It was raining worse than he had ever seen. The rain was almost hail, and came in thick droves, so thick that it acted almost as mist. Still, Cyril Fietznyak, muddy, cold, and desperately hungry, carried along the cobbled road, his bag on his back, his clogs heavy. He had promised himself. He was going to find a better life in the City.
He had reasoned that life had to be better in the City than the Country: the awful, cold, difficult, poor Country, where everything was always monotonous. He was desperate for a change. His parents had died in the Spring of a fever, and Cyril had abandoned the family farm and taken it upon himself to go to the City in search of better prospects.
He hadn't heard the latest from the City, if he had, he would not have gone. Once Cyril Fietznyak found himself at the gates of the City, he was stopped by an unfriendly-looking guard.
The guard glared at him. –Papers?– he asked.
–I said 'papers'. Hand them over. We're to check them.
–Oh...– Cyril reached inside his bag and brought out the papers he had bought from an office in the Country. The Guard looked over them for a second, and then said, –Where are you from?–
Cyril gave the name of his village. –And with whom do your allegiances lie?– asked the guard afterwards.
–I've no idea,– said Cyril. –With whom are they supposed to lie?–
–With the Government, Fietznyak,– replied the guard.
–Then I suppose I'm for the Government.–
–I'm warning you, Fietznyak,– replied the guard, –it's dangerous in there.– He gestured to beyond the gates. –Now I don't want another young man on the wrong side of things...so I don't want any funny business from you.–
–Or you'll hear of me again,– warned the guard. –I am Sergeant Pavel Lennick. Remember my name, or live to regret it.–
And with that he let Cyril Fietznyak through the gates.
The rest of the evening went sharply downhill. Cyril's bag was stolen, with his money and his possessions inside. He noticed how many policemen were about the place, and began to feel frightened of their uniforms. It didn't help that two chased him out of an alleyway, shouting abuse at him. It began to rain again. Various strange characters materialised out of the darkness and offered him things, or tried to take his valuables by force. Around three in the morning, Cyril, cold, muddy, miserable and at rock bottom emotionally, sat down in a doorway, and prepared to sleep, or cry, or both.
He heard a sound from beside the door. Dismissing it, he continued trying to arrange himself.
It came again. He stopped.
Through the gutter City accent, he could hear the words the young man - for that was what it sounded like - was saying.
–D'you reckon it's the Police?– it said.
–H'm, I don't know,– said a woman's voice.
Cyril moved a little more, and then heard a louder voice: –Who's there?–
Should he go? It was too late to decide, the ancient wooden door was unlocked and a hidden face was shown.
–Shoo,– it said.
–Please,– said Cyril Fietznyak.
–I'll get out of here in a second. Would you, stranger, be kind enough to give me a bite to eat? I would be on my way after that, and you would see no more of me.
Back in the Village, any traveller who said such a line was given what he was requested, but the stranger seemed hesitant. Another hidden face emerged, and said, to the male figure:
–Let him up. He won't hurt us.
Cyril Fietznyak was hauled to his feet. What suspicious people, he thought. The City is a very strange and awful place.