I left off with the scarred pavement, and how I was startled the first time Siege wandered from the chosen lane. It would soon become a common occurrence. Every now and again, just...BRBRBRBRMMMM! Each one was followed by Siege saying, "Sorry." This, of course, added to my running commentary about drivers and their inability to stay in one lane, which now included Siege. Every time HE complained about another vehicle drifting, I got to say things like, "Oh, excuse me, BRBRBRBRMMMM! I had no idea you were perfection behind the wheel." With a smile, Siege would reply, "I have no idea what you're talking about."
Okay...we journeyed on, eventually locating local Route 54. It was not long after we got onto this road that Siege experienced one of his hallucinations. There we were, cruising along, when he suddenly pulled on the wheel to avoid...nothing.
Me: You okay?
Siege: Dude...did you not see that bridge?
Me: Ummm...Siege? There was no bridge.
Siege: Are you sure?
Me: Positive. No bridge. Why? What did you see?
Siege: I saw a bridge made of stone with vines hanging down into the road, and I was swerving to avoid them.
Siege: Yes, vines!
No problem. This was simply a symptom, and the best way to get such a thing swiftly dismissed was to talk Siege down from what he'd seen. And I could tell he was feeling better about it when he joked after passing one of those "adopt a highway" signs. "I should call them up...'About the bridge near the junction of I-40 and Route 54...someone really needs to go out there and trim those vines.' They'll have no idea what I'm talking about, but I should do it anyway."
It then became a running gag throughout the trip. I mean, at one point we were staring at the clouds on the horizon in front of us, and he would point, say something like, "Smilie face," and I could easily see it. So I pointed off to the side and said, "Look, a bridge." This would earn me something akin to a death gaze, and then a smile.
Now, I must, MUST, MUST mention something here. We killed a lot of time chatting it up, and part of it was about various RPGs and world building. Siege, it turns out, had invested some time building a D&D world, and as he went deeper and deeper into a description of it, I was absolutely amazed. The world he'd created was incredibly detailed, and the history was amazingly complex. While he worried it was terrible, as most creative folk tend to imagine their original stuff is, I applauded the entire thing. Really, really incredible stuff.
This tale is a little bit scattered. I'm not speaking of everything in the order they happened. But come 11:00 PM, Siege was starting to feel the effects of having been awake for DAYS. I made multiple offers for us to pull over and get a motel room or something to get some decent sleep, but he refused. We would make it back to Kansas without a lengthy stop or die trying. So to combat fatigue, we made one of those restroom stops, and Siege bought an energy drink that tasted to as close to "Liquid Death" as I could imagine. Really...I was allowed to taste the stuff, and thought my life was ending in some horrible way. Meanwhile, Siege is there, smacking his lips like he'd just downed something tasty.
I bought a low calorie energy drink, and we were on out way again...until 3:00 PM. The energy drink had stopped doing its job, so Siege downed the other one he'd bought. An hour later, he came to the realization that the human body has limits, and no matter how much caffeine he ingested, sleep was needed. Thus, we pulled over, parked on the slightly darker side of a convenience store, and rested.
That is, Siege rested. He wanted only a half hour power nap and then we'd be on our way. I decided to play the role of guardian, so I grabbed a book, found a table outside the store, and read for a bit while Siege napped. The idea of only a half hour...? Nuh uh. Not happening, despite his insistence. I let him sleep an hour before waking him up, and even then, he had a hard time rejoining the waking world. First question he asked was, "Where is everyone?" I'm not sure who everyone might've been, so I waited patiently for him to catch up to the world.
Eventually, we were on our way again, with more bridge jokes, complaints that home wasn't arriving sooner, and stops so I could empty my "hummingbird's bladder."
The story is almost over, save for what was going on with my right knee. In part one, I mentioned my need to keep my backpack up front with me. It was at my feet, and so I had my legs spread in such a way as to accommodate it. And as I sat there, I had moments where I was silently praying for death. I was in AGONY! I felt as though I couldn't take enough painkillers, and I was coming close to saying, "Siege, I'm done. We have to find a hospital...NOW."
I'm not sure what inspired me to do so, but I changed my tactics when it came to the bag. Instead of leaving it on the floor, I put it on my lap and straightened my legs. As though I'd been given some wonder drug, the pain started to subside. From that moment on, I was able to endure the trip without having to pop pills at what seemed to be every three hours. The good news about my suffering is that I now have a good idea where the pain is originating from.
I am...home...now. My new housemates have made me feel welcome, and have been as helpful as they can be. I'll have more to report about that another time, but this brings the story of the journey to KS to an end.
Be well, all. =)