Feb 25 2010

Finding help?

Published by at 4:37 pm under callie,characterization,Writing

She paused again to scan the horizon. It was harder to tell at night, but the street had grown larger and with more commercial and industrial blocks for some time now. She thought the pattern of street lights ahead showed an overpass intersection not far off. She pulled out the paper and unfolded it, holding the sides firmly with both hand to protect against the errant breezes.

It began the way Z’Aria had always envisioned it would:

She accelerates carefully up the ramped access, breathes calmly and evenly as her car makes the first curve with no incident, just like every time, and now she is coming around the second curve, she can see the down ramp, but she’s no longer turning, there must have been an impact pushing her forward yet she can’t hear anything can’t feel can’t see anything but the looming expanse of concrete and such a lovely blue sky, and then there’s nothing but the sky expanding endless and forever and oh if only she could keep soaring up up up and away from crappy jobs and ended relationships and failed expectations and deathtrap overpasses

and it’s still cresting, still peaking, and she must be out in that sky for the end of this. Quickly now, her fingers work of their own accord easily and it’s freefall, baby, as close to space as you can reach, leave the metal casings and the boxes behind and if at no other moment than now own this blessed given body in one glorious endless rushing instant

she can see the concrete far below and the car falling and knows she is falling too but turns face upward to bathe in blue and white and now she is not falling but flying, soaring, cresting as she lives every inch of her skin in full beauty and she matters.

No one could have been more surprised than Z’Aria when she opened her eyes to a sliver of new moon against a backdrop of unknown constellations above her, as she lay sprawled upon the hard ground.

She was operating on the presumption that, however disguised, it was this madhouse’s version of a set of directions. It was perhaps a more bold and rash assumption than she usually made, but this didn’t seem an entirely logical environment. And the paper had shown up as she’d followed Carrie’s directions to be on the move. And there was a similar intersection just ahead. And that was entirely enough doubt and self-justified reflection on her own actions for now; she shook her head slightly and replaced the paper in her pocket. She’d decide what to do next when she learned what the overpass held.

Deserted overpasses at night gave an eerie sensation when one stood near them. Though it wasn’t her first time to learn this, she enjoyed the reminder as she surveyed the soaring concrete pillars and arcs interweaving the night sky above her. She checked the stars quickly to confirm that there were no visible familiar constellations, then turned her attention to ground-level. At the overpass nearest the ground, she saw what appeared to be a homeless crash space nearly hidden in the shadows under the right side of the bridge. When a second scan of the immediate area brought nothing more interesting to inspect, she moved close enough that she could more clearly see what the shadows held.

Whoever squatted here had been around for quite some time. In addition to layers of salvaged cardboard and blankets making up a nest of a bed, there was a little kitchen area, with an overturned milk crate with an unlit Pepsi-can stove set on top, and a closed cooler. Another milk crate held several dumpster-scrounged paperbacks, all stripped covers and crinkled edges and missing pages. A quick glance through the stacks showed mostly romance novels and pulp fantasy. A trash bag next to the books held changes of clothing that hadn’t seen the inside of a laundromat in weeks. No panhandling signs that she could find, however. She scanned up near where the slanted concrete met the underside of the road, and could just make out a bucket covered with a board where it wasn’t easily visible from the ground — probably where the missing book pages ended up when they were done being read.

There was nothing in view that she thought a human could adequately hide behind, and no one in sight, so she moved back far enough from the overpass that she could more widely scan the area. After a few moments she noticed a strange outline on top of the crash barrels at the gore of the exit ramp. No vehicle had passed on any of the deserted intersecting highways since she’d arrived, so she felt no sense of immanent danger as she walked up the long slope. She kept to the inside rail anyway.

The odd outline resolved into definition: a person, stretched out prone on top of several barrels, staring up at the stars overhead. The sand-filled barrels were the mix of worn and newer that indicated an old accident. Before she could check for signs of life the person spoke, the voice recognizably female.

“The Moon won’t be out until later, but I like waiting for Her up here.”

She shuddered at this, now worried that she’d trekked all this way to find another Carrie, which she wasn’t sure she had the fortitude to tolerate twice. “Is that your place under the bridge?”

“Yes.” The person sat up and climbed down off the barrels. She was dressed in enough layers to keep warm against the slight chill of the evening, the clothes at least marginally cleaner than the ones in the trash bag. Curly black hair wisped around her reasonably clean face from where the rest was pulled back into a loose braid. She had the sort of sturdy curvaceous frame often found on healthy farm-raised girls, and hadn’t been indigent long enough to lose her body definition to an inevitably poor diet.

“You have a nice set-up.”

“Thanks!” The woman beckoned her to follow back to the crash pad. “Come on, we can sit on the crates down there and talk. I’m Z’Aria.”

She followed Z’Aria after checking to make sure the paper was still secured. Z’Aria became more energetic the closer to the ground she was, and seemed positively burbling by the time she reached her squat, humming as she arranged the milk crates for better seating.

“I didn’t get any ice today so the sodas aren’t cold, want one? What’s your name? How long are you staying? I don’t usually get visitors, especially not these days.” Z’Aria held out a Sprite.

“Most people call me Callie,” she replied as she took the offered drink. She waited until Z’Aria had opened hers and started in before pulling the tab and taking a sip. “If you want to talk, I certainly have some questions.”

“Oh yay, questions! I like being Answer Girl.”

Callie guessed that Z’Aria would likely end up as irritating as the bartender, given time, but at least for now she seemed more helpful — and more tolerable. She pulled the creased paper out of her pocket.

“Let’s start with this.” She held out the paper to Z’Aria. “What exactly is this? Can you explain why I was able to find you with it?”

Fun Research for this entry:
beverage can stove
gore (road), gore (definitions)

3 responses so far

3 Responses to “Finding help?”

  1. Andreaon 25 Feb 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Ohhh tell me more!

  2. Derekon 25 Feb 2010 at 7:13 pm

    I have been hooked since story one.

    You certainly have a way with words, dear sister.

  3. Reesaon 27 Feb 2010 at 7:01 pm

    @Andrea, Derek – Glad you’re enjoying it so far!