I kicked the snow off my boot, placed it in the bindings, and strapped the snowboard to my feet. I was just about to kick off when I noticed a fresh path above me, off to the left. I could huff it up there and that could be my fresh powder… Ok, screw it. I undid my straps and started trudging up through the deep snow when — OW! What the fuck? My left ear was being electrocuted, causing my head to twitch to the side. I ripped off my sunglasses and the pain stopped.
What? It felt as if that electrical surge was coming from the end of my sunglasses. I picked them up, squeezed on the end of the left side, and noticing a small bulge within, proceeded in trying to crush it.
That’s when I thought I had truly lost it, because I could have sworn I heard sounds squeaking out of it…
Hesitantly, I lifted the glasses back to my head, hovered them just above where they would’ve sat on my ears.
“Do not crush that Jared! This is extremely rare and expensive technology!” a voice spoke.
I threw the glasses on the snow pack. Ok, I’m losing it. There’s no way that just happened right? Those things are maybe $5? No way would they have any sort of sound capabilities…
Just then, my friend slid to a stop next to me, his board covering me in a tidal wave of icy snow.
“What’s up with you? You looked like you’ve seen a ghost?” he said
“Dude, my glasses are talking to me” I said. He stared at me mockingly. “Seriously man, pick them up!”
He leaned down, glancing back at me doubtfully, and held them up to his ear. His eyes grew large.
“Yo, these are Bluetooth glasses?!”
“No!” I said, “They’re from the dollar store! They shouldn’t be making any damn sound” I was panicky, but relieved to know I wasn’t suffering from a psychotic episode. I snatched the glasses back, and gingerly placed them on my head.
“Jared, I guess the gig is up.. You figured it out somehow” the voice said.
“Figured it out? You electrocuted me! I ought…” every word I said sounded dumber and dumber as it came out of my mouth.
“Electrocuted? No, no… There must have been a malfunction somehow. There’s no way you should have found our implant in your glasses. Now do us a favor, and just pretend this didn’t happen. OK? Have fun today!”
“Are you fucking kidding me? Who is this?!” I shouted, but it was useless, the glasses remained silent. I threw them to the ground again, crushing them under my boot.
“Dude, I’ve got to get out of here. Something very, very odd is going on” I told my friend, strapping my boot in and hopping into position. He stared after me, confused, as I rocketed down the mountain at top speed.
When I reached the lodge at the bottom, I removed my gear, half-running all the while, and bolted to the parking lot. The bus back home was about to leave at right that moment. Thank God. I stumbled into the stairwell but not before I noticed two pretty girls standing behind me — wearing shorts and T-shirts…. umm what?
I knew one of them. “Iris? What are you doing here?”
“Oh. Nothing. Just going to ride the bus with my friend” she said, her smile beaming innocently.
This did not compute. No one shows up deep in the snow covered mountains, in shorts and T-shirts, just to catch a bus. I felt my eyes darting back and forth as I tried to process all that was improbably happening to me. I turned to the bus driver. He grinned menacingly. Turned to the girls again. They smiled perfectly.
“Fuck this” I said and threw my board at the girls, running away from them and the bus as fast as I could. Immediately, one of the girls pulled out a cell phone and barked something into it, before both of them came chasing after me.
I knew it! They were part of this… this… I don’t know! What in the hell is going on?
I ran, and ran, but they only continued their pursuit, closing in on me until I came to a large cabin. The logs jutted out of one end like Lincoln logs and I ascended them like a ladder at an impressive speed, until I was one story up on a roof, now looking down at the two “seemingly innocent” girls.
“Jared! Get down here!” Iris said.
“No! What the hell is going on? How are you part of this? What is — I’m trying – Why – “I knew I wasn’t making sense anymore, the panic I felt was overwhelming, washing over me in intense waves.
“I -- I can’t tell you what’s going on Jared. You weren’t supposed to be able to figure this out. This isn’t according to plan!” she pleaded. The other, blonde girl stood next to her, creepily grinning up at me.
“Just get down here and we’ll get this all sorted out”
“Never!” I yelled. I looked to my left, saw a bedroom window slightly ajar. Iris noticed my glance too.
“Don’t even think about it Jared! You do not want to go in this house, trust me”
So of course I darted to the window and dove through it.
When I looked around my new setting, I realized I was standing in an attic of sorts, largely unfurnished except for one workbench covered in tools in the back. When I saw what lay upon it, my heart stopped. I saw my cell phone, dismantled, with a tiny green chip glued within its casing. I saw my remote, all of my remotes, my car key fob, my computer mouse, and more, all dismantled with tiny green chips attached.
Ok, I was feeling incredulous of my situation before but now there was no denying it, I was being studied, or — or watched, or tracked, or… I don’t know, but someone was after me! Why? Is it because I work in marijuana? Is it the government? Is it because I publicly disagree with this shit-show of a political administration? I’m not that special though, why me, man, why me?!
A door slammed below me, feet pounded up stairs I couldn’t see. I ran to a new window, hesitating a moment at the distance but jumped through it anyway, landing in a poof in the deep snow below.
Then I woke up
Then I fell asleep again
Suddenly, I was thrust back into this game, this cat and mouse chase, as I ran for my life over snow covered forest ground. I looked over my shoulder to see the 2 pretty girls again, followed by a group of black-clad, menacing looking men.
Somehow, I realized what information I could potentially have that is unique to anyone else, that made me worthy of singling out, I now realized what made me special, what made me worth tracking, stalking and tracing my every step, words, and keystrokes — my private trove of Forrest Fenn’s treasure hunting research.
Of course! It made so much sense now! That’s why none of my pursuers were using lethal force or attempting to harm me. They needed me safe and alive or they might lose access to my research forever. That realization brought little relief, however, as I found myself coming to a ravine, with only one large, snow covered log laying across it.
“Jared! Stop! It’s not worth it” my ‘friend’ Iris yelled out to me. I stood at the edge of the log, the entire cadre now having caught up to me, surrounded me in a semi-circle. I took a step onto the log.
“You were never my friend this whole time, huh” I said, “You’ve been implanted in my life just to get close to me, to gain access to my possessions. You’ve been playing a part for months!”
She looked me in the eyes, beamed a genuine smile, “Yes, I have. It’s my job Jared. No hard feelings, you and your girlfriend are great people, really! If everything had went according to plan, you’d have never known, and who knows, maybe we’d have actually been friends… But, we’re going to need you to get off that log. There’s someone who is very heavily invested in your — security”
“I can’t tell you that”
“Then screw you!” I turned around and started running across the log. I was nearly across, could see the other side of the ravine, when I stole a glance over my shoulder. They stood, motionless, watching me. Then I slipped. I caught the log with one hand. I tried to pull my body back onto it but the snow was wet, and my grip was slipping. With my last glance, I looked back to Iris and the group of men, but they were gone.
And then I fell.