I doubled checked. I had everything. There was no going back once I began. I would have to make do if I had forgotten anything. This was going to be the best and worst road trip ever. The darkest with a ray of light.
As I started the engine, the wind whipped wild. I could feel it. The darkness awaited and was hungry. It was hungry and wanted me as meat for its morning meal. The darkness gripped me and enfolded me, raking my emotions, raging against my purpose and threatening me foully.
The wind howled and the trees reached for me. Not lightly, not gently, but grabbed with branched claws and wooden limbs. The beating and gripping and grabbing, they tried to hold back the car, me, and my intent. Through the twisting road, I dodged and bobbed and weaved. You shouldn't even bother, the grasping arboreals cried. You are not worth their time. They reached and failed.
As I hit the onramp to the highway, a miasma of bitterness and depression raced beside me. The blackness of the freeway wrapped itself about my car and tried to crush and mangle the vehicle and me. The asphalt compacted and darkened and blotted out even the minimal light of the stars and Moon. Even denying the piercing headlights of the few other travelers at this time. Blackness surrounding, Blackness all encompassing. Blackness overwhelming. It began to seep within, within the car, within me. I gritted my teeth and accelerated: I would not fail because of this. This foulness. This black dog.
The black asphalt was shed like so many small globs of foul ooze torn from the car at high speed. Splattering against the freeway, leaving pits and dents and potholes in the road. Darkness, blackness and decay shrieked, you are unworthy. You cannot go. You should not go. You should just end it. End this farce. Your farce of a life. And that connection, that connection…to /Them/.
I sped on and on leaving the churchillian black dog behind.
The lights came next. Whispering and taunting and in breathy tones danced all about and round the car. So many faeries and will o'wisps sang and tempted: follow us, they cried, for there is release. Just follow us. Follow us off…this road and we can help end it. End the pain. The anguish. The darkness. We will give you light eternal. Just follow us. They blazed and danced and dazzled, but I could not be assuaged from my quest. I had Them to get to. To See. It had been weeks and I had to, needed to, despite the enticing lies of the fair folk.
Sky brightened and the land dried and the road grew to shimmer in the heat. Bright to the night's darkness, it was even less my friend. In this the djinn dined and declared. We can grant that wish. We can give you what you desire most. Just head for the water and we will meet you there. Let us sear you of those weaknesses, those faults, we can perfect you. For a price. Despite the incinerator of the world outside, I defied and denied and drove on. Of the poisoned waters of the djinn, I would not sip.
The sun bore down. Its anger was burning. Its disapproval was not to be denied. It burned and burned and burned away all the darkness and the lies and exposed only truth on that fried hot road as the red dust wafted across stirred only by the passage of a car, my car. You failed Them. You allowed the unthinkable. You were weak and submitted to this. You cannot be forgiven. And for that, you shall burn. I wavered and tears streaked my face. My chest constricted and threatened to burst in shame and anger and despair. Yet, some part, some deep part, rejected it and thrust forward, onward and through the incinerating truth of the sun.
I pulled up. I parked. I shut off the engine and looked at the door. The door. The door of the house that held Them, my children. The ones I loved and missed and I traveled so far and for so long to be with. I missed them and my love for them would not be denied, not by apprehension, nor depression or escapism or death or lies or even truth. I was there for them.
I opened up the door and the unbearable yet familiar heat of Arizona scorched my lungs. But I would not be denied and walked to their mother's front door.