Doc Masterson and the Prisoner of Time

by Matthew Snee



The Visitor

Our story begins about an hour before dawn on a cold highway somewhere in Virginia, with a long blue Cadillac heading West.  For all intents and purposes, the year is 1999.  I won't tell you yet who the driver is, but I can tell you what he looks like: pale, sallow, unshaven, thick mess of dark hair on his head.  I can also tell you what he smells like: coffee, cigarettes, fear.  His breath is ragged, and his white knuckles choke the wheel.  He is alone in the car.  He flees, but there is no escape.  Seeing him now makes me want to laugh, really.  I guess you would call it ironic.

            He has just finished smoking a cigarette and air is screaming through the crack in the window.  He checks the rear view mirror, looking for sun on the horizon.  Still, nothing. 

            Just to fuck with him I materialize suddenly in the passenger seat beside him.  “Got a smoke?”  I ask.

            “You!” he gasps.  He loses control of the car for a moment, and swerves across into the other lane for a second.  Not that it matters.  The highway is empty.  It will always be empty.

            “That’s right,” I say.

            “Please,” he says.  “Can’t you do anything to help me?”

            His smokes are on the dash.  I help myself.  I put the cigarette in my mouth and light it with my own lighter in my pocket.  “Help you?” I say.  “Now why on Earth would I do that?”

            “Because…” he says, but can’t come up with a reason better than that.  He stares hopelessly into the road ahead, and then hopelessly into the black horizon in the rear view mirror.

            I lower my window.  The noise of rushing air doubles.  I inhale deeply and blow smoke out.  We are both silent for the next couple minutes.  I enjoy the cigarette and he enjoys his fate.  The dark shadows of the landscape speed past us.

            “You could do something,” he pleads.  “You have the power!  You could stop this.”

            “But I don’t want to,” I reply, tossing the cigarette half-smoked out of the window.  “It’s not really a good idea anyway.  Trust me.”

            He sighs.  He slams his fist into the steering wheel.  “Please,” he says again.  “Please help me.  I’ll do anything.”

            I look back at the horizon.  Dawn is coming now. The Eastern night is casting off black for blue. 

            “Please,” he says again.

            Just to fuck with him I de-materialize out of the car.  He is alone again.  “No!”  he shouts.  “No!”

            Like I said, I guess you would call it ironic.