The Bella Lou Highway

In the spring of 2001 I had a dream – so profound that it has stayed with me since that night. I had dreamt that my family and I were living thousands of miles under the earth, in a small community formed for some bizarre governmental reason. Luckily, we had moved into this place only recently because it was already too late for those who had lived here for some time.

The sky of this vast subterranean cavern was dim and unearthly. Light from the sky had an unnatural epileptic flicker to it like florescent lighting. The buildings were all uniform in a prefab military base sort of way.

However, the most striking thing about this place was the inhabitants’ faces – years of atmospheric pressure had cause premature aging and a condition in which the blood in peoples bodies would slowly sink and stay at the bottom of peoples’ body parts. Giving the bottom of peoples’ faces a dull purplish blotch that would slowly get taller as time passed. It literally looked as though the life was being squeezed out of people. In short, the environment of this cave was killing everyone slowly.

The toll that this environment took upon individuals was so great that once these changes start to get set in motion it becomes increasingly difficult to escape from this hell. Thus, most people accepted their fate, and spent the majority of their lives in idle daydreams and useless pastimes.

As for escape from the cave, there was only one way out – the “Bella Lou Highway to the Stars” and you had to pay for every inch that you ascended out of the cavern. Thus, very few people were willing to attempt to ascend the highway. The reasons were twofold: one, the cost was so great that even though everyone had enough money to leave, they were not willing to give up spending their money on idle pastimes and daydreams; two, none who had left was ever seen again – no one knew what would happen to you if you did leave, so most feared the journey more than death. The community at large was always discouraging the few that had made up their minds to try to leave. Once word had gotten out that one wanted to leave, the community would make life miserable for the one who wanted to leave, until they had given up their hopes.

My family and I awoke to find us in a run of the mill house (fully furnished) with all of the latest Walmart style goods. We had no memory of what had happened in our previous lives, or the events leading up to our arrival in this dark land. Suddenly, we all became aware of an all encompassing crushing feeling that was bearing down upon us. The pressure in the atmosphere was painful. Dazed, we ventured out of our house, through a neighborhood of identical houses. We saw lots of people pretending to be happy – but we could see the pain that was being afflicted upon them by the environment just by looking at their skin. Eventually, we found ourselves at a McDonalds and we got a close up look at the other people in the town. They were hideous! I ran to the mirror in the bathroom. I say that similar changes were starting to happen to my own skin. I was scared and confused. I started to ask people about a way out of here. Everyone feigned ignorance.

Eventually, we found out about the highway – “The Bella Lou Highway to the Stars.” All we knew was that the journey would be long and hard, and would cost us everything that we owned. But what alternative was there? This? So we set off in our car to the entrance to the highway. We drove onto a plank like ramp and saw a meter to our left that would calculate our inches ascended and the amount owed. Then as we ascended up the highway – I awoke.

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