You only have so many breathes until —
Essex, England: Prelude
So was the heat, the temperature-over ninety degrees and humid-that the air vibrated so that, at first glance, the metallic glimmer seemed only some trick of the weather. But Charlie, who had pulled off of the main highway to the abandoned stretch of dusty road to relieve himself, continued to blink against the blinding light. There was something there, certainly, far beyond the leaves and the light. But first, the more pressing matter was his bladder, which was near to bursting. So he made his way towards the cover of of gently swaying trees, gingerly stepping over some over ripe, rotting fruit that had burst upon, on impact, upon that desolate stretch of sand.
He pissed bright yellow urine as worms of sweat made his way down the flabby meat of his back in the unrelenting heat. Then he made his way, hand over mouth, through a particularly bad hoard of gnats that formed, suddenly, thick as a shadow. Now facing directly at the source of the glimmer, against the sun, he could make out the darkened outline of an eighteen hauler. In these parts, such a sight wasn’t uncommon-trucks frequented the main path to and from the cities with every type of transport imaginable-dry goods, lumber, clothing, and anything else one could fathom.
Yet walking back towards his car, he realized that the back to the lorry had opened. He squinted as he trudged closer, past his rundown little car. He could already tell what the problem was-in the weather, the wheels had overheated or maybe the engine had overshot itself. The driver could probably use a helping hand and, as Charlie thought with a grin, he had two. Though the driver himself seemed no where to be found: outside the outline of gnats he’d passed through there was no sign of life to be found.
His upper lip whiskered with sweat, the earthy smell of himself wafting around him in a cloud thicker than the gnats, he walked closer to the truck, against the heat, as a swim might through waves.
Right away, he could tell the driver worked for some fashion supplier: a mannequin had fallen loose onto the sanded road. He made his way even closer. Yes, whoever had designed it had a modicum of real artistic talent: the mannequin looked a breath from a living child.