“Cross a bridge when you come to it.” People have always said that to me ‘cause I get so overwhelmed with everything, like bills and appointments and work and stuff like that. But every time I cross a bridge all I think about is jumping. I especially like highway overpasses, like to imagine a driver’s expression as my body slams into their windshield. The fantasy comforts me. I tell myself, “Not today. Probably tomorrow, but not today.” So mostly I avoid bridges as much as I can. Don’t care who’s grass is greener, you know? Unless it’s the kind you can smoke.
So how I ended up here is a total mystery.
The smoke and lightning monster with all the eyes and everything told me, “Walk fast, but not too fast. Don’t stomp your feet. Don’t look over the edge, and do not, no matter what you see or hear or feel, do not let go of the railing. If you do, you’ll fall, and it’s a very long way down.”
And I thought, “Really? Seven billion people in the world and you choose me to cross the highest scariest easiest-to-jump-off bridge in the world?” Or I guess between the worlds.
Anyway, it told me time was running out. Gotta have that ticking clock to drive the narrative and prevent my reconsidering or I’d never walk through that swirling fiery arch. Not only are they asking- really begging- me to walk across a bridge for them (and you know I have actually jumped a few times, into water not traffic, and obviously without success. It gets easier every time) but I have to do so in the midst of some lazily written cliche!
Anyway, the electric smoke monster was looking pretty desperate I think, so I went ahead and walked fast but not too fast through the arch and found myself on the bridge.
It was damp mossy stone under my feet, slippery as anything. The handrail was tarnished brass. “You’ve gotta be kidding me,” I muttered. I mean, they can’t even keep the railings polished on the trans-dimensional bridge between the worlds? Seems like kind of an important thing to keep up with… At least the sky didn’t disappoint. It was sheets of fire done in shifting colors, with I’m not even kidding glitter drifting down like snow. Some fell on my hands and clothes and stuff and I looked real close- it was definitely, positively glitter. It was mostly silver but a little of all the other colors too, even black. Then of course the weirdness started.
I came up on a great big wall made of interlocking wooden rocking horses. Their beady little eyes kept moving, looking me up and down. When I got close, maybe ten steps away, all these spidery things crawled out from somewhere and filled in all the spaces in the rocking horse wall. I think they had a lot more than eight legs though.
Anyway I didn’t slow down. It’s easy to not believe in something like that, and sure enough I passed right through it. It was just a hologram or something. After that one there was a cyborg T-rex with one glowing red eye (that one was my favorite), a huge fire-breathing octopus creature (purple of course), zombies, zombie elephants, and a dragon made entirely of rats. The rat dragon was pretty awesome too.
It was great to have all those distraction ‘cause it took my mind off wanting to jump off that bridge and find out what the heck I was crossing over.
After the rat dragon things were quiet for a few minutes. I tried to count glitter flakes and come up with all those color names that only artists and interior designers ever use, like ‘puce’ and ‘carmine’, to describe the fire sheets in the sky. Just trying to focus on something, anything, besides how easy it would be to just hop over the railing and be on my way out of all the bullshit and misery. It really was a losing battle, whenever I’m alone and run out of distractions I just get sucked into all that suicide stuff and this was no exception. But then I realized the fire sheets were getting a little thin and it was getting really cold. A few minutes later I was shivering and I could see my breath and the sky was clear and full of stars, huge stars like pinwheels. You could see them slowly spinning, millions of them, when one off to the left exploded. It looked just like those fireworks that make all the little burning bits that slowly fall down so it looks like a willow tree. I was watching them in the distance, they were just so pretty, kind of a coral color, when a car-sized chunk of flaming pinwheel drifted down right next to the bridge. It was just crazy hot, burned the hair off my left hand (the one holding the handrail) and the hair on my head was smoking on that side too! I used to burn the hair off my hands and arms all the time, for fun I guess, so I kept holding on and it was no big deal really. But it was definitely pretty cool.
Once the fireball had passed it got really, really, really cold. You know how when it’s so so cold and it hurts so much to have to touch anything metal? Yeah, that was a bitch. I just kept trying to pretend I was doing it on purpose. After a couple minutes of that I don’t think I could have opened my hand to let go even if I’d wanted to. And truthfully by then I did want to, very much. I’d’ve pried my hand off that bar except it was so damn cold I couldn’t hardly think at all.
I was distracting myself wondering what crazy psychedelic shit would happen next when the bridge started to twist like a corkscrew. It made me all dizzy of course but the bridge seemed to still be down so what the hell, right? It’s all relative anyway.
And then there was the other arch, unsurprisingly guarded by a jumbo size lion with faceted insect eyes and a shit ton of huge long squirming centipedes for a mane. Seriously, that seems like a bit of a design flaw, you know? I guess it was just supposed to look cool or something.
I asked it why a trans-dimensional universe-spanning bridge should look like it was dreamed up by a thirteen-year-old goth kid on ‘shrooms. I was just messing around of course, I thought it was just another hologram or whatever. Oh well, wrong again. So it says, in an Australian accent, no less, “There’s nothing here but what you bring, mate.” Touche, I thought. “Now why’ve you come?”
So I told it about the lightning monster thing and the quest to find the stolen magic jewel that holds the world together and return it to my home universe.
“Let me get this straight,” said the lion, with it’s centipedes all a-wriggle. “A lightning monster climbs out of a space-time rift and gives you some horseshit quest to another universe to find a jewel, one jewel, in an entire universe, and you just pop right off to that other universe. Do you know how big universes are? Did you even have a piss before you rushed off?”
Now, I know I’ve always been stupidly impulsive, so I guess I was ready to hear that fucked-up lion. I thought for a bit about jumping again. I mean, you really couldn’t pick a more picturesque and unique place to die, and no one nice would have to deal with my corpse. But I was committed to trying to stay alive, and if I was gonna have to go around being alive, what the hell else did I have to do with all that being alive time? At least this was interesting. Might as well have some fun while I’m still breathing. So I told that weird-ass lion to move aside.
You can probably guess what happened next. It stood up on its hind legs and put up its dukes like a Victorian gentleman. I have done a lot of stupid things in my life and made plenty of poor decisions, but even I am not dumb enough to box with a giant centipede lion. So I kicked that kitty in the nuts and ducked past it while it howled on the mossy stone and walked fast, not too fast, through the arch.