The Road to Nowhere. Short Story.

Hope everyone enjoyed New Years.

Mine was really awesome, which is unusual for new years, normally the night is just ok, last night was ridiculously fun. Lots of glow sticks and burger king crowns.

Classiest. New Years. Ever.

On with the show!

______________________________________________________

He stood, looking down the long, dusty road.

Michael had been on this journey for two years.

Two years of his life had been spent walking down this road, he had passed through hundreds of towns, some friendly, some not.

And now he was nearing the end.

Michael took a deep breath, trying to crush down the rising feelings. He laughed, then clapped his hand over his mouth. The laugh continued echoing. It seemed to go on forever.

Silence. That was what this required. Stoic silence. His eyes watered, Michael wiped away the tears self consciously, though there was no one to see it.

Most towns ignored his passing, people were polite, but they had seen many like him through the years. He was no longer a novelty and not considered a threat, he was a nonentity. In some of the towns people would chat to him, get to know him, find his reasons for what he was doing, why he was travelling the road. The later towns didn’t bother, what was the point? They knew they’d never see him again, no one who quested the road ever returned.

Yet still it called to him.

Ever since he was a child the stories had enchanted him. not just the enchantment of travelling the road, but the intense, secretive air that surrounded the end. The mystery of it all is what drew him on and soon that mystery would end.

The last few towns had been downright hostile, angry at him, telling him how he was throwing his life away, that it was a waste. There could never be any return to what he was doing. He would reach his destination and that would be it. His life would end. He countered that no one knew that, that anything could be there, but they’d just give him sly, knowing smiles and shake their heads. Everyone knew death was what lay at the end of the road, after all, it was basically in the name.

The road to nowhere.

The name alone would have drawn him onwards., what was nowhere? How could someone get there? After all once you reached nowhere, it would have to become somewhere, didn’t it?

Strangely, the worst were the cults. So utterly enchanted with those who followed the road, interviewing him, forcing him to be part of their mass. Michael had tried to resist once, then he was quickly informed that a blade through the throat would end his journey muchfaster. After that he endured their freakish devotion. There as no other description for it. At least not for Michael. They pledged themselves to the road, fetishised it, but they never followed it. They had mass in its name, celebrated those who actually travelled it, turned them into saints. Michael knew he was in their number now, immortalised in scripture and stained glass. Michael didn’t know how he felt about that.

It seemed wrong, he wasn’t special, he didn’t deserve their admiration, but part of him longed for it. it was slightly reassuring that he wouldn’t be forgotten by everyone. After all, his family turned on him when they learned he was actually going to follow it. They were tolerant of him when it was just his strange obsession, swept quietly away, hidden from public, it was shameful.

He was shameful.

Then he did the unthinkable, told them he was going to follow it.

Actually follow it.

It wasn’t an idea, it wasn’t just a desire, it was going to happen.

Once it came out, they abandoned him. He was no longer a son, a brother, an uncle. These titles were stripped from him, he became nothing. He had no family and soon no friends. Why be friends with someone leaving forever? Sure, they said their goodbyes but after that he was practically dead to them. He had passed them in the street and their eyes passed right over him. He was surprised by how much it hurt. Once it happened it solidified his plans. Why stay when he had nothing, he was no one, he was abandoned. The planning stopped, the waiting stopped.

The next day he started walking.

There was no rule against taking a horse, cars didn’t work on the road, but he didn’t bring one. It seemed to be cheating. Everyone knew you had to walk the road.

It was cleansing.

You walked from everything you knew.
Walked from your troubles, your pain.

You walked to freedom.

So Michael started walking. There was nothing else to do.

Nowhere was so close, he could almost see it.

The closer he got the harder it was to look, his eyes didn’t want to see it, they wanted to look away, look up, look anywhere, anywhere that wasn’t Nowhere.

He did it, he was almost there.

Smiling, Michael reached Nowhere. It was everything he imagined and like nothing he could ever think of.

Else where a stained glass window briefly flared with light, a weary traveller was illuminated before it faded to darkness. In the pews of the church sat a young girl, she was the only one to see it, the only one that noticed. She felt an unknown pressure lift from her chest and she knew what she needed to do. Smiling she bowed her head in prayer, knowing one day, she too would join the others in their stained glass splendour.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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