Francisco Lazos Carrasco
Pop, crash, boom, a being fell from the sky, pummeling into the earth like a meteorite, blowing up asphalt and clods of dirt within a 15 foot radius of a busy downtown street.
People stared in awe and horror as a woman with flowing locks of red hair and a long blue dress that came down to her ankles stood up like a beast, holding an iron scale in her pale hands.
Despite her hard impact, she bore no scratch nor bruise.
Another man, known in town for his brashness, cut through the crowd, seeking to demonstrate his bravery.
“You one of them illusionists we see on the television a lot lately, aren’t you?” the confident man said and pushed the strange woman back.
“Don’t be scared!” the man shouted. “This here woman is a charlatan pulling a stunt for media attention! They think we’re a bunch of superstitious yokels who will tremble at anything we can’t explain!”
The stranger did not take the brazen man’s actions lightly.
“I’m from the future,” she exclaimed. “I’m here to restore balance to the universe.”
The man laughed heartily as did the crowd and he shoved the strange woman again, harder this time.
“Be gone and let us be!” growled the man. “We don’t need you city folk to come here and ridicule us!”
The stranger, using unique powers, levitated the man ten stories above the air. He was fixed in one place like a star and he pleaded to the strange woman to put him down. But she only scoffed at his request and boarded a sphere of bright light going northbound, leaving her iron scale behind.
People tried to bring the man down, but they couldn’t budge him. Using a fireman’s ladder, they brought him food and water. In addition, they handed him a light umbrella so he could shield himself from the elements. For months the man slept, ate, drank, and relieved himself from the lower reaches of the sky.
One morning, the druggist shouted into a bullhorn to him that the outskirts of the town had totally disappeared. A vast whiteness replaced what was once natural. No one could come nor leave. Outside communication had also vanished. Everyone was in a frenzy. Some even lobbed stones at the man, blaming him for their misery.
The following day the man realized he was alone. There was no rationale for the absence of humanity that he could fathom. He reasoned the woman from the future had something to do with it. Perhaps she saw how badly humanity treated each other and grew disgruntled at seeing them clamor selfishly to the top like crabs in a bucket, choosing instead to banish them for good.
The man’s only consolation was his renewed mobility, which came at a cost. He could only move about from where he was suspended. With little choice, he walked on the shoulders of the wind until he was able to climb through an open window of a turn of the century hotel.
The man was elated to step on solid ground again. However, when it came to the stairs or the elevator, he couldn’t go up nor down, for he attempted the feat several times. Gravity wouldn’t allow for such miracles to commence. He was cursed to remain on the 10th floor for life.
He could only drink rainwater he gathered in vases, which he set on every window sill, for the taps had gone bone dry. His only source of food were pigeons, which he ate raw since there were no means of making fire.
Trapping pigeons, he discovered, was a laborious affair.
Firstly, pigeons were astute. They recognized hunger when they saw it.
Secondly, red-tailed hawks patrolled the sky like gang turf. Not only were they superior hunters, they were fiercely competitive. So much so, they rendered him without a morsel of nourishment for days on end.
Eventually, he created a simple trap, using a stick, a cord, and an upside down desk drawer.
At night the man dreamt the same dream. He saw himself as a nine year-old boy running gleefully over green luscious grass for what felt like eternity.
When he awoke, he had bitter tears streaming down his filthy face.
He began to believe the dream was a parallel reality to his 10th floor existence.
To entertain himself, he sang silly songs from his boyhood. “She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain” was his favorite.
Then on a warm September Sunday, at the ripe old age of 108, he died in his sleep.
The mysterious woman with red flowing hair was sitting serenely by his side. At which point, the sky ripped open.
Francisco Lazos Carrasco is an Associate Professor of English at the El Paso Community College. He holds a BA from St. Olaf College, where he studied creative writing and existential literature. He also holds an MFA in fiction from Columbia College Chicago and a second MFA in playwriting from Smith College.