Title: The Day Toronto Disappeared & The Night A Single Man Appeared
Intended Length: Short Story? Novella? Novel? Anything we can get, really?
Genre: Dark Religious Satire? Maybe? I dunno.
Narrative Mode: Third-Person Limited Omniscient
Rating: R / Mature (18+)
The following writing may contain mature subject matter that some readers may find unsettling: gratuitous religiosity, depictions of gore, dark contemplations of the human mind, the use of drugs, expressions of sexuality, vocalizations of vulgarity, displays of nudity and other mature themes.
This writing is fiction. Names, characters, settings and events are either used fictitiously or are products of the writers' imaginations. Any resemblance to real events, settings or people, dead or alive, is coincidental unless stated otherwise.
Chapter 1, Scene 1: The Day Toronto Disappeared
"Little do ye know your own blessedness; for to travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour."
-- excerpt from Virginibus Puerisque by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1881.
The Toronto subway station at Bloor & Spadina was bustling with people. Canadians went this way and that way, trying to reach somewhere. One in particular, however, stood beside a train as it whisked several people away from the heart of the metropolis. It was rush-hour. He had not got on. Nobody noticed.
Should I? the man asked himself, Would it end this torment for good if I leave Toronto?
In one hand, he clutched the crumpled letter from the publisher. In another hand, he clutched the crumpled letter from his ex-fiancé. And in both hands, he clenched the bitter frustration of rejection, with a stinging duality.
Everything I am here is nothing! Moot, void, penury. An Abyss. Non-existence. Everything except my unwanted body and my meaningless thoughts. Toronto does not want me. I should leave Toronto!
The man turned his head, as the next train could be heard in the distance. It was bound for Islington, and then Kipling; the edge of Toronto. The train was leaving Toronto.
I want to be on that train, he thought to himself.
And as the westbound train began to pull into Spadina Station, a man's feet left the yellow rubber edging. It was grimy, yet still bright enough to catch the corner of people's eyes so that they would not walk too close to the tracks. However, the man's feet left the yellow edging in the wrong direction, and he leaped in front of the oncoming train.
The train squealed to a halt, early, as the driver pulled the emergency break. The heart of Toronto beat with the sound of screeching metal. It was as if a thick finger of God had reached into the subway, dragging its nail against a chalkboard. And it lifted away, discontent with the sound. Perhaps the bedrock of the Canadian Shield, the Laurentian Plateau, would make a better sound.
It was too late. The man had been electrocuted where the tracks met the train. His lower body was ground beneath a wheel, mutilated and slaughtered by an engineer's sleight of hand. And his upper body was splayed out across the bottom of the train's front - red with fresh paint; the fresh paint and fresh pain of a bloody death. And as the busy people stopped, to gape and scream, a bruised and battered head fell with a splatter onto the yellow rubber edge of the station's walkway. It, too, dropped its jaw in surprise. For, as far as this man knew, Toronto had disappeared.
He remained over the scene, experiencing an out-of-body moment. And then, down the dark subway tunnel, he saw a light. There was a light at the end of the tunnel! And with his consciousness, he reached for it. And it, too, reached for him. The end. The end of the beginning.
Chapter 1, Scene 2: The Night A Single Man Appeared
"Every man for himself and the Devil take the hindmost."
-- Early 16th Century Proverb
He fell. The light let him go, and he fell. And landed, softly and harshly, upon a cloud. It held him, caressingly, with misty tendrils and puffs. And when he stirred, he rose among many. Many. They were like him - dead.
A young man, who looked rather like a Neanderthal, stood behind a pulpit. He wore a nametag sticker: Hello, My Name Is... ABEL. Before him, a line of random people had been formed. Most of them were elderly. They chattered amongst themselves in various languages and accents.
The man from Toronto stood up. He smiled, for he had left Toronto. And he joined the line, because there was nothing else in sight. The cloud stretched on for miles, and the line of people seemed to be in equal proximity to everywhere else. And, after four hours of uncanny patience, he reached the front of the line.
"I'm sorry for the wait," the young man began. "A lot of people have kicked the bucket toda--"
"Are you Saint Paul?" the man form Toronto asked.
Frowning at the interruption to his ritual rant, the man tapped his nametag. ABEL. Then he continued, "Welcome to Cloud Nine, the higher plane. You've landed here for sorting, sir?"
"Abel? The Abel? Adam and Eve's Abel?"
"Yes sir. I'm the one who got here first. And you'll see ol' Paul take a shift this afternoon around midnight gee emm tee. That is, if you want to wait around and not get sorted. Now, sir, your name please?"
"George. George Fletcher."
"I heard you the first time," Abel said, looking down at the list. "Suicide, right?"
George Fletcher's jaw fell once more, as his mind filled with dread. He knew the old rhetoric.
"I can wait here for eternity, and time passes faster at the front of the line. But please, I'd rather not."
George Fletcher, silently, began to cry. Damn Christianity, I'm going to Purgatory!
Abel looked at him. And then he realized that it was another one of the them. He smiled, "Look, buddy, you're a Catholic agnostic according to the papers in front of me. Scared, right?"
George Fletcher nodded.
"Don't be. Religion is man-made."
George Fletcher frowned.
"Well, this place is rather man-made too. By thoughts, that is. It was a burned forest that went on for many steps when I first came here. But the thoughts of many have changed it to what it is now. Hell, I might even be man-made - I'm not keen on creationism myself."
George's brow furrowed uncomfortably, "Am I going to Hell?"
"Well, I'm not really sure if Hell exists," Abel said comfortingly, "And I work here George. Maybe only once a week, but I work here! You'll go where you want yourself to go. That's what this sorting is. But if you want to go to Hell, or if you reckon you belong there, or some place like it - I imagine that's where you'll be when you take your next step."
Beside the pulpit, a step ahead of George, was a gaping hole in the cloud. George took a step forward. And, simultaneously, he flew up to a higher plane, and fell down to the depths below - and Abel sighed as he moved his attention to the next person in line.