By Laura Libricz
Humans are the second most dangerous beings on the planet surpassed only by mosquitos, which now spurs me on to renounce my life as it is amongst the fiends and settle in a world inhabited only by less-menacing denizens.
Professor Ott paid the cab driver, turned towards the red-brick entrance to the train station and snorted at the mongrels filing in and out like the brainless livestock they claimed to be superior to. He had lived in the city all his life but would never synchronize with the existence of these people. Their petty lives and mundane concerns left him empty and unfulfilled.
“Excuse me,” a young woman said and smiled as she disengaged the hem of her jacket caught on his rucksack.
He snorted and looked at the woman through his rimless bifocals like she was an insect under a microscope. “Satisfied with the dullest of nonimaginitive spittle, these creatures will never truly understand.”
He found his platform and a seat on the express train to the airport. The train pulled away and the dingy brick houses sped past; housing resembling rat cages that held anonymous, unsuspecting, dull-witted troops of overpopulation.
The train screeched to a stop and the herd disembarked, moving as one numb mass towards the departures court and into one holding pen, then another. He trudged through yet another holding pen and boarded his airplane. He settled in his seat and looked out the window. The only accomplishment this modern society made that somewhat excited him was flying. Speedy travel. No inch of the earth left undiscovered. The thought thrilled him and saddened him simultaneously.
He woke from an uneasy doze as the landing gear dropped onto the tarmac. The foreign characters on the signs atop the cargo hangars reassured him; he smiled as he surveyed his surroundings. He pulled the small rucksack from the overhead compartment, snorted at the frail humans sagging under the weight of their belongings, ignored the niceties from the crew and left the plane. He wove his way through the hurrying travelers towards the exit of the building.
Humidity and heat hit him and he breathed the sweet, wet, lush air. A bus waited at the designated spot. A classical piano piece played from what sounded like a cheap plastic transistor radio. He snorted and shook his head. One modern invention he insisted upon: superior sound equipment. Rather no sound than bad sound. But that had long ceased to fulfill him as well.
Now all he wanted from these people and their electrified, motorized world was the means to reach his final destination and end his journey. Then he would renounce their bustling, unimportant lives and their world forever. He needed no one. His ultimate goal? To reach a plateau of unadulterated knowledge, a pure and simple clichéd nirvana.
The bus ride was jerky, quirky, hot and muddy. The driver cursed evey time mud flew onto the windshield. A child pouted and a woman sneezed. He tried to ignore them and stared out the bus window. Green, lush vegetation darkened the road and he felt enveloped in his new world. A few rays of sunshine penetrated the forest and created impressive images. He smiled wider. The world as he knew it and its cares and fears faded away.
“Dear God!” someone in front cried.
A wrenching jerk was followed by a slamming impact. A woman screamed. Silence.
Professor Ott opened his eyes. His glasses were askew on his face.The bus was on its side. He smelled smoke and diesel fuel. He adjusted his glasses and saw bodies strewn throughout the bus. A young man kicked out a window that looked upward and climbed out. Professor Ott secured his rucksack on his back and followed him out, appreciating what years of diligent physical fitness enabled him to do.
He turned and glanced at the bus; tiny, white, floating parachutes surrounded the bus and sailed on the breeze towards the sun. It looked like the breeze had blown through a field of overripe dandelions setting the seeds alight.
He walked away. As he walked, he unpacked a pouch filled with hydration gel of his own creation which would bridge him at least a few days before he needed to find water. The glen he had spent the summer before would be a four-hour trek from here, he reckoned. No matter, he had endured worse and this last stage could be mastered. He tried to clear his mind of thought and concentrate on his march.
Tiny, white parachutes crossed his path and floated up towards the sun. There must be a plant going to seed to create such a thing. He thought about his mother. She’d been dead for twenty years. He could smell her lilac perfume and a tinge of vanilla, butter and melting chocolate. He could see her face. Suddenly he missed her terribly. The more he tried to banish the thoughts and her memory, the more insistent the sensations became.
A path opened onto the road on his right. He peered through a gateway in the trees and climbed a small incline towards what seemed to be a sunny patch amidst the forest. The same seed play filled this path. Memories of a girl he had once loved, years ago, flooded his mind. He was never able to express just how deeply he loved her. He felt at the time that such love was indulgent and weak; an uneducated lack of discipline. He struggled for breath.
A bird of prey squawked behind his shoulder and he fell to his knees. A festival of songbirds answered and reminded him of sitting on his granmother’s balcony, back in Germany. The blackbirds would congregate on the rooftops in the evening. A consuming lonliness like he’d never felt threatened to crush him. He bowed his head and allowed it to come.
Professor Ott got to his feet and started walking back to the bus to see if he could be of any service.