Wednesday, June 24, 2015

City of Ghosts

Walking down the crowded sidewalk, Joshua barely even looked up from his phone to watch where he was going, he only moved along with the flow of the sea of other pedestrians, none of whom were  looking up from their phone screens either.

It was the usual walk from work to the train station and no one took notice of anyone else.

He dropped the few spare coins he had in his pocket into the cup of the homeless man that was always sitting on the street corner before the station, but he barely even registered the automatic act of kindness as he walked on.

A shrill tire screen did make him look up for a moment, but there was no immediate danger, so Joshua went to turn his attention back to his phone. Yet, before he lowered his gaze again he briefly saw a young woman walking a short distance ahead of him, heading towards him.

It was not her attractive, slightly sad face that made him take notice of her, but the fact that she had just walked right into an oncoming business man and had passed through him.

The sight made Joshua to stop dead in his tracks, causing the annoyed legions behind him to grumble about watching where he was going as they cascaded around him. Not hearing the other pedestrians' protests, he stood and stared as the tall, pale girl walked closer, some pedestrians narrowly dodging her, others passing right through her as if she was not there.

She passed where he stood and he felt the urge to reach out with his finger tips to gently brush her shoulder, but he only gaped at her as she seemed to float by.

Unable to stop himself, Joshua turned and began to follow her, heading in the direction he had just come.

Keeping his eyes fixated on her deftly moving shape, he weaved in and around the oncoming pedestrians as they hurried passed on their regular routes home, none of them even noticing the ghostly spirit that moved through them as she walked determinedly onward.

A few times he nearly caught up with her, but she always rushed ahead with sudden quickness to stay just out of reach, so Joshua had to speed up his pace, sometimes hitting into an unlucky passerby who was not swift enough to move out of his path.

Again and again the girl flitted in and out of people, gaining more ground than he could as he had to move around those that she had merely passed through. Until at last they reached an intersection and the crowds fell away, giving him a clear course as the girl strode out into the street.
Hurrying out to follow her, Joshua reached out his hand as he closed in on her, but again, another shrill tire screech distracted him for a split second and in a flash of screams and pain, he lost her.

Standing alone in the middle of the intersection he looked around and saw himself laying askew on the pavement, the driver of the car that had skidded to a halt in front of where his body lay, was out and kneeling down beside his broken body, shouting silently for help.

Joshua looked back at the horrified crowd, staring at the accident and taking pictures and videos on their phones in a dreaming slow motion, and saw the girl standing in front of them, looking directly at him.

She walked slowly up to where he stood and offered her slender hand to him, which he confusedly took and let her lead him back through the gawking crowd.

As they walked through the throngs of people, he saw others walking along with them, turning to nod at him and then continuing on their way. Then Joshua saw that there were a multitude of them, crowding the busy city streets; all wandering unseen; a city of ghosts.

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