Sometimes I think she was a dream. It might be easier if I thought so all the time. Maybe she was. She was a breath of the old America. That used to be a place.
The first thing I saw was her motorcycle. Then her. She was peeling the chocolate off a Ding Dong with her teeth and pointing a shotgun at me. I’m still surprised she saw me first. I own this mountain, and I hunt its strange beasts with my magic powers. Brilliant Hillary still saw me first.
“I am Drake,” I said. “The Drake.”
It was all I remembered of human language. I think she heard what I wanted to say though. She offered me a Twinkie, and our whirlwinds twisted together. I showed her my excavation, the living bones in the mountain there. She had me practice words: “teriyaki beef jerky” and “Christ, is it a dinosaur?” Eventually “lover.”
The beasts mostly left us alone. That first day I wanted one to attack us so I could show off my bow. We had to track one down. It took half the day. When we found it, I pointed at her shotgun to offer her the kill. I was being polite, but she only had the rounds that were in it. She found it behind a cash register. Some gas stations were still working.
I took the shot. She said, “Ooh.” I don’t know if she was serious. She said most bows need actual arrows, so I think she was joking. Anyway she wasn’t too amazed. She’d caught her whiff of magic on the interstate. She stared at me instead of the bow. I stared back.
I ate the second Twinkie and tried to ask if she loved me. It seemed like the right time. My words were misshapen. It was frustrating. I posed the question a different way—I took off my breastplate. Her fingertips on my abs were answer enough.
It seemed like weeks, but it must have been one night. They say dreams happen in seconds no matter how long they feel. We hunted together each day she was here. I showed her the tasty parts of the bug-cougars and how their meat grew crystals to show it was cooked. She liked it. She said “Mmm” and seemed surprised to mean it.
She said it was better than people, and we laughed at that. Apparently she had to eat some people. We knew it wasn’t funny. Neither were the billions dead, but later, when I could talk again, I made a joke about them. It was about how they should have been as smart as we were. I don’t remember. It was a bad joke, but we laughed even harder at it.
The nights were intense. They were beautiful. I won’t shock you with the details. Toward the end of the dream, I got sad. I was starting to guess it was a dream. She said “Hm?”
“You’ll leave me.”
“I can’t imagine leaving you, Drake,” she said, and I felt she meant it. “Why would I?”
“I’ll be awful to you, and you’ll leave.”
Next thing, she was on her motorcycle. She blew me a kiss. I watched until her taillight vanished. Or I woke up or something.
Man, fuck Tim.