Oh man, not again.
Joe Bob rolled over, spit the dirt out of his mouth.
I can't believe I let this happen. It's that dang Ali's fault.
She dared me to do those shots last night, and I had to
go ahead and take her up on it.Every time I'm fool enough
to take on one of her challenges, I end up in trouble.
Now look at me, passed out and dropped off in the middle of
who knows where. That Mike really went too far this time.
Where the heck am I?
He slowly stood and took stock of his surroundings. It was
almost pitch black out, not a light in sight, a calm, clear
night with a billion stars in the sky. A faint glow on the
horizon. East? West? No way to tell. How far must they have
gone to dump me, he thought, if I can't even see the lights
from the city? As he looked around, the first stirrings of what?
Panic? No, too early for that. A little anxiety, maybe. After all,
they were his friends. They wouldn't mean him any harm, just a
good joke on ol' Joe Bob, leave him out here in the middle of
nowhere, they were probably waiting in the car just around the
corner, sleeping it off, ready to laugh their fool butts off
when I come staggering back.
But then where was the road? It was really dark out here,
but the glow on the horizon was getting brighter. Looked
like the moon would be coming up soon. But there should be
a road here somewhere. They couldn't have carried me,
dragged me maybe, but I should be able to see marks.
Wide awake now, Joe Bob took a good look around.
The ground was hard dirt, with shrubs scattered irregularly,
no trees that he could see. Hills close by, the terrain broken
and undulating, looking pretty much like some kind of high
desert area, nothing at all like the hardwood forests he lived near.
Mountains off in the distance, tall and rugged looking.
That was strange. There weren't mountains like that anywhere
near where he lived, nowhere he could remember ever being.
Something was wrong. Maybe this was some kind of hangover
illusion. Maybe he was still asleep. But no, the way his head
was hurting, he had to be awake. The moon was getting close to
coming up, the glow was really bright. When it came out, he would
be able to see a lot better, then he could maybe
get his bearings, figure out what was going on. Because something
sure as heck was going on.
The better he could see, the more confused he became.
Something was definitely not right here. He had the
sudden feeling that more time had passed than he was
originally aware of. What was the last thing he could
remember? Ali and Mike and he, laughing, drinking,
leaving the bar, and then what? Lights, the sensation
of spinning, falling. Yeah, he knew that feeling, too
much to drink, as usual. But something more, those lights,
really bright, piercing, it made his head hurt more just
thinking about it. And that panic starting to rise, yeah,
something bad had happened. Was he in an accident? Maybe
he was in a coma and trapped inside his own head. Now
that was a scary thought, but no, he was really here,
wherever here was, and he was alive and awake,
and one hundred percent fricken lost.
Brighter now, more and more of his surroundings were
coming in to view. He really was in the middle of nowhere,
no road, no trail, not even a footprint that he could see.
The ground was hard but he was leaving tracks as he walked
around, and he realized he felt really weird, lighter,
like he was walking on foam rubber. He kicked at a rock
and it flew off, bounced, almost in slow motion.
Wow, I must really be hung over, he thought.
And the air feels wrong, thinner, getting winded just
walking around. The moon was beginning to peak over the
mountains, casting a shadow in front of him. In the distance,
vaguely illuminated, was a horizon that made no sense,
falling away at the edge, way too close. This was starting
to feel like an episode of the Twilight Zone.
It was like he just fell from the sky or something,
dropped, where? And by whom? If he could just remember
what happened, if he could just figure out where he was,
if... As he turned to face the rising moon, he
felt what was left of his sanity slipping away.
Because that was not the moon rising above the mountains, no,
that wasn't the moon at all. It was huge, and full,
and freakin red! And close! And he laughed as
the thought came to him, no, Joe Bob, you're definitely
not in Kansas anymore! And that just made him laugh even harder,
and he clicked his heels together and closed his eyes and thought,
"There's no place like home, there's no place like home", and...
Oh man, not again.