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Issue number ten




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Thin City by Peter B Fagan

Title borrowed from the chapter heading in
Italo Calvino's
Invisible Cities.

To come to Norexia, you must travel for six days to the North along a desert road and then set off to the West. Soon after you lose your way, you will arrive at the city. It is located on the edge of a great chasm which descends into a blackness the sun does not penetrate. The city is a single cylinder which extends hundreds of feet into the air. Winding staircases and curving streets fill the interior, and a large glass dome covers the top. Mirrors surround all sides of the city at all levels and reflect light into the interior. Systems of mirrors channel beams of light to apartments, swimming pool complexes, exercise tracks, public lavatories, and vacant clothing stores.

Upon entering Norexia, a traveler is bound to lose his bearings. Everywhere he looks, he sees mirrors and reflections of mirrors. Soon he recognizes his own image within the curve of the street, the walls and the incongruities of the structures. As he looks at his image, he finds that his nose has suddenly grown too far out from his face, or that his head has become fragmented, or his body has become wider than its height. No matter where he looks he cannot find an image of himself as he thinks it should be. Soon the search for a true reflection possesses him completely. He searches for new angles from which to examine his image. But no matter where he looks, there is always a slight bulge or wrinkle that shouldn't be there.

These are the inhabitants of Norexia, lost travelers, attracted to the bright mirrored city, destined to search the infinite surface of the city from an infinite number of angles. They search with the hope of finding the one true angle. But eventually hope dissolves into despair and desire for the city to fall into the dark chasm, where no one can see their distorted bodies.

Peter B Fagan enjoys an itinerant lifestyle in Rhode Island. He has one story pending publication in THEMA magazine.

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story copyright by author 2003 all rights reserved