Story: The City of Neon Lights Hides Something Deep Within – 22/08/19

The city of neon lights welcomed deceptively. Visitors travelling from near and far could not shield their eyes from a welcoming so bright, a manner so garish, upon the eyes it was presented somewhat violently. The lights flashed on and off, their pleasing colour scheme dancing in the eyes of the visitors, like flame to moths, and into the entranceway they explored, into the darkness of the unknown. What would the darkness behold, the neon lights only partially and eerily lighting their way, weaving through tunnels and roads and laneways, dotted with houses looking exactly the same. There seemed no one here to be seen, it was as though it was a ghost town, so who were the neon signs being lit up for, it was unknown to those visitors, their confusion could be cemented, it could be assured.

So they wandered the streets slowly, taking in the brightness, the signs declaring “Money money money”, and “Tap dancing lessons daily”, and “Enter here for some existential fun”. Another spouted the words “Do not dare proceed, begin to run”. At the sight of that neon light, the travellers became rigid, what could it be warning them from, why did the sign’s poster want them to leave? Surely there was nothing bad behind that house’s closed door, and understanding they should probably not explore they still stepped forth a few steps, then a few more.

“Hey, what do you think we should do?” asked one male traveller worriedly. Another smiled bravely, courageously, and said, “We should definitely explore, it is what will cause my heart to be pleased!”

“But, we shouldn’t, it’s bad,” the former counteracted.

“Phooey!” another called out, “let us do what we wish to do with this.”

And into the doorway they went, bowing slightly as the doorway was low, and covered with a smattering of old cobwebs of lurking large spiders and thick layers of dust particles, they travelled the darkened corridor, coughing and wheezing all the way, hoping for at least some future neon lights to soon light their way. Soon they reached their apparent destination, the room was small, wider than they expected for a house that appeared so small initially, but exploring the room now was of most import, there was surely something special about this area, it must be the truth, there must be something dangerous to view. They sat and closed their eyes now, ruminating on what they might find upon opening their orbs, and suddenly they heard a deep throaty growl, and of this the mostly excited travellers felt well pleased and wanting to see and hear more! A gravelly sounding rumble in the throat and a clearing of thickened phlegm, and now opening their eyes hesitantly, not certain what they would view, there was a gargantuan, a monster right before them. His eyes were bloodshot red, his pupils pin pricked, his hair severely cut, with green skin and terrible breath from abscessed teeth he was more disgusting than any other being in many ways, then he sniffed thickly, the sound of rapidly moving snot. He coughed carefully and levelled his gaze with the most excited traveller in the room.

“Excuse me, lady,” he said, “Could you please spare me a pot of lemon, honey and tea? My throat is now as dry as dry as can be.” Her expression was startled, eyes widened like saucers, was this monster calling upon her for chores for this hour? With his polite request she didn’t know what to say, how to take it, but certainly he didn’t behave anything like a monster who looked like him, nothing like how she would have expected. She was sorry to express to him that she indeed had no access to pots of tea, but changed the topic of conversation quickly, and with ease did she. 


“Why are you hidden here, guarded by the neon sign, telling visitors to stay away when you are simply lovely and happy, so utterly vibrant on this day?” 
“Sit down,” urged the monster, “And I will share my tale.” Thus, the travellers sat upon their bottoms, crossing their legs as though they were in primary school again, and remained silent, listening for the tale to be revealed, it would surely be well outlined to them.

And so began the monster’s tale of heartache and intrigue, of meeting the wrong woman monster, the wrong teacher, the incorrect master, he spoke of how much bad luck did he have to experience, in his life of such an up and down rollercoaster, for his lifelong work of inventing he’d only received a pittance, and his patent had been incorrectly filed and he’d lost control of the ownership of his prized invention. It was intended as his main source of future income. As each saddening fact was revealed, the travellers felt their hearts ache, and their understanding of his life become ingrained in them, they could actually feel his sorrows and his aching and how he felt and thought when the events were unfolding or being undertaken.

Finally the monster said that he had been placed in this guarded room not for his safety, but for the outside world, for the Others, because he was far too intelligent, too superior, to be mixing with these non-monsters. The humans didn’t wish to be exposed to his intelligence because what came with it was the bad luck that was somehow interlinked, and being in the same vicinity as the humans, they believed the transference of the intelligence with bad luck was imminent. So they kept him within this tiny room until they could extract his knowledge and talent, and leave him with nothing, other than bad luck as his fact.

“But, Monster! How unfair is this! You cannot be punished for being smart, for having a well wired mind, this cannot be, this completely breaks my heart!”

“Ah, but the humans think it is right, it is so, here I will live until I die, my body will then rot and then go. Deeply saddened by this mental image, the travellers decided to break Monster out and here of their plans they could envisage, they would drag him through the tunnel slowly – it was almost not wide enough for him – and out and into the dangerous City of Lights would they bring him, only temporarily. Then he would be brought out away from the deceitful Welcoming sign, and taken into the fields, the hills, where he could live, finally being truly alive. They would take him on their worldly travels, they had nothing to fear, not even his bad luck, for that was for superstitious individuals, such as the ignorant, cold hearted people, in the City of Neon Lights where he was gladdened to have departed. It really should have been called the City of Broken Dreams, but at least the humans weren’t visible in the streets, ready to counteract Monster’s presence with a fight, this city was nothing like what it initially appeared and seemed.  

© 2019 Alice Well Art, Lauren M. Hancock, also known as Alice Well. All rights reserved. 

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