Wednesday, September 29, 2010

TALES FROM LONDON
Chapter II: The Eye

This story was written on the London Eye, a massive Ferris Wheel that seats over a dozen people per cart and hoists passengers over 440 feet into the air over London. Vi gave me the opening title, ''James Gurney felt sick.'' And I took off from there. Enjoy.

James Gurney felt sick. The world-renowned author and artist had always been bothered by heights and, standing with his forehead resting against the cool glass pane of his compartment on the London Eye, looking over a hundred meters down to the River Thames below, he was definitely feeling bothered. And yet, the terrible distance to the water below was hardly the source of the knot in his stomach.

He had come up to relax, get a view of the city, and perhaps do a bit of drawing, but the scene unfolding on the river beneath him was nothing short of horrifying. The cries of the people scrambling across the deck of the ferry could scarcely be heard from inside the ferris wheel's enclosed capsule, but the artist's eye could pick out the flailing arms and manic gestures that were characteristic of a crowd in panic. One woman, who looked quite like a silver and lavender ant, had swung a leg over the side railing, thought better of it, and was now straddling the side of the ferry, unsure of whether to stay on the ill-fated vessel, or take her chances in the grey waters below. And yet, as terrified as the people seemed to be, James could hardly say that their plight was the source of his nausea, either.

What would have spun any man's stomach was the massive, leathery black creature that had thrust itself onto the ship's deck. Most laymen would describe the crane-necked leviathon as the creature from the Lock Ness. In fact, one towheaded boy of nine was pounding on the glass beside James crying, ''Nessy! Nessy! Look, mum, it's Nessy!''

But James was no layman. He was an artist, one who specialized in prehistoric art, as a matter of fact. He was quite well-read on all things dinosaur-related and had been commissioned several times by National Geographic and the Smithsonian. To him, this was no monster attacking innocent people, it was a wondrous creature of a bygone era defending itself against the modern age.

And yet, the sight of the seemingly impossible creature didn't bother James either. What really made James feel sick was his pocket. His empty, empty pocket. The pocket where his sketchpad and pen should have been. Of all of the days for a real, living dinosaur to show up, THIS was the one day James had no way to draw it.

James gave a sigh, fogging the glass, and the creature disappeared completely.


4 comments:

James Gurney said...

Hi, Austin,
How did you know that my greatest phobia is being caught without a sketchbook? If it was a choice between going out with no sketchbook or no pants--Hmmm!--now that's a scary thought!

Mattmit said...

he shoulda drawn on the fogged up glass!

Munchanka said...

Me too, Jim! Thankfully, mini-moleskins are the perfect pocket-size.

Matt- nice idea! Now I know what to do next time I'm short of a sketchbook.

VIVEKANAND REDDY K. said...

Wow, Nice story !