Discarded

Naomi and her uncle Bobby were lost in their own drawing. What had started out as a bit of fun together had become a serious business. They had created a village, extracted resources and developed technologies, expanded it into a city with a vibrant creative economy, allowed it to become a totalitarian city-state undermined by revolution, but too late to stop a nuclear war, and their world’s ultimate evolution was into a black and white digital territory. Naomi’s mum coming home early, screwing up the drawing and throwing it away, had been a setback, as Naomi and Bobby were now trapped within it.

Naomi’s mum assumed that her brother had taken Naomi on a surprise adventure, like he often did, and they’d be back tomorrow. He was a good uncle.

The black garbage bag sat outside that night, leaking aromas of old dinners. The most prominent smell was from Bobby’s famous lemon chicken, a dish that he was very proud of but which failed to impress most others. They all said it was wonderful that he’d made his lemon sauce from scratch without using a recipe, and then scraped away half their plateful when he wasn’t looking. Naomi had done the same.

Local coyotes however had fewer issues with lemon chicken. They came soon after dusk and ripped the bag apart. They devoured the chicken, even licked up lemon sauce, and left a mess of onion peels, garlic skins, wasted rice, and eggshells mixed with plastic and paper.

Naomi and Bobby’s drawing was curiously unspoiled. It had taken only a light hit of lemon chicken, and wasn’t soggy. It had flown out of the bag along with everything else, and now caught the wind and rolled into the road. What strange tumbleweed, containing a whole world.

Sophie was driving her Toyota too fast down the Lucerne Valley Road. She saw a torn garbage bag sitting by the verge. How stupid, she thought, people really should know better – putting out stuff that was sure to attract bears.

Something white came towards her, causing her to panic. Was it a seagull swooping down? It was pretty far from the lake. Maybe a ball of cottonwood seeds?

The drawing hit her windscreen and became tangled in a wiper. Sophie screeched to a halt. There was something scary about the image before her. Its detail assaulted her and she felt drawn in. She couldn’t make out the forms but it seemed like a city plan. There were brief snatches of grinding sounds and sirens, and wafts of singeing and decay.

Sophie thought, I really did drink too much last night. And from now on, no more disaster movies. I can’t believe that they’re affecting my alertness the next day! Maybe I’ll park here and hitch into town. I don’t trust my reflexes this morning.

She was intrigued by the drawing though. She grabbed it from the windscreen and stuffed it in her bag.

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