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The Tourist – An Exactly 750 Word New Babbage Flash Fiction

Now that the contest is finally at an end I’m going to post the flash fiction I entered for Stargirls Flash Fiction contest. This is ‘The Tourist’ an entry that perhaps doesn’t meet the theme of ‘A Day In The Life’ but certainly captures how an outsider may percieve our glorious city state should they come unprepared!

The Tourist

What’s in a city? Buildings, people, a transportation system? Yeah, Babbage has all of these but it also has so much more and I learned this little fact the hard way.

I started my vacation in the mysterious city state at the train station. Immediately people pushed past me on their hurried journeys, some carrying large boxes and others weaving amongst the crowd eager to escape the damp station. “Well, it is a city after all!” I foolishly thought.

My first destination was ‘The New Babbage Repository for Medical Arts and Science’ a place of knowledge and scientific fact! I was giddy to learn and strolled in gazing at the magnificent displays of the male and female form. What stumped me was an exhibit on lungs, a perfectly healthy pair were described as “Unfortunately lived in the absence of healing, visible air” while the clearly diseased and unhealthy set were touted as having “A near complete encrustation of the tissues with healthy soot.” Surely this must be a joke? I signed the guest book and continued on my way.

By this point I was hungry, I hadn’t eaten on the train in so I decided to stop off at a local restaurant.  The waitress recommended a native delicacy ‘wiggyfish’. Never before dear reader had I tasted such foul bitterness from a creature, I scarcely believed it possible! Desperate to get the taste out of my mouth I turned to a local salesman selling mouthwash, tossing a quatloo over I foolishly poured a whole bottles worth into my mouth without a second thought. The taste was strange and I seemed to be suffering a fearsome thirst, reading the bottle I soon realized that the liquid I had just consumed was in fact entirely comprised of soot! This city was beginning to test my patience.

Perhaps out of the desperation to take my mind off of my now filthy mouth or out of the desire to escape any more calamities I made my way to the vast underwater construct known as ‘The Vernian Deep’. Huge glass tunnels reinforced with metallic rings spanned for what seemed like miles to create a dark maze peering out into a normally unseen world.  This untouched realm I could see before me was enthralling in its entirely alien appearance, I would have forgotten the troubles I had endured so far if it were not for the sudden tapping I heard behind me. I swung wildly around and to my horror I was faced with a nightmarish creature! My heart pounded in my chest, this beast looked vaguely human yet had all the vileness of the ocean strewn throughout its form. Before I had time to react the tapping had turned into pounding, scratching and biting upon the glass, the disgusting parody of a mermaid had begun to crack the fragile walls of the tunnel! I made my escape hasty, narrowly climbing into the elevator just in time to avoid the torrent of water hurtling toward my terrified person.

Having reached the surface I stumbled out of the brick and stone elevator house, I could swear the symbol of this blasted city state was placed atop the small building just to mock me. I had to leave and the sooner the better! A nearby tram had just stopped on its way to the train station, in a hurry I climbed aboard. The trip went quickly but of course right on cue a loud groaning siren could be heard. “What could it possibly be this time?!” I yelled aloud, at my wits end. Without warning the rusty tram breaks screeched, looking out of the window I could see a gigantic mechanical tripod sweeping back and forth blasting heat rays from a small emitter fixed to its underside. Apparently Martian invasions were a common sight in New Babbage, a fact the holiday brochure had sorely missed out. I was thankfully able to escape this encounter with only mild burns to my chest and legs, despite my injuries I persisted with my withdrawal from that awful chaotic city, the tripod collapsing behind me as a result of wild militia bombardment.

I walked the entire way to Falun, a nearby mining town, where I was able to acquire transport home. The motto of New Babbage is “What could possibly go wrong?” well dear reader, if my account is anything to go by then the answer to that question is “ALMOST BLOODY EVERYTHING!” I certainly won’t be returning any time soon, good riddance!

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