15 Minute Write
The day begins and unfurls. Underfoot is glossy and reflective, overhead, dark and brooding. The city is deserted. Really deserted. There are no people, no cars, no animals, no birds, no insects. It is as if everyone has been suddenly taken away. There’s no air of panic, there is nothing to generate such an emotion. The shops are open but empty, the shelves still stocked. No muzak plays. No one is trying to sell you anything. The electronic screens, billboards and advertising hoardings are all grey and lifeless. You do not understand.
It starts raining.
The only movement is that of the water falling and running down the cobbled gutters, off the sidewalk, and into the drains, like a stream. You will never normally have heard this sound. Are there others? You prick up your ears to try and discern. But no. There is nothing but noise made by the gentle precipitation. The drops bounce from the leaves, shopfront tarpaulins, bus shelters, rubbish bins, lamp posts, and York stone pavements.
Where is everybody?
You think it should feel totally strange and freaky, but you are, instead, overcome by a sense of incredible calm, as if in a dream, there is nothing to worry about. So you walk. Down the long avenue - shop after shop open, empty and waiting for its customers and staff to walk through the open doors and make the day begin, to turn capitalism’s ignition.
You come to a gallery. The door stands open. The paintings, large colourful abstract works, are on the walls with spotlights highlighting their details. You feel like walking up to one and touching it - something you would never normally do. But who’s going to stop you, so you do, the painting is still wet - the colours leave an oily and sticky residue on your hands. No alarms are triggered. You wander back behind the desk upon which sits a brand new, top-of-the-line, MacBook Pro, open yet turned off. You wiggle the trackpad with your finger, but nothing happens. There is a door, closed. You push it, and it’s heavy but opens to your firm hand. Behind is darkness. You feel, perhaps, that you should call out - more to not scare any living thing that exists beyond in the veil of darkness - but you know no one is there, you just sense it.
Further down the road is a newspaper vending machine. Empty. A hot dog stand. Empty. There is a ‘hot nut’ kiosk, the door open, bowls, nuts, sugar, and spoons all ready for use, but nothing cooking, no one cooking.
You carry on walking until you come to a park. On the ground, a whole load of birdseed, bread crumbs and crusts - yet no birds, no rats, no cockroaches.
There is no litter - which strikes you as being the strangest thing. Not a single scrap. No cigarette butts, no coffee cups, no coke cans, no newspapers, scrunched or ripped or fluttering.
The traffic lights are still working. They change from Red to Green in a regular sequence.
The rain is still falling. The trickle still sounds down the gutter. There are lights on in flats, but no movement. There are concierge desks, but no one mans them. You push at a door idly and it opens. The lobby is sparklingly clean—marble, gold. You step up to the lift and push the button. Nothing. No ping. There is no whirr of lift mechanism. Behind the lifts are doors which give way to stairs.
Where the fuck is everyone?
City of London. 2021. Nikon d750
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