Nigh the expiry of time, there is a Drive-in Theater in which we all convene to review time in its entirety. If one’s knowledge of time is great enough, the sections of time—or standard deviations, as one moment could amount to much more time than the whole year that precedes it—should not be so much chronological as they are deontological: to some arbitrary extent, they reveal to us the greater purpose of our comprehensive pasts. It is in this Limbo-like place we are forced to spend an eternity—but this is trifle to bother, as an eternity is for some long and for some short, as all time is but relative.
I came into this hectically inert conference at the same moment as everyone else had, but of course we were bound to part ways at some point, since, as I have previously stated, there are some for whom an eternity is short and others for whom an eternity is unbearably, insufferably long.
I myself pondered a paradox as the first person left (mode of exit: bright flash, vision of a portally-thing, and then vapor), but then it became very clear to me: we were in a place where the normal constraints of logic built by our tiny minds were for naught, some higher echelon of space where the rules were absolutely ordained by someone else.
Alas, I could not dwell upon the concept for much time, seeing as I had so much of it to get through. And, at first, the silvery screen ensconced in that endless void seemed beckoning, harkening to an ancient, universal curiosity within all of our hearts. After all, who did not enjoy a good movie?
Far removed from the places and points in time, it did indeed seem like a movie to the lot of us. Explosions in the sky, carnage, belligerency, fleeting instances of emotive collaboration all harkened to the classic B-movie, in which we would eventually find greater substance. It must have been right after the Armenian Genocide that I looked away from the screen, paused, and shuddered, disgusted with the cheapened state of our expansive history.
It was also at that point that I surveyed my surroundings for the first time. A good portion of the others were gone, I noticed by the gaps between the cars— It was funny we had been transported by car to this place; I myself was in the study during the occurrence and absolutely could not recall how I had been transposed from plush loveseat to the stiff, unsociable passenger seat of the 1995 Corolla that had been sitting in my driveway.
Nevertheless, I was among the stragglers, and, as the eyes of my peers remained fixed on the screen, likely the only one who realized it.
I glanced over at the car beside mine, an unassuming blue Chevy. Inside a scruffy, elderly gentleman had dozed off, and was leaning over the side of his seat precariously. He coughed suddenly, awakening, caught a glance at me staring at his visage with awe, and peered into the window that separated us.
The scraggly man turned completely to face me. His gray and white speckled hair had communed with the outgrowths of his face, conceiving a long, unruly beard that went past what I could see. His eyes were nebulous, deep but nearly glazed over. The changing scenes of the movie reflected in the corner of his pupils like Late Night TV on a living room window.
He tapped on my window and I, afraid to appear inhospitable on this small, solitary rock floating in the abyss, rolled down the window reluctantly. I was greeted by the scent of ginger and fresh bait, as if the former would distract anyone from the latter.
“Enjoying the flick, aren’t ya?”
“D- do you,” I started, glancing back at the screen. “Do you know how we got here?”
He smirked, though not in a disagreeable way. “I was jus’ about to go fishing, too.” He held up a pole and what I presumed was a small pail of bait sitting in his passenger seat. “Kid, how long have ya been here?”
We both paused and stared at the screen in time for a bomb to burst, engulfing everything in white. It appeared that we were in the middle of the Vietnam War.
“Maybe billions of years now…” Another dozen flashes from another dozen landmines. “But I got to admit, it all does look about the same for the last couple centuries.”
A child came running across the screen, dashing across a sunny backyard into the arms of its parents.
“It has its good moments, for sure,” I admitted. Now the child was being licked all over by a golden retriever. Something about these bright, fluffy moments made me warm and fuzzy inside.
The man chuckled. “I s’pose so.” I was not sure why, but I was a bit pleased to find he had taken a liking to me. “These days can’t tell a blockbuster from a B-movie—they all got the same trends. But out of all the movies I’ve seen, this one ain’t bad.”
“Yep! Seen this one four or five times now, but it never gets old.”
Before I had time to register what he meant, a dark cloud filled the screen. Glass shattered in cities and suburbs alike, black smoke piercing the homes of countless families… filling the air of an old study where a balding man had fallen asleep in his chair.
“Well, Imma big fan a’ movies anyway. What about yerself?”
“I…” was sinking into my seat, a pit in my stomach. “I enjoy them quite a bit.”
The screen, perfectly white and vacant, shut off. It was silent, dark, and cold. After a few moments, but it really could have been an eternity, the lights lit back up, and the music of the next film drifted throughout the parking lot.
“Drive-In” by G.B. Callous appeared in Issue 37 of Berkeley Fiction Review.
G.B. CALLOUS is a second year student at Berkeley who enjoys writing in her free time. Her admiration for the unknown, preference for older science fiction, and terrible sense of humor are her main inspiration for her works.