“I reached my car by sunset, as best as I could tell. He was where I had left him, propped up in the passenger seat.
I've learned the hard way that in this place the dead don't always stay where you leave them. But he was, and as I suspected they had not aged a day. They smelled like roadkill, but were no more dead than when I had left them a week ago, if that makes any sense.
The color of the sunset cutting through the fog would have almost granted a color to his skin, but it wasn't the case. The body may have not decomposed further, but there was no mistaking it for a dead body. I entertained the thought that that smile was them being happy to see me, and not just the lack of lips around the mouth.
I dismissed the thought quickly before I lingered too much on how insane that sounded. Almost as insane as keeping a body in your front seat. I mean, what would you do in my shoes? Just leave it where I found it?
They looked exactly like me, only dead and maybe slightly older. I don't have a twin, not that it would matter. I am sure that this is not anything close to reality as I understand it. I've considered a few times whether or not this is just a very vivid nightmare, or if I had lost my mind. But the sequence of events is too linear. The details are too crisp. I fumble through my journal in the back seat and the entries read as they should, in the order they should be.
I almost like the sunsets around here. The fog dissipates the light a fair amount, making the world like almost impressionistic. But it hides so much from sight, and I have to drive painfully slow to get anywhere without going off the road.
“I miss my wife,” the corpse murmured when I closed the door.
I nodded in agreement. I missed her too.
She had such sweet eyes. She could cut through anything with those eyes. A bad mood. A sour day. Even a fight.
I don't know what happened to this one, the one from here I mean. But I haven't seen mine in about a year now, as best I can tell. She might as well be dead by now. I don't think I will get back to her, even if I knew how. I feel...this place makes me feel damaged, and I don't think I will be right if I make it back.
Only thing I come by in any quantities is canned beats. I fucking hate them. Always have. The idea of a sweet tuber is revolting to me, but I guess we will do what we need to when we need to.
I stopped taking directions from me a while ago. I think he has even less of an idea where we are going than I do. Best I can manage is to head west, towards the sunset. I am hoping that I will run into something familiar, and that when I do I will be able to find someone else. Maybe even my wife, though if the corpse is right than I likely wouldn't want to see her.
My hands shake every night now. Too many nights without enough sleep. I don't have a choice though. There are things in the dark, things only the corpse can see.
Most of the time he lets me know, but if I forget to change his clothes every few days he sometimes lets them come without warning. It was the main reason I was gone so long. There was a mall not too far from the road, and the clothes he had he didn't like anymore. I would have brought him with, but I'm a lot of weight to carry all by myself.
First night they came in smalls numbers. The smell they give off is worse than a body if you can believe it. I hid in the center of a round clothing rack until morning, then set to work gathering clothes together. I've never been easy to shop for, but I managed to find a few outfits that seemed like they would suit me. I tried leaving before sundown, but was chased back to the mall by the things once the sun had set.
If the door to the maintenance closet hadn't been made of steel, I doubt they would have had so much trouble getting through. It was days before they finally gave up, and by then I was out of food and water. I had tried drinking the water from the pipes, but the water was foul and the color of sewage. Took a bit longer after that to find enough water and food to justify the trip, but I soon was able to head back to the car with a few cans of gas to boot.
I came upon a body on my way back. Wasn't anyone I knew and was far more deteriorated. I considered taking them with me so I would have a extra pair of eyes, but when I tried to move them they simply slipped off my fingers.
I'm not far now. I feel it somehow. Inside. I think he can feel it too. Thought I saw him rocking back and forth, but that could have just been the road.
I saw the mountains when the fog thinned a bit around noon. If I take my time and drive smart I should reach it by tomorrow. Once I cross them I should be back in familiar territory.
Maybe there is a reason to all of this. At least I hope so. I would hate to think that there is no purpose in this, that this place is just a space between spaces and nothing else. I hope I find my way home, and I hope she is happy to see me. I must admit, it will be hard saying goodbye to my body. Over the course of the year he has sort of grown on me.
But I have to get home. I just have to.
She said she had a surprise for me when I got home.
The anticipation is killing me, but I think...I know it will be worth the wait.”
Eric saw I was upset, so I ended up telling him about the situation with Tracy. He said I should take the day off to process it, and I decided to take him up on it. The park was as good of a place as any to spend my free time, wearing a mask of course and keeping my distance. There were less people than I thought there would be, which was strange for such a beautiful day. The sun was bright and the clouds were long swaths of shade, causing heat and cold to play on my skin.
I have found that just getting out of my house has been all I have wanted to do lately. I love my home and my dad, but like everyone I think even the most inwardly driven person misses company at this point. I realized the other day that since I spent any time at all with my friends. I haven't called them or tried to reach out, save for Tracy, and I don't know why to be honest.
I guess it could be the work I have been doing. Eric has had me sorting documents downstairs, and I have been working on a pile simply labeled “the gray”. It is filled with documents like the one above, and I think it is just hard to organize. He says the documents need to be sorted by date, but that seems quite impossible.
How do I organize documents by date when the days on them have yet to happen?
I say it is hard to work through the paperwork, but I don't think that is the case when I really think on it. The work isn't hard at all, and if anything it is too easy to simply get lost in it for hours. The other night I didn't leave the museum until two in the morning. My shift ended at nine.
I want to visit with Tracy, but things are still reasonably locked down. Anyway, I am not family technically. I don't think they would let me see her anyway.