Changeling Chronicles Ep. 11: Nowhere (I)

The boy held the key in his hand, a big metal thing with an ugly skull on it.

“What is this?”

“It’s the key to the door that keeps all the night things locked away.”

“I don’t want it.”

“But you’ve got it. It’s yours to look after.”

And he looked after the key for seventy-five years. Then he died. During his time with the key, he’d come to decide he wouldn’t be passing it on. There were bad dreams, headaches, but worst of all was the tight feeling in the back of him, always there and promising bad things.

When he died, nobody was left to keep the key, so it dissolved. The door also dissolved and all the night things escaped. They spilled out into the town where the boy then man had lived, and that town completely disappeared for three days and three nights.

Maps that had been printed long before the availability of GPS showed only a blank spot roughly the size and shape of the town. Those who tried to navigate to an address in that town using GPS spent hours driving in circles.

When the town reappeared, it was completely empty. Journalists called the town Nowhere. Eventually, some enterprising people turned the town into a tourist attraction. The stories about nowhere and the world at large moved on.

From time to time, a tourist would go missing. Usually last seen on the fringes of the tour group, their picture would be featured in news stories for a time before the world forgot them. The number of disappearing tourists got too high, and Nowhere was shut down. It was also forgotten.

It sat neglected, abandoned, a genuine ghost town in a world filled with genuine ghost towns. Then, someone wished for a starship to escape the world. On the day the starship launched, Nowhere disappeared again. Maps and GPS’s blanked out like before, and every story that had been written about Nowhere blinked out of existence. People reading stories about Nowhere when it disappeared found themselves Rick-rolled with no memory of what they’d clicked to end up watching that video.

One reporter was in the middle of recording the VoiceOver for a twentieth anniversary special on nowhere when it ceased to exist. This reporter, not liked by his colleagues and with awards for many of his stories, found himself in the middle of a sentence about Nowhere that had no beginning and no end. He stood there for several seconds, mouth opening and closing as groped for words that were no longer words at all. This reporter took early retirement and never spoke again.

For a place that never existed, according to all physical records, Nowhere managed to do a lot of damage when it disappeared.

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