“I hate this place,” I said. Manhattan clawed me at night. Every night I dreamed the Smoke Man and talked with him. Every night got longer.

“Climb into the carbuncle,” he said into my dream, and so I did. A big red egg, split open along a jagged Mandelbrot line.

“What do I do now?”  The soft black seat wrapped me like a womb. A pinpoint purple light shone over my head; straight ahead, blackness and the afterglow in my eyes. The void beyond the Milky Way.

“Where do you want to go?”  His voice rang like sweet syrup.

“To the cluster nearest the Great Attractor. Far from here.”

He leaned in over me and smiled. “No coming back, only forward.”

“That’s what I want.”  A tinkling music rose to shriek, and the egg closed. The purple light and I went out together.

So I slept and woke. Not in Manhattan, but in blackness. I waited. A smudge of light spread ahead of me. Time died; the smudge brightened.

“No NGC name for this one,” the Smoke Man said. “It’s young now. See, the core is faint.”

“How far away is it?”

“Ninety thousand light-years.”

“And how far to my own?”

“Seven hundred million light-years.”

Everything else was black around me. No stars. Intergalactic nothing.

“Take me back,” I said.

“Forward,” he said, a smiling lizard in my head.

“Yes.”  And I slept and woke. Not in Manhattan, but in blackness. A smudge of light kissed my waiting mind.

“Where’s my apartment?”

“Fourteen hundred million light years behind you.”

“I want this dream to be done now.”

“It is.”

“I want to be in Manhattan again.”  The smoke man smiled snakeskin in my ears. I stayed unhappy after that. 

Last Updated Friday, June 14 2024 @ 05:38 am  19 Hits   
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