Dreams of Escape
Ten year old Kenny sat nervously in the passenger seat of the old, dingy, green 76 nova as his father drove on through the rainy night. He stared out the passenger side window at the gloomy night sky and the streaks of rain sliding down the window. Orange street lights lit the road at various intervals as the car sped onwards towards it's eventual destination. He barely breathed and didn't dare speak.
He wondered when or if his nightmare would end and wondered also what he, a boy of only 10 could do about it all? Was there a way out of this?
His father's pock-marked face simply stared at the oncoming road and seemed to laugh at some unheard of joke that Kenny would not understand. He slapped Kenny's leg jovially as he laughed and muttered something in his musings and mumblings.
"It's all part of the program! That's all. We just have to get through it and then everything will be alright!" His father turned his head towards Kenny, showing those bloodshot, green eyes that seemed to bulge out of his skull. His lower lip protuded forward as his face changed to a deeper shade of red. He began to growl under his breath. Suddenly, he banged his fist on the steering wheel and swore.
.Kenny didn't know what to say to his father. Any question or comment could instantly make things worse although it was hard to imagine how that could be.
"Stay calm, stay calm," he told himself as he looked down at the leg his father had slapped and saw the bloody handprint on them. He swallowed hard and continued to look out the window, trying hard to block out what had seen and heard only a short while ago.
His father had mentioned this "program" a few weeks prior to the incident but he did not get that much detail on the "program", such as who or what was running the program and why?
Kenny had no way of knowing and in fact, his paternal grandmother told him often not to worry about his father's strange statements or any unusual behavior.
About 5 years ago, Kenny remembered that his father had said something about losing his job and that he had been told that he could never have another job in that field. One day, Kenny talked to his grandmother while he was visiting her about his father and she told him not to worry because his father had a job working on computers for the federal government on some secret program that was super classified and it would be best if I did not pry, so he didn't at the time.
She also said that the job was very stressful so it was to be expected that he might be agitated due to this. After all, he beares the responsibility of keeping national security secrets.
"It's a huge responsibility for him, so the best thing you can do is to support him. You bear that responsibility as his son. You could say that you are part of the program as well. "
Kenny sighed at the memory as his attention wandered as he sat in the nova.
"Cogs" his father said aloud
Kenny cleared his throat. "Cogs?"
" Yeah, cogs. I said cogs. Cogs in a machine. That's what we are. Were you even listening? He shook his head and rolled his eyes. " You oughta grow up and realize that it doesn't matter! It really doesn't! They control everything! Your life, your choices are already preplanned! You just have to stay with the program until it runs out! "
"Ummm… yeah. They?"
"They they them!!! You know, them!! All of them!! Our entire lives were controlled. Even my wife, your mother was a plant! A traitor!'
By this time, the blood on his hands had mostly dried, but there were still stains on the steering wheel. Kenny tried not to look at it. "Everything is going to be just fine", he said to himself. "Just like Mom said, it's fine"
Of course, he couldn't think about her without thinking of the blood stains in the car, his own pants, her dead body, wrapped in black trash bags and stuffed in the trunk of the green nova. The same bags he himself had helped to lift into the trunk. The kitchen steak knife..... that his father told him to pull out of her body. He couldn't though. "Quit acting like a baby," his father had snarled through grinding teeth and pushed him to the ground.
"She was one of them! "
He swallowed hard for fear of shedding any tears or even emitting any kind of emotion at all. It was hard to imagine that his mother, who had been caring for him since he was a baby was one of "them"
All that mattered was getting through the program, whatever it was until it ended. It would be okay at the end. That's what is father kept saying.
On and on the car drove as his father continued to laugh and mutter to himself about the inevitable fate that was forced upon him and the lack of will to fight his fate.
Like his grandmother had said, his father's job meant that he had to keep national secrets and his mother was an enemy agent? That just didn't sound right to him still
Kenny thought about it long and hard on the road. What could he do to change this fate? He came to a decision.
Quietly, he released his buckle from his seatbelt ,then reached for the door handle and held onto it as the car swerved suddenly to the left and Kenny felt the impact as the car crashed through the guard rail of the bridge over the river.
A few weeks later, Kenny woke up in a hospital room and he had been connected to an IV. As he looked around at the room, he noticed that there were no windows at all and he couldn't hear any sounds outside his room and there was no call button for the nurse and no closet. There was only the bed, the IV and a door on the far right that was closed.
A sudden knocking came from the other side and Kenny barely managed to get the words "come in" out of his mouth.
The door opened and a man wearing a white lab coat and an old fashioned head mirror. He approached the bed and smiled.
"You have been out for several weeks, there Kenny. You gave us all a real a scare.".
Kenny shook his head in confusion. "Ummm.. I … was…"
"Yes, we're in the car and yes, it swerved to the guardrail and fell into the river. You managed to open your door and and escape. Very well done!. I'd say you passed."
"Yes, you passed. Congratulations!"
"Ummm passed what? A test?".
"Of course! It's all part of the program!"