May 16th is National Flash Fiction Day (in the UK but, with the internet, isn’t everything local?). We’re celebrating this feisty genre with a short, original piece from author Alan Glynn.
Dangling off the security grille, I could see – far below – minute dots of traffic streaming along 48th Street. I could see the rooftops of other buildings and the awesome darkness of Central Park spread out beneath the night sky. It reminded me of the first time I’d arrived in New York, landing in La Guardia at night, the avenues appearing as celestial beams of light, coruscating giddily, one after the other, as the pilot sashayed us around the base of Manhattan and over to Queens. Less than an hour later, as a dimming afterglow at ground level, I’d sped along the FDR Drive in a cab, the Colgate clock to my left, a flickering meter in the middle, the blurred succession of cross streets to my right – speed and light, it seemed, being the two least dispensable elements of life in a city where the process of transformation was perpetual, never-ending, and where the possibilities of action had long been reduced to the simplicity of convergence, which might or might not get you into trouble, and divergence, which in the long run was nearly always convergence postponed … my own uncertain dance between the two having been acted out in various neighborhoods, apartments, diners, delis, liquor stores, movie theaters, to say nothing of the succession of nebulous, shifting ranges of acquaintances floated into and drifted out of, lost now to the city’s congenital, interior, unstoppable diasporizing …
I lost my grip on the security grille at that point and fell headlong into the swirling blue mist of the electric night. I saw myself tumbling towards the city as though from a much higher point … hurtling down at what looked like a vast microchip, in which my life, encoded for so long, was now rapidly decoding, unscrambling. I saw flickering movements at the edges of my vision, like coils springing off a circuit board or huge serpentine cables thrashing about, but which for all I knew could have been fresh glass towers sprouting up out of the dark sidewalks below. As I fell I had confused thoughts about falling bodies, and velocity, and acceleration. Then I was anticipating contact, and a surge of innocent bystanders, people hovering over me, a prurient shuffling, a hubbub … sirens …
But suddenly it was over and I was face down, licking the asphalt. All I could hear was the sound of someone breathing. I wasn’t sure if it was me or someone else, so I shuffled around. Staring down at me was a large woman in a fur coat. She had a lot of make-up on. She reached a hand down towards me and rasped, “Need any help, sonny?”
Without thinking, I leapt up and ran along the sidewalk, hugging the buildings, towards Fifth Avenue.
Alan Glynn is a graduate of Trinity College. His first novel, The Dark Fields, was released in March 2011 as the movie Limitless by Relativity Media. He is also the author of Winterland and Bloodland. You can follow him on Twitter at @alanglynnbooks and on Facebook at AlanGlynnBooks.
Photo credit: DW Labs