It wasn't a particularly interesting day, to say the least. Grey and nondescript. The kind of day that you feel like wasting, but you know it's never a good idea to waste any day you're granted, so you just sit and wait for a spark or at least a glimpse of a lost muse.
Zeke's coffee tanks were already topped off, but still there was no motivation to do anything at all, other than to stare at all the other lost souls also trying to distract themselves long enough to make it through the day.
Perhaps he could tolerate just one more dose of liquid anxiety? Decision made, he could. Only, the barista made an error and poured two more cups. Maybe that second cup would be the tipping point that would send him over the edge? Not likely, but there's no sense in wasting good jitter juice.
That last cup was starting to burn a bit. Still no revelation, no idea, and not even a twinkling of a muse. He was trying too hard. Maybe some aimless, meandering would reveal some curious nugget if he'd surrender into the invisible currents.
Off he pedaled through the strip center parking lot, looking for something of interest while trying to get hit by one of the driving zombies shooting off one last meaningless text.
Nothing, just the steady drone of business as usual. It almost seemed like everyone moved in a slow motion choreography to some bland muzak noise. Even the back alleyways were lifeless. No sirens, no screaming, no laughter.
On the way back toward the mothership, Zeke noticed a street he'd never seen before. How could this street have remained hidden for all these years? It looked like a possible shortcut, but there were no structures, and the pavement gave way to a winding dirt track.
The light changed a little. It had been mostly unchanging throughout the day. A steady delivery of lifeless grey, but now it started to have a faint purplish color even though it was still overcast. He forgot about the time change so maybe it was the first residue of twilight.
Some short cut. There's no way he shouldn't have already popped out of the woods into the dense residential area by now. Something felt wrong and he started to feel a little dizzy and started to walk his bike until equilibrium returned.
Up ahead the trees were almost completely consumed by a combination of kudzu vine and Spanish moss. It was becoming more difficult to see, but Zeke noticed someone had hung twinkling white holiday lights in the highest boughs, and he could make out the metallic reflection from a beat up old airstream camper.
Finally! Surely there'd be a driveway that would get him back into the residential area. An old man wearing a silk robe and ascot appeared to be sleeping in a hoverround chair with a rainbow umbrella fastened to it. The man's legs were exposed and were covered with sores. Perhaps phlebitis? The old man didn't even appear to be breathing, but a sizzling sound was coming from inside the camper.
Zeke feared the old man was dead. Could be he just fell asleep with something cooking inside, but it didn't sound like that kind of sizzling. More of a strange, otherworldly sound that pulsed from the whole camper.
If the old man was just asleep, best to try and gently try to wake him, before going for help. Just as he reached to tug at the old man's robe, he awoke with violent coughing. The old timer's eyes bulged wet as he tried to compose himself.
"Sir... are you ok? Do you need any help?"
The old man said nothing as he fumbled through his pockets looking for something and started gasping for breath.
"Sir! Do you need something? Asthma? Nitro pills?"
The old man pointed toward the camper.
"Hang in there, I'll see if can find something inside."
Just as Zeke stepped up into the camper, he heard the hoverround's electric motor start to whir and the old man was rolling away and into the dark forest at top speed.
Inside the camper everything was pure white and sort of translucent. Even after his eyes adjusted, he couldn't make out much detail or where the walls were. Some bizarre optical illusion made it seem... infinite.
He spun around to see if the old man had come back and found the entrance had closed. There was nothing but this whiteness and electric sizzling sound that became so loud he had to cover his ears.
Then it stopped immediately. Zeke heard a distant scream but wasn't sure if that was his own voice crying out. He felt disembodied, as if he were now floating in the light energy, but he could still make out the outlines of his hands. A soft pylon emerged from the whiteness with a small octagon-shaped button that glowed blue.
It felt like he was no longer in control as his hand reached out and pressed the button.