Just as quickly as it had appeared, the oppressive fog dissipated to reveal a beautiful blue sky and clear visibility all around. His luxury sedan was parked on an undisturbed grassy bank, overlooking the river. There was no sign of the highway for as far as the eye could see! It was as if he had just driven off road for a secluded picnic. He wondered if he was hallucinating, dreaming, or had just lost his mind. Nothing made sense.
He wandered around the valley in a daze. Familiar geographic landmarks were recognizable but all signs of humanity were gone. There were no houses where they had stood before. There were no street signs or power lines dotting the horizon. The massive concrete pillars in the river for the bridge to rest upon, were gone. Even litter scattered by uncaring motorists was absent from the hillside. No empty Snickers wrappers, no beer bottles and no cigarette boxes. It was as if all traces of mankind had been swept away or erased by an unseen force. All traces but him.
He walked along the edge of river bank in puzzled solitude, trying to make sense of it all. The geographical evidence of his community was present. The hills and valleys that he had passed a hundred times by car were still in the right places. The distinctive horseshoe bend of the Conasaga river was still perfectly visible from the bank. It was merely the people of the community and their notable influence that was absent.
As he was about to give up the scavenger hunt for human detritus, he encountered a rusted-out wreck. The 1930’s model pickup truck was slowly decaying at the edge of the river, not far from his own car. The ancient relic was so close to the bottom of the hill that he didn’t see it when looking across the expanse of water. It was as if another driver had came upon the bridgeless road years ago and failed to stop in time. A debris field from the old wreck was still partially visible in the creek bed. He shuttered at the evidence of what his fate would have been under less-favorable circumstances. Besides his own car, it was the only other man-made objects he could find.
At that moment, a large object in the sky passed between the sun and the ground. The nearby movement of its shadow caught his attention. Initially he thought it was an ultralight plane or a glider. To his horror, it was a massive winged predator of unknown origin. The albatross-sized creature was riding thermal updrafts; presumably in search of its next meal. He had never witnessed a raptor of that size before and felt the immediate need to seek cover. It circled overhead a few times and then sailed to greener pastures. He made a mental note to stick to the relative safety of the tree line from that point on. Something was definitely not ‘right’ with the parallel world he had somehow stumbled into.
Without the aid of a bridge or boat, crossing the river was going to be difficult but necessary. It was several hundred feet across and had fairly swift water. He had already explored everything there was to see on the side he occupied. The only hope for finding help was to cross the river and travel westward. The answers to the nightmare he was in, was hopefully that way.
He located a narrow portion of the river that seemed like the most logical place to cross. He spotted several logs floating by and considered hitching a ride on one until something seemed amiss. Upon closer inspection, he realized it was not just a random cluster of river debris. The ‘logs’ were somehow resisting the swift current while other objects floated on by.
The clever masters of subversion were actually large reptilian beasts camouflaged as floating tree trunks! They closely resembled alligators or crocodiles with longer legs and a spiked fin on their backs. From the look of things, they were anxious for him to dive into the water. He was relieved to have avoided the aquatic ambush. He would have to find another means across the river.