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The Hunt For The Real This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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   "You ride astride the imaginary in order to hunt down the real"

- Breyten Breytenbach



He ran down the corridor, barely dodging the bullets of his pursuers. Finally the reactor loomed ahead. Coming to a halt in front of it, he prepared the charges, and the beeps of the timer echoed as it counted down ...

Ichabod hit his alarm clock, fumbling for the switch to stop the infernal beeping. Finally he found it, and quiet again reigned in the room. He relaxed backwards onto his bed and blinked three times. Slowly, as he regained awareness of the world around him, he contemplated his surroundings. Lamp, check, Closet, check. Tchatchkes, check. The room was just as it had been when he fell asleep. Everything that had tumultuously roiled in his head had been just a dream. Nothing had changed. Reassuring in a way, he thought as he dragged himself out of bed, though occasionally disappointing. Thoughts meandered aimlessly as he picked up the first clothes from his drawer. These, unfortunately, were two shirts, so he dove back. This was far more productive. In that undefined region of early morning thought, he found himself thinking of his name: Ichabod Sophocles Otinovsky. Of course, there was nothing they could have done about the last name, but, though he appreciated the oddity at times, the first two were decidedly unusual. He would never quite understand his parents.

The mind-numbing repetitiveness of morning routine had gotten to the point where he had trouble remembering what he had just done. So, trying to remember what he had done, he walked out the door.

The world had gone completely mad. At least that's how it seemed. For a single frightening moment, he couldn't figure out whether he was thinking this as a philosophical musing, or that the world really had gone mad. Reality had quite obviously, he decided, gone on a bit of a holiday. That, coupled with the realization that he was thinking in British slang, so unsettled him that he was forced to sit for a moment on a large stone, the existence of which he would have questioned, had he been in a calmer state of mind. He looked where his street normally was and saw that, where it generally wound its merry way between the rows of houses, there was instead a lane of star-studded sky. He was about to look up when he was gripped by an unimaginable terror. If he looked up, and the sky was asphalt, he was fairly sure he would lose what grip he had on what was passing for reality. He got off the rock and sat crosslegged on what he fervently hoped was grass. He forced himself to look down and squeezed his eyes shut. He leaned too far forward, however, and found himself falling headlong through the lane of stars he had seen. His last thought before passing out was that he had never seen what the sky looked like.

Ichabod awakened floating on his back in what he surmised to be a tropical lagoon. It was night. His first thought was one of thanksgiving that the sky was normal, though he couldn't remember why he found that comforting. Then, with all the speed and gentleness of a granite freight train, the events of the past few minutes? hours? days? (he couldn't remember) since he had left his house came rushing back. It was only the certainty that he would drown if he fainted again that kept him from doing so. Searching for something to steel his mind against his mind-shattering experiences, he began swimming toward the nearby island. It proved to be farther than he thought, however, and by the time he pulled himself onto the beach, he was so exhausted that he immediately fell into a deep slumber. His sleep was haunted by troubling dreams, and when he awoke and found himself under a blazing tropical sun, he was glad for the reassurance it provided.

He moved inland, and was startled to come upon what appeared to be the ruins of a city. He wandered through it, half-hoping to find some clue as to where he was or how to get home. As the days and weeks went by, he gradually stopped dreaming of returning home, becoming more and more content to remain in the ancient city and draw circles in the dust. It was as if a weariness was overtaking his being, an unending lassitude, stirring him to new heights of inaction. It was as if lethargy had eclipsed his soul ...

Mr. and Mrs. Otinovsky stood anxiously as the doctor entered the room, and the deflated look on his face told them that there was no change. His words were merely a formality.

"I'm afraid there has been no change in your son's condition," he intoned, "And frankly I'm beginning to lose hope that he will ever come out of the coma."

"Thank you." Mr. Otinovsky whispered, and the doctor left. As he walked into the reception area, the secretary asked after the Otinovsky boy. He had become something of a favorite among the hospital staff. The doctor shook his head.

"A shame, really ... to be struck by a car just as he left his house ... how sad."

The secretary silently nodded as the doctor left to continue his rounds. 1


This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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