Sheared away

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Excerpt from Applied Ballardianism: A Theory of Nothing

“The man lowered his voice. ‘Get in the car… NOW.’

Who was he? Some kind of roadside authority? But why was he dressed like a nurse, and why so threatening?

As he marched towards us, Philip whispered: ‘See that hatch over there?’

I thought I could detect a slight tinge of panic in his voice, as if we’d found ourselves in an urban version of Deliverance, as he pointed to a hole in the middle of the median strip, which led to the parkland below. I could see the greenery beneath. It beckoned like an oasis.

As the ‘nurse’ bore down upon us, Philip darted towards the hatch and slid down on his back. Stunned into action, I followed, jumping after him. I lost my balance and went flying, tumbling end over end and banging my head on the concrete drainage slab at the bottom. I heard Philip’s voice way off in the distance, and I could just make out the outline of his body as he moved towards me. He looked blurry and indistinct, and I blacked out from the effort of trying to bring him into focus.

When I came to, he was gone. I tried to remember what had happened but drew a blank. I couldn’t remember where we’d been. It was dusk.

Somehow, I staggered home to my apartment, just a few blocks down the road, although I was sure we were in Collingwood, judging by the freeway’s location, which was a full fifteen kilometres from Reservoir where I lived. I crawled to the bathroom, looked in the mirror and was appalled. My face was a bloody mess. My nose had been smashed to the side like a Picasso painting, my left ear was sliced almost in two and the lower half of my upper front teeth had sheared away.

Why did Philip leave me?