by Ali Hammad
A CIRCLE OF SURREALITY
The jalopy that overtook me on the curving mountain road was not worthy of being on the road, let alone of zooming past my hot rod. It went so fast I couldn’t catch a glimpse of the driver; one would have thought it was driving itself.
I seethed, shifted down into lower gear, and slammed my foot on the accelerator. The Lamborghini Aventador Roadster roared a 700-horse-power-V12 roar, and lurched forward, as angry as its driver, ready to make mince meat of the audacious heap.
For a short while it seemed that the Lamborghini was closing the gap, but I still couldn’t tell anything about the driver of the clunker. Inside the rear window of the jalopy, I could see a speck. It looked to me like a fly, but I was sure it was something bigger, its seeming smallness a function of the distance I was from it.
Then I began to get dizzy.
Working against me, I knew, were the curves in the road. I had never liked curves, sickening curves. The most perfect of curves—circles—whether ferris wheels or merry-go-rounds or roundabouts, even circular logic or people talking in circles, made me nauseous.
Soon I was overcome with vertigo.
I couldn’t tell if the surroundings were spinning around me, or if I was spinning within the surroundings, or both, or none. Then I was floating above the scene. I looked down on the road. At first I saw the tandem cars zigzagging down the road. Then the road was empty. Neither car was on it. The next second, I was back in my car, my forehead moist with a cold sweat, my hands clammy. I hated the feeling. Curves and giddiness, I thought, were for the philosophers and the mystics, and miscellaneous screw-ups. For scientific and logical people like me—the fast achievers—were straight lines and clear-mindedness.
The jalopy was again widening the gap.
Then it took a hard bend around the mountain and disappeared from my view. I kept up the chase and took the same bend at top speed. Just as I completed the turn, I saw that the road had ended. Off the road I went at top speed.
In B-movie slo-mo, the car and I fell down a sheer precipice. My seatbelt must have come undone and I ejected from the roofless roadster, since I fell down separately from the car. In my slow fall, I did notice that the jalopy was nowhere to be seen, as if the road had come to an end only for me, the crate probably still zipping up a continuing mountain road.
My car shattered on a rocky outcrop at the base of mountain. My fall of more than a thousand feet came to an end in a thicket of bushes several yards away from the car. My spine had broken in many places. My skin had curving gashes from the twigs of the dense shrubbery. Many of my ribs had broken. Breathing was increasingly hard. I was struggling to keep conscious but was losing the struggle. I heard a drone, that of a fly. The image of the speck on the rear window of the junker flashed across my mind. Then I saw a large, green-bellied fly hovering over my face, probably attracted to the blood trickling down the myriad cuts. The fly seemed eager to quaff on my blood, but it was patient, willing to wait.
In that moment, I was angry and jealous; yes, jealous of a damned fly. As consciousness receded from my grasp, a strange thought stayed: I wished I were the fly that was readying to perch itself on my soon-to-be corpse.
Photo and story by Ali Hammad
Related post on this blog: Metamorphosis: The Fly