Apocalypse and Pretzels
Early in the morning, in the bitey air of an unripe April, fine pearls of rain drew averted trajectories, trying to prolong their run towards the ground. The morning sunlight slipped through them, caressing their lopsided dances.
A freshly baked pretzel perfume mingled with the acrid, yet familiar note of wet tarmac. Similar to the inviting singing of a mermaid, that fragrant smelling trail traveled for blocks coming from who knows where, bringing the illusion of a tasty breakfast at hand.
On Madison, the sound of a distant pneumatic hammer, disinterested in that diaphanous moment of peace, reminded the city of its daily duties. The need to renew the infinite interweaving of order and chaos, the human sap of a monotonous and, at the same time, different becoming.
An old beggar was taking shelter from the drizzle under the entrance of the Met Breuer.
He seemed to come out of nowhere and, in a sense, gave the idea of having been there forever. The shabby headgear with ear-muffs could barely contain the explosion of white hair, gathered in damp, frayed cords due to the persistent drops of aerosol. The festive and bizarre trichological chaos reigning on his head only sharpened the contrast with the fixedness of his gaze, veiled by a cataract under the crusty eyelashes. Forearms and hands rested parallel, laying on a small and unusual pink plastic banquet that seemed to have been recovered from an abandoned nursery.
In front of him, carefully lying on the small pink table, he placed a typical cardboard square. Strangely enough, where a message of help was supposed to be found, not even a "everything helps" decorated the miserable panel which, laconic and brash together, was left naked to look at the sidewalk.
None of the hasty passers-by would have ever bothered to look down at the bizarre old man but, if someone had stopped for a while, perhaps he would have noticed that his open lips uttered a constant chant, a whisper of elusive and continuous vibrations.
"Now the distortion around him has become almost visible, how much do you think it could go on?". In truth, for several hours what had happened under the gray shed had captured the growing interest of two luminescent figures, on the other side of the road. From time to time, they exchanged positions to steal each other the best view. Their feet seemed to slip soft like fog on the cold sidewalk.
"Learn about silence once and for all, Duth. Would it make sense to even just hazard a guess in front of this.. thing?".
"But how is it possible for a human to perform the Chant, or to just gather.."
"And instead, if you bothered to listen, you would have noticed that this supposed human has just added the sixth voice," the archangel interrupted him, punctuating the words as he tried to separate red pomegranate grains from their peel.
"I think we've observed enough, we do not want him to start opening a seal, do we?", he continued, trying to resume his usually compassionate tone, "We have to report about it to Metatron. Stop stalling, let's move".
The old man's eyes suddenly gnawed them, like a blacksmith's hot pincer. Duth did not even have time to finish wondering how a simple homeless had been able to identify them on the subtle plane from which they were watching him.
An Autie Anne's Pretzels van sped in the direction of East Harlem, sprinkling the city with its fragrant trail. For an instant, the driver seemed to have heard a curious song, but he didn't pay too much attention.
It's Not Kansas
The elevator doors opened and a press of bodies swept Cassandra into the lobby. She automatically began the daily trek to her apartment. It was a ratty place, but it wasn't Kansas. That's all she cared about.
She'd found the perfect job: Assistant to the Second Secretary. Her desk was down the hall from the First Secretary, who assisted the manager of the copy department. Cassandra had been there for two months. The manager still didn't know her name. Sometimes, if he walked by, he might nod, but usually he didn't even look at her. The Second Secretary concluded Cassandra was simple, and mostly left her alone. This made life easy. Cassandra was anonymous, invisible, and unchallenged. Not like Kansas, at all.
Rain started falling. She was almost at the bus stop. For some reason, she turned left on 75th Street and headed toward Central Park. Why? It was almost dusk and the park was six blocks away.
"Doesn't matter," Cassandra thought. "Why not the park? I've got sturdy shoes." Kansas shoes. The only thing she still had from Kansas.
She kept on, toward the park, though the wind picked up and drove rain into her face. Dusk was turning to night. Pooled water splashed under her feet.
When she was two blocks away from the park, lights from the Met Breuer came into view. Her breathing became difficult. Why? She gasped, couldn't get enough air.
Water streamed from her hair, her clothes. But she was not aware of this, not aware of herself.
It struck her, as she approached the entrance to the Met Breuer, that she had been unaware of herself since she left Kansas. She'd been going from point to point without asking anything from anyone. She did what she was told, what was required, without resentment or resistance. Those feelings, along with the rest of her life--except her shoes--had been left in Kansas.
The rain slowed. She could see clearly the form huddled in the Met Breuer entrance. She forgot about the park as she studied the figure. Memories of holy mendicants came to mind, of people who dedicated themselves to spirituality so others might be free.
The beggar's wild hair resembled a halo. A piece of cardboard at his feet seemed blank. Then words materialized: "I've been waiting, this day and every day for two months."
Soft, dark eyes peered into hers. The first time in the last two months anyone had looked at her. The first time in her whole life, anyone had truly seen her. The mendicant signaled with his hand that she should go toward the shuttered museum entrance. An elaborate steel gate protected the door from intruders.
Acute awareness settled upon her, a sense of purpose, of what she was to do. She placed her hand on the gate and it swung wide. Beyond, there waited not the entrance to the museum, but a vast openness. She stepped across the threshold. As the gate closed, she heard echoes of rain, traffic, and the mendicant's chant, which sewed every idea, impression and sound together into a unity she finally comprehended as existence.
ABOUT FINISH THE STORY CONTEST
Every week a new teasing beginning of a story is featured by @bananafish. Sometimes guest authors write these pieces. Usually @f3nix is the author. In every case, all of Steemit has an invitation to enter into the realm of imagination. There are few rules. A 500 word limit is suggested, but not mandatory. Any thread, any idea from the first part may become an inspiration to follow for the second author.
The name of this contest is finishthestory, but it's really about writing your own story that is connected in some way to the first. Accept the invitation to write, to become part of a community and at the same time demonstrate your individuality.
Finish the Story Contest--highly recommended.