Publication Date—Feb 17, 2015
A enchanting new short story from Hugo Award-winning author Will McIntosh.
Enter a world of moving cities. The war is over and Hitler is dead, but rumors are flying that Chicago has just attacked Boston. That Moscow has crossed into the US and attacked Chicago. And New York is on the way to chase down the Windy City. Some cities are rumbling that they don’t feel like part of the USA anymore.
But what form of energy is giving them the power of locomotion?
“Hey.” Willard grabbed my shirtsleeve. “Would you look at that.” He pointed at a white truck parked down the street. It had a big, square back end with Good Humors Ice Cream on it, along with a picture of an ice cream on a stick, dipped in chocolate. The truck was surrounded by kids with cute little dirty knees, their eyes round. “Ice cream on a stick! I seen that in Life Magazine. I want to get me one.”
Willard pulled me through the crowd toward the truck. “Ice cream on a stick. I guess you gotta eat it fast before it melts off.”
We each bought one for ten cents. In Siloam you can get a cup of hand-scooped ice cream for a nickel, but I reckoned it was worth an extra nickel to tell folks we had ice cream on a stick in New York City. We stood on the sidewalk, happily gnawing the chocolate off to get at the ice cream. Willard kept holding his up, showing it to others who’d bought one, like we were part of a special club or something.
I took the opportunity to soak the people in–what they were wearing, what they did with their hands while they stood, how they talked. My neck had been bent back looking at the giant buildings when we first came through the gates, but now I was fine-tuned on the littler things.
I was eyeing a perfect New York City woman (small and stylish; her hair short so her ear lobes poked out underneath dark curls) when a loud honk startled me out of my boots. It sounded like a giant goose. A second one followed, then a third, calling back and forth to each other, coming from the tops of the buildings.
All around us people sat down in the street. Every one of them, right down on the pavement.
“Sit down,” an old geezer near me said. He reached up and tugged my shirt sleeve so hard he part-way untucked my shirt.
“What for?” I asked.
“The city’s about to move.”