A Gallop Through the Park
by Martin James Hunter
It is three in the morning and there are two of us. The city goes by in amber sweeps with every step and the concrete below glimmers like a great emery board threatening to strip the soles from my trainers. I must tread carefully.
I turn my head in the cold air to speak to Kit and send myself stumbling rightwards. It seems in order to walk in a straight line I should remain focused on the road ahead. Shoedweguthrewak. Only through sheer concentration can I speak without slurring.
Kit is far more tolerant to ketamine than I am. On this occasion we have consumed equal amounts and she is doing a better job of holding it together than I. As we continue up the street towards the interjecting main road I scan for pedestrians. With a sense of relief I note we are safe for now.
Earlier on I was being fed from a ketamine spoon while watching Francis try on a jumper. It were printed with cats all colours of the spectrum and I thought nothing of the entire affair. For a brief moment as I stagger down the street I am open to the possibility that my life may be far from normal.
As we approach the main road the sound of passing engines phase in and out as though water laps at my ears and the distance from one side of the pavement to the other seems grossly exaggerated. As I begin crossing the vast tarmac the sensation of being exposed draws over me and my pace quickens. I glance at Kit to see if she shares my concern but see only contentedness.
As we leave the concrete behind us I become subject to an unprecedented sensation of liberty as though having crossed a barrier. As we pass the gate into the vegetation itself, the sound of vehicles cease and singing birds click to life as though operated via button.
As we continue deeper into the vegetation the oaks and hazels become significant forms framed by sparse light from the glowing cosmos. In the distance the city and its amber peer over the treetops reminding us that the freedom we feel is induced. It is atop a hill we discover a bench overlooking a flattering side of the park where we choose to smoke a cigarette.
As we sit there speaking I note that the sensation of smoke rolling down my throat depositing nicotine as it goes is as soothing as the gentle breeze around us, and whilst I am enjoying this moment and after I have been fed a little more ketamine from the spoon I notice some distance below us a passing bike, a front-mounted torch illuminating its path in bright strobes as it goes and capturing my attention like a moribund firefly, then when I become aware that things are started to come across a little strange the direction of the beam suddenly twists at a disorientating angle, spearing the sky with sharp light leaving us frozen and confused as though caught in the spotlight ourselves and at first it is as though the rider is taking off into the night and for a moment maybe they did, my heart lifting with them, my beliefs, my perspective of reality too, and it is like that bit in ET: magical, awe-inspiring, phantasmagorical – then something is wrong, the light now static on the floor, its brilliance spilling across the path in regular bursts like some beautiful thing reaching for help then – Christ – the cigarette burning my fingers. It falls from its place.
I sit in silence regarding the night through glass. The sky is an unsettling palette of crimson as though the sun died a bloody death moments ago. In the distance there is a noise as though some vast and dark calculation is underway. The readout from the alarm clock blinks silently. We have a few minutes until the end.
There is a great unwanted energy in the air. I ask her to kiss me but receive no acknowledgement. It has been so long. Distant cries of horror from the outside world. I peer through the glass again and see them falling. Great firey rocks hurtling towards earth across the dreadful sky.
Despite my pleas I am still ignored. Apocalypse or not she remains the same. I try again and again, become more hysterical as the sounds of the screaming and detonations and rubble grow closer, her eyes showing the same uncertainty as they did the first time we met and the same sadness and the same quiet desire to be helped and then the wall erupts in a wave of rock and glass and as I move to shield us both I wake up beside her for the last time.
Dreams are always about the present even when they seem to be about the past.