Short Reads presents MOOT He is the Man Of Original Thought. He holds the fabric of the universe woven tightly together. Now he's escaped and things are beginning to unravel.
CHAPTER ONE: I stood on the edge of a curb, in a city where I had never been, and could not possibly be. There was no sound, no movement, not even the wind. This was all a joke, a scientific experiment, or I just drank way too much. This event, I would understand much later, was an experience of what wasn’t. The city block, that should have been swarming with people, cars, and trash was motionless and empty. The fountain had no water flowing, the street lights were out, the trash wasn’t blowing but some hung in mid-air. “Okay, guys, come out, come out where ever you are!” I laughed, trying to make myself unafraid. Who was I kidding, my knees were bending and I thought I might be kissing the sidewalk at any moment. Then I saw her. The love of my life in a tan trench coat and bright red rain boots. Of course I didn’t know that she was the love of my life until this moment I shivered. I couldn’t escape the possibility that I was dead and that death was limbo. It didn’t sound like heaven. “I think I’m not dead. How about you?” I asked her. “What?” She walked on, slowly, making it clear that she didn’t want me following her, dipping under tree branches that had white or pink flowers on them. They smelled exotic. Seeing and feeling them did not trigger any memories. “I don’t like this.” I muttered. “It feels as if my skin is on too tight and my chest is trying to convince me that my heart could explode.” “Hmmpf.” She didn’t seem concerned. “So, what’s going on here? This ever happen to you before?” “What’s your purpose?” Her voice was sharp, jagged and reminded me of a military leader with no tolerance for weaklings. “Purpose?” I took two steps toward her, she took three steps back. “Yes. What is your purpose?” “I have no idea. No one’s ever asked me that before. And you do? Have a purpose?” “Of course. I must. I am smart, strong, but I have no idea about my duties yet. I’m certain that it will become apparent.” “Hrmmpf,” I said, which she ignored. We looked around. “No sound at all,” she said. “If there was anything mechanical around here we would hear it or feel it. The place is dead. What’s your name?” The question made my stomach tighten. “Name. I must have a name, everyone has a name. Let me think… Bob, Bill, Jerome, Gerald, David, Jack, Jackson, Dilly, Silly?… I have no fucking clue. What’s yours?” She shrugged, slowly turning, gazing up higher and higher to the tops of the buildings. “It will come to me. Maybe it was some kind of bomb. Some kind of machine that stopped time.” “No signs of a bomb.” ”Well, what then? Where are we? And where are the inhabitants?” I shrugged then plucked a newspaper from mid air. “Somewhere called St. Louis.” She shrugged. “Doesn’t sound familiar.” “No. Evidently some cardinal birds are doing well in their playoffs. This picture shows people in red shirts, smiling, laughing. This is a culture that apparently loves animals. Interesting.” “What I think is interesting is that you see this as a foreign culture from your own. What the hell does that mean?” She paced, her knuckles in tight fist. “You must have drugged me or something. Who are you?” She picked up an empty ice cream carton and held it up, ready to throw it at me, but she suddenly stopped. A beeping sound echoed around us, a quick flash of a yellow light, and then…wind. A violent blast of cool air blew the carton out of her hand and suddenly people simply appeared, rushing, driving, and walking. The fountain, the video billboards, and neon signs exploded into life. Energetic music played from a shop. I didn’t believe this was happening. The hot, rich smell of food cooking filled the street and made me realize that I was hungry. That was odd. How did I know these smells, how did I know anything about what smelled good and what smelled really bad, like a trash can we passed? I wanted to get away, to run from this unbelievable reality, but I had nowhere to run. I also didn’t want to leave the woman. I knew, but I had no idea how I knew, that she was part of this and part of the answer. “We’d better stay together, just until we figure it out.” I thought it was a good line. At least it slowed her down and she hadn’t found anything else to throw at me. “Maybe we should stay. . .…" She paused scanning the ground, then the buildings and then the sky, holding her hand above her eyes against the bright sun. She ran her fingers through her thick brownish hair as if preparing for something, “. . . together. Odd. Whole thing is just so odd.” I followed, dutifully, which seemed to be what I should do. Or did do. Or would do. I had no frame of reference for doing. A horse drawn carriage slowly rolled by. The driver, in a pristine white top hat and tails, turned and looked at us. He was a handsome male with a smile that could only be described as mischievous and secretive, but not evil or malevolent. There was a passenger in the carriage, a plain, gray-suit dry clean only kind of guy. The passenger leaned forward and asked, “Driver, what time is it?” The driver smiled and turned to him, then looked beyond him at us. ”Time is a relative thing, One thing I know to be true, Mine is almost up... But for you? ...eleven forty-two.” We stood there, bewildered, watching the carriage roll down the street, not knowing what to say. In fact, the only thing we knew in certainty was that we didn’t know anything at all. The end of chapter 1
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