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Silver Starling

by E.J. Robison 3 months ago in Adventure / Young Adult / Short Story / Sci Fi
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A superhero's fear of the city

It looks like a monster.

I've never seen something so fearsome, so sharp, so loud. Every line is sharp and jagged without a hint of anything soft. I get the sense that it's ready to devour me as soon as I make a single wrong step. And it's not forgiving, either. It will make sure I'm consumed.

Maybe it looks better in daylight. Shining in the rays of the sun, perhaps its secrets are unveiled; now, I can tell it holds many, hidden deep within in the shadow-infested streets. Though the moon is nearly full, its silvery glow seems too weak to take hold of anything but the very tops of the highest buildings. Though the bright lights of street lamps and headlights shine from down below, they’re only mockeries of true light—small, fleeting, temporary things that don’t bring any lasting relief from the darkness.

An image of Pine Hollow sits in my head in stark contrast to the beast before me. The Hollow was never complicated, its gently sloping hills and endless meadows always laid bare for me to see. One glance saw for miles, whereas here, every view is limited by a building a few feet away. Nature had its way there. A small bundle of fear forms somewhere in my gut as I foolishly wonder if I’ll ever see green again.

I sneer at the city passing by underneath my feet. Maybe it's the view that's wrong. Perhaps it's not meant to be seen from so high above, but for me, it’s the only way to see a new place. Usually, the bird’s eye view excites me. Here, it’s just frustrating. The concrete creates a confusing twist of streets and alleys that don't make any sense. The longer I stare at them, the more I feel lost.

There’s a twinge in my lungs. I know my time is almost up, so I let go of the leaf I've been hanging onto and let the wind take me. Little by little, I exhale through my nose. I begin to descend at a gentle rate and direct myself towards the closest roof. I can feel my body slowly regaining weight pound by pound, but it’s long since ceased to be an odd sensation.

What is odd is the scent that the wind brings to my nose. It's cramped and sweaty and rotting all at the same time. Better memories swarm my mind and I inhale the phantom scent of Pine Hollow: fresh grass, flowers, and horse manure. At this point, I’ll even take the horse manure alone over the rancid smells of the city.

Will I ever breathe fresh air again?

I release the last of my breath while the thought runs through my mind. As my feet touch down on the roof, I decide that it’s the end of my pity party. I’m cursed by gravity once again and it feels like tremendous labour at first to shift my 163-pound body with a single step. Sometimes I find myself wishing that I could hold my breath forever and explore every inch of the sky.

But deep down, I know that’s not who I am. I can’t abandon the people who need me. And if this city is anything to go by, the people down there definitely need me. I might hate this place, but I can't hate them. In fact, I pity them, stuck in the belly of this beast day after day. How can they bear it?

That's my job: to fight this monster and save the people it's imprisoned. I’m not much of a superhero, but it won’t take much to improve this place.

Maybe one day, I'll even learn to live with the monster, too.

But probably not.

AdventureYoung AdultShort StorySci Fi

About the author

E.J. Robison

Ever since I could first form words and hold a pen, I've been telling stories - from the sloppily scrawled tales about getting ice cream with my exotic pets to full-blown sci-fi and fantasy epics. To God be the glory for every word I write!

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