What follows is another chunk of the story that I abandoned. Be nice, please.
Morgan Le Fay sat on one of the retaining walls outside of the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ monument, lost in the black oblivion of her ear-budded IPhone. It was a little after 6:30pm on a pleasant June evening.
In a world where the amount of distractions we have at our disposal saturate the very air we breathe, it’s easy to forget we can find the most joy in the simple things. Making faces at children, hearing the opening chords of a song that has been a favorite of yours since you were a teenager, knowing your lover’s smell in a room full of smells: these are all things that are unfortunately dulled through our insatiable need to be distracted.
Morgan can’t be faulted for participating in this. A young woman by herself in the middle of Downtown Cleveland needs to use everything at her disposal to inform the people she shares oxygen with that she has a means of alerting the authorities should she come in to contact with any ne’er do-wells.
After a long day, in a series of long days of doing mind-numbing secretarial work, all she wanted to do was to mindlessly scroll through her social media statuses while the Foo Fighters made “Something from Nothing”.
Morgan was brought back to reality when the song ended.
“What the fuck is that guy doing?”, Morgan heard a passerby say through the barrier that she had erected for herself.
As the setting sun lit up the evening sky, turning all of the windows in the surrounding buildings into hovering jewels, traffic, pedestrian and otherwise, continued to flow through the Square.
Morgan was completely unaware that the guy in question had just walked by her 5 minutes ago.
Morgan stood up from her perch and began to make her way towards the commotion with cautious curiosity.
She had seen him on and off since she had taken this job. He looked like a bum with the unkempt hair, matted beard, and dirty clothes but he didn’t seem like he fit the typical bum stereotype to her. He didn’t act crazy and he wasn’t a pushy panhandler. He just seemed sad to her.
It was ‘her bum’ and he appeared to be reciting a list of facts to the statues that composed the monument.
What people fail to realize in a situation like this, Morgan included, is that the one who loses the most is the one who volleys pity when it is completely unnecessary. It’s easy to feel sorry for someone who appears to be out of touch with reality, but then again, what is reality?
As the crowd looked on in car crash-like fascination, some of them paralyzed with pity, others snickering and taking pictures with their phones, Morgan was the only one with the presence of mind to use her phone to alert the authorities.
As she started to do this, The Bum stopped talking. He began to circle the monument again, looking up at the windows of the neighboring buildings.
After completing one full revolution of the monument, he stopped in front of the statues, raised his head towards the sky and began to disrobe.
Neal was trapped in a wet wool of a fog. The only thing that he knew for sure was that the ground he was standing on was hard. It didn’t have the give that dirt did.
Having traveled for hours, he resigned himself to the fact that he may meet his end.
“Well Neal, you sure picked a hell of a time to lose your map”, Neal said to himself to take some of the sting out of the loneliness that was creeping up on him from being lost.
He shivered at the thought.
Neal knew he wasn’t like anyone else. He knew that he was graced with a pinpoint purpose that his entire existence hinged on. And because of that, Neal knew that anything short of total confidence was unacceptable.
Neal pressed onward despite the fact that onward was a relative term. In order to take his mind off of the looming idea that he may never reach civilization he began to recite the auxiliary facts of his mission.
“Cleveland was founded by Moses Cleaveland in 1796. He stayed long enough to oversee the creation of the Downtown Area. When it was completed, he returned to his home in Connecticut never to return to Cleveland again.”
Neal began to warm up as he continued to distract himself. He continued to recite the rote facts.
“The overall size of the city is 78 square miles. The ‘numbered’ streets run North-South while the ‘named’ streets run East-West. West Park, a suburb of Cleveland, was named after one John West. It was the last major suburb to become a part of the city. Currently, it is the home to an estimated 57,000 people including one Lena Cage, and one Edward Roach.
“My parents” Neal choked on the words as they left his mouth.
Neal hadn’t thought about them since he was tasked with this mission. Taking a moment to observe the terrain, Neal saw that the fog was beginning to lift. Neal could see that he had landed in a forest of some sort. Thankfully, the forest was starting to give way to a clearing.
Relief seeped out of Neal’s pores.
The surrounding air pressure in the vicinity of the monument began to change as The Bum got naked. It’s not that he was an abomination to look at, quite the contrary. As far as derelicts go, this one was rather fit. The level of discomfort began to grow for his audience because they weren’t expecting any nudity.
Things got really interesting when he started to scream.
Neal understood that with a trip of his length, following the instructions dictated by his superior were paramount. One misstep, one cut corner, and the whole mission was a wash and Neal’s existence would cease to be.
He began to jettison his Jump Suit.
Not being used to occupying a corporeal form, Neal couldn’t shake the feeling that he was a stranger walking around in a suit of his own skin. The proportions felt off. There were parts of the face that felt stretched to the point of thinning, but the hair, the hair was still there. If Neal didn’t know any better he would have thought that someone had outfitted him with the exterior of a Sasquatch.
“Had I always been this hairy?” he thought.
Neal looked on and noted that he, the body that was him, in this timeframe was rather fit. The hair on his head was curly and thick, much like his beard. And it appeared to be tall because the ground seemed like it was farther away than what he was used to.
“Could have been worse: Could have come here old and fat”, Neal said to the surrounding trees.
Enjoying the cool mist of the dissipating fog on his new skin, Neal walked onward entering the clearing. What he saw shocked the very core of him.
In the clearing was a series of glass buildings illuminated by a magnificent sun. The glass of the buildings captured the rays of the sun and shot them back into the clouds, illuminating them for the rest of the world to bask in their beauty.
In the distance, Neal could hear bells clanging, not counting out the hour but, he couldn’t be sure of it, they sounded like they were singing the praises of something.
“A wedding?” he thought to himself.
His mouth was moving before he was aware of it.
Head still held high, The Bum’s voice sliced through the crowd.
“TRULY! THIS IS THE WORK OF A HIGHER POWER!! I AM 150 YEARS OLD AND I HAVE PASSED THROUGH ALL OF THE KNOWN LANDS! THERE IS NO LAND, WAITING TO BE DISCOVERED THAT WOULD HAVE THIS!”
As Neal began to twirl in joy, the forest evaporated before his eyes. The glass buildings he first saw remained and gave birth to other glass buildings. The hard ground he had been walking on was blinked out of existence and replaced by concrete.
Neal saw that he wasn’t alone.
The shadow of the monument cast a chill on his naked body.
The sounds of traffic assaulted his, as well as his audiences ears.
Taking in his surroundings, Neal saw Morgan on the edge of the crowd talking to two police officers. He had never talked to her before but he was immediately struck by the compassion she exuded.
Neal turned back to the monument, looking up at the sailors and soldiers.
“What happened?” he said.
When Neal turned back towards the crowd, he was now face to face with the two officers.
“Sir, let’s get you some clothes?” one said as he began to direct Neal towards their car.
“Sir, can you tell me your name?” the other said after he had dispersed the small crowd.
“I…” was all Neal got out before his body shut down on him.
Morgan couldn’t watch any more. She went home for the evening.