Author : Mishal Benson
“This is nuts!” Kitty whispered harshly to her companion, “Why did you bring me here?” He remained silent, framed by the subway’s exit, waiting as she surveyed the scene before her. Am I nuts? She thought. Tall glass buildings rose around her with aluminum sidewalks coiled at their feet beside streets of steel. Just as puzzling as the city before her was the realization that she had no memory of taking the subway to get here, wherever ‘here’ was.
There’s no one else here; is the city abandoned? No cars deserted, litter, or artifacts of lives no longer present. Is it new? No, there was a sense of history and age. The city felt ancient, despite its modern materials and architecture.
Her companion led her towards the tallest building. His black cloak fluttered around his feet; although the hood was thrown back, a featureless mask of white obscured his face from view.
Through the doors, across the lobby and into an elevator, Kitty followed her guide. Arriving on what seemed to be the highest floor, he led her down a hall to a door, with only the simple name plate: “President”. Kitty jumped despite herself as the door opened seemingly of its own accord. Through the door Kitty found herself in a spacious office overlooking the empty city below. Seated comfortably in a capacious burgundy leather chair behind an expanse of very expensive looking desk was the man she assumes was ‘The President’. He closed a file he’d been reading, and handing it to a similarly clothed guide chaperoning an equally confused looking woman.
“Your time has not yet come,” he said. From the desk he produced a basket of flowers, with a card nestled among them. “You saw a lovely landscape with flowers, green grass, tall trees and a beautiful rainbow. Relatives who had come before comforted you and said to return later.â€ He smiled, handing the woman the basket. She took it, numbly allowing her companion to guide her from the room.
He then turned his attention to Kitty. “Welcome”, he smiled politely beneath dark emotionless eyes. She sensed her companion retreating from her side.
“Where am I?” She demanded, forgoing pleasantries, “What is this place?”
“Where we are has many names, and you may decide on one at your leisure.” He walked towards the all encompassing windows, motioning her to follow. “Come, look, tell me what you see.”
“I see nothing,” she answered, “Where is everyone?”
“They are all here,” he beamed. “Being new you may not see them at first, but one purpose in my greeting newcomers is to open your eyes to see what surrounds you.”
“What do you mean?”
“Do you remember how you arrived here?” his question tugging at some recent memory, “What do you remember last?”
“I got off the subway, no I was leaving the subway station, but I don’t remember riding the subway itself.”
“What else? What where you doing before that?”
“I left work early, and was riding home on my bike, listening to Gary Jules on my headset, ‘Mad World’ I think it was, and I’d just crossed the tracks on 14th when…,” she paused, “No. I didn’t cross. I was crossing the tracks, and then I was at the Subway station…then that man brought me here.”
“Look again, tell me what you see.”
“I’ve just told you, nothing…” she stopped, gaping at streets suddenly teeming with cars, sidewalks crowded with people.
He rested a hand on her arm, speaking gently. “The 10:04 train is usually past 14th by the time you get there on your bike.”