Urban Volcano

Fiction by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

Flash fiction

Twenty twenty

2020 - Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson
Illustration by Börkur Sigurbjörnsson

I looked both ways before stepping out into the street. I listened for footsteps. The coast was clear. No one was around. I could leave the house.

I had barely taken two steps down the road when I heard the helicopter hovering above me, repeating the same message over and over again.

“We’re in a medical emergency… Stay at home… Don’t put other people at risk… Stay at home… We’re in a lockdown… Stay at home…”

I hid under the canopy of a large tree while the chopper passed, hugging the trunk, trembling in tune with the leaves above me. Had they seen me? Did they know where I was going? Could they read my mind? Had they reported me? Would someone come for me? Take me away? Was I in trouble?

“We’re in a medical emergency… Stay at home… Don’t put other people at risk… Stay at home… We’re in a lockdown… Stay at home…”

Gradually the message faded until it was just a murmur in the distance and an echo in my head.

“We’re… Stay… Don’t… Stay… We’re… Stay…”

I let go of the tree and continued my journey down the street. My body remained stiff and my heart pounded in my chest. What was I venturing into?

As I reached the main street I noticed there were some more people around. Scattered over the two sidewalks, keeping their distance. Some walking along the middle of the road. I could feel their gaze turn towards me as I took my place among them, keeping my distance, like a delicate product passing along on a slow moving conveyor belt. I could feel their thoughts penetrating my head.

“What’s he doing here? How dare he? Has he no shame? No respect for others?”

I bowed my head, looking down at my feet, as I took my carefully choreographed steps along the sidewalk, keeping my distance. I made myself as small as possible. Kept my arms tight to my sides. On one hand I wanted to become invisible, escape the inquisitive eyes of my neighbors. On the other, I wanted to shout. I wanted to come clean.

“I don’t mean you harm. I’m not here to hurt you. I’m just going shopping. I’m out of food.”

Börkur is an avid storyteller with a keen eye for quirky characters, funny dialogs and vivid scenario descriptions. Much of his writing falls within the genre of realistic fiction and his stories are more often than not based on real events in the author’s life. Although the tales contain grains of truth, they are melded with fiction, making the reader curious to know the line between reality and fantasy.