I hoped it didn’t … truly. If that broadcast were real, there’d be heat on me in double-time. I ran pathetically, under the amber influence, into the deepest darkness I could find. The cemetery was perfect, and I braced myself against a stone mausoleum to catch my breath and to think.
My head was swimming; my thoughts erratic. I couldn’t be sure my Not-quite-Caleb just sitting in front of me hadn’t been sent to scare me right back to the wretched chaos I escaped.
Escape. What was I thinking? There would be no such thing. Those moments walking to find a bar comprised the most ‘freedom’ I had known since I saw my Lila become lifeless before me. I wanted to turn back time. Back to when Lila and I began. I could vaguely remember how new love felt, and wondered if I had taken it all for granted. After my diagnosis I lived life in a down-ward spiral but this whole fiasco revealed that even that was a construct for my illusion. I wanted to puke. To think that I had been a pawn in her double-life was blowing my mind as I also rationalized the risk she had taken to save me.
There was no one to save me now. The irony of the cemetery was not lost on me. Nothing would have suited my life more than leaving it, but I would prefer to fair better than Lila when death comes for me. I clutched my head as my thoughts dizzied me. I couldn’t decide anymore whether I loved or hated Lila. Any ‘freedom’ in thought was a liberty I no longer had. Not-quite-Caleb appearing out of the blue had made that painfully clear. Beyond that, any future I may have entertained was quite likely to go up in smoke at the hands of a thug. And where were those fucking nanites when I needed them? I couldn’t make sense of the bartender being pissed, and Not-quite-Caleb so elusive. My hands slid down the cold stone.
“Fuckkkkk!” The burns were killing me.
“You’re becoming so simple,” jeered Not-quite-Caleb
“And you’re becoming IRRELEVANT,” I groaned as I lunged at him.
My face hit the dirt. There was no one there. No one and nothing but the laughter … mocking me, goading me. I struggled to clear my head. He didn’t want anything from me, so he had told me in the bar. One thing was certain. The others who DID want something from me would not stop.
“You don’t get it yet, do you?” he had said. I hadn’t gotten very damned much about recent days but it didn’t matter I decided. My life … no, WAIT … I couldn’t call it that … my ‘existence’ had been scaled down to one element, the way I was seeing things; survival – moment to moment. I told myself it didn’t matter whether the bar existed. Fuck Not-quite-Caleb and his psycho-babble!
In the distance, sirens broke the silence. I had to keep on the move … but to where?