Read Part 1 first. The rest of this won’t make sense otherwise.

The sky continued to turn dark as we pulled out of Neimann’s parking lot. The naked fat lady chased us with surprising speed for somebody so obese. For a moment, I watched her in my rear view mirror, afraid (oddly) that she would grow long, metallic hooks ala the T-1000 in “Terminator 2” and would grasp onto my bumper.

I watched her as the girl sitting next to me stared at me. I could see her out of the corner of my eye. She had said nothing since we started. I couldn’t believe she wasn’t staring at the woman running through the parking lot behind us. A car started to back out in front of us: I laid on the horn and they stopped: I swerved to avoid them. The woman chasing us leaped over the car hood and ran faster. I was already going 15 mph and she was gaining.

Her stomach and arm fat jiggled as she run, a terse mockery of proper physical fitness. The unmentionable parts of her body moved to the same rhythm. I was finally pulling up to the stop light of Neimann’s parking lot. The light was yellow. I immediately swerved the car: inertia kicked in, pulling us hard to the side. The woman said nothing as she fell towards me, bracing herself moments before falling into my lap.

The woman chasing us turned on a dime and got closer and closer.

“Nonsense,” I said and floored the car. Carefully. I pulled my foot off the pedal after a quick burst of speed. My Explorer jerked in fits and starts as the woman next to me dug through her purse slowly. I looked in the rear view mirror as I neared the Subway in the Neimann’s mall parking lot. The woman was losing ground but slowly. The spedometer was at 35.

Subway was right on top of me: I jerked the wheel to the right, narrowly avoiding a car and two people walking. The stopped in their tracks and smiled at me. They waved as if they knew me. I yelled as I drove, moving past the parked cars and towards the end of the mall where the back driveway leads to the road by Taco Bell. I pull down the driveway and turn right and hit the backroads.

The woman from the Bagel Stop is far behind us but still running. Her mouth has been open the whole time as she runs, as if she is screaming without stopping. I pull down the dirt rounds that run past the lake and turn left to go to US-23. I pull to the stop sign, look both ways and notice there are no cars on the road. I turn right and drive. The woman from the shop is nowhere to be found. I sigh in relief and slow down.

A puff of smoke fills the car. I turn to look at the woman. She is leaning back in her chair, putting a pack of cigarettes in her purse. The smoke floats around her and begins drifting through the car. She looks at me, smiles, recoils and then rolls down her window. The smoke starts filtering out.

“Sorry,” she says. “I forget not everybody smokes.”

“It’s true,” I say, “not everybody smokes.”

We sit in silence as I drive. The sky gets darker and darker. I look at my radio clock: 12:00. My clock is an hour and a half slow so it’s just after one in the afternoon but it looks about seven or eight o’clock. I have to turn on my headlights to see. Not that it matters: there are no other cars on the road.

“The road is so empty,” she says.

“Almost too empty,” I say and feel stupid for saying it.

“Cliche,” she says.

“A little bit,” I say, “but no more than picking up a beautiful stranger and ferrying her from danger.”

The woman rolls her eyes. “Oh please. I could have handled that.”

“You could have handled a 300 pound, naked woman?”  I say.

“I have,” she says and laughs. The smoke is still collecting in the car more than I would like but I’ve gotten over it. We turn past the Harborside Mall, going left. The road past the theaters and all the way down past McDonalds is empty. The sky stops darkening but takes on a grey tint.

“The sky is grey,” I say.

“Yep,” says the woman.

By now, we’re pulling past John Boys and still haven’t seen a car. All the stores and restaurants seem to have people inside but they’re hard to make out. I’m not really paying attention to the people in the shops though.

“So,” I say, “was it that hard to pick a bagel?”

“Were you watching me?” she says, flicking her cigarette butt out the window. “Creep.”

“Hey, I saved your life.”

“From what?” she says with a laugh, “That fat lady?”

“You don’t know what she was going to do.”

“I told you I could have taken her.”

“If you believe that,” I say, “why did you come with me?”

“Why not?” she says.

I laugh so hard tears stream down my cheeks. I have to wipe them away with the back of my hand to keep my vision from blurring too strongly.

“You just ran away with some stranger and jumped in his car on a whim?”

“Sure.”

“That’s ridiculous!” I say. “I could have been a serial killer.”

“But you’re not.”

“How do you know that?”

She gives me a stern look and shakes her head. She turns to look forward as we drive. It seems that’s all the answer I’m going to get on that. By now, the sky is nearly completely grey and lit only as if by a candle or two. No stars are out and the moon is absent. The lights in the city don’t come on as the sky darkens and greys. The only light seems to be past the hospital. It’s red and seems to hover a few inches above the road.

“Whoa whoa watch it,” the woman says, pointing. I follow the line of her pointing and see what she means: the road suddenly starts declining about 350 yards in front of us. I stop the car quick and pull up to the edge of the decline. The road declines downwards, into the ground at about a 30 degree angle.

“What’s this?” she says.

“I don’t know…it wasn’t here before…”

“You don’t say…” she says. “Can you see the bottom?”

I strain to look down past the all-encompassing darkness.

“No…can you?”

“No way.”

We turn around and walk back to the car. I back away from the edge and pull into the hospital parking lot. I turn the car off and my headlights but turn on the interior light. The woman digs through her purse and pulls out a pack of cigarettes.

“Really?” I say. “Another one?”

“You knew I smoke when you kidnapped me. I smoke more when I’m stressed.”

“Kidnapped?”

“Just kidding, I guess,” she says as she lights a cigarette.

Just then, I hear faint noises. They sound like something moving around outside the car. But not too near the car: they’re hard to make out. I strain to listen as she sits, smoking.

“Can you hear that too?” she asks.

“Yeah…what do you think that is?”

“It sounds…weird.”

“To say the least,” I say.

“It sounds…digital…”

“Yeah like ‘bleeps’ and ‘bloops.”

“Turn on your lights,” she says. I turn on my headlights and turn off the interior light at the same time. My lights falls on red, blue and green characters from an Atari game. I blink my eyes and reopen them. They are still there, moving slowly and awkwardly, one pixel at a time, just like in the games. The beeping sounds seemingly come from the air itself.

“Oh hey, it’s ‘Dig Dug'” she says with no shock in her voice. She’s right: the creatures are from the ancient arcade game “Dig Dug.” In that game, you played a miner looking for treasure. You kill monsters by inflating them until they explode or dropping rocks on their heads.

This real world “Dig Dug” is walking along, inflating creatures until they explode into digitized death bursts. We watch, speechless as he kills one after another. The bleeps and beeps become less frequent as he kills his enemies. Finally, they’re all gone save his beeps.

“He got them all,” she says and sings the level victory theme. Suddenly, the theme erupts in the air around us, unmistakable and louder than necessary. “Dig Dug” stands in place for a moment and then turns jerkily towards us.

“What’s going on here?” I say.

“I don’t know,” she says, “but I think he’s heading for us.”

She’s right: we watch in horror as “Dig Dug” jerks towards our car one awkward pixel at a time. His inflation hose juts out as us as he walks. Paralyzed by confusion and fear, I cannot drive as he nears striking distance. The woman watches him come as she smokes. She laughs.

To Be Continued

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