Scott Tenorman went to live with his uncle and his uncle's family in Eads, a small town in Kiowa County, which is as far east from Park County one can get without crossing over into Kansas. There's less than a thousand people there and half of them seem to be sitting on their porches at any given time, wizened and browned by the constant sun, squinting at him through the slits of their eyes as he flies past on his old bike. They're poor, every single one of them, and so very old, even the children. Their skin reminds Scott of a dried lake, the way the soft clay splinters under the barrage of sun and actually peels away from the earth, curling outward-in. His uncle and his uncle's family share a converted farmhouse with another family. They leave him alone, mostly—all these years and they still don't know what to say, and Scott would rather they wouldn't, because all these years and he still doesn't know what he wants to hear.

Scott is a vegan now. He lives with the taste of bile constant in his mouth and some early mornings, mornings encroaching on four am, he'll stumble into the bathroom and dry heave into the toilet bowl, clutching the rim until his knuckles turn as white as the porcelain. He never vomits; he wishes he would; he thinks that maybe he could expel this sickness inside of him if only he did.

There's fruit in a bowl in the center of the supper table. It's still good, but old enough so that the skin looks loose and bruised and repels him, so he goes without. (Scott goes without quite frequently, and his bones jut out at all points and his skin has no elasticity. One night he passed his cousin in the hall and she screamed; she told him in the morning that, with the moonlight on his skin and the dark circles around his eyes, he looked just like a ghost shuffling along the corridor.)

Scott's bike has a small puncture in the front wheel, which lets out just enough air so that, when he rides, it tilts drunkenly in a slight back and forth motion. Eads doesn't have a car mechanic, much less a bike shop, so Scott opts to walk to Chivington, the ghost town named for a slaughterer. He goes by way of the train tracks, the sun behind him and roasting the back of his neck, stepping one-foot-before-the-other along the steel rail, into his shadow.

He leaves the tracks when he first spots the town off in the distance, shuffling right through the grass. The legs of his jeans are crawling with lady bugs when he reemerges and he shakes them off; chases a particularly evasive one until he manages to trap it within three fingers; the lady bug crawls onto the nail of his index, and as Scott watches, begins to gnaw at his cuticle. The longer Scott stares at the minuscule head bobbing, the mandibles twitching, the more he imagines he can feel phantom pain until, with a sharp jerk, he sends the beetle flying. He rubs the didget with his thumb, hard, and stumps off to the semi-shade provided by the labyrinth of bare gray branches of timber.

There are locals, a few newer houses, but no one takes up a permanent residence in Chivington; it was abandoned because of the Dust Bowl, the time when the earth just blew away, and Scott is sure the houses are trying to follow, bitter about being left behind—they're fracturing, cleaving, like modern day Ushers.

Scott is homesick.

Something Scott has noticed about the World Outside South Park is how much more detailed it seems to be. Scott looks at the ruins of Chivington and he sees every splintering board, every rusting nail; he looks at the sky and sees every wisp and shade in the water vapor, sees them sculpted and smeared and shaped by wind; looks at the miles and miles of long grass and sees where it bends, where it sways; Scott looks around and sees a world convulsing, pulsating, roiling, and rolling dizzily.

The World Outside South Park gives him motion sickness, and he wants to go home. Home, where life is flat and 2-D; where the people are exceedingly animated, not like here where they fritter away on their porch, baking; where the world is overly-saturated technicolor. It's so drab out here that Scott half swears it is black and white—and so hot. Scott wonders if he should go into estivation; wraps his arms around himself and wishes for perpetual winter. Wishes for South Park, where the old never die and the young never grow up.

South Park is David Byrne's heaven.

o o o

Scott has nightmares, but not what you'd expect. There is no phantasmagoria of abstract, illustrated metaphors. He doesn't have visions of his parents dangling from their ankles on meat hooks, or of the butcher wrapping up a pound of Mom and Dad while boasting their deli is the freshest in the state—no, what plays in his head at night, what wakes him up in a cold sweat and sends him falling to the bathroom before sunrise to groan and retch is simply Eric Cartman playing like a movie reel in his head: talking, eating, yelling, swearing, whining, sleeping, walking, laughing. This makes perfect sense to Scott. He knows there is nothing his subconscious could construct that is more monstrous than Cartman.

Cartman has been in his thoughts every day for the past six years. He's been so thoroughly fucked that he's still reeling from it, mind still aching from the intrusion. Scott knows that Cartman stole his virginity in the most absolute form; his mind had been raped instead of his body, and he'd always be in his head that way.

Scott is twenty, now, but he knows Cartman is still nine, knows South Park has not moved; Scott wants to go home to the only place where he'd be stuck in the present, not the past.