The Farrago Nation
July 11, 2012 § Leave a comment
It is a bitterly cold evening on February 13th as I drive to meet a group of friends at a lake house in Prince Edward Park. The faded headlamps of my non-terrain two-wheel drive sports car struggle to satiate the darkness that binds the forest around us. I glance at the clock on the dashboard and sigh as I read its announcement aloud. 11:38. I am answered back only by the amorphous static of my radio trying to play the notes to songs it does not know, with words it can not pronounce.
I continue driving along the broken, unpaved roads, pausing to search the various empty forks that indicate a residence or camp site is near. The black of the forest looms at each entrance of the pre-determined villages, like neighborhoods with no homes and no signs and no people except for a fool in a sports car alone twenty minutes before Valentine’s Day.
As the realization sets in that I have driven in a complete circle, I place the car in park and sit back for a short while. My eyes glaze over as I watch the clock, which now taunts me with a new selection of numbers: 11:50. I read them aloud and close my eyes, the frostbite of fatigue washing over my body.
I turn the ignition key and my car goes silent. The painful vibrato of my radio and the useless scatter of my headlights die simultaneously. Sitting in the silent dark I hope to spot a light or campfire that will lead me to salvation. Or at the very least, to friendly company. Much to my surprise, I notice a flickering orange speck far beyond the passenger-side window. I gaze longingly at the ghostly apparition and attempt to calculate its distance using ridiculous and made-up algorithms which benefit my desperate desire for the human experience. While my mind gets lost in the algebraic deceptions I am forming, my eye catches the sudden appearance of a second orange speck far into the distance. My heart jumps with joy as I weave myself deeper into a mathematical hole devoid of logic.
I review the clock once more and it advises the current time is 11:54. Glancing back at the dots, my heart sinks as I see that dozens of orange beacons now litter the darkness. They violently propagate across the tree lines, growing slowly like the lights of oncoming trains. It is not long before their numbers have evolved far beyond what I am able to count, and I find them to be uncomfortably close to my sports car. Beyond the passenger-side window I can hear the crunching of leaves and twigs and other natural debris, immediately echoed by the crackling noise of what I now know to be fire.
Feeling anxious, I try to start my car but the engine moans and whirs with little commitment. The crackling is louder now. The specks so close they are no longer specks but the clear outlines of flames sprouting from hand-held torches. I continue turning the key frantically and smashing the gas pedal with my foot; Nothing happens. The foreign noises sound closer but are much harder to hear as voices become apparent. Chants and shouts and what I assume are vague threats toward myself trample the quiet reserve of the park. Sliding down in my seat, I stare in amazement as dozens of Native Americans come running out of the trees and across the dirt road. I can not see their faces in the dim light they hold, but I can clearly see the feathers and beads and markings and weapons and sashes and shoes and piercings and general disdain that would accompany a group of historical tribesmen navigating a cold February night.
Their route surrounds both sides of my car as the natives carry their incendiary guides into the shadows now far beyond the drivers-side window. They seem to number in the dozens as they race past my car, paying little attention to me in the process. One of them, an older man with a large feathered headdress, seems to be guiding the natives like a shepherd, using strange shouts and arm motions. As the last few stream past, one of them stops shortly past my car and turns around. He is very young, maybe 15 years old, and carries a bow in his hand. We stare at each other with equal levels of confusion as he carefully approaches the car. I freeze with fear as he presses his face right up to the window and looks at me, his warm breath condensing against the cold glass between us. He lifts his empty hand up to the window and places his index finger against the moisture spot he created. My eyes trace its movement as his finger goes up and down in quick successions before curving downward and sharply turning back up again.
I can barely see through the foggy window as the native fades into the gloom-soaked trees, but I am no longer interested in what lies beyond the glass. Instead, I am fixated on the heart shaped drawing that he left for me. I trace the shape with my own finger as the last of the flickering lights roll off into the night. Wishing for a return to reality, I spin the ignition and the car starts immediately. The radio yelps to life and the static that berated me earlier is replaced by the calm and matter-of-fact nature of a male voice. The man tells me not to be alarmed. He tells me that strange things are happening. Unexplainable things that defy logic and reason. He assures me that local authorities are handling the issues, but recommends I stay indoors with the lights off, and to arm myself if possible. Before leaving, he tells me to await further instructions.
The voice is gone now, replaced by a steadily broadcasted hum which then dissipates into silence. I reach into the space behind the driver’s seat and pull out an ice scraper. The plastic handle is wound tightly into my grip as I watch the night, awaiting my next instruction.