uncertain cities

words and sequences of them by Rhett Davis

Filtering by Tag: Fiction


I’m not the one who ordered the bloody cake, he said.

I don’t know what the cake has to do with anything Lem, I’m just nervous, okay? Feel sick.

She wasn’t sure where she was, but that was normal. Whereas he was always sure of where he was in relation to everything else on earth. He was good with directions. Instinctive. Always knew the way to go. It’s to the left, he said, as she walked unsteadily out the door.

The exit is to the right, she said.

But what about the cake?

I don’t care about the cake. I’m leaving out that door with that sign that says exit.





At least let me go get a slice of cake.

No, you come with me.

Jan, that cake looked superb and I am simply not going to pay five hundred dollars for a cake and not eat a slice. I simply won’t do that.

They’ll see you.

You wait in the car. I’ll be there in a mo. He threw her the keys and walked back down the corridor.

He held two slices of cake in his hands as she drove away. She waved and disappeared, and he took a bite. She wasn’t sure where she was. How would she find her way to wherever it was she thought she was going? Whereas he, he knew where he was. He was sure he knew where he was at all times. He chewed and swallowed. It was good cake. Gooey and buttery and chocolaty. It would feed him for a week. He was right to have stayed.

He looked up at the sky and didn’t recognise the stars. He walked back inside and the room was empty and the floor was dirt and the walls were full of ivy and moss. The windows had been broken by angry trees. There was a stink of mould and dank. The cake would last for a week, but how would she find her way back to him if she didn’t know where she was?


He had a habit of collecting things he did nothing with. The broken radios and television sets and watches he found at garage sales and op shops were never fixed. And yes, she was tired of it. And yes, he knew. And yes, he bought the teapot anyway. It was green, and it had an interesting swirl on it. There was something about it. It could have been worth something.

His job

It was his job to drive people to work. People would drop off their cars and wait in a lounge and he would ask them where they needed to go. Based on their responses he would pick three of them. His colleagues would take others. It was his job to be polite to these people; to call them sir and madam. He would not have called them this normally, but it was his job, so he did. It was also his job to gently ask them to get into his car and take them to their jobs. They usually did not want to go to their jobs, but the society in which they’d found themselves necessitated the illusion of productivity above all else. In this society it was important that things kept growing, or at least appeared to keep growing, so they went to work and tried to grow things that were very rarely physical things that could be seen to grow. Because they couldn’t see the things they were supposedly growing it was sometimes hard to tell if they were growing at all, and this often contributed to their waking up in the mornings full of sickening dread. He could usually tell when one of them was experiencing this dread. They stared out of the car windows at the city they couldn’t stop seeing and grunted a lot. 


One had the feeling in those days that you had to be someone. Being someone was difficult, particularly when everyone else was trying to be someone. Being someone, he decided, required many other people believe that you were, in fact, someone. Your own opinion of yourself was largely irrelevant. To get people to believe you were someone required a great magic trick to be performed. It was possible, for example, to be someone when you were dead. Sometimes, you were no one when you were alive but someone after you had died. You could be someone for a few minutes, or a few days, and then become no one again immediately after, for the rest of your life. Sometimes, if you pretended you were someone hard enough, for long enough, and told enough people about it, you would, in fact, become someone. It was possible to become someone entirely accidentally, by falling off a roof, for example; or by singing particularly badly while being filmed by your brother in secret; or by being a carpenter, hired to fix a film prop, whom the director believes looks better suited to the role of the pirate king than the weak, temperamental someone-soon-to-be-no-one he is currently working with.