The city is strange during the day, so quiet, almost ghostly. Of course, a few people still walk down the streets, but nowhere near the numbers I’m used to. It feels strange to not be wrestling with a hundred other anxious commuters who all think they are running the latest. Today I definitely am. Today the pavements are clear, I can stop without anyone complaining, I can slow down or speed up at my will and I don’t need to use my elbows at all.
Looking around, I see a plastic bag making its way down the middle of the road, undisturbed, like some kind of urban tumbleweed. I laugh to myself at the thought, picturing the scene as an old western. The roads become dirt tracks; the buildings become wooden shacks with rusty signs creaking gently in the wind. A single car transforms into a horse and cart passing through, kicking up clouds of dust as it does. A woman is trampled by the hooves as she steps out of her house, her body dragged underneath the cart and crushed by the wooden wheels.
The illusion snaps, a woman lies in the road, not moving, her limbs crushed and twisted. She is bleeding heavily and soon the tarmac begins to redden. I run towards the lifeless body, shouting for someone to help me as try to drag her off the road and onto the pavement. I find my arms weak, unable to move her. Realising she isn’t breathing, I lift her head to try and clear the airway. She has no pulse at all, so I start chest compressions, trying to keep them regular and strong. But my hands start to sting, cuts appearing for no reason, I feel the blood running down them as I try to keep going.
I hear a rushed set of footsteps, finally, someone to help. I call out to them, asking them to phone an ambulance or to take over from me. Instead, to my surprise, they pull me off her and onto the pavement. I look at the man’s face and realise it’s Cal.
“Cal! What are you doing? I have to help her! Please!” I protest, but he just looks confused.
“Who? There’s no one here.” He says, strangely calm considering that a woman is bleeding out behind him.
“That woman behind you! She needs help! Let me help her!” I answer, beginning to panic now. He just shakes his head and looks directly into my eyes.
“There’s no one there, just you.” His words a soft, almost like a dream. I try to wrestle away from his grip, but he is stronger. “Come inside, I’m sure Ed will want to see you seeing as you’re here,” he says as he lifts me to my feet. I take another glance back at the body of the woman, how can I deny that she’s there? I can’t contradict what I can see with me own eyes can I? But I guess I have to trust Cal. I let him lead me inside.