Crashing into the darkness I attack the night with gusto. Speeding down the patchwork lit street I give the shadows threatening to gobble me up only a passing glance. Nothing can stop me; nothing can be allowed to get in my way. Staying close to the guide’s light only a few feet in front of me I bend down low, feeling the night’s cool air rush over my shoulders. Sinister shapes shift in the night, just out of focus but I pretend I don’t see them. I speed up. Taking a curve I lose the light in front of me for a terrifying moment. Fear bites me in the armpits and fills my mouth with its sour taste before the light reappears, bouncing gaily, only meters away.
Relief may not taste sweet but it’s a vast improvement over the dregs of fear. Encouraged, I increase my speed to once again travel in the warm haven provided by that small beam of light. Before I can reach it I feel the wet slimy fingers of unknown demons slithering over my ankles and thighs. They whip my arms and aim for my eyes as they rush at me from the darkness. They must not overtake me. They CANNOT overtake me. Gritting my teeth and squinting to better protect my delicate eyes I bolt towards the light.
I have made it. The light is close once again and the path is bathed in its weak, but steady beam. I press on. With my goal so clearly in my mind’s eye, I know I will not fail.
The path is winding and dark, but it is also smooth now. I soon arrive at the most dangerous point in my journey, the sluggish and putrid river aptly named Fairbanks. Knowing there to be a small, but treacherous path along its banks I emerge from the darkness and assess the potential danger. The river could better be described as an expressway of all that is evil in this world. Clogged with demons, monsters and other unsavory characters, Fairbanks was anything but. Tonight, however, it was eerily quiet. Perhaps the storms from earlier that day had sent them to their hellish homesteads early. Perhaps they had found easy prey around the bend and were currently tied up. Whatever the reason, I was not about to waste it. Before common sense could kick in I punched through the inky night at top speed. Sticking to the banks, careful to not wander too close to the river, I increased my speed.
Using the shadows and the wet ground to cover my progress, I avoided detection as several horrors of the night rushed by me. Engulfed by their own malevolent light and narcissistic obsessions- never did they suspect an interloper. But I was there. And still moving. Keep moving.
I was dreading what was up ahead and began to slow my pace as I considered my course of action. I would have to cross that flowing tar-pit, that monster-swill of a river and continue to my destination on the other side. There was no avoiding it; the only question was… where to cross. Deciding on the least terrifying option I headed towards the Rollins bridge. Legend held that the bridge was actually constructed of poor old man Rollin’s bones after he had been consumed by one of the river dwellers, but I didn’t believe in bedtime stories. The rickety bridge felt as if it might give at any time, “bones would have held up better” I remember thinking, but the thing held and I, with my guide, made safe passage across.
It was only a few moments later that I realized the light illuminating the path was now significantly brighter, and growing brighter still. Looking up, I soon understood why. We had made it. My quest was almost at its end and my heart’s desire was only a few feet away.
Entering the brightly lit chamber, I quickly located what I sought and reverently plucked it from its pedestal. Walking to the steward of that most sacred chamber I was prepared to pay a hefty sum in order to possess what I now held. Warmly, the steward smiled and after a few figures were calculated I believe he granted me quite the bargain and wished me well and safe travels on my return journey.
To be honest, I don’t completely recall the journey home, only that we made it back. There might have been a tornado but that’s irrelevant. I only remember that moment, that perfect, indescribable moment when I finally realized that my mission was completed, and I had succeeded. Fear is sour, relief is tasteless but success? Success is sweet indeed.
So… What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: After a bit of a rocky start, this evening turned out to be quite nice (more on the rocky stuff in a moment). Had a delicious dinner at a yummy Hibachi joint up the road, watched a few episodes of NCIS and kind of just vegged. Then, at about 11pm we took a bike ride. Having just read that Orlando is the #1 worst city for pedestrians, I was a little anxious about this night ride, but I was bored, not tired enough to go to bed yet and easily swayed by the promise of chocolate should I go (Andy was antsy). The journey felt like an adventure, Andy jimmy-rigged a LED lantern to the back of his bike and as we rode I tried to stay close to that bobbing light, almost as if my life depended on it. We took back streets for the most part, to avoid as many motorists as possible, but eventually we had to ride on one of the busier streets in Winter Park… Fairbanks. Sounds lovely, no? NO. This stretch of rode is anything but lovely and we picked up the pace to put it behind us as quickly as our feet would pedal. We made it in one piece to our destination (7-11) and purchased our chocolate fix for the evening- two Klondike bars.
TWO: Now for the ‘rocky’ part. Towards the end of the work day, a monster storm decided to pop up right over the UCF campus. It was bad. As a native Floridian and Orlandoan (is that right?) thunderstorms don’t really elicit much of a reaction from yours truly. That being said, today I was scared. It was the first time I’ve looked out of a window and thought, “I need to move away from this window NOW”. I literally backed away from the window in my office and stood in the hallway dumbfounded at the full on tantrum nature was throwing outside. As a branch flew by (I’m on the 2nd floor) I grabbed my stuff and slammed the door closed. Hearing commotion in the lobby of the building, and a strange slamming sound I moved towards the hubbub and saw that everyone else in the building had reacted similarly and were now gathered in the common area staring out at the destruction. I’m not completely convinced a small tornado didn’t touch down (there was definitely enough damage to warrant my suspicions). Eventually the storm deteriorated into its normal light and boom-boom show and we all went back to our offices feeling like we somehow had dodged a bullet. I know I was a bit shaken. Nothing a Klondike bar and a bike ride couldn’t fix though. 🙂
Love & Squirrels.