Το πραγματικό νόημα του Διαφωτισμού είναι να βλέμμα με un με αχνά γράμματα στα μάτια σε όλες σκοτάδι. Γιατί είναι κατά τη διάρκεια μας πιο σκοτεινές στιγμές που θα πρέπει να επικεντρωθούμε να δει το φως.
After much encouragement and insistence, I have decided to seek out a publisher. I know so many of you have told me to do so, even assured me you would all buy copies yourself, so I figured if I had so many supporters here- the rest of the world would fall as much in love with it as you all have.
Thank you for telling me how much this story means to you. Thank you for telling me something any author would kill to hear; that this is one of the best stories you have ever read. On Fictionpress and off. You don't even know how much that means to me.
Obviously- I will need these two books edited some before you will find it on the shelves. Though all of you have read it as just one massive novel- in the publishing world this is two novel lengths, so it might take a bit! But I promise you it will be there one day. You are the best.
Thank you for everything!
The steering wheel vibrated beneath my fingertips and my joints echoed against the gentle reverberating. The plastic against my skin had warmed to my touch and my grip held firm to the pulsating wheel. Distant crows cawed faintly overhead; my eyes blankly traced their forms before they fell to watch the road again. I inhaled the cold air that escaped the world as my eyes absorbed the pavement before me; its hypnotic pattern moved underneath my car and I blankly followed its white lines and yellow dashes.
It was quiet. Today seemed like it was between the ticks of a clock. A dreary, rainy day that seemed to calm those trapped within it. Small goosebumps riddled my body for a small moment before I shook them away. But the delicate dress did nothing to keep them away. I was aware of every cold breath of air the dented to white silk and it made me grimace in my discomfort.
I flipped on the heat and didn't even mind when the rush of air threatened to detangle the berets and pins that adorned my hair. I smiled smugly to myself at the thought of my sisters fuming over me once I arrived as a tumbled mess of my former self.
The shallow road grooves pulled and tugged at my tires as I drove through the puddles that gathered within the ruts in the highway. I could hear the hiss of the spraying water beneath me as my car turned around a bend in the road. Flashing lights met my eyes.
I watched the police officer where he stood on the side of the shoulder. His hands were etching the consequence for whoever was parked beside him, the down pour weighed his hat heavily on his head. I passed him easily but noticed his gaze upon my retreating vehicle. His black glasses shined slightly as he tilted his head down and evaluated my speed. My foot threatened to press down in defiance. I exhaled loudly. "Not this time, buddy." And almost like he heard my voice, he reluctantly looked away. A small smile crept along my lips.
A soft humming left my lips as I tapped my wheel and sang quietly to myself. There was still snow clinging to the top of the mountains ahead of me and waves of water splattered against my windshield. My eyes traveled up the cliff's length, eyeing the sheer rock faces that eclipsed the highway below. But I couldn't see more than a hundred feet up; that deep grey was swallowing the world around. It had already blanketed the tops of the great peaks and was moving downward. I frowned as I watched the looming weather. It wouldn't be sunny again for a long time. This quiet, dreary stillness would have its hold on us all indefinitely.
Slowly, the mountain before me seemed to pull the road closer to its base. As my vehicle fell beneath those darkening clouds, the details outside my windows began to fade. The grey fog seemed to whisper over the road and despite the heat blowing across my skin, a chill crept along my spine.
You should have brought a jacket.
I exhaled lowly and tightened my grip on the wheel, the idea of wearing the flats on my feet suddenly becoming a bad one. My right shoe loosely clung to my foot as I eased off the gas subtly. The vehicles around me seemed to mirror my choice and decelerated their pace to meet the oncoming wall of white. Slowly, but surely, it covered everything it breathed upon. My fingers flipped my headlights on and my eyes narrowed cautiously against the veil. The mountains had already disappeared; the fog felt like it was a blanket falling from the heavens. My fists squeezed a little tighter.
My song resumed after a few minutes, and the warmth around me fully combated any breath that cooled my spine. But the fact that a lock of brown hair had fully come loose made me rethink the heater and I changed the air flow guilty.
"Now you've done it," my reflection sighed as she stared at my loosely clung hair. Perhaps they wouldn't notice too much? Or perhaps I should just dart into the bathroom before I have the waitress seat me.
I would just say I was late due to traffic. After all, it was my first time driving this part of the highway and the fog did anything but help me. I frowned as I blankly stared into the abyss before me. I finally remembered where I was at.
It took a few moments, but my surroundings finally revealed hints to their presence. A gentle orange glow burned in the distance; the sturdy lights leading the path to the bridge. They illuminated the stale dreary air and my teeth tugged lightly on the edge of my lip as their gleam slowly began to intensify. The Alaskan river sat patiently ahead as I slowly got closer to the color and left the grey and wet world behind.
It was the overpass that sat directly after it that made my lips purse even more. I knew the traffic descending from that off-ramp was always difficult to manage and the presence of the fog only made me change to the inner lane nervously.
My phone buzzed so suddenly that I yipped allowed. I frowned at myself but leaned over and grabbed the phone. "Good going," I whispered to no one. My finger pressed the answer key but I never even had a chance to speak.
"Seventeen! You're only seventeen and you're driving that god awful highway. Do you know how many accidents happen there? Do you know how many people die every year?" My mother huffed exasperated.
"Awe, yes. Tell me more of the horrors of this highway while I'm driving it. I see no repercussions of that, whatsoever." I said. She was supposed to have been ignorant of this whole expedition and I made a mental note to never cook for my dad again.
"Don't sass me missy. You weren't supposed to be the one driving; your dad was supposed to. I wanted you to be studding on the way in since finals are coming up. Have you even studied for Dr. William Tiller's theories!"
I laughed as a blue car past around me from the outer lane, "Yes. Mind over matter. I know my stuff mom, so don't worry. And before you even ask- I completed my anatomy class as well. Though I don't intend to go back to the hospital's morgue ever again."
I heard her audible grunt of acceptance and I smiled coyly at my victory.
"So how is it that your father got out of driving duties, huh?"
I bit my lip with a sly smile, "Lasagna."
" Lasagna? It only took Lasagna?"
We both started laughing suddenly, though I knew she was fighting to suppress it in her frustration of him.
"Oh god, that man. You do realize you're still both in trouble though? In fact- you might not even have a father when you return home."
I grinned, "It's not all his fault. He knows I've been studying and am prepared for yearend finals. Graduation might be only one month away but I'm right on tract, even you have to admit that. You'll never have to worry about me again!"
I heard her chuckling softly; "Oh, I'll always pester you about things in life. And I know you're on tract Eryn. But I still worry, you took more classes than I felt you should have, but it seems you have them all well and managed under your belt. And I suppose that in the end, it was all for a good cause. I bet you're excited to graduate and take full use of that scholarship."
But before I finished answering, something illuminated in front of me. Another flash of red tail lights followed the blue car distantly ahead, and my eyes scoured its speeding form that was fading into the orange glow of fog lights as I approached the bridge. The red lights began to disappear in the thick air.
"...Hello? Eryn?" my mom asked lightly. "I'm… listening." I assured, though I watched that fog uneasily. That car was going so fast it was probably long gone by now. "Yes I am excited" I slowly finished.
But the moment I tried to focus on my mother again, something faint seemed to whisper against my ears. Was that a tire squeal? I narrowed my eyes into the fog before me. "Hold on a sec mom..." I quietly whispered letting off the gas. The haze was too thick. But something was dancing beneath its cloak; I could almost see something swaying back and forth though I couldn't comprehend it. My mother was silent though her shallow breaths registered in my subconscious. The quietness around had once again engulfed me.
And finally, I saw it. My eyes dilated instantly.
My tires thudded as they hit the bridges metal beginning and I dropped my phone, slamming my brake pedal forward. My car screeched as I kept my eyes on the fishtailing semi, which was trying to regain its control. The blue car, that had cut it off, also seemed to be traveling sideways. But neither were slowing down. The air was cold; the fog had already licked the ground. Everything was wet and freezing above the Alaskan River below. Black ice mirrored our flight.
With no traction the semi had started turning and sliding along the bridge; its sides grinding against the concrete wall while sparks and flames erupted between the metal and stone. Its bars and hinges groaned through the air; chunks of debris from both vehicle and wall went firing in all directions. Bare road once again met and burned the tires. The smell of hot rubber and gasoline blew in through my vents. Its intense odor sunk down, deep into my lungs.
My brakes were locked tight but my car was still moving painfully fast. Construction signs slashed through the hood of my car while other tumbling bits of wreckage bounced under my car and against my windshield. Glass shattered against my face and the tires beneath my car ruptured furiously against the blades beneath. My vehicle began to shake and spark as the metal from beneath my car made contact with the ground. The steering wheel jerked against my hands, as my car spun to the side.
I pulled with all my strength, trying to regain power over my steering wheel; my hands grinding and blistering against the plastic, but my car lost its balance and flipped through the air. My ceiling caved in and all other windows shattered with the impact of the rolling car.
I couldn't breathe, couldn't see, I could only feel gravity pulling me every which way, as my heart pounded its existence into my blood. I closed my eyes tight and held my breath as I let the accident handle itself. I prayed in my head, begging whoever to let me live, begging for all the jerking and wrenching to stop as I felt the car hit the walls and roll against them.
...And then, a beautiful thing happened.
The world finally stopped spinning, and things lay still. For once I only felt the steady weight of one force pulling; gravity hanging tightly on to my heavy and limp body that hung upside down. I opened my mouth and let in a sharp gasp. The oxygen made its way down to my burning lungs and ached itself into them, soothing the pain.
My head throbbed as my pulse ripped through my overturned body and back into my heart. I could hear the hums of engines breathing in the coldness of the air outside. I slowly opened my eyes and it all but seemed to confirm that I was indeed still alive. My throat was dry and my eyes stung with a burning sensation. I could smell the stench of the airbag coating the air. Its powder clouded my vision. I blinked back the pain and looked around to survey the damage.
Debris was everywhere. Bits of glass, plastic, and metal lied in shattered pieces below me while my seat belt dug into my flesh as I hung upside down in the car. I moved around, testing my limitations. My muscles felt torn. And though I suspected that things were broken... I didn't have the guts to lift my clothing and inspect the damaged flesh I knew to be underneath.
But the strap began to rub deeper into my shoulder as my actions made it press harder against me, and its tight grip across my chest held back most movements of expansion and I had to fight for air. I looked around again and tried to find a way to get down. A small stray strand of light gleamed up into my eyes, and I squinted away from the delicate sheen, only glancing back when my pupils were well hidden behind strained eyelids.
Against the mirrored glass that lay below me, I could see myself. My heart began to increase its speed as it absorbed the images of my own body. I couldn't understand the red that dripped unmercifully off my head or the other blood that found its way along my neck and into my blue eyes, tinting them on its downward fall. The gash on my temple and neckline were deep and severe but I still couldn't comprehend the amount that was flowing from my skin and on to the ground that seemed to hang above me. My stomach was tense and I sucked in a couple of deep breaths, coaxing my food to stay down.
I moved my right arm and led a shaking hand along the path of my seatbelt, down to the buckle, where I freed myself from its grip. I dropped from the sudden release and landed shoulder first as my body hit the ground. I could feel that something was now embedded in my shoulder but I didn't think I could handle looking at it. I groaned and rolled over, eyeing the light that was streaming in from the outside. I heaved myself up and began my slow journey to the outside. I crawled on my hands and knees, to get out of the car through the smashed window. Pieces of glass and metal stabbed through my palms and through the muscle below my kneecap and I cringed in pain as I desperately reached for the opening.
As the rest of my body crawled out from the car, I glanced up and let the new light of the outside world form a picture for my mind to grasp. My eyes focused on something in front of me- at first the silhouette of a human being. It seemed my gaze startled the figure; his finer details finally coordinating into readable features. His jaw was clenched together in fear and surprise as he watched me staring up at him.
He was standing about twenty feet away, his car abandoned behind him. I realized other drivers who had also screeched to a stop now stood outside their cars. I was showered with dozens of stares of disbelief, uneasiness, and fear. No one moved but their eyes danced between me and other points behind me, and it only seemed fair that my ears followed their annotations and I picked up a distinct hiss coming from behind me.
I slowly looked over my shoulder and saw the exhausted semi, smoking and sighing as it lay still, partly tilted alongside the bridge wall. An echoing of screaming and yelling bellowed into my mind- overlapping the hissing noise. I looked forward again as I watched those people; this time comprehending more as their mouths shouted those painful echoes into my skull.
Had they always been screaming?
I tried to open my mouth but nothing came out. I couldn't find any words that lingered behind my tongue. But the man closest to me screamed a word... I tried to remember what it meant. He hesitantly stepped towards me and screamed it again.
It echoed against my thoughts again and finally the word bounced back with its meaning.
I finally looked around my car.
I felt the weight of the world drop down on me, the fear and sickness electrocuting my senses as I scanned the ground beneath me.
I was on the edge of the collapsing side of the bridge's ledge. I could see the cracks and holes in the concrete, revealing little lines of wires and steel poles that were used in the foundation. They stuck out now, broken and mangled, and creaked and groaned as bits of rock tumbled off the edge or through one of the openings.
I trembled as I watched the falling chunks slip through the bridge and collide with the black waters below. The frozen water engulfed the debris and it disappeared instantly, while more creaks and snaps announced the presence of more falling objects. Get out now.
I shifted my weight to my legs as I tried to stand and to stumble away but a painful realization rolled down my spine as the concrete began to sway, and my car moaned out in distress. Its metal slid slightly under the movement I had created with my abrupt step, letting me feel the echoing vibration as a consequence. So... so I will crawl, I thought shakily, as I lowered my body and began to move forward.
The slab of bridge that I was on seemed promising enough, like it was able to handle my weight as long as necessary, if only I could move gently. I could still make it out; I could still reach safety, if I just stay calm...
...I placed my hand forward, hope setting in... and that's when the shock wave of pain hit my ears.
I collapsed in a scream as the hot rumble continued to move through the air. I didn't know what was happening, it felt like my ears were bleeding and that's when I realized, I couldn't hear anything but the ring of my dying eardrums.
My eyes darted back towards the semi as a huge fireball bloomed further into the sky. The concrete continued to shake and deteriorate beneath me. My eyes glanced up to approaching beaconing lights; the reds and the blues encircling the man as he darted out of his car, his brown eyes now visible without the glasses.
I felt the shudder run throughout my body, only to retreat and to fall away from beneath me. My hands grasped out, flailing for some hidden hand but nothing grabbed back, nothing held on. The foundation gave way, sliding my car and me off its edge. The rough stone escaped my limbs as my eyes watched my legs fall after me. And it was as my body went into free fall, some of my hearing returned and I recognized the scream of a woman in the distance, her cry louder than the any of the rest.
It ricocheted through my thoughts for one split second. I knew she had to have been a mother. A cry that I could recognize being just like my mother's would; seeing a child fall to her death.
My descent felt slow, like a film flowing clip by clip, and I had time to realize the fog was sinking in, falling with me, falling from heaven.
My back cracked as it hit the black water, my car and concrete shattering into the black all around me. Ice ran its nails down my head and body, and the pressure around me enclosed me in a suffocating hold, as the surface faded away. The last thing I felt was an intense ripple in the water... perhaps another explosion.