A Sinister City

by Shohidur Rahman

It is a sinister city, where no-one, or very few, walk, where anonymous black rods holding CCTV cameras shift silently – cameras watch from all directions. Draughts of air hiss downwards from ducts and vents in the sheer sides of buildings, hydraulics and pressure pumps move precisely in motion. The city is the brain of an android, perfect black loops and coils.

He pulls in his red Porsche, directing it with exact control, the light reflecting off the silvery pavements under this dark night, where the stars are tiny pinpricks in the sky and have no message to communicate. The door to the underground garage rises, and he glides in.

In his chamber he is faced by his sweetheart. He has just come to an end of hours of driving, cruising through the night. Now he is tired. But she has no rest for him, is angry about something, and raises her voice. Sharp words are exchanged. A vase is broken. He leaves, and returns to his car. He slides in, and commanding the underground garage door open again, drives on.

The breeze ruffles his hair. His elbow rests on the open window. His wrist, thick with hairs, is adorned with a fat watch, needles and dials and buttons. But he is not at peace, and cannot stop going over the events in his bedroom, and the things that have been happening to him recently. Things have been happening to him recently. He feels that he is heading towards some giant realization, something wholly new and unlooked for, that will change his life forever.

He has been feeling ill. He loosens the clothes at his neck. He feels tense. The events in his chamber were unfortunate, to say the least. He had not wanted it to happen that way. But what is this thickness he feels in the side of his neck, this closeness he feels in his chest? The millions of careening bright lights speed past him. He is out of the city now, way out, and the dark arcs of bridges and struts glide overhead, the dark whalebone of the metal and tarmac highway ever mysterious, and redolent of an alien technology. The millions of lights blur past, like a prayer.

He is angry with himself for allowing the argument to happen. She had been waiting, poised like a boa. Her clear skin as if it had been pierced by glass, weeping tears of blood. Her thin teeth, her tiny mouth. He feels tense again, and unwell. There is a black wall of water out there waiting for him, it is approaching with a roar, inaudible only because its sound is so great, a giant wave with a trickle of surf along the top, so huge it is difficult for the mind to take in. He is riding into this wave.

He drives on, and drops of rain spatter his windshield. The rain soon becomes a deluge, but he does not activate the window. He is soon wet through. A web of fulminating light rattles in the heavens above, visible through the open window. His chest rattles, his right wrist knocks against his temple, his watch ticks on through the storm, he checks it again. He feels more and more ill. He cannot get rid of the keening sound in his head.

Suddenly he clutches his chest, feels the pain rise like a band. His car slews round on the road, sending up a perfect arc of water beads that hang in the air for a millisecond, like jewels, before the car slams into the siding. He is still conscious, but feels his chest tighten another notch, through the blood where his head has hit something, through the rain, through the blackness, his head hanging over the rain spattered tarmac, blood dripping from his head like an infusion of some thick tea into a vessel, bubbles at his mouth. The band across his chest tightens again, he can no longer breathe. The watch ticks out a judgement against him somewhere along his arm, the wall of water finally comes crashing down around him, as his body gives way to the full force of the heart attack.

‘Mummy, mummy’, cries the little boy, racing through rooms into the bedroom where his mother is holding a thin golden lipstick in front of the mirror, like a wand. ‘David’s broken, Mummy’, he says. ‘David’s broken.’

Back through the rooms, on the floor of the boy’s nursery, is a child’s doll, lying broken, by the side of a red car.

Shohidur Rahman has had two short stories published and one short play produced for the stage.

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  1. #1 by Anthony Ward on April 13, 2012 - 12:31 pm

    Loved the imagery; loved the prose; loved the twist; loved it!

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