Three of them. I think. The tall one’s gone up the main street, hoping to head me off. His hunting footfalls slapping the wet road, fog muffling his angry shouts. The one in the cage-van is coming up slowly, engine idling, poised for some signal from the others that they have me cornered. Then it will surge forward with a triumphant snarl to take me. But they don’t have me yet. Not yet.
The third is the one to worry about: the smart one who never hurries and has suddenly gone silent. The thinker. He knows I can hear the running man and the cage man. But I have always eluded him. This time it was the alley – when he rounded the last corner, I had vanished. He will still come, creeping in his soft shoes, listening, sensing, thinking his way to me as he has with so many of us. His kind never relent – they have no souls.
He has his maps, but I have my history. Born in a cold, dark corner of an alley just like this one – this city is mine, and I am this city. I do not want to abandon her. I know her alleys and alcoves, and all her refuges. To surface and merge with her night, I have learned to be the difference between shade and shadow.
A few steps short of the light at the end of this alley is the concealed entry to her best refuge. I have never gone to ground there before – it was to be kept until the very end. It is not on the maps – the smart one will not know it.
His foot has betrayed him, he has entered the alley! I must keep moving. Even here, in this blackest of shadows, he might sense me, and then he will probe with his light. They go nowhere without their lights – they are afraid of my dark. Could there be more of them in the alley ahead, hiding in a black recess, avoiding the sickly light from the high window casting silhouettes on the dirty walls? I have seen their teams before, lying in wait for us. But they always give themselves away: chasing off the dark with an urgent flare from their lighters; or by the careless glow of their cigarettes.
Their teams have caught so many of us – I’ve seen no one else for weeks. Tonight I searched everywhere, but they must have all been taken. You cannot survive like this for long on your own – you need your own kind around you for hope. They know your name and speak your language. They sing your songs and share your myths. These invaders have no music – they do not sing. They have given up their myths, and so their spirits have abandoned them. To hunt us the way they do, means they fear us.
I am below them now, feeling my way to the underground refuge. They are too afraid to follow me down here. I have escaped, one more time. But tomorrow night I will leave my city forever. I have failed her. There is nothing for me here anymore – I am the last of my kind.
Alone in the city #7: The Last of My Kind
A photo-literary collaboration with Sable here on RedBubble.
It also draws inspiration from the song lyrics of A face in the crowd by Rickie Lee Jones:
You never were human so, how could you know?
We fall so hard, we can’t let go.
I am the last of my kind in this town,
Everyone else has gone underground.
From the 2003 album The evening of my best day
This story is dedicated to all the people in our abused world who have suffered through ethnic violence and hatred – those people who are different and are attacked for it, and need to flee into the dark places of their own cities to hide from their oppressors.
This is a photo-literary collage. It is my first collaboration on RedBubble, 23 May 2010
See the whole Alone in the City Series