For some reason I was standing in the middle of a long, winding road.
Wait, where was I?
"Fucking hell!" that came with a complete set of rage, drops of sweat, a middle finger wagging left and right, wrath and a furrow so deep it almost swallowed the almond shaped eyes of the lady. There before her eyes laid a standstill of vehicles big and small lining up in what seemed like an endless queue. God knows what awaited at the end of it. Her fingers which were clenching the steering wheel just seconds ago were now balled up into a fist, hitting the central area hard.
Off went a honk. And another. And another.
"Just move along already!", she yelled. She had hoped that any of the things she was doing would somehow ease the congestion but for what it's worth, if not completely stagnant, everything in front of her seemed to be moving by only a few millimetres.
The chemicals on her face melted away in the blazing heat. "And you son of gun of an air cond decided to just not function today? Of all days!", she muttered under her breath, before adding "At least he gets to be in an air conditioned misery," as she eyed the silver BMW next to her.
He stole yet another glance at the time on his wrist. It'd been 58 minutes and 30 seconds. 31. 32. 33. "Oh come on! Are you kidding me?!". Seated right next to him were piles of paperwork and files, on the topmost written the name Richard Johnson.
Hey, I knew Richard Johnson.
This BMW guy was late, I assumed. Had he chosen a different route to his office, had he taken a lighter breakfast, had he taken a shorter shower, by now he'd probably be shaking hands in exchange to the largest deal that the typhoon Richard Johnson was going to give him. But damn it he misjudged the whole situation that would happen today, and now the error of judgement was going to cost him his own company.
"For crying out loud!! Make way!!!" and with that, another honk went off in the air.
What was I doing here?
I realised I was the odd one in that scene. I was on my own two feet in a sea of immobile cars. Taking a few steps further to the front, I saw a guy on a motorcycle precariously finding way through any fenestration that would permit him.
"Excuse me! A full bladder coming through," he said, the edge of his motorcycle so close to making contact with the car next to him. "Jesus christ I need to pee!!" he exclaimed defiantly at the disapproving, disgruntled honks of other drivers.
Where was I?
I paced further to the front, observed and analysed more drivers. The only thing they seemed to share in common at that point of time was anger. Everyone was at their boiling point. I ran further, stopping in my tracks several times to inspect and speculate.
An elderly man who was probably running out of time to catch his granddaughter's piano recital, and judging by the grey that was taking over his head, was he running out of time for his life as well?
A group of friends whose best lain road trip plan had gone awry. I wondered if this trip strengthened their friendship or ruined it.
My running feet brought me forward.
A student without a driving license, praying in sky high hopes that the cause of the traffic jam was not the goddamned police. Was this not his first time sneaking away his father's car? Was he up a creek if caught, again?
An average man with a nearly empty petrol tank. I wondered if he could make it to the nearest petrol station before his engine dies.
A middle-aged woman who was trying to hush the deafening cry of her temperamental infant with Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, but there was a strain in her voice and the vein on her temple was bulging. I wondered if she remembered how she first set eyes on her newborn baby.
"Why is it called the rush hour? EVERYONE, STOP RUSHING!" a guy in his 30s shouted to the stock-still traffic. The bags under his eyes gave him a rather doleful look, like he was this close to a breakdown, like he was on 9th cup of coffee no matter what time of the day it was. He reeked of cheap aftershave and yesterday's takeout. I wondered if the office life was everything he had hoped it to be when he was 20.
There was more of the road ahead to wander and more people to wonder about, but most importantly I wondered why was I here. Where exactly was 'here'? In all the kerfuffle on this road, nobody seemed to notice me. Nobody batted an eye on a lone guy running in the middle of the road.
I ran further and further and further. And then, there it was. In the middle of the road, there lied a horrendous mess of black, green, white and red. Whatever that was.
But God did it smell awful! I cringed once my detectors sensed the foul stench, it smelled like bad milk and egg fermented for over 3 months. I took a few steps forward to take a closer, clearer look of the mess. As I moved closer I got more and more disgusted, as more and more details unfolded before me.
Was that.. flesh? What the hell.
And that? No. That could not be it. That could not be a detached organ. And those? THOSE... INTESTINES? I began identifying discrete body parts. Aghast and horrified at the discrepancy of it all. The lacerated skin. The phalanges. I took all of these in, absorbing, trying to digest and compute the information I just perceived via my senses. The whole enchilada gave me tremors. I quivered when I came to realise that..
The red bath... Was blood bath.
I drew the conclusion that this tangled, haphazard mess was once a normal, one-piece body. Like a puzzle, I put the pieces back to their designated places.
Was that... sauce? Chili sauce? Crack. What the hell did I just step on? I bent, only to find a piece of glass cutting straight into my foot, but why didn't it hurt? On inspection of all around me, I then realised around me there a million pieces of glass, covered in the unmistakable chili sauce.
And then it occurred to me. This whole scenario invoked one thing in particular. The faint voice of my mother resonated in my ears, eerily loud and clear. "Aaron, don't forget to buy the chili sauce."
The carcass belonged to.. me?
Everything rushed from the back of my head, a blizzard of memories. One information after another, hastily resurfacing. I began recollecting, I remembered the bickering, I remembered stomping on the floor. I remembered refusing to obey the order my mother. And most of all, I remembered the last words my teenage self mouthed to her, in enmity, prior to my leaving the house.
"I hate you, mum."
I wondered what my mother would say if she could see me now, on this road. I wondered if this was a good litmus test to elicit her knee-jerk emotion: frustration that the chili bottle had shattered or sadness that her son had passed on.