The Ballad of Greg Thomas
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February 14th, 2012 (9:38 PM). Edited February 18th, 2012 by FourCartridge.
(Thanks for the review. Nice to see I'm getting some attention. Hope this chapter's better than the last one)
The Ballad of Greg Thomas: Chapter 2: Crash Site in a Strange New World
After a few minutes of lying limp in the driver's seat of the wrecked Crown Victoria like a dead body, arms and feet swinging about while the rest of my body remained motionless, restrained by the cushion, I was shaken back to consciousness by the airbags cutting off my breathing. My vision when being jolted back to awareness was simply the pure white of the airbag's nylon. I was completely unable to breathe, feeling a choking sensation on my face. The shock of the situation caused my body to squiggle and squirm for a way out, probably looking like one of Jessie's temper tantrums when she was younger, but it was of no use, even going so far as to panic my lungs and pump out what air they had left in them. Squeezed between the airbag and my seat, I was trapped in my own car, unable to breathe, move, or escape.
I let out a muffled scream for help, wasting the precious oxygen I still had. The choking sensation only got stronger, and I was no longer able to hear the screams, no longer having a clear airway. my fist and feet flailed wildly, vainly smashing into the steering wheel, the dashboard, and its underside in an attempt to break free before I lost my life to suffocation. There was no air coming into my lungs, and they were already they were beginning to be filled with carbon dioxide. My brain was running out of oxygen, and so were all the other organs that needed air. The most I was doing was displaying a violent yet powerless struggle against The Reaper. In my head, the world was fading away. Everything started to go to the blackness known as death, as I was about to be killed by a safety device made to save lives.
In those final seconds of consciousness, one of my fists struck the airbag like a wrecking ball. It finally collapsed, the rapidly shrinking cushion finally giving me room to breathe. The windbag-like deflating noise, sounding like an angel at the moment, signalled that I got to live, if only for the next few moments. My vision got clearer and clearer as oxygen finally got into my brain and lungs. Even though I had made it out alive, my airways were still in pretty bad shape from the experience, so I had to spend the next few moments hacking and coughing heavily, making me think I was going to hack up a lung. The fit sent me rolling out of my totaled Crown Victoria onto the ground below.
After letting out a few last coughs, I picked myself up from the grass, taking a few steps to the Crown Victoria so I could get a closer look. The entire front of the car, including the hood, was scrunched together like a morbid accordion made of twisted fiberglass and metal. The engine had for all intents and purposes been folded into two, and the front bumper was a crumpled mockery of what it once was. The headlights and turn signals were smashed in on themselves, and the windshield was cracked so hard you couldn't see through it. The Crown Victoria was utterly smashed beyond repair. I kicked the passenger door in frustration, denting it. How am I going to get home without a car? Where is home from here in the first place? What do I do now? The loss of any sort of direction angered me to no end.
After a few seconds of stomping around in the ground as a display of bitter and confused frustration, my mind finding that I could think clearly for the most part now that I had air and a chance to blow off steam, I finally got the chance to get a better look of my surrounding area. I was currently in what looked to be a forest clearing. As I noticed when my Crown Victoria was speeding through this place, the trees were perfectly formed in a line, even intersecting with other "lines" to form a square around my current area. I was fairly certain that this did not happen naturally. Nature just doesn't work like that. Even the trees themselves had that artificial look about them, looking like a leafy, layered umbrella, almost like one of those cheap Christmas Trees you get at the shopping center. This did not look like something that nature would have built. Even the grass was this universal patch quilt of light green, with no breaks. Someone had to have designed this place with no input from the environment whatsoever.
I looked up to the sky to see if there was going to be any unusual weather I should look out for. To my surprise, the skies were clear, and the position of the sun indicated it was midday. Clear skies did not happen often back home in Pittsburgh. I checked again, and confirmed that, indeed, the sky was blue, with just one sun. OK, that's one more piece of evidence for you still being on Earth. No second sun, no green sky. It looked just like home. Then, my vision caught the only thing making the skies an unbroken sheet of blue, and I focused my vision on it.
What I saw was a pheonix-like bird... No, phoenixes aren't real. It was a large bird-of-prey, which species, I could not tell. It's main color was red, which it showed all around the top, sides, and wings of the creature. Aside from that, there was also a feathered-crest on the bird's head, and what wing feathers it had that weren't red, which amounted to the tips, had a green color. The creature's tail feathers were a gold color and I swore I saw a green ring around its neck.
First trees, now birds. Something was up with this place. A bird can't have those colors naturally. They'd be too easy to find for predators. Maybe there's some chemical plant nearby? That's the only reasonable explanation I can think of. Some bird crashed into it and had its feathers dyed in a freak industrial accident. To be honest, it was a wonder how it's still alive. I don't care that the chances of that really happening are a million to one. There's absolutely no other possible way that bird can look like that. Even if this was true, my surroundings were growing more and more strange by the moment, and the only thing familiar to me in here was a crashed and totaled Crown Victoria.
When my vision focused off the chemical-doused bird, my eyes saw a rainbow where their had used to be a part of clear sky. Wait, were's the rain? Isn't their supposed to be a rainstorm before people see rainbows? What I was seeing isn't supposed to happen in the wild. Wait a second... ROYGBIV... red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. All the colors of the rainbow, in their proper place. If that's a real rainbow, where did it come from? This makes no sense. What kinda rules does this place use, anyway? I prayed that the laws of physics were still around, unharmed.
After that... sight, I heard rustling in the nearby tree line. I snapped around to its source, and saw several small eyes dart about. From the very few details I could see, the figures were probably no larger than a house cat. After a few moments, the largest of the figures exposed himself. It was what looked to be ether a very old lion cub, or a very young lion. The fur was blue, although there a portion of its backside that was black, forming a pattern that made it look like it was wearing pants. The black tail was topped with what looked to be a yellow flail top, it had 2 yellow rings on each of the forelegs, and the creature's mane was black. From its skin and bones build I could tell it was very hungry.
Strangely colored birds, than lions? While I could be certain there was a chemical factory around here, thanks to the oddly colored wild life, why are there lions in a forest? Did the zoo have a breakout or something? The lion licked its lips and looked at me hungrily. Shoot! It must have heard my coughing spell and thought I was a dying animal, and therefore an easy kill. It lowered itself, ready for a pounce. There was only one way I was going to make it out of the ensuring fight alive.
In the arm rest compartment of the Crown Victoria, there lies a Beretta 92 and four spare clips. I had gotten it when I brought my car, as the combination of the Crown Victoria having the colors of a rival Steelers team, and living in the Rust Belt meant that you could never be too careful when it came to crime. The gun was registered, of course. Even if it wasn't I still felt myself being covered in dirt on the inside. I thought I would never need to use that gun. Just point it a mugger and he goes away. I thought that Hell would freeze over before I would actually use that pistol to shoot someone. Or something in this case. What did the world come to when I need to use lethal force to defend myself? Why was it necessary, and now, of all times?
While I was in this inner debate, the lion began its charge, dashing towards me as fast as it could. I panicked, and dashed for the front door of the Crown Victoria. Footsteps grew louder and louder as I madly pulled on the damaged door. It took a few moments before it opened. I scrambled for the arm compartment, finding the Beretta, where I had left it, untouched for 3 years. The lion roared as he started his pounce, and I was turning the safety off at almost the same moment. When I pointed the Beretta at the creature, I saw the most vicious look in its eyes. It must have been starving. It was then, that I did something that I may never forget about.
I fired the Beretta, it's loud report ringing through the air, at a living being for the very first time in my life. The lead bullet zoomed toward the lion in what seemed like slow motion.
Luckily for my conscious, the gunshot only hit the lion's right foreleg. The moment the bullet hit, it squealed the loudest, highest pitched, cry of pain I had ever known. Its face was twisted in agony as it fell to the ground. The figures in the forest, who were watching this, had started fleeing, and the lion was taking their lead, as it stood up and limped toward the forest as fast as it could, leaving a trail of oddly yellow colored... blood I guess, in the wake of his retreat. I pocketed the Beretta, safety on, and stared wide-eyed at what I had just done. I could have killed that lion. It was going to kill me, but still, why did the law of the jungle still have to be around? I hoped I would never meet an animal like that again. Killing was wrong. I sensed that I might need to do what I just did again. Guilt took grip at my soul at that thought.
In any case, this clearing was no longer safe. Who knows what chemical-doused wildlife would attack me next? I went to the car to grab the spare clips for the Beretta to put in a coat pocket. I had the unpleasant feeling that I was going to need them, and it chilled me to the core. But even if I got ammo, eventually I was going to run out. I needed another weapon. I looked around for one, uselessly searching every square inch of the Crown Victoria, until I realized the perfect place was right under my nose, literally. I stared down at Ray's toolbox for only a brief moment, before I found myself flushing out the perfect tool for the job, a pipe wrench, putting it in another suit pocket. I then emptied the toolbox, save for a flashlight, dumping the rest of the tools on the floor, so I would have something to carry stuff in. Besides, Ray only said he wanted the toolbox, right?
After getting other things I needed, like my wallet, I crawled out of the car. I paused for a moment. The Crown Victoria was a faithful car while it was still running. It had mediocre gas mileage, sure, but I could rely on it not breaking down when I needed it most. I poured a lot of money into making sure the Crown Victoria always ran as good as I could afford it to be. It's past seemed like a stark contrast to its ultimate fate, abandoned in some backwater, unnatural forest. I started to mourn it, with a heavy heart. No amount of remembrance would bring the car back, however, and I had to go it on foot if I didn't want to starve.
I waved a teary goodbye to the Crown Victoria, the last familiar thing I saw in this clearing, then left, hopefully finding civilization not too far ahead.
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