Lucy Blues was sitting in the back seat of a Channel 8 limousine. Her hands had fallen limp at her sides, her neck slung to the left, her head resting against the window and her mouth hanging open. She snored rather loudly and twitched occasionally. In her dreams she was running across a long grassy plane. Long in the distance she had a goal. Something she was heading towards. She had no idea how close or far it was; only that it was glorious to run through this field. She felt light as a feather; able to cover huge distance with each bounding step. Her heart raced and instead of growing tired she felt stronger by the second. The grass was soft on her toes, but suddenly it shook like an earthquake and she tripped and fell flat on her-
“We’re here, Ms Blues.” It was the rushed girl.
Lucy was disorientated and took in a deep breath as she straightened up in her seat. “Wha- Where?” she said dreamily.
“At his house,” the girl said, “Walter’s house. Don’t get out just yet.” Lucy was about to open the door and get some fresh air. It was a clear summer night and the stars were out with a half moon. The rushed girl slid across the seat and began to tidy up Lucy’s dishevelled hair. “There are cameras outside and they are hungry. Walter isn’t at home. Nobody can find him. They are desperate to keep the show rolling. They are going to come back to you and, I’m sorry, but you look like shit.”
Lucy let the girl brush her up and imitated some of the facial exercises the girl gave her in an attempt to wake up. The girl had no mirror and Lucy didn’t ask for one as they eventually decided to open the door. The feminist and the comedian who were sitting opposite the other two hopped out first. The feminist in a foul mood apparently after Walter turned out to be a male and because the comedian had been making snide remarks about it the whole way to his house.
It was a mild stroke of luck that the feminist, who looked shabby at the best of times and terrible right now, exited the vehicle before Lucy and gave her a few extra points in the looks department by comparison. But Lucy was starting to come back to life after the blinding flashes of the cameras receded from her vision. Why did she care how she looked? If she looked tired and unwilling they would avoid putting her on camera; she could go home.
She was now leaning against the outer wall of Walter’s apartment with an assortment of other guests. The media circus that had set up camp was almost sickening to see, let alone to be a part of. There were 5 metre high flood lights illuminating the parking lot, as if they were preparing for an amateur street brawl – no holds barred. Cameras and microphones were pointing in all directions and headsetted individuals were racing everywhere. No one had any idea where Walter was and Lucy secretly hoped he wouldn’t show up so that the whole fiasco could come to an end promptly. How long could they keep this up before people started changing the channel?
“Well I changed the channel the moment I saw the result,” said the man in front of the camera, as if reading Lucy’s mind and answering her question. He was a chubby individual who was apparently a neighbour of Walter’s. “I mean he is a nice person and all, but if he is the happiest in the world then we have a real crisis on our hands. I mean surely he isn’t as happy as me. I have a family. I have a better apartment – he basically lives in the janitor’s closet. I’ve never seen him driving, or wearing nice clothes or-”
“Thank you Mister…uhh?” the presenter, Manny Holdsworth – son of the famed hannel 8 figurehead - said in an attempt to cut this man off.
“Cowan,” the man said proudly, trying to reassert himself after being interrupted.
But the presenter had already pivoted away from this man to face the camera directly, “I think the mysteries of Walter Wallace and his happiness may be rather complex. We will keep searching for the answers here, but for now we will be heading back to the studio with you, Tony.”
The presenter relaxed and let out an irritable moan, “This shit is never gonna end.”
“I don’t appreciate being cut short like that!” exclaimed a red faced Mr Cowan.
“Oh, I’m terribly sorry.” Manny began sarcastically. “Try not telling people to switch off the TVs because the new hope is a fraud next time you want to brag about your shitty car to an international audience. We are trying to work here so please clear off, Mister…?”
“Cowan,” he said in subdued anger.
Lucy stood, light headed in the circle of special guests. She wanted to return to her dream; to run away with that endless energy. Now she felt she could barely stand, and any fresh air was drowned out by the clouds of cigarette smoke emanating from the circle. The rushed girl was organising the group like a sheep dog arranging its herd. They were passed on to Manny one by one for more empty comments but not before a few more neighbours and the doorman were interviewed. These people also had similar doubt-inducing stories, including one about Walter regularly drying a wet two week old newspaper on the buildings ventilation system.
“Well you may be right, Tony,” Manny said, taking a lead in from the studio, “We have heard from the neighbours and the doorman. They didn’t have too many niceties to say. But it may be testament to the resolve of Walter to be so happy with neighbours like Mr Cowbell.” Manny was perhaps stepping over the line but nobody seemed to care anymore. It seemed as though everybody wanted this to end – even the home viewers – but all were compelled by some indescribable force to push forward. “So now we are going to talk with the lovely Ms Blues, the creator of this device. Without her, this whole scenario would not be possible. We will see what she has to say in the face of some recent doubts about the authenticity of the result.”
If Lucy wasn’t already feeling terrible than this was not about to help her cause. She had a stroke of luck though, because she was not there to hear this introduction. She was halfway down the street, having managed to slip the watchdog eye of the rushed girl and ran as fast as she could just as she had in her dream. But, unlike her dream, she was running on the coarse asphalt, her clothes and high heels restricted her, the dark street continued on into and endless abyss and she was fast running out of energy. She stumbled as one of her high heels gave way, grazing her knee. She got back up and kept running. She had to keep running. If she tripped as she did in her dream then she would fall and wake up from this nightmare into something even worse. Or maybe she would wake up in the dream again. And as the temptation of the thought passed over her, whether by will or pure exhaustion, her body gave up. She fell onto the harsh concrete and passed out.