This link is for the e-book version of The Weary City, a novella I wrote in a former incarnation back in college when I was smitten with the Russian Symbolist Movement and other Russian writers from the 1910s and 1920s that were later rehabilitated under Khrushchev in the 1960s. I wrote this story in their style and with their sensibilities in mind as a Christian allegory. This story is about my unemployed trailer park queen with an unwanted pregnancy who finds a way into a decaying, post-apocalyptic world where she must do battle with the magician who rules over it in order to get home again. You can consider it my freaked out interpretation of the Wizard of Oz, inspired by David Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” album. It was a blast to write all those years ago, and I hope you enjoy reading it just as much. It got great reviews from my reading circle in college and was considered for publication with a major publisher in 2000, but they don’t like to take on untested new writers.
Here is the link for the print edition of The Weary City:
or you can get it at the main Amazon store here:
Here is an excerpt:
Walking down a street strewn with garbage, Terry looked at the rows of buildings reaching up to the sky on either side of her. They reminded her of home and her occasional trips to the city, though these buildings hardly resembled the majestic skyscrapers of polished steel and tinted glass that she remembered. These had the same shape, but their blasted walls were stained and cracked, crumbling almost before her eyes. Not one of their windows remained unbroken. Thin strips of paint peeled here and there on the doors and window panes, the fragments of flat, drab colors scattered by the wind and falling into shallow piles on the ground.
The city looked deserted. Terry met no one. But somewhere in the distance, she heard crying, like a wailing wind echoing softly through the city, and the metallic rumbling of an engine. She stood still to listen, but the sounds died away before she could place them and move in their direction. As she listened, she felt the baby move inside her, and she realized that was the first time she had truly been aware of it since she invoked the spell. The reminder of the life she carried with her only made her more uneasy in the strange surroundings.
The whine of scraping steel on steel echoed through the city, and when it stopped, the sound of barking dogs replaced it. The barking grew louder as the dogs seemed to come toward Terry. Panicking, she ran down the street, stumbling over the garbage, looking for anything, a person or a hiding place, to protect her from them. As she ran to the corner of the street and turned, she bumped into someone standing there. Arms wrapped around her shoulders, and in the confusion, pushed her ahead through the nearest doorway into a hollowed out building. Finding a place to hide in the shadows, far from the windows facing the street, they waited for the dogs to pass.
When the dogs arrived, their barks were almost deafening, and their claws clattered against the crushed papers and broken glass lining the street. Terry thought she heard heavy footfalls moving just behind them, but an overwhelming sense of fear came over her, and her blood pulsed faster, beating against her skin and roaring in her ears so she could no longer hear anything without this distorted, extra beat. Then the feeling passed. All was silent except for the sound of her own breathing.
She felt her rescuer’s eyes upon her, even in the darkness, and turned to meet them. The figure’s hands clasped hers, pulling her closer to a boarded up window where thin rays of light broke through the cracks. A ray crossed the figure’s face, and Terry fell back, gasping, as a woman’s features were revealed by the strip of bright light. The face was too like her own for Terry to be sure of what she was really seeing. She studied the face carefully, still backing away, even though she realized it wasn’t as familiar as she first thought. The face was similar to her own but, from what she could see in the half shadow, not enough for them to be confused. Terry couldn’t understand the feeling of familiarity or her own reaction.
The woman didn’t appear to notice. Taking Terry’s hand again, she led Terry through the darkened rooms, stepping through more strips of light as they passed another window. Then they started up a long flight of stairs. Unable to see where the woman led, Terry counted the landings as they reached them, and when they got to the twelfth, the stairs stopped. Terry was surprised that, even in her condition, the climb hadn’t tired her at all. The woman brought her down a short hallway to a room with a small cot in the corner and an open window overlooking the city.
Now, at last, Terry could see the woman clearly. Her pale, worn dress reached the floor and whirled around her when she moved. Her light brown hair fell to her shoulders in thick, shining waves, each strand reflecting the warm light of the daytime sky. Terry refused to see the face again and turned away before the picture of the woman could be completed in her mind. Instead, she walked to the window, now no more than a frame of shattered glass, and looked upon the city.