The Ballad of Greg Thomas
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February 13th, 2012 (8:13 PM). Edited February 21st, 2012 by FourCartridge.
(OK, thanks for the critique psyanic
. I know it may be a bit rash to post Chapter 1 so soon, but I don't really want to lose steam on this. Hope it's better than the last one.)
The Ballad of Greg Thomas: Chapter 1: The Car Crash of a Lifetime
March 8, 2012
I drove my 2005 Crown Victoria down one of Mount Washington's winding, cold, and lonely back roads, looking to finish that errand my friend wanted me to do. The city had yet to decrease the speed limit along the many streets like this, but I doubt that Luke Ravenstahl, the current mayor of Pittsburgh(and a Democrat), would let it stay the same, after yet another drunk idiot had careened off a guard rail, tearing it apart in the process. Not saying I hate the Steelers, quite the opposite, but some of their fans out there drink way too much, you know?
Wait... Oh, right. I haven't introduced myself yet. My name is Greg Thomas, born and raised in The Steel City of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania since my birth on March 15, 1979, and currently going with my life nowhere, and fast, which was frustrating me to no end. If it could be described in a few words, it was the feeling that you would've gotten more from life, but never had the opportunity to. My childhood had been uneventful, and I always wanted to look for things to do as a result, my parents often heavily scolding me when they would find me at such weird places like the roof of the brown bricked, flat-topped, and bland Co-Go's corner store. Life always had that empty feeling, wanting to be filled, and I drifted through my education, which was full of ringing bells, overdue book reports, and mystery meat aimlessly until I landed a job, finally getting a chance to move out of my parents gray, boring house.
Said job was as a Quality Control Technician at Maxi-Tech. It was a medium-sized, for corporations, tech-based company, as if you couldn't tell by the name, that produced anything relating to tech, from iPhone parts to computer programs, and everything in between. My job was to test the parts out to see if whatever Flux Capacitor contraption the techies built didn't blow up in the customer's face. It was an entry-level job, and though the pay was decent, it was starting to grate on my nerves. You see, I had always been passed over for promotion despite 5 or so years of working at Maxi-Tech, and because of this, everyone was starting to think of me as an unambitious bum! I hate office politics, sticking me to a dead-end job like this.
Then there's the problem of my marriage. My beautiful wife, Kimberly, had met me when we were in high school. We were the school's unofficial couple, and when I proposed to her a very fancy and posh restrant on Grandview Ave. after I got my job and a house, nobody really was surprised. We had a week-long honeymoon in, where else, New York, and then life just kinda ticked on. We do have a daughter, Jessie, who's only 12(bless her heart). She spends most of her time playing video games, especially that blue 3DS of hers we got her for her birthday. She spends most of her time on that thing playing
when she isn't with her friends, who probably also spend their time with her hurling killer Blue Shells at rickety go-karts.
Recently though, the lack of promotions on my part(curse you again, office politics!) has caused Kimberly to think of me as a lazy good-for-nothing. Our relationship has started to become strained as she keeps complaining on my "lack of drive" and frustration at living in a creaky house FDR built in the 30's as part of the New Deal. It was always an eyesore for realtors, with its constant dust, unsightly brown paint, poor ventilation, and extremely steep carpeted stairs that were bound to claim a broken bone sometime in the future. Honey, I love you and all, but I'm trying to find something in life myself.
So what's a man to do with an unstable relationship in a city like Pittsburgh? Go to the nearest dirty, dilapidated, and crowded bar and pray to god that the rowdy Steelers fans don't drown out your thoughts. Of course, that didn't mean I was "disloyal", much as I hate to use the term that way, but to be honest, I was in the beating heart of Steeler Nation. How else was I supposed to act? Before you gloat about a doubter in the ranks, Patriot fans, remember that we have the most Super Bowl rings in the league. You don't, so shut up. Even Kimberly and Jessie bled black and gold, so I was forced to wear a black vest and tie, the latter having the team's logo, and a gold-colored undershirt whenever I went to work so my relationship wouldn't be even more tense.
This is probably why that car dealer sold me my Crown Victoria for so cheap: it's green. How aren't you going to get looks when you drive everywhere in the color of the Eagles?
Anyway, The main reason I braved all that when I entered whatever tavern I went into was Ray Allison. He is a very close friend of mine, who I met when I had started visiting the bars after Kimberly started complaining about the house. I was somewhat depressed that my beloved wife was starting to form negative opinions of me, and Ray helped console me and helped to stay the course of our marriage. He is probably the big thing that kept me from being a basket case back then. He worked at some construction company, always complaining about the showers he had to take when he went home because of how dirty it was. Even when he was complaining about his own life, and work problems such as low manpower, machinery, and poor pay, Ray was one of the few things I could look forward to in life.
And that was daily routine for the most part: Wake up in a dusty bed at 5 AM, take a shower in cold water, get dressed, always in those tacky Steeler colors, go to work, hope the latest thing the techies crapped out didn't malfunction when you looked at it funny, go home, check up on Jessie in her video game filled room as she subjects even more people to a constant barrage of Shells on Rainbow Road, Check up on Kimberly in the Living Room, praying this isn't the day she explodes and files for divorce, go to a dinky bar and be subjected to the same Steeler chants and that admittedly catchy "Pittsburgh's going to the Super Bowl" song, have a drink with Ray, and go home under the cover of night and go to bed, only to repeat the process every single weekday.
Which brings me to why I'm driving on this rusted, disused back road. Ray wanted me to go fetch the toolbox he used in his job to his house, as he forgot it when he left for home. He had promised me a quick $15, and I needed to refill the gas tank anyway. Note to self; check air filter. Ray's tool box was lying on the passenger seat, the red coloring, lunchbox design, and black handle looking like some sort of inanimate object that was alive, constantly asking "Are we there yet?". I turned the hairpin corner, and as I descended the hill, I saw the weirdest thing in my life.
The headlights of the Crown Victoria were shining on was what could be only described as a large, swirling, floating, circle of light purplish energy, and it had apparently spawned a boulder that was rolling down the street. I quickly panicked and hit my fist on the horn, as it was hopefully going to warn other motorists of the incredibly unusual event that was certainly going to cause headaches for more than a few insurance agents. I desperately attempted to adjust gears, Forward, Reverse, even Park, as the Crown Victoria skidded down the hillside. Nothing was working. In an attempt to get notice, I shouted every dirty word in the book. Every one. Even, in my utter panic:
"**** you God!"
Whoa whoa, did I just abandon what little traces of religion I had in me? I froze, thinking about what I had just said. Wait, am I going to Hell?! No I'm not! When pigs fly! What did I ever do wrong?! I madly tried to grab the door handle in pandemonium, but it was too late, as I kept speeding on despite my best efforts, eventually going right through the swirling vortex. I never said goodbye to Kimberly and Jessie before I left. I froze in place at the total regret and depression over that. They'll never know what happened to me...
After going into an eye shattering brown and white plaid that permeated everything, I went pale with fear at was for all intents and purposes Warp 6. I screamed like a little girl in absolute horror as I banged on the glass trying to get... No wait, bad idea.
bad idea. I instead scrambled the gears, hoping that by hitting the right one, I would magically find myself back in Mount Washington. Still nothing.
Then I banged the horn, pressed every pedal, and even knocked on my computer systems with no logical reasoning behind it all, in hope of finding a way to send me out of this... place is the best word I can describe it with. After a few moments I then saw a bright light, and the Crown Victoria drove through to the other side of whatever was this violation of the laws of physics.
The dark night of Pittsburgh had given way to a lush, green, yet alien forest, in bright midday. No matter where I looked, I could only see a thick wall of trees, which looked almost too perfectly arranged in a wall. Trees don't grow like that... Even if there was a route out of that maze of nature however, I was in a state of panic, over the loss of my family, my home, my friend, my job... Everything I called life. All of it gone in the blink of an eye. It did not take long for me to collide into one of the uncannily arranged tree lines head on as the engine block of the Crown Victoria was twisted into a unreconizable mess. Luckily, the airbags deployed, and I fell into unconsciousness, blacking out when the white airbag hit my face...
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