Sunday Snippet, Flash Fiction, Sneaking Away by Bill Chance

Welcome my son, welcome to the machine

What did you dream?

It’s alright we told you what to dream

—-Pink Floyd

Anna Karina, star of the French New Wave

Sneaking Away

For weeks, at work, Craig was seized with an odd obsession. He thought constantly about sneaking away in the afternoon and seeing a movie. It had been unbelievably hot – though it was a typical summer. Thirty-plus days in a row of triple digit temperatures. Coming up on two months without a drop of rain. This day after day of baking was affecting Craig’s brain – broiling his thoughts.

He thought of the multiplex down the street from his work. He thought of the cool darkness. The isolation and peaceful quiet, interrupted only by the cacophony of the film soundtrack itself. The crankle of ice cubes in a big paper cup, the swoosh of a straw, the smell of popcorn.

He dreamed of the time when he could lean back and close his eyes and feel the cushioned seat that jiggles a little, modern stadium seating, plenty of legroom. A modern bastion of entertainment, a pantheon to air conditioning. Cool whispers, dust filters. His fingers would feel the little paper stub in a pocket, a ticket to ride, escape.

It didn’t matter what the feature is… as a matter of fact, the more banal, the better. Some teen comedy maybe, or modern special effects smash hit mindless electric drivel. Escapism, is what they call it.

In his imagination he tells the girl at the front desk of the office, “I have an off site afternoon meeting,” and strolls out to the parking lot. It is only a five minute drive to the gigaplex; He sees himself locking his cellphone in the glove box of his car. The ticket seller, the ticket ripper, the concession slogger are all bored, the afternoon weekday crowd is light.

The worn carpet, the signs over the doors, the posters (coming soon)… He could see it all when he closed his eyes.

He didn’t do it though… He couldn’t do it. He worked in a factory, He was a critical cog in the machine. The oiled parts, hot and constantly moving, never know when his attention is needed.

So he took a hurried lunch, drove past the theater on his way back. The best he could do is to lean back a little between phone calls or emails, when nobody was standing in front of his desk with some question.

Lean back and close his eyes, try to smell the popcorn, hear the roar of the coming attractions.