Sunday January 5th, 2014

The exercise:

After our monthly adventures in Mejaran last year, I could hardly not do another yearlong prompt in 2014. But I wanted to give someone else a chance to create the world we all will have the opportunity to play in this time around.

Which means, for the very first time, the writing below is not mine. And that my initial contribution will be in the comments, which... feels very strange, to be honest. Not bad, just different.

Anyway, without further ado, let me allow Greg to introduce you to: Vancouver Irrealis.


It was a moment's inattentiveness from some cosmic observer. In the blink of a quantum eye the entirety of Vancouver slipped somehow sideways a fraction of an inch, and everything changed. It was a slow and subtle change; at first it was nothing more than an odd haze like a heat haze at the edges of the city and out on the water, but the hazes grew more regular and it became harder to discern things past them.

Then the streets and houses of Vancouver itself became affected; sometimes it would seem like they weren't there, or that they'd grown thinner or wider, or suddenly had trees on them that had never been there before. People talked about it as they stood at crosswalks or queued at the coffee shop. But it was only odd, it wasn't disturbing.

Then the first gossamer building slipped into existence in a scintillation of coloured lights, replacing the Vancouver Art Gallery for entirely ten minutes before fading away again. People clustered on the other side of the street, their shopping forgotten while they stared at it, and one or two of the braver ones waved at the people they could see inside. Some of the people inside waved back.

Soon it was established, five times a day on a schedule that slipped steadily back an hour every week, the other Vancouver started showing through, and people could pass from one into another if they timed it right, or if they'd developed a knack for it. Reports came back of a Vancouver very similar to the real one, but different in ways that got to you after a while. Vancouver irrealis pressed in on the real world, and the pressure was bound to have consequences.

The other people were just like the city, almost identically human, but the differences, when you started to see them, nagged at you day and night. Like the faint patterns on their skin, just a tiny bit like lizard skin. Like the extra teeth they had in a mouth almost the same size. Like the fact that their edgemost fingers were the longest instead of the shortest.

Tristam was sat on an outside bench at the Yaletown Brewing Company, a decent pub cum restaurant downtown, enjoying the crispness of early autumn, when Vancouver irrealis manifested itself right there, and pulled him through into the other Vancouver.


Marc said...

Greg – I typed that out, rather than copy/pasting it, so that I could properly familiarize myself with what you came up with. So if I made any typos please let me know. Also I had to split your first paragraph into two because it was looking a bit too large in this format to my eye.

With that out of the way… on with the show! I’m very excited about this, by the way.


Tristam’s arrival was not announced by heralds, or applause, or trumpeters. In fact, at first he didn’t even realize that he’d gone anywhere. The only indication of the shift was a tingling that danced across the backs of his exposed arms. He attributed this to a temperature drop brought on by a cloud passing in front of the sun.

But a glance upward was greeted by perfectly blue, clear sky.

“Did you enjoy your meal?”

Jumping slightly, Tristam turned to see that his waitress had returned to his table. He found himself smiling at her, despite a disquieting murmur at the edge of his thoughts. He’d considered her cute when she had first taken and then delivered his order. Now, somehow, she was… captivating.

“Oh, I’m not quite…” he drifted into silence when he found his plate empty. He was certain there had still been a few bites left of his BBQ chicken pizza. “Huh.”

“You’re not quite huh?” she said with a laugh that sent a different sort of tingling marching across his skin.

“Sorry, I’m just.” He stopped, realizing he had no idea what he was. “It was good. Great, actually. Thanks.”

“My pleasure! Hardly broke a sweat cooking it up for ya.” That laugh again. “Can I interest you in some dessert?”

“No, I need to get back to work soon.” Tristam looked over her shoulder at the clock he’d been using to track his lunch hour but suddenly found it unreadable. He blinked once, then again. Still the numbers made no sense.

The four roving hands were even less comprehensible.

“Are you okay?” She seemed concerned, offered a quick smile… that showed more teeth than he’d been expecting. That was when it finally dawned on him. Which was forgivable, really, since he’d never been to the other Vancouver before.

“I need to get back,” he whispered. “How do I get back?”

“Will you be paying with shac or by reditc?” she asked, not seeming to hear him.

“Oh, um?” Tristam dug his wallet out of his front pocket, hoping that whatever he found inside would clear things up for him. As he tried to open it he fumbled it to the ground.

Which was when he noticed that his thumbs and pinky fingers were no longer their usual lengths.

Greg said...

I didn't spot any typos, and it's entirely possible that you corrected some in my original, so thank-you! I did wonder about the first two paragraphs as I though it was odd I'd have split them where they do. Thanks for clearing that up for me :)
I think you've done a great job of capturing the confusion of being transported between worlds there, I really enjoyed reading it. I've been wondering where you'd take us since you mentioned that it was coming up this week. I particularly liked the payment methods on offer!
I'm going to add a little more, but not much, and let's hope other people want to come and play!

"Are you ok?"
Tristam looked up from his fingers that were now wrong, wondering why the waitress's voice had changed. Stood next to her, looking concerned, was a woman who could have his waitress's double. She raised an eyebrow, waiting for an answer to her question.
"I... I think I'm in the wrong place," said Tristam. He looked down at his wallet. How did he open it with someone else's fingers on his hands?
"Is he trying to run out on you?" asked the newcomer. She didn't sound angry, but Tristam was sweating now. Finally his wallet opened and cards and coins spilled onto the table. He recognised none of them.
"Doesn't look like it," said the waitress. She waited to catch Tristam's eye and smiled, showing perfect white teeth. "You got a preference sweetie, or shall I take my pick?"
"I... I don't know what any of these are," said Tristam miserably, hoping that honesty might be the best policy.

morganna said...

The waitress picked out a few coins and smiled again at him. "You feeling okay, sweetie?"

Tristam fought back tears and tried to smile. "I'm not from here."

The waitress frowned in confusion. "You sure look like you're from here."

The other woman spoke up. "You know, I read about that other city that's been drifting through. Think he got pulled in? He sure looks like he belongs here, though."

Marc said...

Greg - yeah, sorry about that. I probably should have edited it slightly to make the break more sensible but I didn't want to change anything you'd written.

Glad you enjoyed what I came up with, as I'm already looking forward to my next installment :)

Love your descriptions of his attempts to deal with his wallet, they are very nicely done.

Morganna - so pleased to see you joining in on this! And what you've written has sparked several ideas for what I want to write in February :)