It no longer feels strange when I wake up in the morning. At first, all of the similarities to home brought upon a sense of familiarity that was both comforting and disorienting. The sun is the same and the air is the same, but the people are different; or so I thought. As it turns out, the people here are like people anywhere else, struggling to get by and find happiness wherever they can find it. That fact sort of blends in with the confusion I still occasionally feel. I’ll still occasionally walk around and lapse into a vague sort of calm contentedness only to have it interrupted by the realization that things are moving too fast, that all of the colors are beginning to blur together and that if I don’t slow down I won’t experience enough. I suppose that is when I started killing.
It began as things have a tendency to begin, with an accident. I was standing at a crowded intersection and someone behind me got pushed forward by someone who was behind them, almost like a set of human dominoes and I was brushed by a fast moving car. It only left a bruise on my skin, but beneath that bruise it left an idea: What would happen if someone actually did make their way into the path of an oncoming vehicle, speeding so it wouldn’t miss a light? Would the authorities arrest everyone on the corner? Would anyone on the corner even be there when the authorities arrived? We are all very busy and we all have places to be, so it seems like an experience worth having, even if it only serves to break the monotony of everyday life.
The first experiment was a failure. It wasn’t a complete failure or I may have ended up in jail, but things definitely didn’t go as they were supposed to. I spent the week after my idea waiting for the right moment. I would line up in front of an intersection like people do, but I would insure that I was on the second layer of people. I would then wait for the light to change and watch for fast moving cars. That was the first problem. I had to develop patience, a trait that I have never been known to possess. If I jumped the gun and no one actually ran the light, it may appear obvious what I was attempting to do. Likewise, if I acted when there weren’t many people at an intersection it would be very obvious what I was intending to do. I needed to wait for the right moment.
Luckily, my problem presented itself as a faulty technique and did not manifest in my patience. There I was, like any other day, waiting at a light just behind this woman carrying groceries. Everything seemed different, though. The air was electric; it felt like everyone was connected on some sort of high powered circuit, like somehow the moment became self aware, donning its tailcoat and wielding its baton. The people around me were all having idiotic conversations about the weather and where they needed to be and how late they were running, but I felt like I was on stage. Time slowed down. I watched as the crosswalk sign for the other street started blinking. Slower and slower it blinked. The turn lane lights clicked on and they were set so my lane was still open. Everything was falling into place. It was like final crescendo in an orchestra performance and the conductor had his baton raised, pointed at me and ready to give my cue to hit the high note and end the song. I don’t know if the moment grew to be too huge in my mind or if I just wasn’t ready, but at the very last second, just as the baton started to fall, I hesitated. I had practiced this moment in my head a thousand times. I knew that I didn’t want to just push; I needed to put some weight behind it. At the last second though, I realized that I hadn’t actually explored the mechanical aspects behind pushing someone and both insuring that it wasn’t an obvious push and that my target was made to move forward. In any event, my push was fumbled and awkward and I was left with a slightly annoyed woman who only dropped her bag and smashed her eggs.
Still, the attempt was not a complete failure. I felt like I had learned a lot and it had only cost me the price of some eggs. I decided that I would not let this setback deter me and I would instead learn from it. I spent the next several hours using the adrenaline that was still flowing through my body thinking about ways to push without pushing and practicing them on some clothes I had hanged on my door in my room. It probably would have looked ridiculous to any onlookers, but that’s what doors and locks are for.
The next two weeks were torture, but I could not let my weak sense of patience get the best of me or all of my plans and testing would have been for naught. I knew the conductor was just playing through the boring part of the song and my cue would come soon. Still, I found myself wandering around the city during rush hours every day, trying to find that moment. Every intersection I came to had a crescendo, but the baton was not tipped my way.
It wasn’t until the third week, when I was on my way to school, that I felt the electricity in the air again. It had been three weeks and the memory of time lapsing had begun to fade, but at this one instant I felt it and remembered. This time, perhaps because I had experienced it before, I heard some of the other players: there was a child riding a bicycle, ringing a bell, there were two men having an argument across the street. I could smell bread wafting over from the bakery behind me and the scent of the cars and the people around me was strong, but I refused to concentrate on any of that. I had a solo I was about to play, amidst all of this accompaniment and I wasn’t about to miss my cue this time. The crosswalk light blinked slower and slower, finally stopping. The light on my side popped on with a turn signal for the oncoming lane. The boy standing in front of me, looking neat in his school uniform, shifted his weight from his right leg to his left. The light blinked to red, but there was a man driving a supply van who didn’t notice or didn’t care. He just drove through, one hand on the steering wheel and the other clutching the microphone to his radio. At the last second, I felt the baton drop and shifted my weight forward as I’d practiced so many times before in my room. I shoved my left knee into his thigh and collapse the leg which had all of his weight on it, causing him to fall forward into the path of the oncoming van.
This is where things did not go as planned, however. Instead of tripping forward and getting hit by the van, the kid lost his legs altogether and fell down onto his hands and knees. I think it was at that moment that the kid realized he was part of the orchestra. It was only for a moment that he enjoyed that realization, because with that realization came the bumper of a van, followed immediately by the front tire. I half expected the child’s head to pop like a grape, but it managed to keep its structural integrity. The sight was no less gruesome with the lack of brains on the pavement. There was still most of a face.
From there came the obvious repercussions of such a horrendous event. There was a not insignificant amount of people who had better things to do and left, but those who stayed –me included- stood around completely shocked that such an accident could happen. I was elated. Not only had my plans come to fruition, but it had worked out the way I’d hoped: almost everyone had left the scene and those who remained had convinced themselves that this was an accident. Maybe some of them had an inkling that this wasn’t an accident, but people are weak and most of them don’t want to believe that someone could push someone else in front of a van. They would much rather continue to live their lives in the quiet comfort of ignorance and denial.
For fear of drawing attention to myself, I stayed and let myself be questioned by the police. They especially wanted to talk to me because they knew that I had been the one standing behind the boy. It wasn’t difficult to get through the interview. Along with my elation, came a catharsis so strong that I could easily feign shock. I related the events leading up to the climax, adding in that I felt some pressure on my back to step forward but also adding that everything came as a blur and that I could not be sure. This caused the man who was standing behind me to fight the man who was standing behind him, thereby adding more thickness to my growing smoke screen. I am made to believe that the police will contact me upon the resolution of this matter, but I won’t hold my breath.
It has been six months since that time at the intersection. I have not stopped my excursions. I have, however, expanded into subways and viewing rooms in tall towers. Every day offers opportunities and it is important to take these opportunities, lest life become a hollow existence comprised of a meaningless series of events. I wonder if I will be able to continue my habits at home, where people are much less crowded.