The city was massive. It made London look like a village. The towers were bigger than any Tony had seen before in his life. He could have guessed that from about ten miles before, but waited until they were close before allowing himself to be shocked by it. Nate didn’t speak. He knew that Tony needed to experience the world before talking about. The people around them were slow. They moved at about half the speed Tony was used too. And they didn’t need to move any faster. Why would they? They had eternity to do whatever they were doing. There was no sleep, no food. No true responsibilities. They were walking through a typical town centre, lined by shops on either side, when Tony noticed a young couple sitting on a bench feeding each other crisps.
“Why are they doing that?” Tony asked.
“They don’t need to eat. Where did they get the food?”
“Just because you don’t need to eat doesn’t mean you don’t want to it. Get used to it. You can eat whatever you want with no negative consequences. You can’t put on weight. Your arteries can’t get clogged with fat and crap. You can eat whatever the hell you like just because you like eating.”
Tony nodded and carried on walking. He slowed down, trying to match the speed of those around him. They walked past a milkshake bar. That made Tony stop. He vaguely remembered them. He wasn’t sure if it was from TV or some of his earliest memories. A black and white chequered tiled floor. A red counter that ran the back wall. A girl standing behind it, in uniform using the blender. Cartoons of fruit, ice cream and sweets all with speech bubbles. A jukebox in the far right corner. A girl with her hair in a bob, wearing a pink cardigan over her white shirt dancing with a boy with his hair gelled back and wearing a leather jacket. Something about that picture made Tony happy.
“This is a really weird place,” he said to Nate.
“You think that’s weird, wait until we find things from other periods. In a way this place is like a museum. Jimmy has been taking souls for as long as man has walked on the Earth. Every time period is represented here. The jousting is something to be seen.”
“Why only humans?”
“Why doesn’t Jimmy take other souls. Cats have souls.”
“Sure they do, but that’s not the point. If it wasn’t for humans then there would be no Jimmy.”
“We created him?”
“In a way. Anyway. Come on. You wanted to see your family.”
They carried on walking down the street. There were book shops, cinemas, clothe shops and everything else Tony could imagine. He questioned how all of it got there. There were two answers. Either the wasteland around the city wasn’t permanent and the people had managed to grow things, or Jimmy gave it to them. Neither really made sense, but that’s what people believed. They walked past a club with a small collection of 1920s cars outside. Tony had always referred to those cars as gangster cars and almost on cue a person in suit was thrown out of the door. Two men walked out and stood over him. Both of them had Tommy guns in their hands. They pointed them at the man on the floor, whose hat had fallen off. He tried to scramble his way backwards as they shot at him. He even played the part. Flayed around on the floor, pretending that their bullets tore him up. Tony jumped at the sound of the first shot, even though he had been expecting it. No one else seemed to notice. Once they were finished they all laughed. One of the standing men helped the other up who stated that it was his go next.
Tony and Nate carried on walking. Soon enough Tony could see what was at the end of the street. That tower. The big one that stood taller than any of the rest. It was almost a scary sight.
“Is that where we are going?” Tony asked.
“Yep,” Nate replied. “The centre of the city. The centre of everything. It’s there that the earliest specimens of mankind live, but we won’t be bothering them today. Maybe another time. We’re only going to go up to the middle levels. That’s where the pool of sight works. You’ll be able to see your family then. It’s the most important stop on our tour. After that I will show you where you’re going to live. Hint. It’s near my house and I’ve been saving it for you ever since I got here. Somehow I knew that you would come here. That I wouldn’t be alone forever.”
“I would have thought that you would have mentioned this by now, but is there anyone else here? Any of our relatives?”
“Some, but no one we would remember. When you’ve been here long enough you’ll find that most people stick to people from their own time zone. And you also find a couple of desperate people who claim to be related to you. There is a genealogist. Or at least someone who claims to be a genealogist and he’s told me that a couple of people are related to me, but he can’t prove it and I don’t really care.”
They soon reached the tower. The door was open. Wedged by a door stop. The tower was completely square and rose above everything. Inside the ground floor was empty apart from the spiral staircase in the middle and writing on all the walls directing people to the right floor.
“Follow me,” Nate shouted as he ran ahead and up the stairs.
Tony followed and fought the urge to explore each floor they passed. It must have taken then at least three hours to get to the floor they wanted but there it was. Tony stepped off the staircase and onto the floor and there in the corner was a black pool. It was just on the floor, and if took one step further he would have fell. All he needed to do was think about Jennie and then he saw her.
To Be Continued…