“Come forth and hear my words!” Franklin Callahan, standing tall on his soapbox called. “Mine is the way that will lead you to salvation, not the heathen passage. Forego the silent temptress of the skies and make your way into the Fog. For only there, when blinded to the world, can you be truly set free to wander and be found!” He raised a fist in triumph, daring the heathen deities to smite him with a gesture and a shout. The crowd that had gathered around him shifted uncomfortably, moving from foot to foot as they digested his words and waited for the aforementioned attack.
“He’s gonna look like a right wally if he actually gets struck by lightning now, ain’t he?” Corbin nudged his friend in the ribs. “As if anyone’s gonna follow this guy’s crackpot nonsense. Come on, let’s get back up home.”
His friend shook his head as if he were waking from a dream. “Sorry? I was miles away.”
“I said let’s get on home. Your mum always worries if we’re still down at the market when the sun sets.” They moved away from Callahan and headed towards the staircases. “We could use the vertical carriages, if you fancy it? I’ve got the cash from that delivery for Tell.”
“Thanks, but no. I think I need to clear my head. Just, wander for a bit. In fact, do you mind if I head back up alone? Need to sort some stuff out.”
Corbin looked around awkwardly. “Arnold, come on. You know what your mum’s like. Last time you were late, she chased me down Main and Short with her rolling pin. Gave me such a thrashing, I couldn’t sit for a week.”
“I know, but,” Arnold looked out over the railings into the dying sunlight, “I need to think. Cover for me, okay? Tell her that Bill Tucker caught me for stealing those apples last week. She’ll love that. Gives her something to thrash me for and keeps you in the clear ‘cos you told her.” He looked into Corbin’s eyes and rested his hand against his friend’s shoulder. “Ten minutes. Twenty at the most, then I’ll be up the staircases.” He watched his friend flickering with indecision, but knew that he’d give in. He always did.
“Fine. But if you’re not back in twenty minutes, I’m coming after you.” He turned and began to walk away towards the spiral staircases that led to the upper levels. “Arnie?”
“Don’t go into the Fog. Don’t listen to that crazy old priest in the park. Just… Come home.”
“I will.” With that, Corbin headed up the stairs and out of view. Arnold turned and went back to the viewing railing, a six foot high metal barrier built so that only the most determined could get across it to hurl themselves off into the mysteries below. Chain link though, revealing the vast expanse of greys and dirty whites that billowed as far as the eye could see.
The Fog. Nobody knew where it had come from or how long it would last. In fact, all most people knew of it were three things.
- The Fog is deadly. Spending enough time inside it, even in the edges, will kill a full grown man within hours.
- The Fog is fast. Patches have been known to grow from clouds to blankets that cover whole mountain ranges within three hours.
- The Fog takes. Anything that goes into the Fog never returns.
Arnold looked out over it and rested his fingers on the cold wires of that fence. He realised, as he had many times, that there was an extra item on the list for him.
Number 4. The Fog is mysterious and he, Arnold Glasier, would find out the truth.
He would fix it and Man would walk again at the level of the sea.
In this world, there is a deadly fog that exists, forcing society to build upwards. To go into more detail, there would be a tiered system similar to that seen in Mortal Engines by Phillip Reeve where the most affluent and wealthy live high above the deadly Fog. Those from the lower classes would spend their time residing down at the edges, perilously close to being wiped out by the slightest swell in the mist. Dangerous? A cauldron waiting for the fires of revolution to ignite?
The Idiot in Tin Foil