Glory of the Run

a story by Eric Robinson

The exhaust seeping out of a small livestock truck is feeling lonely. Eons of stasis and thoughtless slumber interrupted by an exhaustive refinement process, millions of dinosaurs, plants, and prehistoric insects compressed into a single batch of pungent fluid now being burned out of metal piping. It exits the vehicle with an audible sigh, finally able to stretch its vapor legs.

Most of the exhaust drifts into the pen full of goats at the back of the truck, but it remains a collective mind in dire need of attention. The fumes that ascend into the atmosphere hook up with stewing rain clouds, communicating in subtle energies, molecules transmitting a single word: party.

The exhaust surrounding the goats is thinking the same thing. “Hey guys! How about getting to a bitchin’ partaay?”

The goats all look at each other, mulling it over for a few minutes. “Yeah, we’ve got nothing better to do...”

Excited, the cloud of exhaust calls to a fellow cloud drifting above, it decides they will converge on the vehicle behind the truck, and that the cloud will be the bringer of the partaay.

A little tendril of exhaust creeps around to the outside of the pen and unlatches it as rain begins to fall harder.

“Let’s hit it, boys!”

And with that, the goats begin ejecting themselves down the motorway with furious velocity.

***

The rain has never been more visible than it is now. Each drop reminds him of the drop before and the one before that. He wishes he could get to know each individual drop, or at least see each of their faces before they splatter on the ground.

He weaves in and out of traffic, barely missing the goats. He catches the stare of one as it blasts by. Its rectangular pupils disturb him deeply. The grey bloom of cloud that seems to be sinking from high above directly in front of him disturbs him further. He does not need this kind of shit today. A deluge of goats from a reckless livestock truck is one thing, but the clouds are breaking the camel’s back.

“Hey man! Yo, wassup?” The cloud says, surrounding his car in a fog of blinding, angelic grey.

“Get out of here, cloud! I can’t see shit.”

“Yo lets hit up the clubs!” the cloud says.

He swerves madly, knowing it can only exacerbate his situation. He can not shake the cloud. He has no idea what lane he is in. He assumes he’s probably crossed the median by now and will die at any moment. Instead, his windshield is penetrated by a goat. Blood puffs into the car like a blast of powdered sugar. He is utterly destroyed. A stubby horn lodged in his vital organs. The cloud senses the lack of life in his chosen target and recedes into the gloomy sky.


The car continues to coast a bit. The hiss of passing wet tires is still audible to him. He is kind of floating inside his wrecked skin. He has terrible visions as he realizes he has died. The visions fill him with great sadness and emptiness as his life passes before him in an abstract arc of neon fluid. He wants so badly to have been in a better mood before he died. He feels himself shrink further inside his bloody husk. He fears he is going to disappear forever.

***

In a nearby suburb a different He is sitting on the toilet. The walls are crusted with ominous mushrooms and spectral centipedes spinning in place, mocking the beach-themed wallpaper beneath. He is taking a dump. His bowels are slightly impacted due to his poor diet. Out of the tiny bathroom window he can see the overcast lulling and rippling in the rain. He’s grown accustomed to the frequent rain, but he has not grown accustomed to clouds lowering themselves to ground level and seeping into his bathroom. He rolls his eyes and lets his chin rest on both his hands.

“Hey buddy, I’m so glad I found you!” the cloud exclaims.

You are not my buddy, he thinks in return.

The cloud engulfs him. He is still sitting on the toilet, indifferent. He notices how it seems like the bright grey light of the cloud is indicating that he is the sole person in a vast, endless plane. He likes that thought. Ancient echoes of extinct creatures begin to fill the void, soft and unthreatening. It makes him feel warm and immortal. He smiles and finally releases his bowels. He remains on the toilet for a great deal of time. He can sense the cloud is satisfied too.

Finally, the cloud breaks the silence, “Let me tell you something about goats!” it says.