by Therese Arkenberg
I stand at the top of the clock tower and look out over my city.
No one sees me here; nobody thinks to look up. There they are, filling the streets stretched out below me, ink beading in the paved letters only I can read. There, a pool of them before the library, where I first discovered kings and heroes and prophets. And there are more of them before the courthouse, where I learned that all the lords and sages are dead. The space around the Capitol is nearly empty, and for a moment I wonder if any eyes rest on its domes but mine.
I feel the heat of the setting sun behind me; I hear my city’s flag flapping in the wind from its space above the clock. I savor the sensations of this moment, because I may never have the like again. If I do, it will be a different flag in the wind.
My old lord slumbers near the Capitol, somewhere in the city below me, but my new master waits behind the Gate. It was built to keep such as he out of my city, but with the right offerings it is easily opened. Only my influence was needed, and now my signal.
I look behind me. The sun is almost down. In very little time the clock below me will strike the hour, and all the bells in the city will ring. The noise will cover any sounds I, or the Gate, or my master make.
Then he will sweep down and destroy my city.
Once I loved this place. Even now I can save it.
A final glance across the streets, from the quarter I grew up in to the place, yellow in the glow of a street lamp, where first I met my master. None of them are very far from the clock tower, and I can see them almost perfectly.
The shadows grow longer. That of the tower, and mine atop it, stretches to the white steps of the Capitol. The clock above me strikes. The bells begin to ring.
A lantern sits in the window before me. As was arranged, I light it.
I open the Gate to the city.
Therese Arkenberg is a student from Wisconsin. Somewhere between school, work (at the local library as a page), and reading (she spends more time with a good book than sleeping), she manages to scratch out a paragraph or two of science fiction or fantasy. She has no pets, but keeps an extensive collection of stuffed animals. Her short story "The Sorceress of Avalo" appeared in the March edition of Byzarium ezine. She has also been published in MindFlights ezine, and has another short story coming in the June edition of The Harrow.
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"The Opening" © 2009 Therese Arkenberg. Used by permission
of the author.
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