Black Petals Issue #73 Fall, 2015

The City
Home
Mars-News, Views and Commentary
A Journey Starts with a Flower-Fiction by Roy Dorman
Cold Surprise-Fiction by Paul Strickland
Final Run_Fiction by A. M. Stickel, Editor
Gift of the Anasazi-Fiction by Kenneth James Crist
Killer Deal-Fiction by Denny Marshall
Please Remember Me-Fiction by Charles C. Cole
Safe Haven, Part I-Fiction by Denis Bushlatov
Safe Haven, Part II-Fiction by Denis Bushtalov
The City-Fiction by Wayne Haroutunian
The Witch and the Rock-Fiction by Janet C. Ro
Roadside Accident-2 poems by Denny Marshall
Journey to the Devil's Shore-Poem by Grant Tarbard

The City-Fiction by Wayne Haroutunian

citylights.jpg

The City

 

First published on Smashwords on Feb. 25, 2014 by author Wayne Haroutunian

 

A surreal odyssey

  

You opened your eyes and saw space. Sitting up, you found yourself in a dark field. You couldn’t see the ground around you. All that you could see was millions of stars above and millions of electric lights in a distant city extremely far off. The thin layer of lights began at one point on the horizon and ended at another. All else in every direction was pitch black and empty, like the emptiness above.

You didn’t know why you were in that field or how you got there. You couldn’t recall what you had been doing earlier. There was no “earlier.” Neither did you know where you were. The emptiness in your mind was greater than the emptiness around you.

You looked in the direction of the city-line, then turned to the opposite direction and faced the solid, limitless black. You didn’t have to go to the city; you had a choice between that and venturing into the black. The reasonable thing to do, you knew, would have been to head for the electric city. However, you were becoming aware of an inner urge to head away from it. You couldn’t understand, but found yourself trusting that urge, and you didn’t understand that either.

  Towards the blackness you went, unable to see the steps you were taking.

  Almost immediately, your attention was drawn to something up in space—a red light. You halted to watch it move slowly through the sky. You didn’t know what it was, and couldn’t, at that distance, and so continued walking into the attractive blackness.

 As you moved, you felt like you were being watched. Looking up into the sky again, you found that the red light had since drawn nearer to you, nearer to the field. You felt queasy. You stopped again and decided you had better head for the city.

 You started moving towards the city, and, looking up, swore the red light was receding. Continuing to walk, you watched closely to confirm your observation, and found it to be true; the red light had moved farther away from you, up into space.

 You stopped.

 The red light stopped as well. You swore you saw that. It looked like it simply froze in its position up in space.

 Your stomach protested walking towards the city. There was a terror inside you regarding that city, and you did not want to continue taking another step towards it.

 While keeping an eye on the red thing above, you turned around and started into the blackness again. Yet in doing this you were afraid because of what was above you.

 You started running into the black. Because you couldn’t see a thing, it felt as though you were not running at all. As you ran, you looked upwards to see what the red light was doing.

 It had drawn nearer to the field. You thought again about turning and heading to the city, even though you didn’t want to. Nothing could be worse than the city. You ran faster, yet you couldn’t even tell if you were going faster, and you started to get dizzy, running through the nothingness...

 In your daze you thought you saw a faint red light beginning to show on the grass ahead of you. You veered to the left and picked up speed. The red light grew stronger. You looked upwards again, lost your legs, and collapsed onto grassy ground.

 You rolled onto your back and watched a glowing red ball the size of a small house lower itself silently to the ground. It stopped a few feet above the grass; then, in the centre of it, a small hole the size of a gold coin opened up.

 After that, nothing more happened with the ball. It merely floated before you, glowing, its small opening directed at you as though watching you.

 You began to lose consciousness.

 

You opened your eyes and saw a woman’s face looking down at you.

“He’s coming to.”

Then you saw another face, the face of an older man you assumed was a doctor. He told you that you had been found earlier that day passed out in an alleyway.

For the next few hours, you couldn’t think properly… Released from the hospital, you went to a coffee shop, where you stared blindly out the window while sipping coffee—a free sample of the day’s “special blend”.

Everything appeared normal, familiar. It was a cloudy day, cars were solemnly passing by on the streets, and people were going in and out of shops, buying things, talking in phone booths and on cells, catching buses, and hailing cabs.

However, there was something disconcerting about it all. You couldn’t quite put your finger on it.

Then a mental picture struck you—a boundless field. It was a field beyond the city, you were sure. You were not sure of its significance, but it had enough meaning to draw you to continue to ponder it.

You were unfamiliar with this city and didn’t know from where or why you had come. You didn’t know where you were supposed to be or who you were. You only knew that there was more than this city, that there was an open field somewhere. You had to get out of the city and enter that field.

Without finishing your coffee, you went outside, walked to the road, and stuck your thumb out. After a short while a red taxi pulled over to let you in. Inside was an older man wearing a black suit and dark sunglasses. You asked him if he could take you to the field outside the city.

He told you, “There is no such field. This city only leads into other cities.”

At first you didn’t know what to say. You decided to let him take you out of the city and into the next so that you could see for yourself.

He said, “Hop in.”

Neither of you spoke a word during the drive. When you reached the city border, he let you out and repeated that there was no field.

Outside, you looked around as the car drove off. You didn’t see the slightest hint of a field, only city—apartment buildings, houses, roads, and a busy highway.

But you wouldn’t believe it. There was still a peculiarity about everything, as you had sensed when you were in the café. You walked down to the bridge going over the highway and gazed out into the distance at the various elements of the city.

You did not believe this was all there was. No, you did not agree. It isn’t real, you told yourself.

Then something strange occurred: the view of the highway and apartments started to change into that of an endless, grassy field. A familiar fear began simmering within you.

Turning around, you found yourself standing at the edge of a city, at the start of fields which went on seemingly forever. In your fear, you lost sensation in parts of your body and no longer breathed calmly, but started to run anyway...

You felt traces of excitement within your fear; you were going to find out about the unknown, while—totally unaware—everyone else, slept, ate, and worked within it.

You realized you were being watched. Looking up, you spotted a small dark speck floating about in the blue sky. Were you going to turn back? Something drove you onward; you weren’t going to turn back.

Then you recalled being in this field before, not long ago, running as you now ran—away from the city and farther into the field. You had to keep going.

You saw the dark object drawing nearer to the field, but kept going. You recalled seeing it before, and knew you were going to see it again.

Strangely, your fear of the thing subsided. You decided to stop running and face the mystery. You waited there in the field, with a cool breeze blowing past, watching the flying object approach. It carried a familiar reddish glow.

It lowered itself to the ground in front of you, a ball about the size of a small house. It stopped a few feet above the grass and floated there.

Some fear returned and your legs began to shake, yet you stood on your feet and continued to face the thing...

Nothing happened. It simply floated there.

Your fear dissipated. Clarity surfaced within you about where you really were and had to go, and even about who you were and what you had to do. You had to continue on into the apparent nowhereness of the field…because there was something out there, a somewhere. You walked around the red sphere and continued on your way. As you went, you looked back and saw the ball rise into the air and return to the sky, where it vanished.

 You hurried on, imagining what sorts of people, environments, and cultures you would encounter. You kept close to your heart a promise to yourself: to bring whatever you would find in that new world to the people of the miserable, oblivious city you had left behind...

 

The End

 




Wayne Haroutunian, wayneharoutunian@gmail.com, who wrote BP #73’s “The City” (1st version on Smashwords in February 2014), has published fantasy, sci-fi, and horror in Aphelion, Siren’s Call and Antipodean SF, and also received an Honorable Mention for a sci-fi novelette in the Writers of the Future Awards.




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