The Long Climb
by Herschel Cozine
It’s quiet—eerily quiet. Most escalators creak and groan. This one makes no sound at all.
This isn’t the mall! There are no stores, and except for the man in front of me, there are no people. I must be dreaming. That’s it! This is all a dream.
The last thing I remember was driving down the freeway on my way to work. Friday. Yes, it is Friday. I know because I brought my bowling ball for Friday night league.
It’s starting to come back to me. A car coming toward me. I remember braking, but I’m not certain that I stopped in time. I can see the driver’s face, frozen in horror. I can hear the thud, then the scrunch of metal and breaking glass. Then—silence. Nothing.
He was just a kid, no more than nineteen. Like the kid here in front of me.
I reach out to touch him.
Slowly he turns. I recoil in shock. His face, still frozen in horror, stares at me out of dead eyes.
I touch my own face. Cold.
Looking down, I see the flashing lights of emergency vehicles.
And my car.