I’m awoken by the static on a radio coupled with the bellowing of a car engine that sounds like it’s pulling something heavy. Outside, it’s dark, awkwardly so. The clouds are thick and eerily low that I hunch, slightly, just to feel safe. It’s raining softly and there are a couple of search lights peering from the clouds; one tracking the road ahead and the other tracing patterns to the left of the road. There are no other vehicles in sight, nor is there any sign of any civilisation .
I’m in the foetal position in the passenger seat that Sang’s driving. It’s not her usual car and it’s a manual – which explains the pulling sound. As I try stretch, the cars hits a bump and I jolt forward, which makes my head start spinning. My mouth feels like sandpaper – it’ s so dry that my tongue keeps sticking to the roof of my mouth. I swallow but it burns. The static gets worse but it seems that neither of us are bothered by it.
“Oh, finally! You’re awake, bra!” Sang turns down the radio as a faint “Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei led us to this perfect day” comes through the static. I quickly shake off the dizziness and look at the back seat.
“Huh?” I start coughing painfully.
“Okay… Like how do we get back to your grandmother’s house?”
“How far did you drive out?” My voice is strangely soft.
“Well, it’s been an hour and a half since I picked you at that place.”
“An hour and a half?!” I try to raise my voice but end up coughing even more.
“Yeah! Like dude, what’s up with their parking rates? No wonder the parking lot is empty! Gee!”
“So, are we going the right way?”
“I don’t know. Where are we?”
“What do you mean you don’t know? Haven’t you been to visit your gran like your whole life?” At this point, I feel that one of our arguments are about to erupt but I cannot take part, my body won’t let me, so I vomit on my lap and it doesn’t seem like Sang notices.
“You said to go straight and I’ll get there.”
“But Bloem isn’t that big, five minutes and you’re out of the city. Didn’t you see?”
“Whoops!” she laughs and turns the radio up. It sounds like what I’d imagine to be a thousand worms screeching in unison. ” You don’t look so good, Paddy.”
“Ja, I don’t feel so good either.” I start looking for my cell-phone.
“What did you have?”
“A glass of Chenin Blanc.”
“Box or bottle?”
“I don’t know, doesn’t Chenin Blanc just come in a bottle?”
“It’s probably box, dude, that place has the décor that screams box wine” she laughed. I open a window, “and you know what they say about box wine… Now look at you!” She hands me half a bottle of Revive – except it’s blue. I hesitate but drink it anyway. It’s thick and syrupy.
In the distance I see a sign that reads: Virginia.
“Hey! Isn’t that near Bloem?”
“All I know is that it’s in the Free State, so just go straight.” She speeds up, I start getting comfortable with her driving.
“I’m getting used to the car.” She smiles. The screeching worms on the radio slowly start to die down and through the static children’s voices chanting “Christ, Marx, Wood and Wei led us to this perfect day” start getting stronger as the rain starts picking up.
The car soon approaches a downhill bend, I start looking in the cabby-hole for a CD. The chanting starts getting to me and the nausea gets worse as the car seems to gain speed. As I get up to look outside, the one searchlight has stopped on a huge gum tree in the distance, to our left.
Sang steps on the accelerator. I feel like telling her to slow down a bit but all I can manage is to throw up again, this time on the gear.
“Siff, like how am I supposed to drive, now?” She shakes the blue liquid off her hand then smells it.
“Smells like teen spirit.” I snigger.
The car hits another bump and one of the wheels lock. We tumble off the road. My body jolts left with the momentum of the car and my head starts spinning as it hits the passenger window, I go blind for a bit as the pain radiates through my head. I feel around my cheekbones, the skin is broken. I look at my hand, it’s bloody.
I look at Sang to tell her that I’m hurt but she just smiles at me.“You really don’t look to good, buddy.”
I grab my phone with the intention of calling for help but it’s rebooting. I lift my head and see we’re headed straight for the gum tree. I try the seatbelt but it’s stuck.
The worms on the radio and the kids chanting gets louder and louder as we crash into the tree.
Neither of us scream.