Colliding with the fourth region.
He pitched up his tent and nestled into the bank of a long-dried river. His footsteps and exhalations turned over the dirt. Whispers trapped in air pockets escaped. His mere presence made things look different. But before I could wish he’d stay, the tent was gone.
She couldn’t find tire tracks. Carriage tracks. Not even steaming clumps of horse manure–and she knew there were horses because she heard them grunting and neighing for eight straight nights. She had watched the traveling circus from atop the hills. Music during the moonlit evenings and marionettes kicking balls around were the two constants. Three nights went by before she was curious enough to go nearer. She saw a man walk out of the tent on the fourth night. He was holding a rifle in his right hand and a cigarette in his left.
Don’t smoke so close to the trees, she thought to herself as she kept watching him. You’ll start a fire.
The man with the rifle flicked the cigarette into the stream in front of him after taking a few more drags.
Why did you do that? I’ll have to clean up after you now.
The man went back inside the tent. A few seconds later, a box was flung out onto the ground. Offended and perplexed, she stood up from behind a tree. Firm strides brought her down the gravel path to that box. There was a volleyball, streaked with mud stains and patches of dark red, in it. She knew it wasn’t the best idea to pick the ball up, but she did it anyway. Holding the dirty thing close to her nose, she smelled those red splotches.
Iron, just like iron.
She dug around her jacket pockets for the knife she always had on her person. She sliced the ball in half. Inside was a piece of paper with writing on it, which read:
She switched off her TV set and lounged around the edge of the cold mattress. Her heartbeats and coughs burned voices into memory. False starts capped by regulation evaporated. Her austere desires changed the sound of things. When I finally accepted the clause, the TV set was gone.