The Disappearing City
A job well done. That is what Terry Maclaren tells himself as he has recently finished delivering for one of his company’s newest clients called “Eddard Farms”. He has been a large truck driver for “Barger’s Delivery” for eight years and doesn’t mind the work. It is a steady job with great benefits that he desperately needs since he has a family including a wife and two energetic little girls under the age of five. It is a blessing in itself to have a job like this.
As the factory workers take their orders off the truck, Terry walks outside and pulls out his cellphone. He dials his wife Margo’s cell number. After a few rings, he hears her voice. “Hi Honey!”
“Hey Baby!” He jovially jokes in his Austin Powers impersonation before using his regular voice again. “I’ve made the delivery alive and well.”
“Oh great! It took you long enough. The girls miss you.” Margo tells him. He can hear the pattering and laughing of his daughters playing in the background. Abruptly, she yells out. “Girls! Keep it down! I have your daddy on the phone.”
The sounds of little running feet get louder as he hears his little girls calling out to him. “Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! Come home! We miss you!”
Terry chuckles into his phone as he can hear them both clearly thanks to Margo putting the phone down to the girls’ faces. Margo puts her phone back to her ear and laughs as her daughters wrap their tiny arms around her legs.
“Well, you heard them! When are you coming back?”
“I’ll be on the road right away. I’m just waiting for the workers to take the farming equipment off the truck.” Terry explains but breathes out a weary sigh. “But I think I’m going to make a stop and get some sleep before I head directly back.”
“That’s a good idea Sweetie but is there a place close?” Margo asks. “I mean your out in the country right now, aren’t you?”
“Yeah, but there’s got to be a town close-by and work will cover the expenses.” He explains. “I should be home in a couple of days.”
“Okay but get some sleep and take care Terry.” She says, “Remember, you are loved so drive carefully.”
“I will, I love you.” He beams into the phone. “Kiss and tickle the girls for me.”
“I love you too.” He can hear the smile in her voice. “Bye.”
“Bye-bye.” He hangs up the phone and goes back towards his truck.
Luckily these employees get their load off quickly. Terry shakes the hand of the worker who received the order, takes the paper work out of their other hand, and gets back into his truck. He’s got a whole brood waiting for him at home and he can’t wait to see them all again.
It’s been a few hours and Terry has pulled away from the gas station with a burger, fries, and large coke. He hasn’t found a town yet and the gas station proprietor told him the next town is at least a day’s drive. This is disappointing but it wouldn’t be the first time that he has had to sleep in his truck. His plan is to drive a couple more hours, pull over to a rest stop and catch forty winks before finding an actual place to sleep.
That plan flies right out of his truck window when he sees city lights in the distance. Terry can tell it is a city due to the fact that the lights are tiered as if they are in tall buildings, the considerable quantity of them, and they shine brighter than any small-town lights he’s seen. Terry is excited to see this because, surely in a place like that there has got to be a place he can stop at. And not too soon because despite all that caffeine in his coke, he finds himself getting more and more sleepy.
Terry makes a guess that he will be there in ten minutes by the look of the distance. All he has to do is follow the road and make a right. He indulges in a nice long blink to keep himself from falling asleep. When he opens his eyes again, Terry doesn’t see the city to the right anymore.
“Wha...?” He says aloud looking to the right, blinking repeatedly.
Out of the corner of his eye he sees on his left side those same bright city lights. With a shake of his head, Terry silently scolds himself for being more tired than he thinks. It is darker now but he needs to focus on the road. He drinks the last swig of his coke and drives on.
The highway keeps going straight and Terry can’t find a road that goes in that direction. The lights keep getting closer but there is no way he can get to this destination. He blinks and lets out a tired yawn only to find he can’t see those city lights anymore.
“Dammit!” He grumbles unhappily. “I must have missed it somewhere.”
Before he can even take another frustrated huff, he spots the lights right in front of him. Confused, he pulls his truck over to the side. Terry gets out of his vehicle and scratches his head. He didn’t turn, nor should it be in this direction and so close. His intuition is telling him that something isn’t quite right here.
Terry takes out his phone and sees that he doesn’t have a signal. So, he goes back into his truck to use its built in GPS to take him to wherever this place is. To his surprise, there is nothing ahead of him. In fact, it is only more road than anything else with no clue of a city. Terry gazes out his front window in hopes of finding some kind of directional sign or anything that can tell him where he is. But there is nothing. Seeing that he has no choice, Terry turns on his ignition and starts the truck forward.
A feeling of luck and relief washes over him, when Terry sees these city lights and buildings getting closer. He looks to his clock radio to see that it is 11:58 PM. When he looks back to that big city, he promises himself that he is going to get a room, plop down on a bed, and sleep for a week. He gets closer and closer until without even blinking, something unexpected happens.
The whole city disappears before his eyes in a puff of smoke. Terry pulls over to the side of the road again and looks out in shock. When the view is clear again, he removes his cap from his head and puts his fingers through his thick brown hair. His brown eyes dart in every direction looking for this city that was right in front of him but it’s completely gone.
“This is downright bonkers!” He yells to himself with his goateed mouth agape.
Terry knows that he is tired but not enough to hallucinate. He saw what he saw and now he is presented with a huge problem. What the hell just happened? What is he going to do about it? How is he going to explain this? All these questions circle his brain and he can only sit in his truck dumbfounded.
By morning, Terry hears at tap on his window. He had fallen asleep some time during the night when he didn’t think he would. A police woman with her hair tied back and dark sunglasses on her eyes stands on the driver’s side of his truck. A little hazy, Terry rolls down his window and looks to the officer.
“You, okay?” She asks with genuine concern albeit chewing some gum.
“Yeah” He says wiping his face and looking back towards her. “Sorry officer. I’ve been on the road for a little under a week and I was trying to find a town, city, or somewhere to rest.”
“The next town is about an hour and a half down that way.” She says pointing out to the road ahead of him.
“Thanks. I thought I saw this city but…” Terry tells her only to be interrupted.
“The disappearing city?” She asks but with more annoyance than concern. “You’re not one of these whacked out conspiracy theorists with their cameras and videos trying to capture that phony internet crap are you?”
“There is a story about that?” Terry inquires curiously.
“Oh sure!” She explains sardonically. “Apparently this ghostly city will appear on different days, in different spots, at different points in the night. No one knows where it lands and it is impossible to take a picture of it. But everyone says that this place disappears at midnight on the dot and won’t be spotted again for an unknown amount of time.”
“Wow!” Terry says stunned.
“It’s a load of bull!” She spouts and walks towards her police car. She turns to look back at him. “Follow me. I’ll lead you into town where you can get a meal and some sleep.”
As she goes to her car, Terry thinks about the story she has told him. This is not something that is made up. He saw it for himself and he doesn’t believe in ghosts, goblins, and fairy stories. He makes a plan to learn more about this disappearing city. In the meantime, he starts his truck and follows the police car to his next stop. He can’t help but wonder if he will ever see something like this again.