Casey was driving (a few objections were later tossed aside when their eyes became drowsy) and it was raining. A hot mist was rising from the black top street road, causing an eerily
veil over the world outside. Joe was awake, for some odd reason. Casey half-heartedly felt he was only awake because she was.
"You excited for the new dice rules? They should stir up some creative juices in our heads," Joe replied, dragging his words together a little.
"Joe, how many pain pills did you take?" she asked.
"Enough," he answered.
"Thank Christ, I brought my cds," she said, thumbing through her cd catalog in her lap while steering with her knees.
"That looks safe," Joe replied.
"Ah! Tori Amos, just what I need," Casey said triumphantly, pulling out her edition of Scarlet's Walk. "This album is written from the point of view of a mysterious traveler named Scarlet and her experiences in America. One of my favorites."
She plucked the cd into the stereo and skipped to track 12. "This song is beautiful," she muttered to no one in particular before settling into her focused driving once again.
The song began, a soft piano melody with the occasional light guitar and percussion. Tori's voice was haunting and passionate.
"We should try out the new rule for 1. Why don't you tell me a story using this song?" he asked, hiding his clouded eyes from her direct view. He tried his best to enunciate, but wondered if was effective.
"Ok, I'll give it a shot. This song does lend itself to storytelling. I guess this is my interpretation because I'm not exactly sure what this song is about," and with that, Casey began.
From here, no lines are drawn
Scarlet had begged him not to go. Everything felt wrong about that rally. It was a miracle in itself she had gotten him to stay at their tiny, expensive apartment for so long after the rally had began. But then the local news had started reporting the protest building up into a full-blown riot. The riot police had began throwing tear gas and shooting rubber bullets in the air. They would grab and arrest anyone involved through the confusion and shouting.
"I just have to go see what they plan on doing about this," he told her. This is my movement! I take off one rally to make you happy, and the movement is about to be crucified out there! I have to go."
He turned and faced her then. His eyes were alive and ready. She had seen the look before, but never so intense. "I love you," he said, caressing her cheek.
But he left then, and she knew he wasn't going to come back.
She tried to sit and wait for him. It didn't last long. She had to find him.
On the other side
The streets were in chaos. Smoke and gas clung to the streets like a garden of bitter mist. Her eyes stung and welled with tears. Her lungs choked. In a moment of desperation, she threw her fiery red hair over her eyes and attempted to peek through the slivers of her hair strands. It helped, but her vision was still limited.
"Welcome to the other side! This is where the only rule is disorder and the only thing to do is lose all sanity!" shouted an unfamiliar male voice coming up from behind her. She could barely make out a figure running past her in the haze. "This is now a hunting ground!" the voice shouted again. Then Scarlet was too far away from the figure to hear what he continued to shout.
Dread filled her. Where is everyone? Where are all the cars? Where the life that used to thrive on these streets and avenues? Where was New York City? And where was he?
Did we get lost in it?
A bullhorn was audible ahead, although Scarlet had no idea of the location. She followed it blindly, still peering through her red hair without much avail of protection.
It was him speaking to everyone, preaching the movement and its glories. The words were met with praise from the listeners, a few hundred or so, but chaos still existed around them. A police car burned, creating a thick layer of heat over the crowd beside it.
Scarlet just wanted him to hold her and tell her it was alright. She cared not for the movement any long, just him.
The crowd began grow more violent, kicking over street lamps and various greenery. The smoke seemed to grow thicker.
She ran to him then, clutching his waist. "Scarlet! You must go home! This riot..." he began.
"Don't leave me, don't leave me, don't leave me, not right now, don't leave me...." she chanted in a low tone until he noticed.
He grabbed her shoulders and looked at her through her makeshift hair mask. "I will find you. Even in death, I will find," he told her.
She seemed oddly comforted by his words. Her hands fell limp at her sides and wiped the tears from her eyes. "It's like a hunting ground here. And you're leading it. And I can't find my way out." When she looked up for his reaction, he was gone.
I know your lips are warm
But I can't seem to find my out
It was no longer worth it, their love, and Scarlet had realized that stumbling and coughing her way threw crowds of violent protesters fighting authorities while children cried and fires burned. She turned around for a moment, looking at the city through her hair. The idea struck her then. The Empire State Building was the closest building, which suited her perfectly.
As she entered the front entrance, a maniacal-looking meth addict rushed down the stairs and yelled, "Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!" before whizzing past Scarlet into the streets. This time, she recognized his voice as the one who shouted at her earlier. "It's you again..." she whispered.
The building had been, for the most part, abandoned. A few stragglers, hiding in bathrooms and crying to themselves, were heard as Scarlet walked through the halls to the elevator. Pushing the button for the roof, she felt that he would find her here and think it was all an accident. He would never know just how badly she wanted to just love him and not be around the madness. He would never know the pain she felt when she realized it would never happen.
The roof was breezy, but clear of the smoke and gas being so far up. A meth addict had ripped a hole through the protective fence surrounding the ledge to see if he could fly. Scarlet had seen a live report on the local news about four hours ago, before the riot. The hole was still there. Maybe she would fly...
And I can't see New York
As I'm circling down through white clouds
Falling out and I know his lips are warm
But I can't seem to find my way out, my way out
Of this hunting ground
I can't see New York
From the other side
Casey looked over and admired Joe sleeping against the window. Her stomach twinged when she realized she would never stop admiring him, no matter what he did.