Previously on Five Seconds: Parker and Andy get caught in a bad situation in another mall. They narrowly escape with their lives and a new vehicle.
Should Parker and Andy travel the Trans Canada, or the Coquihalla?Click To Reveal Results
It was the rumbling on the road that awakened our senses. We sat in the little orange car, as a mighty semi-truck rolled by, the glossy red trailer shining proudly. The driver blared his horn in salute, and continued on past us to the city. Life. The first life we had seen in a long time that wasn’t out to steal ours.
The Coquihalla was the answer.
We continued up the noble road. A river roamed beside us; sometimes it slowly meandered, other times it rushed by, decorated by whitecaps. Trees were abundant, and seemed to stretch on for forever and ever. It was a stark comparison to the grey concrete city, and my lungs seemed to fill with oxygen easier.
Parker piloted us along the smooth pavement, and made great time. That was, until we reached the first road block. There had been a rock slide. A blue car was crushed under a menacing boulder the size of a whale. More stone of varying sizes littered the road, but there was just enough room to pass through on the far side for a semi to pass through, as proof of what we’d seen not so long ago.
The only problem was that there was a slight unforgiving drop at the edge of the road. If Parker wasn’t careful, he’d send us down the hill and into a cradle of trees.
He crept up slowly, positioning the car just right. An uneasy feeling bubbled in the pit of my stomach as we passed through. The left end jerked up without warning, giving me a greater view of the treacherous side.
“Watch it,” I growled.
“Sorry, didn’t see that rock,” Parker replied.
“As long as you didn’t damage the vehicle,” I breathed.
We continued on, passing over a bridge that didn’t give way, and two more rock slides, both of which shrank in size. This was good. The damage was subsiding, and it was getting easier and easier to pretend that things were okay again, and that perhaps they already were.
Parker, Newt and I... we were a storm front rolling through the valley, tearing up the world as we rode on. We survived. We faced all the odds and survived. I could smell my aunt’s cooking from here. I could feel the oak table, hear the plates being set. I imagined, by the time we got there, the smoke would finally have dissipated, and the lake would be crystal clear. We could go swimming, float on the oasis and let sweet time slip by because it wouldn’t matter anymore.
But then the wonderful vision came to a grinding halt.
“How in the -” Parker yelled, slamming on the breaks.
The car came to a standstill, the sudden change in momentum threw me against the seatbelt and it pulled tight. Several metres ahead of us, the whole road was gone. Swallowed by an unseen force. Newt’s hot breath blasted against my ear.
Parker shut the car off, and we both climbed out. Newt followed behind. We walked to the edge, careful that the road might slip away. The sinkhole was at least several metres deep, and flowed out into the valley. The gap stretched out further than our car was long. Perhaps double the length.
Suddenly, all of my hopes and dreams were crushed, and that light airy feeling that had embraced me before was obliterated. Misery now clasped my shoulders instead.
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Parker mumbled.
We were so close. We had already left Merritt in the dust, and were almost at the outskirts of Kamloops. The air didn’t feel so clear. It pushed against my eardrums, and solidified in my lungs. My heart was crushed.
I just wanted to be home. To see Aunty again.
“There’s no way we can get across Parker.” The words were mechanical, and grinded against my tongue like an engine with no oil. I felt about as crushed as that blue car we saw back a ways. We had reached a dead end.
“Well, there’s gotta be a wa—”
“No. There isn’t. We’ll have to backtrack. All the way to Hope. Or maybe Merritt. There might be a detour there.”
I turned around and headed back to the car, only to find that it was much further behind us than it originally was. It was rolling away. “Parker you idiot!” I screeched. “You didn’t put it in park!”
Parker cursed vehemently.
We sprinted after the car that was quickly gaining speed. Feet slapped against the unforgiving pavement. Pain radiated up my shins. Newt barked and chased after us. We were losing distance fast. I desperately hoped that by the time it reached the corner the traffic barrier would stop the vehicle.
Unfortunately the car kept rolling, hit the barrier, and went beyond, disappearing down the hill.
“No!” I yelled.
I stopped just short of the edge, bent over and panted hard. The orange hood disappeared under the canopy with one last wink from its headlights. The air rushing down my throat was like fire. I heard Parker’s feet slow and stop two steps behind me.
“Oh no,” he moaned.
In a rush of rage, I spun around and hit Parker right in the face with as much power as I could.
“Hey!” he yelled. “Wha—”
I hit him again before he could finish his sentence. He snatched my wrists and gripped them tight. I catapulted my knee between his legs. He dropped to his knees like a sack of bricks, and I threw him to the side. He wreathed around in pain.
“You are useless!” I bellowed.
I rushed forward and dove at him. He stuck out his arm in defence, and his one knee got me right in the gut. It knocked the wind right out of me, and I landed on the pavement, sprawled on my back.
“What are you doing Andy!” Parker panted, his voice an octave off. He climbed up into my view, blocking out the hazy sun.
“Screw you Parker,” I spat, and threw him off me. I pushed myself off the ground, and got to my feet. I gulped down the hot oxygen. Fury broiled my blood and stewed in my stomach. “You know what Parker, this is the last straw.”
“What? I swear I put the car in park.”
“This isn’t just about the car Parker!” I weakly yelled. I was still regaining my breath. “This is about a lot of things! Do you want me to list all the ways you’ve mucked up?” I stretched my arms out for extra effect. For once, Parker kept his stupid mouth closed. I began listing off with my fingers. “Let’s start with you welcoming me to Vancouver by using me to get your ugly whore girlfriend back. And then when you sent me through a friggin’ tsunami cause you wouldn’t leave her. Or how about that time you sent me into a mall, and I almost got stabbed – the first time. And then the second time. Where it wasn’t just me it was my dog too. And now, I’m stranded on a damn highway literally in the middle of nowhere!”
Parker’s mouth opened and closed like a stupid fish, as he struggled to find words. I could see the shame I had painted on him, and it felt so good. He was finally getting what he deserved. He didn’t deserve me, or my dog. He sure as hell didn’t deserve my aunt. And I would make sure he never stood in her presence, because I knew that he would woo her over just like he did me, and my aunt would take him in without another thought.
No… my aunt was smarter than that. She could spot a snake worlds away. I cursed myself for not being able to do that months ago when Newt first ran into him.
I almost confronted him about his silence, but I decided against it. He wasn’t worth the energy, I didn’t deserve an empty apology from him.
He didn’t even deserve a goodbye.
I whistled my dog over, and we took off back up the road. My plan was to go down the hill, around the landslide, then make my way back up the highway, and follow it until home. But I would have to stop in Kamloops first. What little supplies we had left was abandoned in my truck. Another wave of bitterness washed through me. My old hunting knife was in that mall Parker led us through. In fact, it was taken from his possession.
I grumbled to myself as Newt and I wove through the trees. I was officially done with that boy. All he had ever done was give me grief, and now finally, I would be rid of him. But unfortunately, for some terrible reason, I didn’t feel relieved.
Maybe I would feel better once my emotions calmed. I looked over at my dog. He seemed happy as ever, finally reunited with an endless forest full of all sorts of possibilities. As well, the smell of death wasn’t so heavy in the air anymore. We were going in a good direction.
No more endless empathy for those who abused it. For once, it was about me, and my dog. No one else but us. Instead of sending love out to those who didn’t want it, it was instead filtered to me. Yes. I would love myself first before I ever thought to give it to someone else. No more impressing others with things they couldn’t even appreciate.
This was me, Andy Hara, and my dog Newt the Newfoundland, and we sure as hell wouldn’t be taking shit from anyone anymore.
We truly deserved a long day at the spa after this whirlwind.
Eventually we made it back onto the highway, and continued on our way in the heat of the sun, the dry haze, and the ominous silence. Before long I was drenched in sweat and was blasted with the sudden realization of how much I needed water. As well as my poor dog whose thick black coat was only doing him harm.
I cursed under my breath.
We continued on for several hours.
The sun was blotted out for only a moment. I looked up to see a hawk soaring across the sky. No wonder it was so silent. All the birds, critters and rodents were in hiding. Us humans… we were no longer predators. We were prey. Prey to Mother Nature, to bigger animals, disease ridden parasites. Was this karma for all the habitat destruction and pollution?
Probably. But at least I tried my best to be nice to Earth. And right now, I was becoming another victim.
My moment of empowerment felt small and obsolete.
I looked out at the trees. Perhaps there was a hidden creek somewhere. I sighed. If we had taken the other highway, finding water wouldn’t be a problem. There’d be more pit stops as well to find help. I could be in Spuzzum right now. I almost was, considering I was just about beyond Hope. If I were traversing the old highway, I could take a vacation at Hell’s Gate, or read at the library in Boston Bar.
I dreamt of Cache Creek and missed it so much. Newt and I wouldn’t be able to visit the town because we took the wrong way.
I collapsed to my knees, all energy seeped from my bones. I was a sad lost girl in need of help.
The sun was driving me mad. It felt like cotton was stuffed in my mouth. My feet ached. Why wasn’t that stupid sun setting? No, it was sinking, it wasn’t right over my head anymore, but damn was it slow, and I was sinking with it.
Now guilt soaked my bones, and I felt sick to my stomach for screaming at Parker. I thought it was smart. I thought I was standing up for myself. I thought I was being independent, something I had been struggling with my whole life. I thought I broke through, but it seems that goal of independence was turning into loneliness.
I laid on the warm pavement in defeat. What was I going to do? It was going to be dark soon, and I had nowhere to go, and I hated myself for leaving Parker. Damn, the stupid guy was probably dead by now. Oh God. And it was all my fault.
I felt like the resident of a cess pool.
“Newt,” I moaned. “What do I do?”
He sat down next to me and whined.
“I really messed up this time didn’t I?”
He groaned and gave me a look.
“Sorry, I think my brain is attacking itself.” I scratched behind his ear. “I should go back shouldn’t I?”
Newt stretched out on the concrete.
I let out a long groan and closed my eyes. It stretched out and stretched out. I was weak with exhaustion from the sun, from minimum food, and minimum sleep. I felt like falling to pieces, entombed on the road like a shattered galaxy.
I opened my eyes.
I would still go through Cache Creek. No matter what I would have to cross through. It came to me completely out of the blue, but it was a wonderful epiphany no less. Energy seeped into my worn out bones. I knew the folks in Cache Creek. It wasn’t that long of a drive from the town to Green Lake either. Only about an hour. How long did that translate to on foot? No, someone would give me a ride. It would all be okay.
I just had to get there first. But I would have to get to Kamloops first. And it was a long ways away.
The exhaustion returned.
No. I wouldn’t give up. Not yet. I sat up straight. For all I knew Kamloops could be just around the corner. I shot to my feet. Home was one direction. Parker was the opposite way. I tried not to let that consume my mind.
“Come on Newt.”
We took off down the road.
Does Andy go back to Parker or head towards home?
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