Fair warning before we get into this week’s episode: there is a fairly explicit and quite disturbing description of a woman being attacked in this one.
That out of the way, on to “Nothing To See.”
The episode begins with the narrator saying, “Well, I’m not not in Kansas anymore. I’m in Kansas is what I mean,” before snorting a laugh and admitting that the joke was bad, but she couldn’t help herself, and that Alice always knew “I can’t resist a bad joke.” I thought this part was fairly amusing, as I’m kind of sucker for bad jokes myself.
The narrator is cut off by an odd noise coming from the trailer of her truck, which she is somewhat disturbed by. If I had the same experiences that she had in the previous two episodes, though, I’d be pretty jumpy myself. This is the teaser that we hear before the show goes into the theme song.
She goes back to check, but doesn’t find anything back there but her cargo. She speculates that she imagined it, or that she hit something that had made the noise. Either way, she decides that she needs to move on.
She then spends a brief time describing Kansas:
Kansas looks exactly like I thought it would. There’s something satisfying about that. Grass forever, occasionally a metal windmill right out of The Wizard of Oz (there were metal windmills in that, right? In my memory there are, but it’s been years), strip malls, of course, but that’s everywhere…nothing to see, no matter where you look. There’s a relief in that.
Then she hears the noise again. However, it doesn’t sound like there’s something in the trailer so much as someone, and that someone seems to be pacing. Obviously unnerved, the narrator pulls over again to check the back of the truck. Again, she finds nothing, but she knows this time that she’s not imagining the sounds, and she’s frightened. She decides that there really isn’t anything more she can do but continue on, however, and that’s just what she does.
The narrator then recounts how she saw a McDonald’s out in the middle of nowhere, with a historical plaque next to it, where she stopped to use the bathroom. She muses for a moment on how many people have stopped at that McDonald’s, not to actually get something to eat, but just to pee, as well as how small towns almost always seem to have very large adult bookstores.
Then the noise comes back. The narrator, understandably, is not OK with this, but decides to ignore it and just continue driving, reasoning that whoever’s in the trailer shouldn’t be able to get into the cab and telling herself, “I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m fine. I’m fine. Right, Alice?” She doesn’t sound terribly convinced.
The noise continues. The narrator, understandably frightened, pulls off into a Target parking lot and discovers the source of the noise. It seems that The Thistle Man has caught up to her:
“You miss me?” he asked. He sounded like he was having fun.
The boxes of paper towels were torn to shreds, like they’d been attacked by a huge cat. Giant claw marks. He hopped down onto the asphalt and I backed up. Suddenly crowds didn’t feel like much protection.
He smelled like decay. Not bad, but like fruit decomposing into soil, like mulch.
“Where do you think you’re going?” he said. “I mean, where would you even go that I couldn’t follow? Don’t you know who I work for?” Hit indicated the “Thistle” on his pit-stained shirt. He was sweating a thick pungent mildew.
“There are people all over this parking lot! Hundreds of them,” I said. But I was exaggerating. It was a Target parking lot, but it was also very late and in the middle of nowhere. There were cars, yes, and people, yes, they were there, but not in great numbers. Certainly not hundreds. Still enough, I hoped. Enough.
“People?” he said. “People won’t help you. There’s not a person in this world who would help you.”
Is he right, Alice? Is there not a person in this world who would help me? I hope not. I hope not.
He took my arm. I don’t know how he got that close, but he was there. And he did not grab, he took, like a dance partner. Gentle but insistent. And then he pushed me up against the truck. The smell was overpowering. Up close, his skin writhed like there were insects crawling back and forth just under it. His teeth were rotten. His tongue was swollen and covered in a white film.
He had me. That was all there was to it. His arm was against my throat and he was pushing just enough to let me know that he could do it, but not enough to cut off air. I drew and released frightened breaths against the weight of him. I kicked for the crotch, of course, but it was like he felt nothing. And then I just flailed at him. I still had that flashlight. And though my swing was restricted, I gave him a few good ones. His body dented with the blows, but he didn’t stop smiling. Didn’t even grunt. Pushed just a little harder on my throat.
The flashlight, heavy as a club, dropped out of my hand and rolled uselessly away, and now my breath was truly shallow because of the pressure.
He said, “I could take a big bite of you right now and it would be over. I could devour you. And then, what would become of Alice?”
The narrator struggles, trying to shake him off her, when they are approached by a police officer. The Thistle Man lets go of her and the narrator tells the officer what happened. He doesn’t believe her, and tells her “If he has to come talk to you, then you’ve been asking the wrong questions.” He then leaves, and The Thistle Man tells the narrator that she can still go home and just forget about Alice. He then leaves, and the narrator goes back on the road. She’s followed for a moment by a police car, and states she believes they’re working for The Thistle Man.
The narrator closes with the following:
Oh, man. Listen to me. I sound crazy. Or the world does. The world sounds crazy.
I made enemies today, and I think things will be getting more difficult for me from here on out. There’s noise again in my trailer. Roaring and shifting, like an enormous angry animal.
I’m not going to stop. I can’t go home, Alice. I can only go. I can only go on. And on, and on, and on, until not.
The noises stopped. The police car is turning off the highway. They let me off with a warning, I guess.
I guess it’s a warning I’m going to ignore.
While the previous two episodes focused more on things the narrator witnesses, this episode features something actually happening to her. The Thistle Man actually physically accosts her, whereas in the first episode he seems content to force her watch him attack someone else, or just to follow her. The line where he mentions Alice is also extremely interesting, as it implies that he has something to do with her disappearance, and the police following the narrator implies that it goes much farther than that.
I know I was hooked from the first episode, but I’m probably even more hooked now. This episode has brought up some very interesting questions.
The next episode of Alice Isn’t Dead airs on April 19.