On a cold night in late November, Daniel walked down the paved sidewalk alongside the road leading into the city. This year the sun had been particularly elusive, only appearing for 17 hours compared to the normal 56. On the other hand, not seeing the sun for extended periods of time was something he’d gotten used to living in Scandinavia. As he walked the world was occasionally exposed by the bright whiteness of passing headlights, leaving him to stare from within the thick of the hidden at a trail of red speeding off away from him. He wore his brown coat, the thick one instead of the thinner black coat he owned. That one was better suited for spring, and even though the winter had been mild hovering around freezing point it still warranted warmer attire.
Daniel drew a long drawn-out breath, vapour swirling in the exhale of it. He kept his hands in the coat’s pockets, the single pair of gloves he owned had wandered off and hidden themselves somewhere in the way gloves were prone to do. The sky had not yet made the transition to the clarity of winter, autumn still stubbornly shrouded the Milky Way from view with its grey curtain. Rain hung in the air without actually falling, it was a subtle thing, Daniel wasn’t even sure it could be called rain at all. However, the grey of the clouds above seemed to permeate everything below so he didn’t know what else to label it as.
As the inner city drew nearer, concrete buildings towered into the sky above. Their walls lifeless slabs of grey that held far too many emotions, a mocking perversion of whatever people carried with them in the echo of their footsteps. The streets were empty, the only other living souls who shared them were the sleeping crows that had nested in the leafless trees that appeared sporadically throughout the city.
It wasn’t that he had actively made a decision to seek out the solitude he knew he would find here. Still, he found comfort in knowing that he and only a handful others were awake while the world slept. The air felt rich, brisk, and sharp, it made him feel awake. A cold wind also contributed to his alertness. It made him feel alive. Daniel had chosen to live while the rest of the world slumbered. When everyone else suspended themselves in the existential limbo he knew of as dreamless sleep Daniel dreamt wide awake.
In a few hours the clock would strike 8 and the world would begin to awaken long before the sun did. Eventually, it too would show itself and once again colour the world in a monotone, concrete grey, and Daniel, he would return to dreamless sleep. There were people to see, work to be done, and a social life that required maintenance. It was all perfectly ordinary, and to Daniel who wandered the abandoned vista of a city dreamscape ordinary was the last thing he wanted.
Anything, he thought as he wandered down another of the city’s emptied out streets. Anything but that.