With his sight tinged with green flecks and loud shadows, Rusty stumbled onto the platform not knowing how he’d got there or where he was going.
Slouched against an unwelcoming pillar he blinked away confusion that clouded his mind. Had there been a party? He remembered garlic lights and glittering music. His memory slipped through unconscious fingers that grasped at ethereal threads. Faces. There had been many faces. Smiling. Cheering. But then anger. He had tasted red and smelled confusion. He rubbed the tip of his tongue around the inside of his cheeks and hungrily savoured the deep brown bass.
That wasn’t right.
What was wrong with him?
He searched the meagre crowds on the platform for answers. Chicken faces and yellow echoes clipped at the guitar riff shadows. Green lights spewed mint sauce across the floor. The tracks sliced tangy lemon sorbet through his mind like brain freeze from too much ice cream.
Rusty took a deep breath. He was frightened.
More than that he was scared neon pink. How had he got to the platform? Where were his friends? He wanted to shut his eyes and wake up in his warm French fry bed with cuddly Kermit tucked under one arm.
A bench called him over. Hey pal. Come sit. Take the weight off. Been a busy night.
“Thanks.” Rusty didn’t trust his knees and dropped onto the bench.
Gonna get a whole lot busier too. Gonna need all your strength pal.
“Fuck.” Rusty didn’t want strength. He wanted home. Beige lights and soothing creamy warmth.
Tangerine memories of the party swam before his rolling eyes. The music had lifted him and he remembered feeling less than disco when he left home. Had something bad happened? He wasn’t usually unhappy, but in the pit of stomach an itch scratched at him. All he saw were faces. They drifted in front of his eyes, a mirage of smoke that melted and reformed over and over, obscuring the platform.
Hot cheesecake breath left his lips dry. A river of vindaloo sweat drenched his face and he wiped it away with the sleeve of his jacket. He stared down at it when he felt something sticky on his skin. It was dark and brown like the melancholy sigh of a saxophone.
“Mixed up,” he said. “All tops and tails.”
He had to make sense of it all and forced himself to concentrate. His mind was riddled with holes. Memories with no start or end. I just need a moment, he told himself. Everything will make sense.
Rusty closed his eyes.
Soothing silver shadows tinged with vanilla sorbet blessed his vision.
Seconds later he was awake and scared. He felt hot fudge squelch between the cheeks of his arse. The crowds on the platform drifted by leaving trails of ghosts behind them. They moved incredibly slow at hyper velocity. There one moment and gone the next.
He ignored the freaky slow and fast people.
The party. Think of the party. That’s the key. Right?
Music. Why did he keep coming back to music? Massive bass felt like melted chocolate in his ears. Beetroot alarm on the faces of his friends. Why were they staring at him? What had he done? A kitchen shocked in steel lights stabbed his eyes. He’d never seen anything so bright. People talked at light speed. Eagles screamed in his ears, a nightmare sound connected with faces of sick repulsion.
“They all ran.”
A tsunami of rainbow chaos washed through the crowd at the party. Frosty tinkles of broken glass made him laugh. He’d paid no attention to those faces hovering in front of him, yet hung back like puppets waiting to dance. The music had stopped. The DJ was gone. Rusty could still feel the gravy bass thudding in his chest. His skin felt itchy and his mouth tasted brown and copper.
Alone at the party Rusty stuffed his mouth with dry bread sticks. He crammed handfuls into the hungry cavern on his face but it wasn’t satisfying.
But why? He’d eaten a big meal before he left home. Pork chops and clouds of mashed potato.
He cupped his face in his hands. What the fuck was wrong with him?
A bubble of gas stretched for room in his stomach and he nearly passed out. When he lifted his head up he saw an impossibly tall girl on the other side of the platform. Her legs seemed to miss her bottom altogether and reached up to her armpits. She stalked along the platform, her mile long blonde hair streamed out behind her like puffs of smoke from a choo-choo train.
Rusty felt his cock swell. At least that still works.
“Idiot. Concrete on the panty.”
What? Concentrate. What happened at the party? Why were you so hungry?
Sirens. They stole the music. Snatched it away from him. A black hole filled his brain. Big kettle drums drowned his thoughts and the next thing he remembered was staring at a street swamped with happy lights, mustard screaming and piano plinky sounds. He felt light headed. Probably too many Tequila’s.
Red and blue. Red and blue. The disco had moved outside. He followed the crowd and felt hot tar sizzle in his chest. The clack-clack sound came after, an echo in his ears. He slid down the wall and into the warm embrace of unconsciousness. Murky bass guitars groaned in his throat. When he sat up something sticky glugged over his t-shirt. He wiped away chutney farts and stumbled back outside.
The lights blinded him. At the end of the street a crimson pillow of flame slowly ballooned into the air. Everyone was dancing. Rusty coughed and spat out a dark blob of angry goose honk. He marvelled at the shape it made on the ground.
Rusty joined the party.
Techincolour people ran around him, faces painted bright red Samba. They cheered at him but try as he might they didn’t want to be hugged. Rusty danced around the flashing lights and into the jubilant crowd.
None of that explained how he’d got to the platform.
Rusty felt the heat from watchful eyes. Lime green jelly light covered worried platform faces.
How you doin, pal? It’s nearly time to get busy.
Rusty stroked a thumbless hand across the bench seat. He shouldn’t be frightened. He was going to be fine. Since arriving at the platform his emotions had run from tangy yellow fear to weak pale blue despair. The unexpected cool green serenity was a welcome relief. If only he could remember why the party had been such a mash up of fun and panic.
Rusty squeezed his eyes tight.
He gathered his withered wits and aimed them at his pork chops and fluffy mashed potato. Home. Then street. Tube. Another street. So far so good.
Gloomy groans snorted behind him in an alley.
Nightmare shadows and shuffling shapes dragged him down.
Hot breath and raspberry pop-tarts bites made his skin wet. Grunting filled his ears. His own screams were razor blades in his throat. Iron fingers trapped him. Finally a clack-clack dissolved the nightmare and he wept on the ground in the alley.
It was quiet for a time. He remembered echo’s in the distance. Music. Cheering.
He’d been mugged but no one had taken his wallet.
You could say that, pal. Point of view is a real shitter.
Rusty patted the bench. “Yeah. True blue.”
He touched the burning ring of puncture marks on his neck. They had hurt like nothing else when he’d laid in the alley. They were still numb but the pain no longer mattered. Not much did.
He stared at the prickly green lights that roamed the ceiling like lost fairies. They were hypnotic. Rusty sank into a serene bubble. The desire to get home slipped behind the horizon of his subconscious. It wasn’t that important.
Wait. What wasn’t?
The place. The…thing. Something beige and caramel like a harp.
A deep churning chasm opened up in his stomach.
The platform burst against his eye balls like a whale fin at full thrust. Rusty smelt ochre fear and voices of jagged crushed ice. The crowds were on the move, only this time at normal speed, nice and slow, easy to watch, easy to track.
Rusty hauled himself to his feet.
He was hungry.
This short story was inspired by Indigo Spider’s Sunday Picture Press – a challenge to write between 50 and 1500 word piece of fiction using one of 5 photos as a prompt. The twisteroo this week was to write a piece about time, time warp, loss of time, time travel etc.
This theme is my take losing time. I’m not sure it will come across as I intended and I don’t really want to explain it, so I invite you to tell me what you think happened to poor Rusty. I’ll give you a clue, it’s tied in with my novel, The Range.
NOTE: Indigo Spider has moved to a new domain – http://www.indigospider.org – If you were a previous subscriber to her blog you’ll need to re-subscribe.
NOTE 2: Indigo Spider’s blog has had a bit of a face lift recently, with a new easier layout, forums and live chat! Well worth a visit!
This picture prompt is called Trainstation by No Life Before Coffee at http://www.flickr.com/photos/nolifebeforecoffee/1803584805/
Excellent picture prompts from Indigo. If you want to join in and write a short piece of fiction clicky-click Indigo Spider’s link above and wrap your imagination around one of the pictures.