I awoke to a dark road. That is not to say the road was dimmed because of poor lighting, no; the road itself was dark, pitch even. My study was gone, the chestnut veneer of my desk no longer touched by the hazy rays of sunlight that peeped through the blinds. Instead of my books, I stared at an alien atmosphere, where in the distance it seemed, flashed all manner of variegated lights; and they swirled, mingling in erratic patterns. The road seemed to be suspended in what I took for sheer nothingness; indeed the only constituents that distinguished the void-like road from its lack of surroundings were the lights that glared upon its surface. As I first gazed out, I could see the road twisting off into the indeterminate distance, like a snake trying to find solid ground.
But none of these things proved to be the greatest marvel of my new-found predicament. There were cavalcades of people pouring around where I stood, and the endless procession dwindled into the distance even as more passed me by. The sight struck me as intensely surreal. They all just blundered on quite obliviously as if nothing was amiss, as if they couldn’t see the lot of themselves barreling down a pitch road with no end, in the middle of a fathomless nothing, for a reason that had no semblance or, perhaps, for no reason at all. Quite suddenly I was aware of such agitated statements as “get moving!” or “speed it up!” Hearing these edicts, I innately began to jog forward, now in some bewilderment; for my spontaneous wonder at the situation had instantly worn off. It was replaced by an addled fear, a fear that drew its vitality from the realization that my whereabouts were completely inexplicable. I remember my aberrant surprise at the fact that the multitudes of people were actually wearing clothing, as the rest of the situation seemed utterly bats to me.
It was a single welcome normality in a new, nonsensical world, for I should have been much more unsettled had they all been naked. As my pace picked up in order to match the others I inadvertently looked to my right, and at once my bewilderment gave way to shock as I beheld my earthly neighbor and long time friend Thomas.
“Thomas!” I exclaimed
He turned his head, not with alarm or surprise, but a lethargy verging on disinterest, and looked at me. “Richard,” he said with a congenial smile; And I could spot the smile for a sincere one, despite the lack of fervor in his bearing. This delivered me a small measure of comfort.
“Thomas, where are we? What’s going on?
As he spoke, a look of puzzlement varied his countenance. “Whatever do you mean Richard? We’re on the road of course.” A smile overcame him again, as if he thought I was only jesting. I, however, became more urgent than ever.
“The road? What do you mean? I don’t know what this place is!”
“Have you lost it Richard? He exclaimed with concern and some little agitation. We have always been on the road. You and Merrill have always run beside us.”
“Merrill? Where is she?” My exclamation was enthused.
As he ran, Thomas pointed to my left. I turned without hesitation, and there running beside me, was my wife. She was staring dreamily into the distance, and it appeared as if she hadn’t heard a word of my short exchange with Thomas.
“Merrill!” I exclaimed, my urgency still growing. The light blonde strands of her hair turned slowly, and when her eyes finally met mine, the pensiveness in her face turned to joy.
“Oh Richard! How are you? I have been so deep in adoration lately.”
I ignored what she said. “What are we doing here Merrill? Why are we not at home?”
“Home? Well, we don’t have a home. Not yet at least.”
“What do you mean, not yet?”
She pointed off where the road snaked into the distance. “At the end of the road.”
I looked, and now, to my surprise, I could see where the road ended. The jet adder ran right into a void blacker than the nothingness surrounding it. It was a black inkier than the cloak of a starless night, and the lights of all different colors that flashed around us did nothing to abate its domineering presence. The sight of this void unsettled me as nothing ever has before and an overwhelming desire to look away gripped my being. It was impossible to determine our distance from it, for there was nothing you could judge the length of the road by; we might have been a few days from the end or a few years; I wouldn’t have been able to mark a difference. Able to stand the sight no longer, I turned back to my wife.
“I see nothing but a terrible void.”
Her mirth lilted to my ears. Gazing forward again, she spoke, displaying the same dreamy look as before, “What are you talking about Richard, don’t you see our estate?”
“Estate?” The single, questioning word betrayed my incredulity.
“Yes, at the end of the road dear. Don’t you see it? It’s wonderful isn’t it?”
At her words I became very alarmed, for it seemed to me she must be hallucinating; but then, nothing seemed very strange anymore.
I had been jogging at a steady pace for some time, and I now began to feel a measure of fatigue. Despite this, I resolved to continue; for I would have the truth of the matter, were there any truth to be had.
I turned back to Thomas, laboring more for breath. “Thomas, do you see that awful void at the end of the road, like a portal that seems to consume everything?”
He laughed aloud. “A void Richard? Of what foolery do you speak now?” His utterance was made with a grin. “Surely you can see the riches that are piled there?”
At this I was struck. “R- Riches? I looked forth, half expecting to behold mounds of gold, but the void remained. “What use could we possibly have for money here Thomas?” The consternation in my face was evident, I’m sure. As for Thomas, the question seemed to confuse him. He turned away, looking like a man puzzling over an unexpected problem. His mouth opened to answer, but no words were forthcoming. He finally managed a ponderous “I don’t know” and slowly gazed forward, becoming more distant than I have ever seen him.