1. Intro: Keeping Warm
“The chances of being born are so slim, so keep warm, keep warm.”
–We Were Promised Jetpacks
Red sneakers slopped out of the shattered car window as he stumbled across the cool bedroom floor to the toilet. He hadn’t heard the screaming metal twisting as it tore through the red light and into the car crossing the intersection; all he’d heard was Atlas bark, and distant screams in his dreams. He didn’t see the red and white sirens of the ambulances as they screeched to a stop next to the tangled lives spread across the pavement; all he saw were chunks of his microwave dinner plopping into the toilet bowl two inches from his face. He wouldn’t feel the desperate ache of young ice eyes struggling to connect with now-empty ones; he would only feel the reverberations of that movement, that instant of unforgiving change, throughout the rest of his unspectacular life. The end became the beginning, the unwavering became the broken, the night became day and so on. Et cetera.
He was shoveling shit out of a kennel when the call came in.
“Peter Briggs?” a voice crackled to life on the other end of the line.
“This is Detective Moreland with the Colten County Police Department. Do you have a moment?” The voice was old, gravelly, a twinge of shakiness underneath. Familiar.
The seconds dragged on like water struggling through a drying stagnant stream. The scratchy voice droned, but all Peter could hear was the slow water in his ears, traveling deeper, slogging over rocks and twigs, down toward the crackling abyss.
The muddy water was getting closer now. Just a few more inches and the steaming fingertips would reach the edge of darkness.
“Peter, I understand this is heartbreaking news. I can’t imagine what you’re trying to process right now.”
The sludge was almost stopped now. One second…two…almost…there…
“I’ll be there,” he replied.
Click. Call ended.