Humanity oozed through city blocks like chewed toffee in a mouth full of teeth. Down there in a cavity, a courtyard entrance, Mr Mann suddenly appeared as if pushed through a rip in the fabric of life. He was startled at first, he’d never been alone ever and looked about the empty space. He’d never seen white, never seen green grass with an empty pavement weaving through it. A door opened at the far side by itself and he knew he had to walk to it and go inside. He took a few steps that echoed from the walls back into the space and he stopped and looked down, he had new shoes on, a new suit, body tailored and his skin was fresh and clean.
The others had said that you’d know when you’ve made it, when you were on your way to the top, it would feel so good that you couldn’t imagine how it would feel. It dawned on Mr Mann that this was it, he had made it and was on his way to the top. Nothing could stop him now, so he tapped on along the path to the open door and walked in. There was a ‘ping’ and the walls parted and an electronic voice sounded.
“Please step in.”
He stepped in and the doors closed, he stood still and could see back through the wall and then felt as if his body was lifting. He saw black at first, then light, with silhouettes moving about, then black and light again with more sharp silhouettes moving about. This continued over and over and he was sure that there were faces in the silhouettes and they were looking at him with interest.
“Well, I am going to the top,” he thought and relaxed at the prospect.
He had no idea what going to the top meant but he did feel good, away from all that grime and dirt and grey and stench, he’d never considered it before, feeling and smelling clean. Then a ‘ping’ brought him to the present and the clear door opened, he stepped out into an all white room except for the blue rectangles on the far side.
‘Welcome to the top.’ The voice soothed.
A white wall moulded itself into a table and chair next to the blue and a clear liquid appeared in a large jug next to a glass.
‘Please relax and drink and look out into the blue. Feel yourself cleanse Mr Mann.’
He’d never seen clear liquid before. The glass seemed to fill itself. He picked it up and smelled it, it didn’t have any real smell, it just smelt fresh and clean. He sipped a little and it tasted of nothing but it had the nicest taste, clean and fresh. He drank the glass empty and it filled again so he drank it again and then looked into the blue. He had heard of blue, it was a rumour on the streets that such a thing existed. It had appeared one day when part of the city stopped working and the protector clouds separated to show blue. Most of the people who had seen it had to be taken away for their own safety and for everyone else’s protection. Blue was dangerous and had to be eradicated like a disease but people who had seen it still survived and had spread the story to all.
Mr Mann was not afraid of it and put out his hand to touch it but something stopped his hand, something flat and smooth that could not be seen. He pushed his nose against it and blew and a patch covered the surface then slowly disappeared.
‘You need to drink more.’ The voice said.
He sat and drank and thought about being at the top, how clean it was, how nice it felt, being alone, drinking clear liquid and seeing blue. He looked out into the blue again and could make out tall white towers at regular intervals, they all seemed the same. He looked down and could just make out the white outside going down to the thick mass of grey brown below, the same grey brown that he just then understood, covered the whole world. He drank more and wondered why he was thinking, he usually just did what he was supposed to do and didn’t think. He drank more and felt his body becoming clear and pure and that must be why he was thinking.
He was full of liquid now and just as he felt uncomfortable the room began to get hot and steam filled the space, the suit had disappeared and he stood naked. Then that smell started, the smell of what he knew, before going to the top and it was coming from his body. The ooze began to come out of his skin, the sweat and it stank of all the wrong people had ever done. He could see it clearer with each drink and with each layer of filth that smee’ed down his skin onto the floor.
Then he saw through all the eyes of all the creatures that had ever lived and understood their fear at the coming of Mann, himself. That he was everybody and they were he. There was nothing else, only Mr Mann and it then smacked him right in the face, that idea, the reason why he was at the top…..
Humanity now queued up at the food stands all over the city and were handed a share of the grey brown sticky liquid. Some stood in groups and gagged down their sickly food and muttered in low voices that they had heard somewhere that one day they may make it to the top.