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Enumerated enucleating effluence


Stranger

The room was dark except for the buzzing of the harddrives in the computer. A blue glow envelopes the room. His blinds are open, revealing the city. A city he doesn't understand. A place so foreign to him, he never adapts to it, never becomes fully comfortable.

Freed from all constraints, he went here. No money to get, he just stays in most days, comes out when he needs food. He gets in the elevator, and heads down to the street below. There's a store nearby. It's cramped, filled with strange items.

He recognizes none of the foods, they're constantly changing. There's no pattern, no ability to get comfortable with any food. Each time he chooses something to eat, it's a bit of an adventure. Who knows what it will taste like? Each food, if asked about, has a long neverending history. The locals have eaten it for years, but he's never seen it before.

He never adapts. The city shifts on him as he lives in it. The places he discovers never re-appear. He's not a regular anywhere. There's nowhere to be a regular at.

It's not that the shops close and new ones open. He's just never able to find the same one again. Each time he enters a place, only strangers are ever there. Each time he goes somewhere, nothing is familiar. The menu is insane, but of course, the locals have been coming there for years.

He can never be a local. He can never get used to the city. If he memorizes a given path, he finds that there is some understandable ambiguity each time, and he never arrives at his intended destination. His phone has no software that works reliably. He's assured by the software that other cities have a complete and accurate map. Other cities can become known, but not this one.

He walks the streets for hours it seems, finding new stores to sift through, new diners to try, strange things to eat. Stores filled with people who all seem to know each other, but never recognize him. He's never met a person in the city twice. Long conversations late into the night, numbers and emails exchanged. Nothing ever comes of it. It's not that they're rude, it's just that they have things going on.

The non-repetitiveness itself becomes the pattern. The comforting invariant that puts his life in a framework. The mind craves order. Neverending novelty is a tough pill for a mind to swallow, but spend enough time in this city and his mind managed it.

He'd gotten used to not knowing how the subways were layed out. Asking a local was nearly always the way to go. "Where's deshtuk street?" "Oh, you're right there. Around the corner at the end" Of course. How could he have missed it? Wander the streets aimlessly for hours, and at the end you happen to be right around the corner from where you started from. A building he can't see from far off. A building he can never get comfortable with.

Never seeing the same neighbor twice.

  • fiction