The Stranger

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I slam my fists against the wall, and you stare at me until I turn my eyes. Then you look away and give me a wide birth, backing off to a safe distance. Desperate for help, I cry out to you, and that’s when you scurry around a corner and disappear from sight. I gaze at the sky and loose a hailstorm of curses.

All around me, glittering crystal towers reach for the heavens alongside metal trees with lights that hang over roads where self-propelled vehicles rocket toward foreign destinations. I’ve never seen such opulence, not in all the centuries of my royal upbringing.

Above me is a sign in a language I don’t understand. I try in vain to decipher the unfamiliar script.

GOVERNOR GEORGE DEUKMEJIAN COURTHOUSE.
SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA.
COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES.

I shake my head, as if doing so will dispel the alien environment like a bad dream.

Banished. The word echoes through the chaotic corridors of my mind. Banished for a crime I didn’t commit, stripped of my title, my citizenship, my world.

They broke into the palace while I slept and threw me into a moldering dungeon. From there I was brought before a tribunal, and despite my vehement denials I was convicted and sentenced to exile.

They dragged me toward a towering rockface etched with symbols only the priests could understand, flickering torches in iron sconces casting a dim illumination. The priests uttered a guttural chant, and light exploded from the wall, no longer smooth stone, but a passageway to someplace else.

In the presence of the assembly, I proclaimed my innocence one last time. They spit in my face, made obscene gestures and shoved me through. Fire consumed my body, rending skin and flesh, until I passed out.

I woke here, in front of this building where I’ve remained ever since, my robes turned dingy and threadbare, my hair turned tangled and feral.

I know what you thought when you saw me pounding the wall, crying out in words that would have sounded to you like inarticulate war cries. He’s crazy. Once, in my own world, I would have thought the same.

I stare at the wall again, seeing not the stone that stands before me but the world beyond. I may not be crazy yet, but I will be before long.

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Author: Jeff Coleman

Jeff Coleman is a writer who finds himself drawn to the dark and the mysterious, and to all the extraordinary things that regularly hide in the shadow of ordinary life.

6 thoughts on “The Stranger”

  1. Wow this is so descriptive and haunting… For a moment while reading the part about him proclaiming his innocence my mind was blown because I thought this was an allegory about Jesus! (Or is it?) Since they are spitting on an innocent man who is royal. and also if he were Jesus it would be like he is in the modern world, just like he is today, but people don’t run to him that often they run away… anyway it was an amazing story regardless of whatever you had in mind! I look forward to reading more of your work!

  2. Another fantastic story. Jeff you continuously amaze me. : ) I think this story would be great as a book as well. You know to see how he handles his punishment. Just a thought. Lol

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words! They mean a lot to me. I think you’re right. There are so many books I have yet to write, but I’m working my way toward finishing them, and perhaps someday this will be among of them 🙂

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