Thursday, 23 September 2010


The thunder sloped down in elegant crashes of noise, roiling earthwards with an electrifying jolt of sound that poured and boomed around buildings and flowed in waves through the streets, lapping up against walls and floors. The rain and lightning was mere decoration, embellishment on the percussive theme that resonated from within bones and girders.

Through this tempest strode a figure of lines, straight and angular and rigid, composed of a roiling energy that seemed permanently mustered at the level just below explosion. His entire manner was one of poise and balance, everything prepared and controlled so that the perfect amount of effort was expended. His steps were not boisterous or rapid, nor were they slovenly and lacklustre. Each step connected with the ground with the same purpose a river or an avalanche or the fall of an icicle shows; simple, unrestrained and inexpensive movement.

His body was covered in a simple black coat that fell like a sheet of woven coal about him, it’s creases hinting at darker shadows that followed the lines of his tall and indomitable form. His head was hidden beneath a black fedora, the rim slanted so it almost met the upturned collar of his coat. All that could be distinguished of his face were the bright eyes, grey and glinting like wet stones that have been polished smooth by the flow of decades of water, and the sharp nose of a patrician, a right angle jutting out from the planes and shadows of his features.

He moved through the city, and his footsteps rang out, counting time between the explosions of power that rippled and cracked in the heights above him and arced between the spires of the buildings. The lightning spiralled between glass and steel as beneath it he walked. Occasionally a window would shatter, the pressures of the wind ripping it away and send it spiralling overhead, releasing a shattering of glinting silver sharpness to fall down amidst the rain. Despite all this the figure strode onwards over the cracked concrete, past the empty yawning doorways.

But with each step, despite the sense of boundless, perfectly balanced energy he conveyed, he seemed to slow and dwindle. His steps came at different intervals, with growing pauses splitting each motion. When moving he retained the sense of boundless grace, but it was lapsing into immobility the deeper on into the city he drew. His head turned slowly, rotating about, taking in every abandoned shop front, every silent bar, every deserted restaurant and gutted office.

He reached a silent plaza. The extent of it’s emptiness yawned and boomed. In a space that could be filled by thousands, that had been filled by thousands, that had once reverberated with the pound of feet and the whirring of human speech now lay empty. His feet carried him deeper and further over the smooth concrete, ragged, scarred and pockmarked with time, the intricate patterns and designs once carved into it rendered unrecognisable. Eventually he reached the centre of the square and stood, rotating slowly. He removed his hat and tossed it into the waiting jaws of the wind, his eyes already moving away from the black gull he had released and now tracing, caressing, desperately yearning at the clean, crippled lines of the uninhabited buildings.

He collapsed to his knees, his eyes wide and staring. The disbelief that had been hidden by his hat and collar was now etched for all to see.

But there was no ‘all’ to see it any more. He knelt, broken in the square. Around him, throughout the entire city, from the river to the fields, for 30 miles, there was a terrible stillness that resounded with a horror that was too much to bear.

Nothing moved but the thunder.

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