Art by Paul Rios
Editor’s Note: The Last Week’s Memoir series is a collaborative story written by Jake Corbin, Bryce McEfee and Paul Rios. View previous LWM Serial No.1 entries to read the story from the beginning.
Face down in a soft pillow, smothered away from the rest of the world, Andy wakes up. He lay eyes closed oblivious to the night before. He opens his mouth to yawn and as he does the flavor of metal slaps his tongue, the thick iron metallic taste of blood pooling in one’s mouth. Andy spits to try and clear his mouth of the sickening taste. The confusion sets in as he spits clear liquid instead of crimson. Andy probes around his mouth for the source, but comes up dry. “What the hell?” he thinks to himself as he smacks his tongue against the roof of his mouth, still trying to remove the taste. Then he looks up. Andy is not at home. The ‘hell’ becomes a resounding ‘fuck’ at this new realization.
Andy surveys his surroundings, beside him is an overflowing dumpster in what appears to be an alley. He sits up. As he does, a dull throbbing pain knocks at the back of his head. Andy rubs his eyes, trying to regain full vision. He feels as though he’s been asleep for quite some time. Still disoriented, Andy scans the area over again to try and get a better feel of where he is. Tall bleak walls trap all but one side of his new bed. Cans, papers, boxes, several broke down cars, and a plentiful stash of old electronics that Andy half recognizes, but has only ever really seen in antique stores. A thick layer of dust blankets the majority of the trash that is strewn out across the alley landscape, everything except a pile of mattresses. They weren’t brand new, but new enough to be out of place in the abandoned junkyard of an alley. It was strangely peaceful, a forgotten wasteland. Andy couldn’t figure out how he ended up in this place, but had the eerie sensation as if he’d been around these parts before.
As fast as the sensation hit, it was wiped away just as fast by a resounding crash coming from behind the dumpster. Andy’s body stiffened. By the look of the place, Andy had assumed he was alone. He stopped his breathing and opened his ears, reaching out to see if he could pick up anything else. Hoping nothing was coming his way. He wasn’t alone. Shuffling feet across a filthy cement ground grew louder, creeping closer around the dumpster with each step. A man holding an old television set came into view. Andy sat. Frozen. Eyes fixated on this man’s eyes, trying to figure out if he had to fight or take flight. Andy not wanting to make any brash decisions, contemplated what his next move should actually be. He was standing just out of reach for Andy to get the jump, but also not far enough away that he couldn’t drop the television and take down Andy. The stare down continued for what seemed to Andy as an eternity, but within the first minute of the man rounding the corner, his lips curled into a harmless smile.
“Ah so you’re up brother. I wasn’t quite sure if you were dead or alive.”
“What are you doing with that old television?”, is all Andy could think to say.
The man gave Andy a quizzical smile, but did not answer. This prompted Andy to ask a real question.
“Who are you?”
“Who I am is not important. What is important, is that you leave this place and as quickly as possible.”
The man didn’t seem to be saying this as a threat to Andy, but as a genuine concern. Andy at least had the sense to see that, but he still wanted more answers.
“Why must I leave quickly? I don’t even know where this place is?”
“Oh, but you do know where this place is Andy, you’ve been here before. And to answer your first question…they don’t make ‘em like they used to. Now go.”
Confused as ever, Andy closed his eyes and grabbed his face out of frustration, rubbing his temples to try and get some clarity. Andy opened his eyes, full of questions and a little bit of anger, prepared to raise his voice at this stranger to try and get the answers he so badly needed for sanity. The only problem was, the man was gone. Andy ran around to the other side of the dumpster, nothing but old electronics. How the hell could he have disappeared? Andy’s mind was working double time, trying to pull himself together. He couldn’t take much more of the building mountain of questions crushing down on him with no answers to help relieve the pain in sight.
Andy felt like screaming, but instead he held it in, took a deep breath and started walking toward the light at the end of the alley. With each step Andy took toward the light a strange calming sensation swept over his body. This was most likely his mind trying to trick himself that everything was going to be alright, but instead of fighting it, Andy embraced it. What if everything was going to be all right? What if this has all just been one crazy dream? Even if it wasn’t a dream, there had to be some logical explanation for it all. Andy was perfectly fine, he knew he wasn’t going crazy. As Andy finally reached the end of the alley he decided that he was going to drop all this nonsense, pull himself together and move forward with his life. As Andy rounded the corner, his newfound sense of comfort quickly vanished. About 50 yards away was Larry’s delivery truck in front of a very familiar building. Not only was there Larry’s delivery truck, but Larry himself staring straight in Andy’s direction along with a couple men in black suits. Larry’s eyes had a look of terror as met Andy’s. Larry threw up his arms and started waving Andy away, yelling “Run, run, run”. One of the men in the black suits casually walked up beside Larry and raised his gun to Larry’s head.
Andy turned and took Larry’s last words to heart and ran. The deafening sound of a gunshot silenced Larry’s chant for Andy to flee. Andy’s heart sank with the image of the grey, cracked paved road now painted with a flowing dark liquid. He didn’t turn around, he didn’t stop, he just kept running.