I turn onto what I assume is Industrial Way, and I can see an opening through the trees about 50 yards to my right.
Where do you think the tracks go?
Tracks lead somewhere. From production to consumption, life to death, origin to destiny. Perhaps these tracks mirror your own path, unknown yet determined. But you’re not here to ponder on their destination. You have your own path to tread, your own destination to reach. Now, keep moving.
Why are you rushing me? I don’t even know who I am or why I’m here. I don’t like to be pushed into doing things.
Just breathe. Resistance is natural. Change, motion, progress… they can be frightening when we’re unsure of the destination. But stagnation, my friend, is a silent killer. A still pond might seem calm, serene even, but underneath its surface, life is stifled, suffocated.
I’m not pushing you; I’m guiding you. As for your questions, they’re valid. Who are you? Why are you here? All in good time. For now, keep moving. Trust your instincts. Trust the process.
I don’t understand this voice in my head. Is it in my head? Is it something else? When did we become friends?
I decide to ignore the voice for now and walk along the tracks. It looks like the sun is setting, but it’s pulsing with a strange light, and setting much slower than I’m used to. This place feels thin, worn, and completely unfamiliar, and yet it looks like a snapshot from my past. It makes little sense.
I hear something coming from a tangle of weeds suffocating an old pickup truck. It’s a scratching noise, like a raccoon trapped inside an overturned garbage can.
“What is that?” I ask aloud.
Sounds, sensations, unfamiliar yet familiar. This place, like an echo of a forgotten past, a distorted reflection of a reality you used to know. It’s a contradiction, isn’t it? A symphony of the surreal and the mundane. But you’re not here to make sense of it, not yet. You’re here to move, to witness, to experience.
I shrug. None of this makes sense.
As for the sound, well, life thrives even in the most unexpected places. Life… and perhaps something else. You’re not alone in this place, remember that. Fear, curiosity, a blend of both? It’s not for me to decide. Take a closer look, perhaps?
I maintain my stride, angling toward the front of the truck where the headlights and grill stare at me.
Haunted but empty. That’s the best way I can describe what I’m feeling. I don’t even know how that’s possible. We think we know what other people think, but we don’t even know what’s happening inside of our own heads.
“Is it an animal?”
Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t see what you see. I can only reflect your thoughts, feelings, perceptions. Like a distorted mirror, a prism through which your experiences refract.
An animal, a specter, a figment of your imagination? Only you can tell. But if it’s an animal, it has survived here, in this desolation, hasn’t it? What does that tell you? That life persists? That adaptation is inevitable? Consider these as you take your next step.
Not helpful. This voice inside of me, surrounding me. It can’t see what I see, but it has access to my thoughts, feelings, and perceptions.
The scratching intensifies—a rat gnawing at its cage.
In this world, you’ll find both the expected and the unexpected. You’re not alone, not truly. There are others here. Some friend, some foe. Maybe the scratching is a small thing. Maybe it’s not. It could be a sign of life. Or it could be a warning. Do you feel threatened? Intrigued? Afraid? Fear is a compass. It points you to the things you need to overcome. What is your compass telling you?
It’s telling me I can’t rely on you for much more than a redirection of my thoughts and feelings back to me. I don’t think you’re in my head. Maybe you’re a fragment of my soul.
I don’t have time to contemplate. The scratching gets louder and more intense the closer I get to the truck’s rusted corpse. The branch of a dead tree bobs in the absent wind, and I wonder what’s causing it to move.
The questions you’re asking, they’re important, but they’re also distractions. Understand this: I’m here to guide you, not to solve mysteries for you. That’s your journey.
Now, as for the branch and the scratching, they’re related, aren’t they? Things are rarely random. Connect the dots, trace the patterns. Look again. What do you see?
But I don’t have time to connect the dots because the weeds part, revealing a set of large, pointed teeth.