by Sasha Jovanovski


         The thing they don’t tell you in driver’s ed is that 94-east from Ann Arbor has no overhead lights, so when you’re driving at night and there’s no one behind you and you look out the back window it looks like you’re driving out of the void into the dimension we live in, except the void is chasing you and eating up the real world like in one of those panic dreams and no matter how fast you go you can’t outrun it, and it seeps into the car it seeps into the backseat the potted plant you’re sharing the backseat with quivers and starts because the roads in Michigan suck ass, the void touches the plant and its shadow fingers reach out for you whenever you look away but there are lights up ahead so it can never quite get you, and your brother and his wife are in the front seat blissfully unaware of the chase, they don’t know they’re driving for their lives because their nightmares stay where they’re supposed to they’re arguing over songs your sister-in-law loves bad 90s pop but also loves opera because she went to music school, but your brother’s in the passenger seat DJing so he picks Depeche Mode and that song by Joy Division that sounds upbeat but whose lyrics are really grim, it’s 11 pm and 94 makes a tight right turn and the plant slides across the floor of the car and kisses your bare arm with a dry underwatered leaf, you look out the back window and there’s still no one but the dark and the dark is still riding your bumper like one of those assholes on 696 who’s really got to be somewhere at 2 in the afternoon or who sidles up next to you like your least favorite aunt on Thanksgiving and won’t let you merge right, and you must have been the last person to get the memo that the dark was coming for you because you’re stuck in last place in this race, your sister-in-law can’t even pass the guy whose car sounds like a damn DVD player because she’s not trying to and why would she and she and your brother had a couple drinks tonight anyways, she’s a responsible motorist yes sir, and that Joy Division song is still playing somehow like the void has reached the radio and broken it because it’s all it wants to hear, the void likes the happy music and the unhappy words, maybe because it’s so unlike itself, the song is deceptive and pretty but the void is just ugly, the dark is empty and full of space because it can’t even keep the things it’s taken, it takes a houseplant with its shadow fingers and the plant dies, the leaves wither and the roots disintegrate and the dark is left with nothing but an empty terra cotta pot, that’s what’s in the void just garbage just things unwanted unprotected because it can never have friends, it’s chasing you because it’ll never learn that its touch is a killer and someone was stupid enough to build a highway without overhead lights and bet a 20 they were the first person the void took here, stolen by a nightmare they allowed to fester and if it weren’t for you your brother and sister-in-law would be gone now too because you know the point of a panic dream isn’t for bad things to happen but for bad things to almost happen, like the scratch on your arm where the plant touched you was supposed to be a caress a kind gesture but the void isn’t meant for this world and if it had touched you any longer it might have even taken you too, dragged you behind a black velvet curtain like a marionette to lead on with its shadow fingers attached to its shadow hands attached to its shadow body attached to its ugly ugly shadow face and the thing they don’t tell you in driver’s ed is well just about anything useful at all.

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