Had a series of bad traffic accidents a couple months back.
The first one was probably the worst – coming up the ramp onto the motorway, I would have been going about seventy or eighty k, getting set to merge lanes and all of a sudden the cars in the next lane stop, and the van stops, and everything else stops. Dead still.
I'm sitting at the wheel, staring ahead, or at sort of an angle, staring out across the lanes of traffic. I can see these trees on the far side, the leaves, the long grass. They've stopped. There's grey shapes in the corner of my vision, hovering in mid-air, which I assume are stopped pigeons except I can't check because I've stopped too. Can't move, can't even swivel my eyeballs in their sockets.
And I'm thinking: fu-uck.
Time's fucking stopped.
Except my consciousness has continued in the gap.
And I'm there.
And at first I'm just thinking: fahh.
But then I think: when is this going to start up again? You know? 'Cos I've got no way of knowing when, or if, things are going to start moving again. This could be it, this could be me – trapped for forever in just this one moment, driving three dozen crates of wine and spirits up onto the motorway. Staring out across the traffic, with the trees behind half-in focus. Can't even focus my eyes.
This could be me, forever. Weeks, months, years. Centuries even. Millennia. My own private hell – fuck's sake! I'm thinking: it'll drive me out of my mind. Drive me fucking mad. And then what? Drive me even further out of my fucking mind. It'd just keep going. Sustained pressure on my sanity, there'd be nothing left. No reference except for this one same moment, this one bunch of stimuli. Train of thought would just come apart completely, round and round, thinking about the same things until you couldn't even call it thought anymore, it'd just be chanting.
But then I think: what if it starts up again? 'Cos I'd be fucked then too, since I've got my foot down on the accelerator, like I say I'm going seventy or eighty k into another lane of traffic. So I'm worried that when (or if) it starts up again, I won't be able to react in time, I'll slam into one of these cars, probably this yellow one just behind me which I can barely even see.
Like, how am I supposed to be prepared for this moment when time resumes? If, in fact, it ever arrives? Driving a van at eighty k is one thing, but going from zero to eighty in the blink of an eye, going from not driving to full on driving down the motorway... that's a different story!
I make up my mind to stay tense, stay prepared. I'm staring out across the lanes of traffic like a dozey fuckwit, not moving, not doing anything, but mentally I'm prepared for things to go whizzing into life the next moment. And then the next moment. And on and on. I'm sitting there, and half of me is scared that I'm stuck here for eternity and I'll go mad, and the other half is just shit-scared I'm about to fly into a side-on collision at eighty k.
I'm thinking: first thing to do is take your foot off the accelerator. The very first chance you get. Then hit the brake, pull the wheel to the left. Foot off the accelerator. Hit the brake. Steer left.
Somehow I have the theme music from Labyrinth stuck in my head. Don't ask me why.
Thinking about Labyrinth reminds me of Beth, my sister. Beth likes Labyrinth, I mean everyone does, I certainly do, but she likes it more than anyone.
Beth's always on my case about my driving. Dumb cow. Not that there's anything wrong with my driving, because there isn't. She's just decided I'm a bad driver, keeps telling me to get a different job.
“If you keep driving that van you're gonna have an accident and kill yourself. Bet you fifty bucks.”
I think: bet you fifty fucking dollars that when time starts up again and I hit this yellow car, Beth's going to blame it on my driving.
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