The City in the Fog


H. Turnip Smith


Departing Bristol under full sail the 9th of June, after much travail and loss of life, including that of my dear wife of eleven years, we arrived on the 29th of October, 1616, off the shore of Massachusetts where lived our dear brethren. However, it was God's will that a fierce storm should come up, and we were driven southward by violent wind and the irresistible force of waves for two full days.

On the 31st of October, to our relief, we voyagers awakened to find ourselves in safe harbor we knew not where. In the distance through an impenetrable fog strange yellow lights beckoned to us, and we knew, perforce, that we must lie not far from land.

So taking seven stout fellows in the shallop, we rowed from the sloop, which we left anchored in the harbor, in the direction of land. Not over a half of an hour later, we touched shore on some large rocks and with much rejoicing drew our small craft up onto dry land.

Immediately we tumbled to solid ground and knelt in prayer, giving thanks to our creator for deliverance from the wrath of the sea and praying that this newfound land should yield us both victual and fresh water, for our supplies aboard ship had dwindled to nothing.

As the fog shrouded the landscape in an impenetrable mist of gray, we could not see exactly where we were, but not far off we discovered a grassy plain as fair as that surrounding Windsor Castle. Placing one foot upon a stone and raising my sword in the air, I claimed this newfound land in the name of Jesus Christ and his servant, King James the 1st of England.

At the suggestion of William Coakley, my second in command, we took the occasion to build a small fire, whereupon we boiled water for tea and moistened some dried beans that we had brought with us from the sloop for victual. We had barely completed our tea, when the Lord chose to lift the dense curtain of fog that enveloped us, penetrating it with radiant beams of sun.

Immediately, our entire party fell back in amazement, for we saw at once we were surrounded by a city far more grand than London with towering buildings of indescribable immensity, wide thoroughfares, not of mud, but of crushed stone of some sort, and strange metal vehicles with no visual means of propulsion.

"What does the captain make of this?" William Coakley said to me, his voice full of wonder.

"Our brethren in Massachusetts have reported to us that they have chanced upon red savages native to this land they call America. Perchance we have discovered one of their cities," I said, scratching at my helmet in amazement.

"If that be true, then these savages have achieved a remarkable degree of civilization," William replied.

"Deceive yourself not, William. Bricks and mortar do not a civilization make," I said, "For it is the quality of the heart that matters most."

"Aye," William replied, pointing to our left to a vast hole in the earth, littered with twisted metal. "And these savages apparently have bitter enemies, for look at the remains of what was their castle fortification now lies totally in ruins."

"Dread enemies those must be!" I said. "But let us go now and explore this city and see if its inhabitants be friendly and if, by chance, we can purchase food and drink."

So saying, I ordered our troops to shoulder arms, and we began to march up a broad thoroughfare flanked on each side by mighty buildings. We had not gone much over a quarter of a mile when we saw an amazing sight.

Standing on a corner we saw two African youths clad in trousers that barely reached their knees and wearing cloth caps backwards upon their heads.

"I was given to believe the inhabitants of this land were red men," young Israel Parham, a lad of no more than 19 himself, cried out in amazement at seeing ebony-skinned creatures such as these.

"Perhaps they have been taken as slaves," I said in puzzlement as one of the youths called out to us.

"Nice Halloween costumes!" he shouted.

Not understanding the tenor of his remark, I called back. "What manner of land is this? And how call you yourselves?"

"Sure talk funny, dude," the African child replied.

"I know not 'dude'," I said. "Can you take us to your slave master?"

"You over the edge or what, man?" the boy replied with a stinging, insolent tone.

"Seize them for questioning," I ordered Israel Parham and God Save His Soul Goodkin, who ran after the lads with raised swords. However, it was a fruitless chase, for our young men were far too weighted down with armor to catch the fleeing miscreants, and so we began to trudge in a northerly direction along the broad, deserted street lined with only a few trees.

However, we had not gone much farther when we saw a banner strung across the thoroughfare from lamp pole to lamp pole.

"What do you make of that banner, sir?" William asked me.

I read it slowly aloud, trying to penetrate its meaning. Annual Manhattan Gay March for Justice. Support Your Local Queers.

"It is in English that's clear enough, William," I said, "but I find myself entirely baffled by its meaning. Perhaps a queer is a term for an elective officer."

"That is most certainly it," William said, nodding his head as we suddenly heard the skirl of bagpipes and the hideous sound of pagan trumpets and drums approaching.

"Be alert. A parade comes," I cried, seizing my sword.

Then to our amazement a band of marchers preceded by blue uniformed soldiers on tall, dark chargers came around the corner, but not marching. Rather they frolicked in a zany, wild sort of free-for-all that set us much in shame and amazement, for they were dressed in such a fashion that it pains me to recall. The hair of some was shaved completely to the scalp while others trailed hair much longer than a self-respecting courtier would wear. Their costumes were of an outlandish variety inspired by the devil. Some wore nothing at all to the waist. Others wore tight trousers stuffed with fruit or some such in order to make their genitalia appear gigantic. One or two were hideously tattooed like savages from finger to belly, and all were draped with jewelry from ears, nose, to eyebrows.

As we watched in amazement as this devilish coalition slithered our direction, it gradually became clear to me what I was seeing. One of their numbers was carrying, in the fashion of a cross, a huge papier mache imitation of an erect, male organ.

"Do you see that foul thing, sir?" William Coakley cried to me.

"Surely these are the godless savages that our brethren in Massachusetts have warned us of," I cried. "We must take action at once against their degradation."

And so saying I gave orders to our men to kneel with their blunderbusses and fire, for he who tempers with the devil becomes the tool of the devil himself.

As our men kneeled and lit the fuses of their weapons, the laughing and merriment of the paraders gave way to fearful shouts. Then the air was torn with the dread sound of guns going off. I distinctly saw one of the devil's disciples fall with a ball in his shoulder as everything about us dissolved into chaos.

"Run for your lives, men!" I cried, but we were instantly surrounded by a vengeful crowd who pummeled us while the uniformed soldiers beat at our heads with clubs. Only my stout helmet protected me as I, flailing desperately with my sword, struggled with the fiends. During the set-to, Israel Parham, Thomas Williams, our carpenter, and aged Wilfred Stonecipher, my father-in-law, were shot down by the disciples of the devil.

At that point, seeing the futility of our position, I, too, began to run. I had just broken free of a gang of marauders who were cursing and flailing at me when a strange, horseless vehicle pulled beside me and its door flung open.

"Get in !" a woman's voice commanded.

Seeing no other option, I hurled myself into the chariot which immediately burst away from my pursuers with an inexplicable explosion of speed. As I caught my breath and tried to organize my thoughts, I turned to gaze at the woman who had rescued me.

She was an incredibly, alluring sight. Her bosom encased in a tight surplice of some sort, bulged forward in gigantic proportions that made me gasp. Rather than a skirt, she wore tight pants of a strange, slippery, dark leather. Her lips were colored purple with some waxy substance; and her fingernails were long and knifelike with aubergine coloring while around her neck a huge serpent of some sort curled.

"Hi, I'm Morgana," she breathed in a voice that dripped with wanton sexuality.

"My name is Peter Broadbones," I said, "military commander of the sloop Godspeed, which lies at anchor in yon harbor."

"Listen, Pete," she said, "you're pretty cute. I love your costume, and that black beard of yours is too, too much. You look like you're all man."

"I know not what costume you refer to," I said, "but yes I am a man."

"Well men always find me-uh-sexually attractive. How ‘bout you, Peter?"

Her insinuating ways made it clear to me at once that she was no real woman at all, but a tool of the devil.

"I find you repulsive," I said. "You must get me to the shallop."

"Aw Pete," she said. "Forget the shallop. You just need to see me naked. Now what the hell's a shallop?"

"No I must get to the boat at once!" I cried, holding my sword to her neck.

"Hey put away the knife, big boy. So where's your boat parked?"

"What is parked?"

"It's what you and I ought to be up to."

"You speak with the tongue of the devil," I cried. "Let me out of your accursed vehicle."

"Oh man, Peter. You're a hopeless case," she said, putting her hand on my left cuisse.

Calling upon the Lord for defense against her alluring ways, for I am a man of much passion, I raised my sword as if to cut off her wrist and tumbled straightaway from her amazing vehicle.

No sooner than I had freed myself from the entangling web of this Delilah, I found myself scrambling to safety as this mad confederate of Old Scratch himself drove her machine recklessly towards me, attempting to end my life. It was only by a desperate leap that I managed to avoid certain death as her vehicle smashed into a low, yellow receptacle that began to spray water as high as a house as a result of the vehicle impaled upon its sturdiness.

Wasting little time in marveling at how water might boil up so profusely from underground in the likes of this Satanic society, I bolted down a nearby alleyway and had nearly achieved freedom when a strange, bearded creature the size of a giant and as filthy as a man covered with sea-coal dust, blocked my path.

"Hey you," he cried. "Lend me five to get a bite to eat."

"Stand clear," I shouted. "I have no time to deal with you."

However, this enemy of Christendom moved to block my path.

"If you won't hand it over, I'll take it," he bellowed, drawing a knife from his pocket.

I raised my sword in response.

"You crazy or what?" he cried, flailing at me with his blade.

Smashing him with the flat of my sword, I knocked him off balance. As he staggered into a pile of stinking refuse and rotten fruit, I continued to run, uncertain now which direction lay the shallop.

However, as soon as I emerged from the alley, a blue vehicle with a piercing red light upon its roof blocked my path. Two uniformed soldiers leaped from the war engine and shouted in my direction, "Stop!"

Uncertain what to do, I wheeled about and faced them directly; then I watched in agony as one of them lifted a weapon of some sort from his holster and aimed it directly at me.

I was about to continue to run when he fired a lightning bolt of such ferocity from his weapon that even its dreadful sound froze me in my tracks. Sheathing my sword, I feebly submitted as the soldiers came forward and locked my wrists into iron shackles and threw me into the rear of their vehicle behind a cage suitable for a demented animal.

I was then taken to their headquarters and roughly interrogated by a red-faced, deplorable Irish-looking ape who sputtered when he spoke.


"Peter Broadbones," I said.

"OK, Broadbones, what the hell are you doing in that getup?"

"I don't understand the term 'getup'."

"I'm talking about your clothes, pal. You got on this armored vest, and you're wearing those high white socks, and you're carrying a sword."

"Garments, perfectly suitable for my position as military commander of the sloop Godspeed set sail from Bristol on the 9th of June of this year. You will find that ship anchored in your harbor not far from our shallop."

"Oh yeah, Charlie. I got you and your shallop, and I suppose you're 400 years old and can ride on a broomstick?"

"I am thirty six, and will, god willing, live thirty six more years and never mount a broomstick."

"Well listen, Broadbones, I don't know what God wills," he said, "but you're wanted in connection with the wounding of a marcher in the Gay Rights parade."

"Savage devils got what they deserved!"

"Look, pal. We don't have to like 'em, but sorry to let you know, you don't have a hunting license for queers either."

"I know not what you mean by these terms," I said with some spirit.

"OK, wild man. We're going to read you your rights now, and then you're entitled to a lawyer. You got one phone call."

"What is a phone?" I said.

The white-haired papist winked at the other soldiers who had gathered around with incredulous looks upon their stupid faces.

To make a long story far shorter, after much interrogation and pointless questioning followed by nasty insinuations that there was no such ship as the Godspeed tethered in their harbor, I was at length removed to a strange Bedlam sort of place, not quite a prison, but with padded cells and locked doors.

There it was my fortune to be reunited with William Coakley, who had already been incarcerated. Clad in a strange, blue wrapper of some sort, William was overjoyed when he saw that I too was confined where he was.

"Peter," he cried. "They've captured you as well."

"Yes, the beasts," I said. "We've fallen among the godless savages our brethren in Massachusetts have warned us of."

"Much to our good fortune," William said.

"What?" I cried, angrily.

"Oh, Peter," he said. "The victual here is delightful. It arrives every four hours accompanied by sweet drink. At first I was frightened to partake of what these people ate, fearing it was poisoned, but I have since discovered it to be rich, filling, and of wondrous, tasty properties. In particular I adore what these people call hamburgers."

"I know no such thing as a hamburger," I asserted, "but verily I am hungry."

"That is excellent," William said, "it is nearly time to eat. But in the meantime we must watch Oprah."

"What is this Oprah?"

"It is very strange," William said. "There is a magical box which contains pictures and voices. The savages call this thing a television. On this television comes an African woman of much beauty and wisdom who speaks for an hour concerning this society."

"William, are you all right?" I said, fiercely clutching my Bible. "There is no such magical box!"

However, shortly thereafter, William was to prove me wrong, and shortly beyond that I discovered William's rash claim regarding the victual eaten here was entirely accurate.

Since that time, William and I have given up all hope and desire to return to the Godspeed. We are required to do no labor and spend the day in soft, blue clothing called pajamas.

It is true sometimes we are called upon to answer questions by what our captors call a psychiatrist, but these are of no consequence; for William and I have come to believe this "psychiatrist" is a madman, for he roundly disputes the claim that we left Bristol by sailing ship little over 141 days ago.

In the meantime, William has introduced me to a brawling game much resembling that played by our children in the streets of London, and we have become what the savages here call "football fans."

In short, life in this institution is far easier than any we might have imagined in the bitter winters and harsh farming conditions of Massachusetts. Gradually, too, we have come to understand the institutions of these strange Godless savages among whom we have fallen. That they are incurably corrupt beyond imagination, there is little doubt. But that God has smiled upon William and me and placed us in a virtual heaven on Earth where a man may pray eight hours a day is an indisputable fact. For this gift we are both happy to offer praise to our maker and, thus thrice daily, humbly bend ourselves to the task of giving thanks for our salvation.


Rate this Story
H. Turnip Smith resides beneath a dank graveyard from which he annually emerges at the autumnal equinox to inflict his fiction on the unsuspecting public. In the meantime he listens for unexpected movement of worms and scratches stories into the dirt with long, yellow fingernails.
: home : fiction

Copyright © 2002 Willowsoft Communications

Except where otherwise noted, content and design of this issue of THIS WAY UP : Speculative Fiction Online is copyright © 2000-2002 by Willowsoft Communications. Individual stories and articles remain the copyright of their respective authors. Stories and articles may be viewed on screen or printed out for private use only. Any other reproduction, except by express, written permission of the copyright owner is prohibited under international copyright laws.