I am driving down a highway.
On either side the trees are leafless & lying on their trunks.
The grass beneath them is almost black. Wheels hum against the pavement.
I am the only car on the road.
The odometer isn’t working & the mile marker signs are missing, or they were never there.
It’s impossible to tell how far I’ve gone since I began my trip.
Every radio station delivers static.
The hum of the wheels disintegrates into a stutter.
My body starts shaking with the car.
Each tire removes itself in succession.
Metal meets asphalt & for several moments the noise is unbearable.
I cover my ears.
Through the windshield the sky seems white hot.
When the car finally stops I open my door & step out.
I walk north until my feet are too raw to keep going.
A hot air balloon appears carrying a woman in a bear suit.
She extends her fake paw, her furry arm, & we rise above the dead grass & the fallen trees.
Everything below blends together until it’s all black.
We are surrounded by blackness, a new galaxy.
The woman in the bear suit becomes the oldest star.
Joshua R. Helms recently finished his MFA at the University of Alabama and is the author of Machines Like Us (Dzanc Books, 2014). Learn more about him here
Art by Sicknasty