Praise Thee and fell unto our poisoned town.
Approximately thirty seconds after the booming report of Officer VanDunk’s sixth and final gunshot hits her ears, Sarah Hammond becomes concerned that she may be going crazy.
It wouldn’t be a complete surprise, especially after all she’s been through lately. They say you become those who you associate with; for the last however many hours (Sarah’s been too terrified for her life to keep count) she’s been surrounded by racist, dusty, and white police officer cultists who killed her parents, locked her up in a grown man’s bedroom, took her to a church that’s not really a church, and drove her through the center of Wuester in a windowless white van to put her on a boat and bring her out to the middle of a lake so she could be sacrificed to a meteor called Rock. To their credit the meteor seems to be real, and how they could have possibly known when and where it would c–… fell unto Earth is entirely beyond Sarah, but they were still undeniably crazy, were being the operative term.
Because one of them randomly decided to shoot the rest dead. Like Jim Hubert did to her parents.
Crazy. Definitely crazy, and it’s not like craziness is a transmittable contagion (although some would disagree, especially those who spend a good chunk of their time around crazy folks), Sarah is afraid that one of her feet may have floated off the ground of reality because of this whole ordeal. The abduction, the hours in confinement, being fully convinced she would be killed as a sacrifice to a prophesized meteor deity and then witnessing the murders of those who meant to be her murderers as said prophesized meteor comes a’crashin’ out of the starry sky – Sarah’s been through a lot lately, so is the fact that she’s hearing a grown man’s voice in her head really all that surprising? No, Sarah doesn’t think so. What’s surprising is the fact that it’s telling her to commit suicide.
‘Just dive, damn you,’ says the foreign voice as Sarah paddles and kicks through the cold water as though her very life depends on it… because it does. ‘There is no time to ignore me, you only have fifteen seconds now. Dive and keep on swimming!’
‘But if I dive and keep on swimming I’ll die,’ Sarah reasons mentally. ‘I’ll drown and all of this will be for nothing.’
‘Trust me, Sarah Hammond,’ says the man’s voice in a soothing way, ‘everything will be fine.’
Well, when he puts it that way. Sarah feels her lungs inflate almost to the point of bursting, then she closes her eyes and slips beneath the surface of the icy water and strokes, swimming with haste but not quite as quickly as she was going above the water. It’s very much possible that the voice in her head is that of her late(?) Daddy – a chill runs through Sarah’s body when she realizes that she’s forgotten the exact sound of her late Daddy’s voice during all of this commotion – and that she knows the meteor is approaching and wishes to avoid being caught in a wave, subconsciously evoking an older male’s voice in her head to help her summon the courage to dive and keep on swimming, but… that’s awfully complicated for such a young girl. Perhaps something higher tapped into Sarah’s mind… or something lower.
Perhaps there’s something living at the bottom of this lake, something that feeds on little Earthen children.
Regardless, roughly tenish seconds after Sarah dives beneath the surface she gets bashed with a sound loud enough to send a tactile shockwave through the water, snatching Sarah out of her stroke and tumbling her head over heels. Everything is darkness whether her eyes are open or not, the air in her lungs is exchanged for freezing water that somehow burns like fire as it flows into her, the pressure is clamping down on her head and it hurts, it hurts, everything hurts, I’m going to fucking drow–’
A hand grabs hold of Sarah’s wrist and pulls hard. It feels as though she’s barreling through the water for half a minute at least, but then she breaks the surface and finds herself plopped down behind a man in a gray suit on what appears to be a jet ski.
“Breathe, Sarah, for you are saved!” shouts the man, his voice identical to the one Sarah heard in her head before Rock fell unto Earth.
Sarah gasps, then vomits a projectile stream of water back into the lake, then gasps again, gripping the man tightly around the torso.
“Hah’HAH! She lives!”
“Who are you?!” Sarah shouts when she can finally manage to speak without heaving. “What… what the fuck is going on?!”
“You can call me Sharpton, Sarah Hammond!” says the one called Sharpton, revving the jet ski. “Al Sharpton, at your service!”
“Al… Sharpton? ” Sarah almost falls backwards off the jet ski when it starts moving towards the public docks, and she assumes she has to yell to be heard. “Like, that reverend on Tee’Vee?”
‘Yes, precisely like that reverend, my dear,’ says the voice in her mind, and suddenly Sarah Hammond comes to understand that she doesn’t really care who this guy is or how he appeared just in time to save her. All Sarah cares about is that fact that she is saved.
And that she is tired. So, so very tired.
‘Ah-ah, not yet, Sarah,’ urges the voice as the jet ski bumps over the waves. ‘Stay awake just a little longer for me, sweetheart. Your journey’s almost over.’
In no mood to argue, Sarah Hammond forces herself to stay awake. The jet ski quickly carries them across the surface of the lake and stops on a dime at the end of the police dock without administering whiplash to either of its passengers. The way they suddenly stop isn’t natural, it’s straight out of a science-fiction movie, but it happens all the same. The one who is precisely like Al Sharpton, that reverend on TV, helps Sarah climb up onto the docks – she doesn’t notice this but Jim Hubert’s body is gone, and so is his bloodstain; in fact, all the debris from the obliterated police boat is gone – but he doesn’t follow her.
“You’re not coming?” she asks, trying to find at least a shred of logic in all this. “But… you saved me.”
“I haven’t saved you yet, Sarah,” says the man who, admittedly, is a dead lookalike for Al Sharpton. “There’s a smart car in the parking lot, the same one you saw at the church earlier. Should be right next to that dusty white van that took you out here. Go and find it and climb into the passenger seat. Then you can finally close your eyes and get some rest, okay?”
Sarah stares at the man for a few seconds, but her eyelids threaten to get heavy. “All… all right. I’ll go.” She turns to go, then looks back to thank the man, but he’s gone.
And so is his jet ski.
Exhausted past the point of comprehension, Sarah Hammond proceeds to hobble. She hobbles up the police dock, she hobbles across to the main dock, she hobbles up the main dock, and there it is, just like he said – a lone smart car sitting with its headlights facing the bumper of the windowless white van the Fellers used to take her out here. Sarah hobbles across the parking lot, ignoring the pebbles and other gravel biting into her bare feet, and peeks into the window of the smart car. Totally empty. She hobbles around it, tugs on the passenger-side door-handle, and climbs in. She shuts the door, turns to grab the seat belt, and buckles herself in because it’ll make her feel safe and secure, and when she looks up to see if the keys are in the ignition so she can turn the heat on the man is back, Al Sharpton is right there sitting in the driver’s seat, and not only that but the car is suddenly on, it’s just suddenly on, and the heat is blowing in her face and her pajamas are dry like she never swam in them and Sarah Hammond is feeling very, very sleepy.
And there are no keys in the ignition.
“How… how did you–”
“Shhh, take it easy, Sarah. I’m takin’ you home,” the man says, putting a finger to her lips to shush her. “Just lean back and close your eyes, everything is go’n’a be just fine.”
“But…” She leans back. “But…” Closes her eyes. “But…”
By the time the one who calls himself Al Sharpton pulls out of the parking lot, Sarah Hammond is deeply, deeply asleep in the warm darkness of the smart car, her mind lit up with colorful dreams of home.
Hello Commons, this has been the eighth subchapter of the last chapter of Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox, a novel about a man who likes to eavesdrop on his neighbors.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is the second book in the W-2222 series, a series of books which take place in Universe W-2222.
Under the Hood: The Imprisonment of Jonathan Knox is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
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If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~