There was only a moment of screaming before he landed with a sickening thud on the dirt. Visions swum in front of his eyes for only a few seconds before he succumbed to the sweet embrace of the darkness.
But just as quickly as it had taken him, the darkness spit him out. It was not yet Time. His brown eyes fluttered open and he rolled over, slowly and painfully. The sky above him was a tainted gray, and the air around him smelled like rust.
Where was he?
Even though the fall had been strong, he didn’t feel any broken bones, and the sharp pain he had felt upon landing had receded to a lingering soreness. So he gently, carefully, stood up.
He looked around and rubbed his eyes in disbelief. Where was the road? The E4? Where was the car? His mom, his dad? There was nothing in the barren landscape. Just brown and gray mist as far as his eyes could reach. His mind was losing control, a thousand blurry images raced through his head. He shut his eyes and fought desperately to calm his mind and remember the last thing before falling.
A car… a blue car… it was a family trip! A trip with his parents! He remembered the forest whizzing by as they rode on to the amusement park Liseberg. He remembered the falling rain, his mother complaining about not seeing well. He remembered thinking how beautiful the forest looked through the fog, and his father commenting how hard it was to see the other cars. He remembered thinking the road looked beautiful while it was wet, and he imagined himself jumping on the puddles that had collected on the E4 highway. Then a scream was ripped from his mother’s throat, the horrible sound of grinding metal and crushing bone, and then his own terrified scream before he landed in this disgusting desolate place.
Was he dead?
He pinched his side nervously but fiercely. A small lightning bolt of pain shot through his ribs. He was not dead. But… was he alive? He looked at his hands, they seemed firm, and when he pinched them he felt pain, but, he was not on the E4, he was not with his family. This was not how the world was supposed to look.
Panic welled up in his chest and he felt his eyes moisten with thick, hot tears. Where was he? Where did he go now? Suddenly, he heard his mother’s calm voice and remembered that hot summer day when he was four years old, learning about stranger danger and other useful things his mother had to teach. She was gently playing with his light brown hair, “If you get lost in a small city, find the post office Pelle. If you don’t know where you are, or where the place you’re supposed to go to is, that is what you should look for. They will tell you where to go.”
The memory was so real, so vivid, that he turned around to look for her. He expected to see her long black hair swirling as she turned around and outstretched her arms, “Pelle! I was worried sick!” He expected to be able to run into her arms and cry until the morning arrived. To hear her voice breaking with relief, “Don’t ever disappear like that again son!” And to be able to promise to never leave her side again.
But there was just the sprawling, empty fog.
Pelle stood still, staring at the empty distance and trying to figure out what exactly he should do now. He stretched his hand out and batted at the fog. It disintegrated through his fingers.
He looked down at the ground, then, making a fist to gather bravery, Pelle Marcus Ingvar walked forward to the post office and disappeared into the fog.