There's a different world out there.  It’s a world that’s too small for anyone to see, so far inside that no one can find it.  In this black and white world of weird, fascinating geometric shapes, this world of endless M.C. Escher-style mazes and staircases, there is one man.  That one man is a black silhouette; he’s featureless, drawn in such a way that detail and nuance are excluded so that his appearance can only serve the blunt point.

In the very center of this world is a bottomless black hole.  In the past, the silhouette spent most of his time running circles around the black hole, jumping from moving platform to moving platform like a character in an old side-scrolling computer game.  At times, he would slip and have to grip onto the ledge, just hanging there with his feet dangling only inches from the abyss.  Somehow, he always pulled himself up.

Some time ago, the silhouette realized the flaws in his basic existence.  His seemingly limitless energy evaporated as he grew upset at the simplicity of his world.  He started pondering things; he could feel the excitement in the air.  Finally self-aware, he started to redraw himself by pulling things out from within, turning his body into more than a silhouette.  Unfortunately, the additional weight of all these details caused him to slip off his platform.  At the last second, he grabbed onto the only jagged cliff edge that would support him.  He's clung on for dear life ever since.

Somewhere up in the sky, the silhouette's thoughts, ideas and realizations have ripped open a hole that reveals another world to him.  A world of flying colors, voices, knowledge and discovery.  It’s a world full of vast mountaintops and towering skyscrapers, ready to burst open with ideas. With one hand, the silhouette reaches to the sky; he reaches out to that amazing world he can almost feel coursing between his fingers.  With the other hand, he desperately clings onto the edge of the black and white cliff.

It's not that his ambitious goal is impossible, because it isn't.  His hand reaches just high enough that everything he’s ever desired is almost within reach.  It would take hard work and many years of jumping from sharp cliff edge to sharp cliff edge before he could make it up there but he can feel it.  He knows the power he could have in his grasp if he made it up there alone.  

However, the idea scares him.  The truth is that he’s not just reaching out to the sky; he's also reaching out for another hand to lift him up.  He’s searching for a hand that belongs to someone who he can then lift up as well.  Someone who would be his companion, another fleshed out silhouette, an equal that can go up into the sky with him.

So he's trapped.  He stretches his arm out further and further, slowly making progress.  However, with all the other silhouettes that have came and went, rejecting his ideas and goals, he feels more and more that no one will ever truly grab onto his hand, hold on tightly and go alongside him.  He’s slowly realizing that maybe the only way to make it up there is to go alone.

Maybe he's right.  Or maybe someday, this mysterious equal will hold his hand tightly and they can go there together.  Only time will tell.

Nicholas Conley is a 21-year-old writer from California, though he has also resided in Arizona, New Hampshire and North Carolina and enjoys spending his free time exploring the open road in search of new experiences.  His work has been published in such venues as Short Story Library, Microhorror, NVH Magazine and Gravediggings. More information can be found on his website,


The bizarre image of the silhouette dangling from the cliff with one hand and reaching up to the sky (and/or a suitable companion) with the other came to me at 3:00AM one night and was so compelling to me that I had to write it down. It was only after I started writing it that I realized I was practically writing an autobiography; in many ways, a depiction of the emotional struggle I was going through at the time, that many of us go through at one point or another.




Copyright 2009