The City of 'Deadlight'

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Short story — Less than 1000 words

He jerked his head up towards the sky and let the warming rays of the sun rejuvenate him. With a deep breath, he returned to his notebook and scribbled skilfully the lines and shapes of what he saw. An hour went by and the sun slowly hid behind the tall buildings around him.

As it fully disappeared, he relaxed and slumped on the bench. With a sigh, he looked around as the city darkened and a gloomy green light engulfed the city. ‘Deadlight’, he called them.

While looking around, he glanced down at his sketchbook and frowned. He stood hastily and walked down the crowded street, clenching his notebook tightly.

A shiver went down his spine as people whisked by him, chafing against his body. He tried his best to avoid them, but it was impossible, too many in such a small space.

He noticed several glances in his direction as he walked. Some pointed rudely. He knew what they wanted, but he kept moving; not wanting to give them the chance to stop him. They were polite that way. Though if he remained idle, they would ask for his picture taken, and more would swarm afterwards. One could be stuck for hours if you’d let them. That much he knew.

However, he could understand their fascination for him. He was a rarity in the city. If not for his tallness; his yellow eyes and grey hair surely was exotic. He wondered on how many family walls his ugly mug would end up on when he finally would be allowed back home.

Lost in thought, he was blinded as the sun flared between two large structures. His heart skipped a beat and he desperately looked for somewhere to sit. A couple rose from a bench near him and he grinned happily as he sat in the middle, deliberately taking up as much space as possible.

The notebook was placed in his lap, and in haste, he  crumbled the page that he drew earlier. His movements were quick and precise, having sketched the same thing many times before, his hand moved naturally as he knew its shape by heart.

His hand slowed noticeably as he began on a new section, a section he was unfamiliar with. He gazed back and forth between his notebook and the buildings ahead.

At his legs, he felt something pull on his trousers. he grunted angrily and glared at whoever disrupted his muse. A small wide-eyed girl stared at him and held the crumbled page he threw away a second ago. She handed the now un-crumbled page to him as if he had lost it.

He smiled at her innocent naivety. He took it but handed it back to her instantly. Her eyes beamed when he did and she did not hesitate to accept it.

She said something that he did not understand, their language too complicated to learn in such a short amount of time. As he kept his attention towards the small girl, he could feel the warming rays of the sun disappearing and he hastily went back to drawing – but it was too late.

He sighed as the sun completely disappeared, the street lights illuminating on the street once again. Even though he had just missed one of the precious moments of natural light, he felt content.

He looked around at the green ‘deadlight' that failed to inspire him. He made ready to return home when something caught his attention at the corner of his vision. He tilted his head slightly and squinted his eyes. His heart was at his throat and a lightning of inspiration struck him.

He was about to crumble his old page when the little girl placed herself next to him. He snorted in delight and simply ripped the page of his notebook and handed it over to her. Her eyes beamed with happiness as she accepted it.

As he began sketching again, a crowd formed in front of him. They pointed and murmured loudly towards the sky, in the same direction where his eyes dashed back and forth between it and the paper.

The lights flickered all around them and people began to shout and scurry. The girl stared in awe at the picture he drew as he finished it. With a loud crash, shards of transparent metal descended on the streets ahead. He looked once again at the small girl. When their eyes met he said. “It is time, it is finally time.”

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