☦Collaborated with djkaktus and Faminepulse.☦
Clyde and Umiko rode home in the darkness. For once, Clyde wasn’t tuning a guitar. He was tuning the radio instead, dialing station to station. Umiko drove, headlights telling little in the darkness ahead.
“Hey, Umiko, wasn’t Brook supposed to be coming with us?”
The bigger man’s hands squeezed the wheel at the mention of Brook. She never felt at ease around him and he never figured a way to earn the drummer’s trust, not even after all this time. “No, she go with other friend. I think she don’t like me.”
“Hey, don’t say that, big man. I’m sure she’ll come around. Women and their intuition, you know? Hey, isn’t this our song?” He turned the radio to a familiar tune, a grin spreading to his features. Umiko joined in the display of pride despite himself.
“Yes, our song. Even skits! Much good! We on radio now!”
But Clyde wasn’t listening to Umiko’s words. He had joined the collective in the music. He remembered. Umiko fell with Clyde shortly after and the two added their voices to the song. Shadows flickered across Umiko’s hands, urging them to turn the wheel and drive towards the ocean. The headlights of other cars joined them on their journey, all migrating to the same destination.
The music lulled their minds to rest and guided them home.
Rosa woke up fast, rising to a seat and pushing herself up. She could see the back of Morgan’s head in the driver’s seat. He was very still. She scampered over, eyes wide in confusion.
“Morgan? Hey, what’s up? Where are we?”
His eyes remained closed as he began speaking. “We’re almost done.”
Rosa couldn’t hear the motor running and it was pitch black outside. She went to open the driver’s side window but the crank was missing. “Hey, what happened with the thing?”
“We shouldn’t open the windows. It’s really cold outside.” He said softly, opening his eyes and turning to Rosa. “Hell of a night, wasn’t it?”
“Yeah. Hope everyone made it back safe.” She said, before a realization dawned on her. “Oh my god!”
“…what is it, then?”
“You’re drunk, aren’t you? Seriously! Thats why we’re idling here! I can’t believe you actually drank!”
“I’m a bit hungover, not drunk. It’s not the most pleasant feeling.” Morgan said, a faint smile appearing on his face. Rosa rolled her eyes and turned to face him. A yellow light passed by the driver’s window. She thought she could see the silhouette of a head for a moment, before it faded into the murk.
“I am so thirsty. Do we have any water?”
“N-No…” said Morgan as Rosa rolled around to open the rear passenger door. “No!” He shouted, leaning over and snatching her wrist. “Don’t do that, we’re on a ferry right now. We’re not supposed to open the doors.”
“What?” She noticed he was breathing heavily but his face was rested and calm as ever. They were so close. Was he nervous?
He righted himself and sat back down. “Just sit tight. We’ll be there soon.”
She lay there flustered for a moment, looking on out the window. More strange glowing yellow lights, falling down slowly, drifting alongside them.
“Be where? This some kind of surprise? We going to an off-shore resort thing? Oh I love those things. Is it Pipers Crossing? Pelican Landing?”
“Not quite,” he felt the urge to laugh, but couldn’t bring himself to do it, “deep space. We’re headed off to deep space.”
Rosa giggled to herself, just before being shot in the face by a jet of water. Morgan heard it, and closed his eyes again. “Well, looks like we’re ahead of schedule.”
Another jet of freezing water burst through the van ceiling.
“Looks like we’re fucked.” Said Morgan, a faint quiver could be heard in the back of his throat.
“What are you talking about?! Go get a patch! Why is the roof leaking! Why is the floor leaking up!?”
Morgan pulled a small handgun from out of his coat.
“I’m sorry, Rosa. I can’t expect you to understand any more than I did at first.”
Rosa was hysterical. “What do you mean? What the fuck is going on, Morgan? What’s going on?”
Morgan looked over the cold steel of the handgun with the cold steel of his eyes. “There was something else there with us tonight. You could feel it, right?”
“I- I mean, I don’t know. Maybe. I thought it was just a good concert.”
He looked at her, eyes full of sympathy but demeanor unbroken. “Rosa, it was a great concert. I’ll never forget it as long as I exist. I’ll never forget any of them, Brooke, Umiko, Clyde,” he paused, his throat catching, “and I certainly won’t forget you.”
Rosa’s eyes were full of fear as she gazed around them, but began to calm when he grabbed her hand. She sniffled back a tear, shaking slightly. “Morgan… are we going to die?”
He smiled. “Yes. We’re going to die, Rosa. But we’re going to do it together, right here, ok?”
The water had gathered up to their knees as an additional crack started to form in the rear window. They were surrounded by lights, so many lights that Rosa couldn’t count them. Some far away, some so close she could just barely make them out. They all danced around her and Morgan, like fireflies when she was younger. In another life, she could’ve reached out and caught them and put them in a jar and fell asleep to lull of the tiny bursts of light.
He cocked the firearm. “I brought this for you, in case you don’t want to… It’s yours, Rosa.” His outstretched hand held it before her, and her eyes focused on it. She lifted a hand gingerly, picked it out of his hand and held it close to her. She looked up at him, eyes full of fear.
“What about you? What are you going to do?”
Morgan looked at the gathering of falling stars, his face illuminated by a billion points of light. In that moment, Rosa felt like she could see Morgan differently, like the boy with the black hair had been peeled away and left to float somewhere behind them, and in its place was a low burning fire, resilient and unwavering. She could see in him all of his hopes and aspirations and dreams, as well as her own, everything they had both desired their entire lives, and yet…
The water was unrelenting. It had filed past their waists, and the back window was ready to burst. Rosa choked back tears and looked out of her window. Next to her, she could see one of the stars drawing close. Inside sat two familiar figures, and yet, she couldn’t make out their faces. One of them waved, the other threw a thumbs up.
And then they were gone. Rosa’s tears flowed freely now, and she would’ve given anything, everything she ever had, to be sitting in her apartment, warm and dry and safe. In a moment, Rosa was terrified of death, and saw its gaping maw closing in around her. Panicking, she turned one last time to Morgan, to beg him to do something, anything, so they could go on, be together, live…
But her voice caught. The dim flame was gone and replaced with a magnificent roaring fire, reds and yellows and whites, filling up the entire car, and in the middle of it sat Morgan. The thing he had been was stripped away, replaced with fervor and zeal, its eyes blazing like a million suns. It looked at her, and beyond everything, beyond his face and the fire and the water and the stars around them, she saw something else. She saw…
She threw the gun into the water at her feet as it rushed in from behind them. “No,” she shouted over the growing din of the torrent. “No Morgan, I want to be there with you.”
The lead singer smiled. “To see it all within you.”
Water circled their necks, passing their mouths, then their eyes, and filled the car completely.
There was a moment while they floated in the weightlessness, where Rosa reached out and touched Morgan’s face. He opened his eyes and looked at her, and then towards where she was gesturing. Lights surrounded them, the lights of cars like theirs, floating in the depths of sea, hovering just above the edge of oblivion. They were all very still, yet pulsated like the night sky. Morgan glanced back at her, to share the moment with her, but she was already gone.
He unbuckled his seatbelt, felt towards the back window. When he reached it, he pushed himself out.
Around him he saw the lights flickering, and knew it would not be long. His mind reached out, looking for his friends among the stars, and felt them all around him. Clyde was to his right, guitar in hand, grinning while he tuned the damn thing for the fiftieth time. Next to him sat Brooke, crosslegged, spinning a drumstick and drinking a giant Mt. Dew. She laughed at some untold joke, and the rest of them guffawed along with her. Standing just outside of them was Umiko, calmly moving boxes back to the van. Morgan called out to him, and the big man turned and smiled at him.
Finally, there was Rosa. She was quiet, peaceful. She approached Morgan, held him, and then pointed skyward. Morgan looked up, then at his friends, and together they left for the next gig.
Morgan’s empty body floated in the water.
The stars hung for a second more, and then went out.