9.15 – (Witness) The God of The Road

Then The Goddess of Angels got down and The God of The Road took her place on The Stand.  He looked just like my Dad except he was wearing a Jack Kerouac style Road-Uniform of a plain white t-shirt and jeans.

“God of The Road,” The God of Judgment said.  “What do you know about The Bluebird?”

“Honestly,” he said, “I’d never heard of him until just recently.  But I started seeing him on The Road more and more when he began delivering pizzas.  Then he went on The Great Trip driving across most of America with On The Road at his side, and I liked that.”

“Is The Bluebird a Great Driver?”

“I sure as hell didn’t give him a Gift for it or anything.  In fact, he was once terrible and barely able to pass Driver Training.  He’s never learned to drive a stick shift, and he’s still terrified of parallel parking, but he has improved alot. He can deliver a pizza quickly now, he’s got pretty good Road Endurance, and he survived NewYorkCity, which are the toughest Roads I’ve made.  But here’s the craziest thing, he was somehow able to out maneuver The Guardian of The Gates of The UnderWorld.  See for yourselves.”

Then a movie came up that showed me and Wings driving thru the rain in Kansas City. When it got to the part when we had to fly over The Monster to finally break free, the crowd went “ooh!”

“Isn’t this impossible to do in a standard Suburu automobile?” The God of Judgment asked.  “Did you help him?”

“No way,” The God of The Road said, “he did it all by himself as if he were flying a jet plane.  I’ve only seen something like it before from Drivers I’ve Touched.  He may not be as good as them, but he is sometimes somehow able to access The Magic of The Road.”

“Let The Record show The Bluebird is a pretty good driver now, but does this help him MeToo any better?”

“I can say he can at least Travel to almost any Reality in a car, but whether he can MeToo once he’s there, I don’t really know.”

“Does any other God here have more information on how well The Bluebird can MeToo?”

He gave it a minute, but no one came forward.

“Wait,” The God of Judgment said, “The Bluebird is supposed to be a MusicMan Traveler right?  Where is The Goddess of Music?”

9.9 – The Tollbooth

“That hadta be the Peak of The Perception,” I told Wings.

“But what if this is just the beginning of a long descent into Hell?” Wings said.

“Then we hafta say this is only a Perception, and it can’t last forever.”

Soon we came upon a sign telling us to slow down for a tollbooth.

“Man, I hate this kinda Road,” I said and hadta dig into my pocket to grab some money.

“This Tollbooth looks kinda weird,” Wings said.

The car was right.  Instead of several lanes with a TollBooth for each, The Road narrowed down to one lane with a long bearded Old Man just standing in the middle of it.  When we got closer I could see he was so old that his skin was rotting off his bones, and he barely even had eyeballs anymore.

“Toll,” he screeched like his vocal chords were rotting, too.

“Maybe we should just turn around a take a Detour,” Wings said.

“Ugh,” I said, “that would be like the longest thing ever tho.”

Then we hadta pull up right in front of the man.

“How much?” I asked him.

“One dollar,” he screeched.

“Oh, that’s not too bad.”

Then I gave him a single one dollar bill outta my pocket.

“Silver dollar,” he screeched.

“Look, you hallucination,” I said.  “No one’s had those on them for like a hundred years.”

The TollBooth Man responded with a high and powerful and long shriek that hurt my ears.

“Wait,” Wings said, “remember you got one from The Banker earlier.”

“Oh yeah,” I said, “good thinking, Wings.”

And then I dug back into my pocket, found it, and handed the shiny gold Sacagewea to him.  The near-corpse nodded and took it.  Then he put it in his mouth and swallowed it.

“What now?” I asked.

“I take you from here,” he screeched.

Then he tried to open up the door and get in the driver’s seat.

“Do you have to?” I asked.  “You look like you’re not even alive.”

He let out another high and powerful and long shriek.

Then I hadta let The TollBooth man get in, and I moved to the passenger side.  Soon everything around us got even weirder, and I was glad he was behind the wheel. Fog rolled in from everywhere and I couldn’t see anything, not even The Road below us.  The car just kinda floated on it, and I couldn’t tell how fast we were going or if we were even moving forward at all.  The TollBooth Man smelled like a dead body, but at least he seemed to know how to navigate thru it.

“How far are you taking us?” I asked.  “Cuz we wanna stay on Road-70 Kansas all the way to Colorado.”

“No Colorado,” he screeched.  “The UnderWorld.”

“Of course,” I sighed.

“Could we die doing this?” Wings asked.

“Only if you get out, haha” The TollBooth Man screech-laughed, while his jaw looked like it was going to fall off.

As we went along we descended into a big dark tunnel, and the fog on the sides turned into shapes.  They got clearer and clearer until they became heads and arms and legs. They were all reaching out to us, and their mouths were open and moaning.

“Ghosts,” The TollBooth Man screeched.

Some of the ghosts got so clear I actually started to recognize them, like Jack Kerouac, Le Rouge Baron, and my old pet Dogritos. There was even one old man in rags and sunglasses with a nametag that said “THERESA S.”  Most of them were unfamiliar and scary tho, and they started to swarm the car, and we could barely move anymore.

“Yearning for treasures of the living World,” The TollBooth Man screeched.  “Give offering.”

“Like what?” I asked.

“Your blood.”

“What about Dr. Pepper instead?”

“Don’t know Dr. Pepper.”

I decided to try it anyway, and I rolled the window down a crack.  The ghost fingers were trying to get in, but as soon as I poured a little pop out, they immediately dove down to lick it up.  Then I shook it up a little and sprayed it out at them and they lunged at it away from the car.

“Pepper blood working,” The TollBooth Man screeched.

Then I took the whole two-liter and threw it out as far as I could behind us, and all the ghosts ran after it, and the path was totally clear.  Then you could see a light at the end of the tunnel ahead of us, and it was made of pure fire.

“We’re here,” The TollBooth Man screeched.

“Where?” I said.  “Hell?”

“The Trial.”

9.8 – KansasCity

After the Altamont gas station I added Theresa S. and The Gates of Hell to The Great List of What’s Not Real.  I got gas somewhere else at the next exit and then hit the Road again without looking back.  I made it thru the rest of Illinois and all of Missouri and nothing strange happened at all, except maybe that Wings started talking to me.  I’d been getting a little Lonely tho, and it was a nice Side Effect of the Pill.

“We’re coming up on KansasCity,” Wings said.  “That means only like two more states to go!”

“Yeah!” I said.  “We’ll be safe in bed in Our New Adult Lives before ya know it.”

“Hey, look!  It’s the KansasCity Royals’ stadium over there.”

The Kansas City Royals are a Major League baseball team about wearing royal blue uniforms.

“Ya know, I’ve been thinking, Wings. Blue has been my favorite color for a while, but maybe for My New Adult Life I’ll change it to something like black.”

“Or what about silver cuz I’m silver?”

“What if I just paint you black?”

Just then there was loud crack of thunder and a bright flash of lightning, and rain started pouring down hard around us.

“Put my wipers on at the highest speed,” Wings said.

“Got it, buddy,” I said.

But there was suddenly so much rain, I still couldn’t see.  There was supposta be a big city with big buildings around us, but I couldn’t tell.  It was hard to even tell if there were other cars or even a Road under us anymore.

“Ok, Wings,” I said, “we’ll just have to activate our Sixth Sense so we don’t crash into anything.”

We were still doing pretty well until the rain somehow came down even harder, and it was like smacking into a wall wherever you drove.  The wall then started to take a shape of two legs stomping down and two fists pounding at the air and two angry mean faces, one made of lightning and the other made of wind.

“It’s a monster!” Wings yelled.

“This stupid horrible horrible Scorpion Pill!” I said.  “I should’ve known its DarkSide would make giant monsters seem real even tho they also should be on The Great List of What’s Not Real.”

“I think we should still drive as if The Monster is real.”

“You’re probably right.”

Then we hadta start zigzagging all over The Road to dodge The Monster’s stomp-feet and pound-fists. He was huge and powerful, but we were fast and agile, and we managed to not be water-smashed right away.

The Monster didn’t give up tho, and I could see each head take a deep breath and puff out its cheeks, and then lightning bolts shot out from one and tornadoes from the other.  They wanted to electrocute and spin us to death, and they were headed straight for us.  I hadta step on the pedal all the way down so Wings could go faster than it could go.

“It looks clear just up ahead,” Wings said. “We just hafta make it out of the city.”

The Monster knew it too and made one last desperate attempt to stop us by laying his whole body down right over The Road.  He was so big you couldn’t just roll over him like some kind of RoadKill animal, and if you tried to go too far around you were bound to crash into the city.

“Oh, no!” I cried. “We’ve hit The Dead End.”

“Wait,” Wings said, “there’s still one direction we can go.”

“Where?  Up?”

“Yes. It’s time for us to fly.”

“Alright.”

Then I pointed the car up and hit the gas pedal down, and we were able to leave the ground and launch into the sky just high enough to go over The Monster’s body.  It made one last swipe at us with its fist, but my reflexes were too good, and Wings was too quick, and we were suddenly clear and safe on the other side.

Then the rain went away, and you could see The Road again, and there was a sign with a sunflower on it that said “Welcome to Kansas.”

1.12 – Hitting The Road

It was time to Hit The Road, so I got in my brand new shiny silver Subaru. It’d cost almost all of my pizza delivery money, but I knew I couldn’t be a great Road Traveler without it. It was all wheel drive and could handle any kind of Road—street Roads, highway Roads, dirt Roads, steep mountain Roads, and snow Roads. I named the car Wings because it seemed like one day it could maybe even launch into the air and handle the sky Roads with the greatest of ease.

I loaded it up with my Traveler gear – pillow, phone, deodorant, rag, money, Jack Kerouac’s book, my own special new Professor-style blue tweed jacket for The Wedding, and of course The Great Trip Mix.

Then I filled up the tank at the Where-ThePlains-Meet-TheMountains gas station and grabbed a couple two liters of Dr. Pepper.

But a strange thing happened when I tried to drive out of there. I couldn’t get myself to move the car. I just sat there looking at my hand, waiting for it to shift out of park.

 “Oh no,” I said to Wings, “I think I’m getting some kinda paralysis.”

Neither I, nor the car knew what to do. I couldn’t remember any lesson on a Getting-Paralyzed-When-You-Wanna-Drive Reality Travel BoobyTrap. There was only one thing I could think to do—call The Professor.

“I can’t seem to get the car to go,” I said. “I can’t even get my foot to go on the pedal.”

“Are you dying?” The Professor said.

“No.”

“You’re using your only phone call, you know.”

“But the trip hasn’t actually started yet.”

“Oh yes it did. It started as soon as you left my office.”

“Oh no!”

“You should be grateful I’m even giving you this one call. It should’ve been zero.”

“Can I just hang up and pretend this didn’t happen?”

“No, now that I’m on the phone, do you want to know what’s happening to you or not?”

“Alright.”

“It’s Pre-Trip Fear. You know you’re going to get your ass kicked out there, and you don’t want to face it.”

“You’re right… What if the Road is too long or boring or lonely? What if I get in an accident? What if I get Dominated? There’s going to be MeNotzies out there like the HateKat and The Admiral & The General and everyone in NewYorkCity. And there might be SuperMeNotzies that I don’t even know about yet. What if I do die?”

“Relax, Bluebird. Pre-Trip Fear is very simple to overcome. All you have to do is take a deep breath and say the Traveler Motto.”

“That’s it?”

“Yes. I’ll even say it for you, but then I’m going to hang up, and you can’t call me again.”

“Alright.”

“Be brave, Traveler, and remember The Gods are on your side.”