Greetings from Nowhere

Created by Katherine Haden.

Created by Katherine Haden.

Katherine Haden

As the future stretches ahead of me,

A thousand branching paths I cannot see,

I look back on a mountain of inconsequential regrets

I should have said, I shouldn’t have done.

They drip from my eyes and glue me to the ground

And I choke on the flowers in the meadows,

Wishing impossibly for an escape

As pathetic hopelessness wells up inside me.

June 20, 1990 (Day 0)

If anyone finds this journal, I’m probably dead. Please give this back to my mother. Actually, that’s probably impossible since I live in a different dimension, but on the off chance that you manage to reopen the wormhole that got me stuck here, that’s what you should do. I apologize for the morbid language, it’s just that I’m kind of in peril right now and I’m really freaking out…

I guess I should start from the beginning. My name is Baxter Hewett. I thought I’d be spending my last summer before college with my dad, on the Great American Road Trip we’d been planning since I was a kid. But then the divorce happened, and he moved to New York City, and the phone calls stopped coming after a while.

I didn’t exactly plan to do anything about it. After graduation, my mom ordered pizza. I stayed up a while after she went to bed. I imagined my dad, maybe having fun in New York City. Maybe being murdered in a dark alleyway. Probably not thinking about me either way. 

And then I was driving. I don’t know why. I guess I really wanted that road trip, even if my dad wasn’t there. I wasn’t thinking about how my mom would react. I wasn’t thinking. I had about 50 dollars and some spare clothes to my name, and oh no we only have one car how is Mom going to get to work

Anyway, there was this girl–Lola Kim. She’s got brown eyes and long, ink-black hair that looks really soft. She pinned me against a wall once–in an aggressive way, that is–so I don’t like her very much, but that’s beside the point. The point is that I found her walking along the highway, trying to hitchhike a ride to New York City.

I really shouldn’t have let her in. I guess I thought I would get lonely otherwise be safer if I was traveling with someone else. We’d only been driving for a few minutes when it started to rain–and of course by then I was having second thoughts, but she wasn’t. She never would. So we started arguing.

And I took my eyes off the road.

And it was still raining.

And now we’re very, very far away from New York City.

So at first I thought the wormhole dropped us into the medieval era, but then we found a huge abandoned mech right next to the car, so that kind of disproved my theory…so I guess we’re living in an alternate dimension now. With a giant mech. Seriously what the heck is going on

Okay, going back to the present, the point is: THE MECH WOKE UP. AS IN, IT’S PILOTING ITSELF. And now I’m hiding up in a tree, writing my last will and testament while it shoots LASERS from its LASER EYES and I am OFFICIALLY FREAKING OUT!!! 

Of course, Lola thinks all this is amazing. Yes, Lola, it’s just spectacular. The best thing since sliced bread. (I have to put all my sarcasm in writing because I think she’d kill me if I actually told her off. Let it be said that Baxter Hewett was not a spineless coward! At least not completely! Maybe 75 percent spineless coward? That’s being a bit generous.)

I wonder why Lola was hitchhiking in the first place.  THAT LASER WAS WAY TOO CLOSE I’M ACTUALLY GOING TO DIE OH NO

Day 3 (I’ve stopped labeling the dates because I don’t know if time passes differently from my home dimension, and I doubt you use the same calendar, so I’m just relying on the day-night cycle and…why am I writing this down?? This is completely irrelevant…)

Good news, I didn’t die! …Well, I guess I wouldn’t be able to write anything if I was dead. It turns out Lola managed to climb into the mech and pilot it, and then she thought it would be a good idea to fire a laser at me to get my attention, and the journal fell out of the tree and I wasn’t able to find it until just now. I feel a bit silly for writing my will for nothing–but I think I’ll keep this journal as a record of my experiences here. Maybe I can turn it into a bestselling memoir once we get out of here, and then I won’t have to worry about what subject to major in! Or maybe I can use it to prove that I’m not crazy and I didn’t mean to disappear for who knows how long

So anyway, since the wormhole pretty much messed up my car beyond repair, we’re living inside the mech now! It’s actually kind of cool, although there’s only space in the cabin for one person to pilot it and Lola is monopolizing the lasers, so I took it upon myself to explore the rest of the mech. It definitely hasn’t seen action for a long time–half the gears were clogged with wildflowers and I had to clean them out, but I felt guilty throwing them away so I ended up making them into flower arrangements and now they’re filling up all the rooms and I have to yell at Lola to stop stepping on them–but then why’d it turn on all of a sudden the other day?

Day 4

We were starting to run out of the granola bars I took from the car, so I went hunting. Or tried to. The wildlife here is pretty similar to the wildlife back home, just slightly more unnerving: three-eyed squirrels, rabbits that scream when you make eye contact, that kind of thing.

…I picked some berries instead. (I saw a rabbit eat them, and it didn’t die, so…)

Day 5

I finally got to pilot the mech today!! The view is even better from the cabin. And yes, I shot a laser. Only one! And it didn’t set anything on fire, I swear! …Please don’t arrest me. (Who am I kidding? Nobody’s going to read this.)

Day 6

You know, when I envisioned this road trip, this…wasn’t really what I had in mind. Sure, we’ve been following the road, but does it really count as a road trip if you’re driving a giant robot instead of a car? And if you have no destination?

Lola is starting to look…I mean, sometimes when the light catches her a certain way, from a certain angle…she looks kind of cute? No, I’m sure I’m just going stir-crazy. I must be. I can’t even imagine

Anyway, I found a really old-looking book of logic puzzles earlier. Isn’t that awesome? I didn’t expect to find my favorite thing in the world here! It’s got mazes, cryptograms–perfect for killing time. I used to do these all the time as a kid! Like, whenever my dad would forget to pick me up from school, the receptionist would give me a huge book of them to distract me from crying. She would talk to me about her grandkids and her arthritis. When I finished elementary school, she patted me on the head and gave me a whole bag of those weird caramels no one likes. (I appreciated the thought behind it, at least.)

I haven’t seen her in a long time. I wonder how she’s doing?

Day 7

So it turns out the mazes were actually road maps–the different paths had labels and diagrams, and when I solved some of the cryptograms they translated into some…weird things. About the mech. I think it’s an encoded operating manual.

I haven’t told Lola. She’s still preoccupied with the lasers. And she’d just laugh at me anyway. Besides, I doubt it would be of any use– we haven’t seen another person this whole time! It’s all just trees and weird squirrels.

Day 8

I’m stuck here, aren’t I? I’m going to be stuck here forever. Is this hell? Am I dead? Or just insane? Does it even matter?

Does anyone care?

Day 15

I think I found a way home. 

You know how the mech can shoot lasers? The manual says there’s a way to make it shoot wormholes. Or technically, lasers that rip holes in the fabric of reality itself. So if the mech got us here (although I still don’t understand why), it should be able to bring us back. 

Putting the mech’s energy core into overdrive would probably do it. And if that doesn’t work, I’m sure the manual will have an explanation; I just need to finish decoding it.

But the thing is, one of us would have to stay behind.

The mech can’t fire itself, after all…

Day 17

Today Lola finally asked about the maps, which I’ve been trying to make a complete atlas out of (since they were all out of order in the manual)…and then immediately took them to use for steering the mech. I have no idea where she’s trying to go, but at least she’s trying–I was afraid she’d never stop driving the mech in circles and shooting lasers at those stupid irradiated squirrels. But now how am I supposed to draw the atlas??

Day 18

I can’t trap Lola here. I just can’t. I don’t think I’d be able to live with myself. She can be headstrong, and mean, and jagged around the edges. But she doesn’t deserve to be stuck here all alone, that’s for sure.

Okay, all we need to do is find one inhabitant of this world–just one! They’ll fire the wormhole at both of us. There, problem solved.

We still haven’t seen anyone else, but it can’t be too hard, right? Even if this forest seems to go on forever. Even if the ciphers are getting more and more cryptic about the nature of this mech, and this world. 

No matter what, Lola and I are in this together. Even if I haven’t told her anything about the manual.

I’m sure we’ll come out from the other side if we just follow the road.