The journey to wherever Destiny would eventually lead him to was much more difficult than he had originally suspected. The continuous lines of individuals repeatedly intercepted him as if by design, though he knew well enough, it was all circumstantial.
However difficult to avoid the thoughtless drones, John would not—could not—abandon his order, as he could not himself recall a time when he ever abandoned a direct order.
He had stumbled into several persons in the first five minutes, all of whom he had politely apologized with a brief "sorry" before marching forth again. The disturbed persons in return, regarded him with a glance before focusing their attentions back on their lines. John, after the first five disastrous minutes, was able to more expertly dodge people to which after some time, he had only stumbled into only four unlucky individuals.
After those four unlucky individuals, the amount of lines began to thin considerably, until John noticed with a creeping despondence, no lines whatsoever. He halted in his tracks and gazed around him, perturbed by the sudden absence of people, and the wavering silence sat upon him like a dead weight. And suddenly, for the first time, he registered the bleak, abandoned buildings in front of him that though were short, came in tight clumps of five's, taking up much of the space. These buildings must have been around shortly before the development of the Transformation. John was far from his community if he was near these ancient buildings.
John glanced back down to the procured paper, hoping for an oversighted word or identity of the person who had written the directions so as to perhaps locate and inquire this person. But his hope withered away into ashes when he saw nothing new, just the words "follow the arrow" and the arrow itself. John looked up from the paper, to a narrow, arched alleyway, formed from two of the buildings. He glanced behind him, unsure why exactly—perhaps wishing for someone to deliver him a different order. Though of course, John was the only present being.
The paper had given him a command... However unfulfilling it may seem, he decided, it must be carried out!
With renewed vigor, he marched forth in between the alleyway, the walls standing tight against him as he went.
John immediately noticed the cool air pressing against him, which held a dampness to it as darkness began eating out the light. But there was just enough light so John could make out vaguely the straight route ahead. He embraced himself to keep warm and looked about his surroundings, waiting for some other route to unveil itself.
He had been walking through the dimly-lit alleyway until a slight scrap of light peeked its way through the end of it—if it indeed was the end of it. Noticing the light instantly, John quickened his pace to a sort of jog. With each step, the light grew considerably. His heart sped in time with his feet, and then he was there, at the exit, and suddenly, suddenly—
His eyes burned with intensity, and he shielded his eyes against the source of the pain. He stood like that, his hands covering his eyes for a few minutes before he let a small ounce of light enter and after ten minutes, allowed himself to gaze upon his surroundings.
There was no one still, he noticed. But there were colors. Many, many colors. Purples, pinks, whites, reds, oranges, and greens jumped out at him upon the ground. A faint word tugged at the edge of his mind. A word from before the Transformation... They were not fans... They were... They were... Flowers! Yes, that's what they were, he concluded decisively. The flowers grew of varying lengths: some stood tall and confident; some stood meek and delicate, but beautiful regardless; and some stood there in a large populace, just staying there for the sake of it.
John took a relieved breath, glad he had managed to arrive somewhere. When he took that breath, however, the air he consumed was like water that had remained unavailable to a wayfarer in the desert for weeks. It was beautiful, it was wonderful, it was... full of scent. Another memory tugged at his mind—that these... flowers used to carry scents.
John looked down at a nearby flower, which had pearl-like petals and a golden center. A rogue desire seized him to smell this forgotten piece of nature. Yet how could he? Should someone else have been there, they surely would not have smelled the flower—would they? Then again, they were not here. But consequences could arise from taking a whiff, like a fatal poisoning.
John took out the paper again, which had been in the pocket of his trench coat. The paper pointed to the flower, as if egging him on. If the paper says so, I am to do so, he thought. He took a breath of finality and leaned down toward the flower. He did not have any desire to rip the innocent thing due to a feeling inside of him he could not quite place.
He leveled his head to the flower, so he was a mere two inches above it. Then, he drew in a scent. And it was the most amazing smell he had ever taken. The flower was almost sweet but not quite, and it most certainly did not smell like the deceptively sweet smoke he was so used to. The item was so exquisite that he took another scent and another. Then he stood, a foreign emotion invading his breast—one he could not quite place. Yet as soon as he felt the alien emotion, it evaded him.
He must walk forth, as surely the field of flowers was not the final destination. And he could not disobey a direct order. So, he marched forth yet again through the field of flowers, tip toeing as he did so, attempting to avoid stepping upon the delicate gifts of nature.
YOU ARE READING
Follow the ArrowShort Story
John lives in a future run on smoke and contamination, where the freedom of thought has become an antiquated concept. Upon finding a note that tells him to "follow the arrow," John is lead into a natural sanctuary, and the sanctuary will force him t...