Image of Abbadon

Abbadon

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Winner
Jury

“You know I never really held any animosity toward the rain. A lot of people complain about it, but it’s all part of the cycle of life. You know what I mean?” The khaki raincoat was marked by droplets of varying size that ran together and slowly poured from the tall man’s long sleeves. “We should be happy, when it rains, because it means everything is still working as it should.”
“That doesn’t surprise me. I just don’t care for the melancholy.” The auburn-haired woman stood beside him, slowly drawing from a cigarette and letting the smoke trickle out into the street. They both stood beneath a bus station, although she had been there far longer.
“Yeah, it’s gray, but would you really want there to be so much sunshine? Hell, if it went on long enough everything would just be a desert. There’d be no life, just a wasteland.”
“Why did you choose now to finally show up?” The woman asked him, more smoke trickling out. “I’ve gotten to the point where I almost gave up expecting you. Unusual as that might seem. But now that you are here, well, there isn’t much time before the bus arrives.”
The man, from behind dark eyes and worn wrinkled skin, gave her a mournful glance which she met. She couldn’t tell if there were tears on his face or if it was just the rain. Of course, it could be both.
“I just thought you’d change your mind. A lot people do.” He replied.
“The ticket is already purchased, and it’s one way. Plus...” She held up her pale-skinned hand, showing how the cigarette neared the filter. “This is my last.”
“You can still refund it. Or you could tear it up and let the pieces run with the rain. Little scraps of paper in small rivers down to a storm drain. You could very easily do that.” The man said.
“I could do that, but my mind is made up. It was made up a long time ago.”
“Nobody’s mind is ever really made up. Thoughts can change just as the rain and sky do.” The man said again, a more noticeable pleading in his voice. The woman wasn’t sure if he was intentionally aware of the fallacy within his words or if he truly believed it.
The cigarette was hushed out and placed in a small trash bin that sat neglected in the corner of the bus station. The woman’s attention instead turned toward the ticket, toward the end-destination resting in small bold letters just above the barcode. She could hear the rumble of the bus and the slight hiss of water flaring up over the sidewalk embankment as the Greyhound neared.
“The sky doesn’t change here. It’s always rain.” She said.
“It might, someday. You’ll never know if you get on that bus. Please don’t leave this place, the world is cruel out there. The rules are different. This place makes sense.” The man begged.
“Look around you, open your eyes. Unplug yourself from your own delusion. You speak of change and patterns. How a place with mostly sunshine would be miserable and a desert and yet you choose to live in a drowned world.” She said right back to him, determination in her voice. “I’m tired of living in a city of ghosts, with no dreams and only rain. You can’t even remember the last time there was something here other than rain. You think you can, but you can’t. Some cycle that is. You’re in denial that everyone who lives here isn’t locked into a system. People can’t thrive in stagnation, or at least I can’t.”
The bus crept up to the station, stripped tires accompanied by screeching brakes as the vehicle ground to a halt. The door swung wide with a click.
“I am grateful for all that you’ve done for me, all that you’ve shown me, but it is time for me to move on with my life. You’re more than welcome to follow me.” She said.
“You don’t remember what the world out there was like, how badly you spoke of it when you first arrived.” The man replied.
“That’s where you’re wrong.” One foot already on the first step of the bus and the ticket flashed before the outline of the driver. “I remember it not being this cold.”
The engine of the bus roared to life and was in motion before the woman could find her seat, looking out into the rainy streets. She knew she shouldn’t, but she looked back at the station, looked back at the closest thing to a friend she had ever had here. The khaki raincoat shimmered and liquified as the shape of the man collapsed into water and merged with the rain. The station was empty again.
The droning of the wheels and the rush of the water was a gentle monotony, this was the doldrum moment where all that could be heard was the world outside. For there were no voices on the bus, as each seat lay empty.
The outside world went from gray to dark as both the setting sun and diminishing city let all light drift away. The driver of the bus could not be seen, from the woman’s perspective whoever was steering was just a shadow.
Suddenly the bus was gliding and weightless, and a hazy fog seeped in through the cracks in the bus’s windows. The mist danced around the dim yellow lights embedded in the ceiling, forming exotic patterns.
“We’re getting close.” The driver’s raspy voice hissed over the intercom.
The vehicle shook and shuddered, as if buffered by high winds. The woman pressed her face against the glass, her breath glazing the window. There was nothing to see, but the odd raindrop striking the pane and letting its impact pattern glow from the interior lights.
There was a sudden silence. Forward momentum held, but no longer did the engines drum or the wind and rains outside strike at the metal frame of the bus. There was only the haze inside, but the woman soon realized that the shapes in the mist were held in place and no longer swirled and transformed.
Small orbs of light, of flashing composition and brilliant cerulean began to phase in through the glass and metal. The bus itself became translucent and the woman found herself floating in a black sea surrounded by infinitesimal glowing raindrops. They left wispy trails as they moved around her. Ahead, in the direction of where the bus had been moving, was a small shimmer that increased in intensity. Pure white light, spherical in nature at first, but expanding in pyramidal patterns.
At first the light at the end of the black sea was a small glow, but soon it was a primordial sun that the woman felt herself hurtling toward faster and faster. The raindrops became solid lines of blue in the void, as they too began to be absorbed by the glowing light.
Thresholds were crossed, and suddenly there was no more black sea or raindrops, but there was light. An infinite and brilliant light, warm and welcoming against the skin, that illuminated impossibly green fields and towering trees across a new plain. Gone was the gray concrete of the drenched city, replaced instead by nature.
The bus didn’t rematerialize around her, but somehow, she found her way to the ground. The breeze of the air carried forth a touch of summer, and the sound of rushing water was not rain into storm drains but instead were real creeks and rivers, rushing through the dense vegetation into lakes and seas. This was not the same world she had entered the eternal rainfall from, for which she was grateful. It was improved, refined. Whether that was because of an actual change or just a result of her new perspective was unclear.
The last remnant of the drowned world, the deluge metropolis, was a suspended black raindrop in the sky. Once a gateway between worlds, it continued to diminish and evaporate in this new world’s light until the traveler watched it disappear. It had no place in a balanced land.
For the first time since she had started her sojourn across barriers, the woman smiled. She was home.

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