I am in prison and about to lose my mind. Why have I done this to myself and the others who followed me here, all squeezed into this fiery furnace? I am responsible. No excuses. And if we don’t make it out, the blame falls squarely on my shoulders. Memo to the future me (TBD): “Keep your cool”. A truism I fully intend to follow…if I live so long.

At times, a dozen people are shoved into this thatched pizza oven, struggling to avoid one another’s view, standing, sitting, leaning, and, without exception, glistening like pigs. 

A plethora of circuitous reasons each soul has converged. Life choices resulting in this tribulation. 

Where am I? Something smells like frying cerebrum.

Turns are taken passing through this odd, singular portal to a magical place of temporary relief, yet fraught with unique risks. Perchance some chow. But dare I face the competition? In this perilous place, misunderstandings have unknown consequences.

What fresh flame and fury is this where men, women, and children are transported? Basic needs, now luxuries. We struggle to remember who we were before we arrived and what we are becoming in the furious midst. Are we united or is it each one for themselves?  We move in deliberate choreography, not of our own making. With whom has this flaming contract been ratified?

The heat! Frustration at its zenith. My eyes burn from the salt. I can’t take it anymore. Animal instinct overpowers reason. Howling at the sky would have only exposed my intent. I don’t care what happens to me. The others will never know. I am breaking out. Without warning, I burst through the portal and across the yard. I exploited the ragged opening of the broken gate and hurried down the treacherous path of hoped freedom.

Suddenly, there it was. A car, on the side of a dirt road. I am justified, I rationalized. Was this the object of my salvation?  The short-lived battle of mind and body yielded as I manipulated the locked door and slipped inside. Thud. Click. I turned the key. The engine roared. And, then it happened. It was glorious. Heavenly. Click, click. The whoosh of air. Wait. Wait. Ah! 

Minutes passed as my pounding heart began to slow. The fog lifted and reason returned to my mind as the temperature of my core began its downward progress. Time passed. I don’t know how long. I didn’t care. I began to remember, to know myself once again.

Enthroned in this chariot not my own, I pondered what this was going to cost me. What consequences will unfold?

Then, the melted cacophony crystalized – a singular thought that to this day I have never forgotten, and until now, never before admitted. “I wonder what the crew is having for lunch back on set?

How can I help you?