I giggled, enjoying the tingling feeling that spread all over my body. There was a strange humming in my ears, low and distant sounding, like a fly was close to me. I felt like I was levitating.
And then, in an instant, I felt a drop in the pit of my stomach. My insides lurched as the humming increased in volume. I quickly became cold, and felt empty. Shallow breaths escaped me. Then the room started to disappear. My vision completely blacked out as I thought I heard the pipe drop from my fingers. I couldn’t be sure due to the now screeching buzz in my head.
My vision returned in a few seconds, but it was incomplete. The edges were blurry and black, like looking through a dirty telescope. I heard the tires screaming against the pavement before I saw the car collide into an invisible obstacle. It seemed to be in slow motion, like some ad for seatbelt safety. There was a shrill hiss, and then a metallic whine that made me want to cover my ears. It was metal against metal, like nails on a chalkboard.
I tried to shield myself from the sounds but I couldn’t feel my body. I was disconnected from it, almost floating in my own mind as the scene played out before me. The car crumpled inward a bit and then pulled back as the driver was cruelly ejected. He smashed into the opposing force and a thick CRUNCH echoed out. It was obvious he was gone, evident by the blood that began to pool around his face.
The humming began to fade along with the perverse vision, it dissipated like a fog. I felt my ears pop I as begin to orient myself back in my room. I looked around, scared and disoriented as my vision readjusted. With a glance over, I saw the pipe on the ground already burned out. Sitting up, I shook my head. I had fallen asleep. It was just a strange nightmare.
The rationality eased my mind as I stood up, but the vividness of the dream left a gnawing feeling in my gut.
I quickly got ready for work, throwing on the cheap and tacky uniform that screamed fast food employee. My nervousness got the better of me as I drove to the crummy pizza joint and I kept my speed low. I’m not sure what inclined me to be anxious at every oncoming vehicle, but I figured I would be better safe than sorry.
Upon arrival, my anxiety faded and continued lessening throughout my shift. The lunch rush soon came and deprived me of any time to worry about trivial dreams. Things ran smoothly and soon my shift was nearing completion.
“Hey!” My manager called over to me as I finished shutting down the cash register. “Go restock the dish rack and then you can clock out.”
I nodded and went into the back, grabbing the hefty trolley that held the freshly sanitized dish ware. A groan stuttered out of my mouth as I heaved it into the back.
It was cold in the stockroom, mostly due to the fact that it was immediately next to the cooler. As I pulled the cart in behind me with strained effort, I paused. Over the monotone buzz of the cooler I thought I could make out a faint whisper. Was someone in the cooler? It wouldn’t come as a surprise considering two employees were fired last month for “fooling around” in there.
Hesitantly, I sidestepped up to the porthole style window embedded in the icy metal door. Maybe someone just got stuck, I mean, this door was know for jamming and getting stuck. I couldn’t count how many times the manager preached about not letting the cooler close on you because she was sick of it locking people in. Stretching up on my toes, I craned for a view into the small room. I scanned it slowly, searching for the source of the previous whisper.
“Hey!” I heard an abrupt yell that made me leap back, hitting the dish cart hard with my hip.
It hit the shelf causing it to shift a bit and the current dishes on it reverberated at the sudden motion. I held my breath as I prepared to dodge if it fell.
It held. I turned back to the source of the yell as my manager looked at me from the kitchen with concern. I shook it off.
“I’m sorry, I thought I heard someone in the cooler. It was nothing.” I responded as she gave me a thumbs up and continued closing down the restaurant.
I inspected the damage done to the shelf. Nothing appeared to be broken, and the only sign of distress was a bolt holding it to the wall that now looked bent. I gave the towering shelf a little nudge with my palm. It shivered but otherwise seemed sound. Shrugging it off, I began stacking the heavy glass plates in a bit of a rush. I just wanted to get home and relax.
I finished quickly and clocked out, returning a wave to the manager as I hurried out the doors and into my car.
The roads were surprisingly empty, though it was getting late. I let my mind wander as I coasted gently down the pavement, my hand tapping the steering wheel to the beat on the radio. I wasn’t far from my road when the fog started drifting in. I slowed down as the anxious feeling from earlier began easing back into my stomach.
In a split decision, I gritted my teeth and sped back up. Ignoring the clawing worry, I edged up the speedometer until I was coasting down the inky road about ten miles above the limit. My reasoning was simple, the sooner I got home, the sooner I would feel better. The knot in my stomach grew as I gripped the steering wheel and pressed the accelerator forward.
Part of my mind said to slow down, but I couldn’t handle being on the road any longer. Bile rose in my throat as I reached ninety miles per hour and the thick scent of stale pizza hanging over me did nothing to help the urge to vomit that was bubbling up inside me. As the fog closed in on me I felt my stomach lurch uncomfortably as a bit of vomit seeped into my mouth.
The car hummed ferociously as I blurred past inky trees that were only visible as I passed them. I rested one hand on my stomach, mentally pleading not to lose its contents. Without warning, a bright light beamed through my car. My mind prepared for the worst as I sucked in a harsh breath and prepared to swerve.
But I could only cringe as the oncoming car brushed past me, far to close for my liking. It was on the other side of the road…I had freaked out over nothing. I slowed down to a halt and shut the car off in the middle of the lane. With one hand clutching my upset stomach, I quickly ejected myself from the car and dashed over to the opposite side of the road. There was a dense cluster of brambles and bushes here, perfect to upchuck my lunch in.
I leaned against a tree and wiped my mouth as I caught my breath. Even as a child I had a nervous stomach, the slightest bit of worry could empty me easily. It seemed that curse followed me into my adult life as I eyed the puddle of unrecognizable mash with malice, I hated the ordeal of puking. It left me feeling clammy and gave residence to an awful taste in my mouth.
I took a few moments to compose myself, enjoying the cool night air against my feverish face. The fog still clouded the road ahead, to my dismay, and the night was quiet, absent of even the cricket songs. The pit of worry was still deep in my mind, but the expulsion of my stomach had quelled it slightly.
I shook my head to clear it and stretched before I started back toward the car. In the split second I turned away from the tree I had previously leaned against, I heard a familiar sound that make my heart drop.
The scene played out the same as earlier, only this time with the foggy forest road as its grisly backdrop. I closed my eyes tightly and dropped to my knees, I didn’t want to watch. That cacophony of metal rang out, followed by the skidding of tires on pavement that created a noxious cloud of burnt rubber that filled the air. Then the crashing, followed by an echoing crunch as the driver was removed.
Fear and shock gripped me as I fought against my lungs to force air into my body. I opened my eyes but kept them pointing downward as my trembling hand reached for the cell phone in my pocket. It felt like I was on autopilot as I called medical personnel to the scene. I remained nearly fetal on the ground until I saw the ambulance. They stood me up and walked me to one of the waiting vehicles.
I unconsciously looked over my shoulder as the helped me and my vision locked onto the victim. It was undoubtedly the man I had seen that morning, the details from the bad trip still vivid to this second. They were peeling him from my fractured windshield, one of the EMTs cringing back from the tragedy.
I was shocked into submission as the responder checked me over. No damage obviously, but they kept me monitored for severe trauma while they hauled off the other body and waited for the police to arrive to file a report.
When the officer arrived, I hazily answered the questions as a tow vehicle hauled both broken vehicles away. He then ushered me into the cruiser after a nod from an EMT.
“Where do you live Miss?” He asked, craning around to look at me.
I told him my address and pulled my knees into my chest as he drove. He soon pulled into the driveway, stalling the car and stepping out. My door opened and the officer helped me out then walked me to the door.
“You’re very lucky you weren’t in that car Ma’am, be careful okay?” He professionally stated as he gave my shoulder a reaffirming squeeze. His hand radio went off with a crackle as he turned back towards the car and drove off, leaving me shivering on my porch.
I rushed inside, locking the door tightly behind me and making a beeline for my room. I flipped on every light I passed, trying to emit a sense of comfort. It was childish, but the luminescence pushed out some of the pangs of fear I had.
I collapsed on my disheveled bed and curled up into a ball as I began sobbing grossly. The night caught up to me as I dry heaved into my pillow. My mind tried to create sense out of impossibility, but was failing.
It was a dream!
It was a premonition!
It was an accident!
It was your fault…