The City of Lights

The City of Lights

By Jack Fisher

Jacob staggered through the dark alley where smoke stacks pumped smoke and where rats scampered across the wet ground.

Jacob never could hold down his liquour. Bourbon never did appeal to him anyway. His stomach always rejected it into a shiny green mass at his feet. At night he would stagger across the street in his own drunken world , mummbling indecipherable phrases to himself while drinking bottle after bottle of liquor, ususally beer, then expecting to see it at his feet several minutes later. He often thought about why he drank even though it made his mind numb and all his worries spiral into oblivion. It occupied his lonesome self all the time, which he thought, was why he drank.

Tired, numb and cold Jacob stumbled to the ground underneath a flickering street lamp. The ground was cool against his sweaty back. He lay in comfort until he dozed off into a dream-less sleep. Minutes later he was awakned by an irratating voice from above him.

" I dont think this is the spot you'd like to fall asleep at."

Jacon jerked his body in startlement. The bottle of bourbon feel from his handm spalshing against the wet ground.

" What?" he mummbled, half awake.

" I dont think I need to repeat myself, sir. I beleive you heard what I said." It called.

Jacob surveyed the streets but there was no one. Who would be in the alley at this time of night except for the rats? he thought.

" Up here."

Jacob looked up. His eyes adjusted to the dim, yellow light above. Sitting on the light post was a scrawny, dirty boy who looked no more than twelve. He wore a grey vest and his pants were scuffed and faded.

" Hi." The boy waved.

" What are you doing up there?" Jacob yelled.

" need to draw any unecassary attention."

" What the hell are you doing up there?" Jacob called gain.

" Im here to take you somewhere." The child replied softly. His legs stopped swinging and his face turned expression-less.

" Well.......whats your name, kid?" Jacob asked.

" Mavis." He replied, buttoning the front of his vest.

" Well, Mavis, Im Jacob."

" Mavis lept from the light to the ground with perfect ease, " I know."

" Where are we going?"Jacob asked, as he followed Mavis into the hideous darkness of the alley.

" You'll see, Jacob." Mavis replied, looking over his shoulder.

Jacob and Mavis walked through the infinite darkness which seemed like forever.

" Are we ever going to see light again?" Jacob called.

' Of course. We'll be there any minute now."

" Where are we going?" Jacob asked.

" You'll see."

Mavis lead Jacob through the darkness without a problem. Up ahead there was light. As they moved closer it grew more intense.

" Where are we?" he asked.

" The City of Lights, Jacob." Mavis said, looking up at Jacob.

" What is this place? Why am I here?" He demanded.

" Jacob, I've been watching you and noticed that you drinking is getting out of hand."

" So?" Jacob retorted.

" So, I brought you here, which is just the start of things, to show you something."

" What?"

" You've seen the movie 'Scrooge' havent you before?" Mavis asked.

" Of course! who hasn't?"

" Well, this is what Im doing basically. I brought you here to show you whats going to happen to you in the future of you keep drinking."

Jacob looked around quizically. They were in an alleyway but why was it lit so bright with white light?

" Thats ridiculous!" Jacob said, waving his hand at Mavis in disgust.

" No, Its not, Mavis snapped, I am going to show yoiu what -will- happen if you keep it up! Now follow me!"

The blazing white light passed as they walked urther down the alley.

" This is some walk." Jacob said. He stopped behind Mavis to catch his breath.

" Just keep up with me. Besides, it will do you some good. "

" We're here, Jacob."

" Where? " he asked.

"I told you, The City of Lights."

They stood in front of a mirror-like wall that extended far beyond their vision and far too hig to climb. It opened as they watched. Behind it Jacob could see that they were standing at the the top of a cliff and below was a city well lit with bright, shimmering lights. Jacob thought he was now sober but he was having secind thoughts.

" Well?" he asked.

" Give me you hand." Mavis said, holding out his hand. Jacob took it.

" What are we doing now?"

" Just hold on."

" No! wait where are we go-- " before Jacob could finish his sentence Mavis lept from the " cliff.

" Oh my God!" Jacob yelled, as they plummeted at a incredible speed. Mavis giggled. They then curved upward and were now flying at a level altitude.

" Having fun? Mavis asked. Jacob did not answer. His stomach was talking to him. It was saying Im going to let this bourbon go any minute now.

They landed with a slight thump.

" Wow." Jaocb said, looking up, that was intense."

" Come on, Mavis said walking ahead, We're going to the hospital."

" Why?" Jacob asked. Mavis did not answer.

They stood in front of the hospital's brick wall.

" Here we go again, Jacob."

They levitated up towards one of the windows of the hospital.

" Look, Jacob."

In a hospital bed, strung up on an electrocardiogram and with several snake-like tubes coming from his nose and mouth lay Jacob. His face was discolored and looked of rawhide. His entire body, especially his stomach, was bloated.

" Do you see, Jacob?" Mavis asked, as they floated in front of the window, thats you."

" No. Its not!" Jacob said, that looks nothing like me!"

" Thats you, Jacob. Why do you think I brought you here?" Mavis replied.

" Look, I dont know why you're doing this but its getting to be too much! I mean, we flew here! Thats just the beginning. Now, take me home!"

" No. Mavis replied, not until you've seen it all. Notice hows theres no one in the room with you, Jacob? You're going to die alone. Die a lonely drunk."

" Where are we now?" His voice, quiet and tranquil.

" We're back in the streets."

" What do you mean? Where?"

" Look. Mavis pointed to someone on the steps of a church.

" So?"

" Thats you."

" No its not! " Jacob snapped.

" is. You see, the hospital released you after you became better but your lesson still wasnt taught."

The man on the step was very fat and he grunted as he moved.They walked over to the bum. It was Jacob.

" Look at what you're doing to yourself, Mavis pointed his finger down at Jacob as if he were some sort of museum exhibit. A tear ran down Jacobs face, " I cant beleive this."

" You better....its real."

" Take me home, kid. I've seen enough."

Jacob fell to his knees, cupped his hands to his mouth and began to sob.

" No, Jacob.....we have to go to the cemetery next....." Mavis' voice faded.

Jacob lifted his head from his hands. His head throbbed from sobbing profusely. He noticed he was in the same alley as the one he was in when Mavis came to get him. He also seen the bottle of bourbon in its faded paper bag where it fell when Mavis called to him from the light. He got up from his knees and looked around. There was no one in sight so he went over and took the bottle. He had thought about what Mavis said before his voice faded away, ' the cemetery.' Was this whole thing a dream? Was it a figment of his drunken imagination? " Just a dream, Ja--." he yelled aloud. On that final word he buckled over. He fell to the icy ground and lay there as he felt his heart beat get slower after each gasp of breath he took. Before he lost consciousnes and before his eyes slammed shut forever he heard that same annoying voice from above. He forced himself to look up from the ground. Sitting on the lamp post was Mavis. His legs swung vigourously. " I told you, Jacob......I told you." He called.

Jacobs eyes closed.....forever.

Copyright 1997 by Jack Fisher

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