The Outer Edges
A dreary, grey sky draped over the metallic hulks that lined the outer edges of Chatarra City. Dark looming shapes that etched the sky in jagged patterns; husks of old cars, machinery and all things scrap. I stood outside the junk yard, in front of its rusted entrance gate that was now nothing more than a bent frame. I let out a puff of smoke from the cigarette between my lips, watching the tendrils of smoke dissipate into the air.
Cool. Calm. Collected.
I let the words play over in my mind as I walked into the yard, aware of the silence that emanated within the compound. No junk yard dogs. No junk yard owner yelling inquisitions at me. Just the silence of rusted metal. I walked through the alleyways of the compound, looking at the familiar junk piled together haphazardly. Apart from the nervousness caused by the eerie silence, there was a rising belligerence from irritation; this isn’t what I wanted. With one final puff of smoke I threw the stub of my smoke down and crushed it with the heel of my shoe.
Cool. Calm. Collected.
Why I was here was simple. I’m an inventor of sorts. I love to tinker with all kinds of machinery; building contraptions and gizmos. A rather fulfilling and exciting hobby I took up at a young age, when I realized that banking wasn’t for me like it was for my dad. No. I found my joy in dismantling toys, calculators, toasters and radios, and once, my dad’s old computer. It sure didn’t end well but it awoke in me a desire for more. Not merely dismantling…but building from scratch.
I frequented junk yards from then on. Collecting all kinds of scrap metal and mechanical components to the point where my backyard became a scrap heap in itself; but I was never satisfied. I then started to travel from city to city, junk yard to junk yard, searching and never satisfied, until finally I found myself in a dilapidated, smoke hazed bar, drowning my dissatisfaction in warm draughts of cheap beer. My companion, whose name I could not recall nor where I’d met him, endured my ceaseless babble with nods and grunts and the occasional “sure”. We sat across from one another on creaky wooden chairs, the bright yellow globes overhead illuminating my companion’s dark wiry hair and thin somber face. I loathed the look of pity engraved on his face but I endured it as he endured me.
It was as I ordered my next round of warm ale that my companion shooed the attendant away and dragged me up to my feet, pulling me away from the smoke filled room towards the back of the bar. He dragged more than led me out the back door before shoving me out into the cool night. I landed onto the dusty ground on my back, drunkenness rendering me incapacitated.
“I know what you seek…I know where you can find it” He said to me in a thick Spanish accent. From his flannel shirt pocket he pulled out a thinly rolled cigar and from the back pocket of his faded jeans he pulled out a lighter.
“There is a place…in the Outer Edges” he began to say, as he placed his cigar in his mouth, “it is a quiet place…a secret place” He flicked the top of the lighter with his thumb, producing an orange flame that cast an unnatural glow across his face. His eyes flickered with the flame and I felt a chill crawl up my spine.
“This place is…different” he continued, taking a drag from the cigar before blowing a plume of smoke up at the purple sky “…Chatarra City…it is not like the other cities…but no city in the Outer Edges ever is huh?” He chuckled softly to himself.
“…it is there where you will find what you are looking for. It has everything that you could possibly look for. A haven for people like you.”
He looked down at me, giving me a wry smile before turning around and disappearing through the door, heading back into the bar and leaving me to sober up outside. With set mind I headed out towards Chatarra City, hoping that I would finally find what I was looking for.
Now here I was, disappointment and dull anger vying for my emotions as I perused through the familiar junk. There was nothing special about this place; it was like every other scrap heap I’d wasted my time and energy on. I grabbed a loose piece of metal, anger overpowering every other emotion and diverting all of that energy towards my arm.
Cool. Calm. Collec…
With a thrust, I bashed the metal husks in front of me. Then again. And again. And again. Still in my fit of rage, I turned around and hurled the rod across the yard as hard as I could.
She caught it.
“Are you calmed down now?” She asked. Her voice drifted across towards me, sinking into my head and echoing melodiously. She nonchalantly pushed the fringing tresses of her white hair behind her ear.
“Who are you?” The words rolled off my tongue yet I was sure I hadn’t said a thing. I could still feel a dull anger radiating through my twitching arm as she walked towards me, the metal pipe in her hand swinging lazily.
“Does it matter?” She asked. I shrugged. She shrugged back, mocking me. With a light chuckle ,she flitted about around me, bouncing on her toes with nails painted black. Her white hair flowed more than bounced with each skip she took, the cuffs of her grey sweat pants dragging across the floor. She smiled a devious smile, standing on the tips of her toes, holding the metal rod out towards me.
“Grab hold” she whispered. I tentatively reached out, grabbing hold of the steel rod. It was cool to the touch, tingling on the nerves; electrifying.
“I know what you seek…I know where you can find it…” she breathed. The hairs on the back of my neck stood on end under her mischievous yet ethereal gaze; her eyes were gleaming dark orbs that pulled at me.
“This is the place…here on the Outer Edges. It is here where you will find what you are looking for…” The familiarity of her words struck a cord inside my mind, yet I could not pinpoint where exactly I’d heard them.
“…everything that you could possibly look for…”
Wait!… At the bar! My mind began to piece together the pieces. I tried to say something, but my voice died in my throat, coming out as nothing more than a raspy murmur.
” A haven… for people like you.” She grinned a devilish grin, pulling the metal rod out of my hands in a deliberate fashion. I stood transfixed as I was, watching a brilliant light emanate from behind her dark eyes. A whirring sound filled my ears as the rod slid out of my paralyzed hand.
“You are not hu…”
“No” She interjected, crackling mechanically while raising the metal bar above her head.
“And neither will you be” with a deft flick, she struck me across head. The pain shot through the side of my head, lodged itself right between my eyes in a searing hot flash. The world rotated.
Thus begins my journey into a new genre, something different from the normal stuff I write. Sci-fi? Steam Punk? A combination of both? I’m not sure yet but the idea looping itself inside my mind sounds fun. If you have any ideas, see any loop holes or spot something I missed please let me know, comment and stuff I would really appreciate it!
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