Friday, 16 September 2016

Short Story: Escaping the City

Here we are. Day one of trying to write and publish a short story every day.

This one ended up a little Philip K Dick and as a result is not that happy.  Never mind.

One down, 364 to go.

Escaping the City

It was always raining in the city.
The clouds, grey and malevolent, hung in the sky like the shadows of spaceships come to invade. The rain pelted the concrete relentlessly, turning the streets to rivers and ensuring even the most sure-footed person had to struggle to stay upright. The city’s drains and sewage systems were at capacity from the unseasonally heavy deluge. Which was saying something considering this city was built to essentially float.
If even the drains couldn’t cope with the amount of water falling there was no point it putting a coat on or using an umbrella. Nature won out in the end, and the result was damp, sticky skin and the uncomfortable smell of wet dog following you around all day.
We were all used to it, but that didn’t mean we had to like it.
My preferred method of dealing with the constant, depressing rain was chemical distraction. It was no surprise that in the city, which was dark even at midday, a thriving underground pharmaceutical industry had grown. Cut with who only knew what and completely unregulated, these chemical treats were the only thing that kept me going in a city that wanted to eat my soul.
The dealer looked at me with shifty eyes, only one question relevant to him; did I have enough money to purchase his goods? None of the dealers were ever particularly concerned with getting sold out to law enforcement, certainly not in this part of town. Darker, damper and more run down than the rest of the city, it was as corrupt as it was possible to get. The local cops were all in the dealer’s pockets and those that weren’t were using. Looking the other way was the national sport in the city.
I thrust my last few credits at the dealer and was handed my precious prize; a small bag of near luminescent blue crystals. Kandy. The only thing that made my life worth living in this soggy hell scape.
The walk back to my dilapidated apartment was short and, as ever, damp. My home, such as it was, consisted of a flea-ridden mattress, a gas camping stove and, luxury of luxuries, an actual flushing toilet. The stench of death and decay and shit that permeated the whole building was, thankfully, not my fault, but decades of abuse and neglect had taken its toll on the very walls.
I shook the bag gently, watching the crystals dance. This was my salvation. My only reason. I lived for the warm embrace of the Kandy when I could afford it, subsisting on shadows between hits.
I licked my finger and dug into the bag, bringing a fair amount to my lips. The Kandy dissolved on my gums with a comforting fizz; an effervescence that told me absolution was within my grasp once more. Warmth buzzed in my veins as an unfamiliar feeling crept over my skin. I dug out some more.
The hallucinations kicked in as I lay back down on my mattress with a goofy smile on my face. I wasn’t in the city any more, with its dark dankness and crime-ridden streets. I was somewhere else, somewhere happier. Somewhere I’d been in a previous life.
The warmth of a summer evening settled into my bones and I inhaled the scent of honeysuckle. There was laughter on the breeze, inviting me to come play despite the sting of grass stains on my knees. I was happy here. Whole.
There was no reason I shouldn’t sleep. It was summer. There was no school, no parents to chide me for being late to dinner. My friends were all nearby, I could feel their presence. I felt safe. There was no reason not to.
I curled up in the grass, breathing in the familiar smell of green. I missed the green. My eyelids fluttered and I let them close, the last few rays of the sun dancing on my skin and warming it gently.
I could just sleep for a few minutes. There was no harm in that.
Victim: unknown male, age undetermined.
Body found in a tenement in the old town. The landlord confirmed the victim had lived in the apartment for five years or so but couldn’t give us a name.
Victim was found face down on a mattress in the apartment’s single room, having drowned in their own vomit. A part bag of Kandy was discovered nearby.
Conclusion: Kandy overdose. Fifteenth case this month.
Fuck this city.

If you enjoyed this story feel free to purchase one of my books either here, or here. Or you can buy me a coffee here.

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