Day 7 – In Virginia, they

A) I have a headache.

B) I barely planned this

C) I’m allowed to have a very off day

D) Repeat points A) to C)

 

Kudos goes to Alex Brown for the first three words of the story.

 

Word count: 1964

 

 

In Virginia they grew tomatoes. Ripe tomatoes – the purest and reddest tomatoes that you could ever wish for. Lush, fresh and mouth-watering.

 

But that wasn’t why Jerry was driving through Seaview. Jerry didn’t care for tomatoes, even. He was en route from the very industrial Portsmouth, VA, to Ocean City – a few hundred kilometres to the north. It was the perfect day for the beach though he was headed there on business. Jerry had never been to Ocean City, despite being a resident of West Virginia for a good four years. He was originally from Providence, Rhode Island.

 

Jerry was a businessman. He had a briefcase and lots of pens. His laptop was his life, but his smart phone was a close replacement if the former was ever lost. It had all sorts of applications on it. Apps. It had games, document readers, social networking, maps, internet, wireless connectivity pro-plus-4000 with added Yang that boosted the quad-core processor’ efficiency and didn’t run down the battery so much. It meant that it would now last a full working day without needing a recharge. Jerry loved his phone. If he’d had a girlfriend, he’d have probably loved his phone more.

 

Jerry was using the “maps” application. That meant there was a voice in his car telling him to listen to it, rather than bothering to read the road signs himself. Jerry was a firm believer that only drivers made mistakes, not computers.

 

With the window wound down and blowing through his short business-suitable-hair, smart phone resting in its satnav holder, Jerry was cruising down Highway number 13 with fields flying past him when the helpful little voice from his phone told him to take a left. Left took him down a small little road with trees lining one side and a little seafood café on the other. It was the sort of quaint little country setting he never really had the time for. Many of his work colleagues loved weekend breaks in some forest cabin or mountain range. Jerry preferred the high octane fun of the big city. Though Portsmouth was not the sort of city to offer the sort of night-life that he used to have when he worked in Washington. Not that Jerry was at all bitter that he was forced to move locations in order to keep his job.

 

Another field whipped by his window. By now he was sick of fields. Another turning and his mobile companion was chirping on about turning right. Right took him on to Arlington Road. Jerry squinted to the left and to the right of him. Was this really the best way to come? Surely the highway was his best bet for North?

 

He continued to drive along Arlington Road at a much slower pace than he would have normally done. Despite the several houses and farm buildings on either side, Jerry was quite on edge that he was surrounded by absolutely bugger all.

 

The sun was blaring in the sky by this point. His car breathed the dust from the road into the air as he hummed along the road at a steady thirty. After a few hundred metres a town sign appeared – Cheapside. Jerry let out a tortured wail.

 

Cheapside had a population of fifty-nine – so the roadside told him. Imagining a township of fork-wielding villagers, Jerry sped up as he drove through. Where was he? Was he even going in the right direction any more? He tapped the smart phone lightly, as if hoping that it would miraculously inform him that it was wrong and he should do a u-turn immediately.

 

However, such a fate was not designed for him. The phone continued to confirm his worst fears and was now informing him to continue further and further into obscurity. Yes, he passed several communities – but he was highly suspicious that these were not collectivised under the United States of America. Did they have electricity, running water? Perhaps they still spoke Dutch and weren’t even aware what century they were in? But they all had trucks. Why did they all have the same truck?

 

A little less than half an hour later Jerry’s patience was severely beginning to be tried. He was hot. Hot and sweaty. The ground seemed to be reflecting the sun’s burning rays directly at him. Even with the window wound right now, he was all sticky. He’d run out fresh out of water as well. He was thirsty and he needed caffeine soon if he were to continue this journey at all.

 

So it was a wave of relief to him when he drove over the next rise to see a small paradise spread out before him in the form of a town. His heart lightened a little at the tantalising thought of imminent coffee. He stepped on the accelerator and speeded down towards Cape Charles: population two-thousand four hundred and twenty nine.

 

Civilization at last. Even if it was a little strange. He drove down what must have been the main boulevard. Many shops and restaurants flanked either side of him, but they all seemed to be offering the same thing: tomatoes. There were even adverts everywhere about them: the juiciest, the biggest, the roundest. Jerry pulled over outside the nearest non-tomato – at least on first appearance – related café and got out.

 

It was staggeringly hot. Perhaps a little cooler because of the sea air, but it was suffocating nonetheless. He looked up and down the street. It was uncomfortable. Not from the heat of the sun – but from the heat of the stares he was getting from almost everyone who was around. It was as if he were some celebrity. Though this might have boosted his confidence in a slightly more densely populated area, the good people of Cape Charles were just creepy.

 

Jerry, however, needed his coffee. He walked into the air conditioned café and briefly thanked the lord for a cool break from the death rays from the summer sun. This moment of gratitude was almost instantly replaced by a further dash of creepiness when the entire café turned on him at once. He scanned around: they all looked normal. What was their problem? There were a few staring so intently at him that they were spilling soup down their fronts – tomato soup nonetheless.
Determined, though, he walked up to the counter and requested the biggest cup of coffee they had to offer.

 

“We also have some tomato soup,” the waiter offered.

 

“It’s a bit hot for that, isn’t it?” Jerry quipped.

 

“What do you mean?” the waiter looked deadly serious. “I don’t understand?”

 

“Soup? It’s the height of summer?”

 

The waiter remained perplexed, but continued to arrange for his coffee to be made. By this time the customers – obviously native townsfolk – had reverted back to their previous positions. They all looked quite relaxed now. Jerry was feeling a little more relaxed now that they were no longer staring at him. Perhaps, he thought to himself, that it was one of those towns where they don’t get many tourists or strange visitors. Jerry was reassured after this thought.

 

It was one of those nineteen sixties themed cafés. From the window you could see the bay between the buildings on the otherside of the road. It was actually quite a lovely place, if a bit country-fide.

 

“Excuse me sir, your soup is ready,” the waiter said.

 

“Soup? I ordered coffee,” Jerry said, turning back around to address the waiter.

 

The waiter merely foisted the soup further into Jerry’s view.

 

“No, I told you I wanted coffee. What part of that didn’t you understand?” Jerry was twitching now. He really needed his fix.

 

“No you ordered soup, I have it written down here. Please have the soup. It’s much nicer than coffee anyway.”

 

“I’m sure it is, but I want my coffee. I paid for it.”

 

Jerry had suddenly become aware that the room was staring at him again, but he cared not. He was determined to get his medicinal coffee whether or not he advertised his boisterousness to the world.

 

“It’s really nice soup though. Tomato. Would you like some tomato bread with that too?”

 

“Are you deaf? Are you absolutely deaf? I want coffee, dammit!” He was raising his fists now. What was wrong with the people here?

 

The waiter was starting to look a little scared and showed signs of backing down, which delighted Jerry no end.

 

“Perhaps you’d like to come speak to the manager?” the waiter suggested.

 

Jerry’s chest swelled with contentedness: this was more like it. The waiter gestured him towards a little door that led through to a small corridor with a low ceiling.

 

“His office is just in here,” the waiter said, opening a door at the end of the corridor for him.

 

But Jerry barely had a second to appreciate the lies he had just been told before he was being shoved down a flight of concrete stairs. He hit his head at the bottom and heard something somewhere else on his body crack. It was dark. Dark and cool. And slightly damp.

 

Suddenly he felt a pair of hands raising him up from the floor. There was a small window to the back of the room that filtered in what little light there was in the room, but there was just enough for him to make out the shapes of four figures before him.

 

“Are you alright?” one of them asked, it was a male and seemed to come from the pair of hands that had picked him up.

 

“No, what’s going on? I only asked for coffee!”

 

Another figure stepped forward, “So did we,” she said.

 

“And a sandwich,” a small boy said.

 

Jerry staggered to his feet and marched towards the window at the end of the room.

 

“You can’t get out,” a little girl said factually, “we’ve tried.”

 

“What the heck is going on here? How long have you been here?”

 

“Days, we think.”

 

“Were you – did they -?” Jerry stammered.

 

“Yes. We, too, were thrown down here.”

 

“But why?”

 

“We didn’t want the soup,” the man said.

 

“And I didn’t want a tomato in my sandwich,” the little boy said.

 

Jerry was lost.

 

“It’s the tomatoes. They’ve made them go mad. They’re all insane,” the woman said.

 

“They eat nothing else.”

 

“Home grown tomatoes. They’re addicted.”

 

“Well why are they forcing us to eat them?”

 

“So we would be like them,” the little girl said.

 

“What’s your name?” the man asked.

 

“Jerry. What are yours?”

 

“I’m Missy,” the little girl announced.

 

“I’m Tom,” the little boy said.

 

“I’m Jen,” said the mother.

 

“I’m Rich, and I’m very sorry.”

 

“Why are you sorry?” Jerry asked, sinking further into bewilderment.

 

“Because we’ve been here for days,” Rich continued, “No food or water. All they’ve tried to give us is tomato juice -”

 

“But we refused!” the Missy piped in.

 

“But we were desperate…”

 

“And so, so thirsty…”

It was at that moment that Jerry saw the glass out of the corner of his eye. It seemed to sparkle with menace from the little sunshine that shone through the tiny window. All that remained in the glass were the dregs of what could only have been tomato juice. Jerry looked up, heart frantically beating inside his ribcage as the family started to approach him – a maddening in their eyes to match no other…..

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~ by S.G. Mark on October 14, 2011.

2 Responses to “Day 7 – In Virginia, they”

  1. Hahaha mental.

  2. Yes, Good. Anything bizarre iz completely alryt wi me.

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