To a foreigner all appeared well. There was laughter, chatter, friends joking together. Corruption went unnoticed, and proved to exist only through the words of the gossipers talking about stories so ancient, that no one knew if they were true or not . The people lived day in and day out blended together in a city that could not speak of the destruction, but could show it by the marks, the scratches, the damages left behind. The swarm of men and women chose not see the impact of their behaviours, yet someone knew what was not said. This was the child. The child had no name; his age was unknown. He had the innocence of a four year old and the wisdom of an old man. In this city he lived for centuries, never aging, never being noticed. He simply camouflaged into the walls, the gutters, the lampposts and the buildings.
One day the child could no more bare sharing the broken streets. The vision of the city he once knew had fallen apart. Yet it was more than just what his eyes could see that pained him, for he knew exactly what the adults of the town did not; where every mark, every scar, every scratch had come from. Created from events that the people did not remember, but he could not forget. So he decided it was up to him to fix it. To return the wounds of the city back to their creators, where they belonged.
The child worked for years, step by step, searching every corner of the city. With his small hands he would tear the scab off the wall, reach in, and rip out the wound. Then as the town slept, he would slip into the owner’s house, release what lay in his hands over their body, and watch it crawl deep into their skin. One by one each person that had marked the city was visited in their slumber. From the man who missed his target in a violent rage and dinted the café wall, to the running woman who slipped after abandoning her baby. No one went unnoticed. He even walked through the ancient cemetery, digging up each grave, removing the coffin lids and returning to the dead what they had left behind.
During the days the child noticed something strange. The city that was once crowded and full of hustle and bustle was no longer chaotic. For what the child did not know was that every time the wound engraved in the skin, the person would shrivel up like a rotten apple, curling into its core, until there was nothing left. It was as though they had never existed. Therefore, as the markings disappeared, so did the townspeople. Yet, despite the mysterious disappearances, the child continued on with his mission. It was not to end until the city was brand new again.
Finally a day came when every person had vanished. With no bodies to bury or graveyards left, death no longer existed. The city was perfect. There was no chatter, no yelling, no laughter or crying. All that could be seen and heard was a silent city of beginnings. The child lived alone in this city for a very long time; I cannot tell you how long, or whether time was moving backwards or forwards. There was just day and night and the changing of seasons.
One day however, something changed. The child found a part of the city he had never before discovered. It was as though it had been hidden from him all those years. Buildings were covered in blood, gashes, mould; every imaginable horror you could think of was growing like a tower over them, crawling over the walls like infested maggots. The potent scent of the repulsion charged through the child’s body ripping the wind out of him. He gasped for air but all the oxygen had seemed to disappear. With no breathe or energy left in him to escape, he whispered a cry of horror and fell to the floor overwhelmed with sorrow.
The sickness of the buildings began spreading slowly through the city, crawling through every pipe and gutter. The maggots worked their way up every lamppost, the blood oozed into the rivers; the scratches engraved themselves in every building, leaving scars so deep that any memory of the horror left them aching in pain. The child’s city of perfection had more damage than ever before. He was trapped in the infestation, for he did not know where it had come from, and had no one to give it back to.
The child tried, for the changing of seasons to live in the city and avoid the hideous buildings, yet everything was different. There was a constant feeling of sickness boiling up inside him. Every second felt like a minute, every minute felt like an hour, every hour felt like a day. When he slept he was haunted by the horror of his discovery. When he awoke he could not escape what he had seen. The child knew he could no longer live in this city, yet he could not leave it as it was all he knew. This left him no other option, but to destroy what he had once worked so hard on healing. He mustered up any energy he had left, and gathered every piece of wood, every leaf, every scrap of paper he could find, and spread them all around the city. For weeks, through day and night he worked on each building, each road, each café and lamppost, making sure they would not be saved. Then on a day when the sun shone so brightly he could not look at it, he lit a match and let the city burn.
The space where the city once stood was left bare for years, until a day came when a new city started to be rebuilt. The people slowly congregated to the town, which was filled with laughter, chatter, and friends joking together. But, hidden beneath it all, on the ground beneath where the stories were shared, a tiny crack was forming.