You know, humans are a narcissistic species, and I am no exception. Actually, I’m so self absorbed – so full of myself – that I’ve written now this entire book on the subject. Myself, I mean. I have pages and pages deliberating on myself, my response to various things and various subjects and various people. I’ve covered the most mundane of topics not because I want you to care about their altruistic beauty, but because I want to know about your reaction. To me. To what happened to me.
It all started rather at once. It was on a Thursday, which I believed was set up by T.H,E.M. (Thailand’s Hellish, Emo Military) to make leeway for Hitchhiker’s Guide to the
Galaxy references. I’d just gotten back from my best friend, Irma’s, house, which is a miracle in and of itself because she and I lived what seemed to be a perpetual sleepover. I went over to her house and stayed during the summer for nights on end, right until she looked like she was going to ask what I’d like to do. In my experience, the Asking of Preferred Activities only led to the deterioration of a friendship.
After returning from Irma’s house, I grunted “Hello” to my mother, a 5’2” redhead with the self-assuredness of a pinball and the intelligence of a Bratz doll, and stepfather, a 5’2” fashion designer/model, who I strongly believe to be gay and closeted, and I retreated to my room. It was spacious, with off-white walls draped with paintings by local artists, including some by my stepsister, who was actually quite good. The most prominent was by her – I’m actually not sure what it was, except that it included pink sharks and musical notes. It didn’t go with the
rest of the room, which was set off by dark browns and navy blues. I grabbed a book from my desk – I don’t remember what it was, although I think it was scary – In the Penal Colony, The
Crucible, or perhaps The Wasteland – and set off to the living room to read for the day. It was a nice, open room, with dark olive walls. The only real deterrence was the huge television in the front, though I admit I occasionally indulged in an episode of The X-Files or an old movie.
I spent the day reading whatever it was (though thinking back, I’m inclined to believe it was The Crucible). Mom called me down to dinner at six sharp as she usually did, and though I cannot promise to always remember or transcribe accurate dialogue, our dinner conversation probably went something like this:
STAN: Barbara insulted my hair today. I was seriously offended – I mean, who does she think she is? My hair is perfectly done every day, and it’s simply a farce to imply otherwise.
MOM: Of course, honey. Your hair is nothing but flawless.
ME: Yeah. You spend an awful lot of time and hair products on it. MOM: Well, he shouldn’t use toothpaste, should he?
STAN: Think of how that would affect my luscious locks! MOM: How is Irma doing, sweetheart?
ME: Well, Mom. MOM: Well what?
ME: She’s doing well, Mom.
MOM: Oh, well, tell her I said hello next time you see her. ME: I will, Mom.
And then my ten years of being preconditioned to eat in three minutes from the school cafeteria paid off, and I zoned out for the next half hour or so. We usually watched a movie, but I remember Mom waggling her eyes at Stan and myself nearly retching. I think they probably had a fashion show or some nonsense, although Mom was most likely hoping for sex. I keep trying to convince her that he’s a homosexual, but it’s amazing how far my mother is willing to delude herself when the circumstances dictate. That’s her for you.
I went up to the living room again and, grabbing my sleeping bag, fell asleep on the couch to an episode of Voyager.
When I woke up, someone was tugging at my leg. I sat up and rubbed the sleep out of my eyes, and the body – the person, who I now identified as male – froze.
As I had just woken up, I wasn’t quite within my sensibilities yet, and was taking everything rather as a joke. “If you’re trying to abduct me, that’s probably not the best way to go about it,” I commented, turning on a lamp and taking a sip of the Orange Fanta that I’d left half- empty on our coffee table. It was flat. “Oh, ew.”
My captor, who had since released my leg, wiped his hands on his pants (they looked expensive) and smiled at me. “You’re quite right,” he agreed, his British accent becoming pronounced and his smile becoming amicable. He inched towards me – and coming to my senses, I began screaming.
Upon losing the consequential shuffle and failing to awaken my mother and Stan, who both could have slept through fourteen drunken elephants’ rendition of Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” I was dragged out of the front door into a black car. I was seated between a burly MIB and a lanky “Milf,” as most of my school called her. She’d been pregnant four times at seventeen, but somehow remained respected among a large portion of my school.
One of the great things about Killhurtz High School was the utter lack of bullying and/or discrimination. I read a lot of stories and saw a TV show or two (Irma made me suffer through all of Glee) about kids getting picked on, thrown in dumpsters, not spoken to or worse due to sexuality or grades or whatever, but I’d never seen anyone put down for that kind of thing here at Killhurtz. Sure, everyone got teased – people called me a know-it-all, or Jamie, who’s the Drama Club’s poster boy, a Drama Queen, but nobody was hit hard enough to where they needed to go
to Ms. Finnegan’s office and have a good cry, and certainly no one was hurt because they were black or gay or smart. The thing I think made the biggest difference was that there was no definite hierarchy – no one had been appointed Cool or Uncool, and since all our parents were Doctors and Lawyers and Engineers and Vogue, Being Smart and Wanting to Succeed were great, admirable things.
It occurred to me that I didn’t know the Milf’s name. The word bint came to mind. I’d been reading too much Harry Potter fanfiction.
“Hi, uh – “
“Lindsey,” she replied, drawling and drawing one of her curls out as she cocked her head. I resisted the temptation to snort.
I shook her hand, because I’m a handshaker. “Elizabeth Livingston,” I said. “You know where they’re taking us?”
“No,” she said, rubbing her nails back and forth on the seat in a hypnotic gesture. The MIB snapped at her with his fingers, and she knocked it off, face remaining blank.
“Where are you taking us?” I asked the MIB, but he remained impassive. I looked him over, and saw that his nametag read “STEVE”. I tried a different approach. “Where are you taking us…Steve?”
No response. “Crap.”
Milf nodded, and her head rolled around on its base. “Totally.”
The driver of the car, whose nametag read “PHIL”, looked back at us and said with a sincere smile, “We’re heading to a government-built planned community/island. It’s in the Pacific – and in the middle of nowhere. You will not be found. You will not come anywhere
close to being found. You will be there with people from all over the world who are between the ages of ten and twenty-three.”
“Are you driving us all the way there?” asked Milf.
“Don’t be daft, Nancy,” I said. “Cars can’t drive on water.”
“Maybe he’ll, you know… drive the boat. Or plane.” Milf rolled her eyes back into her head and in front again.
“It’s a boat,” Phil said. “Way more genre–appropriate.”
“Good thing I just read The Crucible, I said. Or, you know, Oliver Twist or The Call of
the Wild or whatever.
“Yeah,” Phil agreed.
“What’s a crucible?” Milf asked. I ignored her.
I think that, reflecting now, this was an important point for me. I’d of course not given up hope that I could return to Irma and Mom and Stan (though the possibility was growing dimmer and dimmer), but I was starting to accept my present situation, and perhaps even plot its timely demise.
Steve, next to me, began to snore. I inched closer to him and: I…
Punched him in the nuts!
Steve winced and doubled over, and I punched him again, pressing the lock on the door open and sliding out. Unlike in the movies, the action left me damaged slightly – street burn on my knees and hands. I scampered off into the bushes and ran as quietly as I could while I saw
Phil searching for me. I managed to find my way to a DQ without getting caught, and as I entered I scoped it out.
Two blonde chicks – seventeen? – making out in front of a boy I assumed to be their classmate. An old man feeding an Oreo Blizzard to a paralyzed toddler. A woman who looked around forty talking to a man across from her. A young man, maybe twenty-three, in a beanie, writing in a notebook and puffing on a cigarette.
I walked over to the Beanie Boy and snatched it from his head, pulling it over mine and sitting down across from him. “Hi,” I said, “can I have one of your smokes?”
“Go away and give me back my hat,” he said. I stuck a tongue out at him. “That’s rude, sir.”
“Look,” he said. “I don’t know you. I’m pretty sure you’re harmless, but frankly, this is starting to creep me out. So listen closely: GO. AWAY.” He thought for a second. “And give me back my hat.”
“No,” I said. “Please listen, dude. I’m on the run from some incompetent men who want to take me to a government facility in the middle of the ocean. I need to look as unmeish as possible.”
“You know what,” he said, “I’ll humor you. But when I leave, you’d better also be scramming.”
“Right,” I said.
“You’re on the run?” he asked, to pass time, I guess. “Where are you from?” “Uh, Citrus, Texas,” I said.
“Well, you haven’t succeeded very well,” he told me. “You’re in Melon.” He took a drag on his cigarette and the smoke made me cough.
“Crap,” I said. “Well, there’s a whole suburb to search through. Dairy Queen is surely the last place they’ll suspect. What are you writing?” I grabbed his notebook and looked at the page.
Mundanity rules my life. I’m in the Dairy Queen currently, watching Edgar Thomas and
his two girlfriends. I’m in such deep a funk, I doubt I could sport any kind of arousal, though the
girls are hot. The door’s open, now, and a female has entered. She can’t be more than fifteen, but
she carries herself well. I wish I could carry myself well. I wish
“Mundanity isn’t a word,” I said. “And frankly, this really sucks.” “It’s my journal, you stupid bimbo,” he hissed.
“I’m a bimbo who carries herself well,” I said. “A fourteen-year-old bimbo, fyi.” He stood up and slid his beanie off my head. “Go bother someone else.”
I pouted, but complied, once again searching for victims and then deciding perhaps to visit a different location. I took the back streets (Melon is a trashy neighborhood), and came upon a little supermarket, where I peeked inside.
No! There were Phil and Steve now, discussing something with the clerk. I tried to escape, but Steve spotted me and without a head start, he’s a lot faster. I was thrown into the car again, this time handcuffed to the seat.
Milf waved. I groaned.