About Us

Contact Us



Hacktreks Travel

Hacktreks 2

First Chapters

White Lights - Big City
Joe Sinclair in Japan

White Lights, Big City I was walking aimlessly through the Tokyo streets at dusk, with the cityscape skewing through my mind. The main thoroughfare looked like the giant corridor of a cheap hotel. It was as if many years ago the corridor had been hit by an earthquake and lost all form. The warped dimensions had been repeatedly patched with neon signs and advertisement hoardings. The crowds streamed along the carpet-less floor like dirty water gushing from burst lead piping. At the end of the corridor, through a hole in the wall, I could see a patch fading sky.

A small point of white light traced across the sky, sparking against my retina. The flashing light must have been coming from a tiny aeroplane and I thought little of it. But, looking back towards the sky, the light seemed to have darted back on itself, re-starting its slow crawl from the beginning.
Down on the street the crowds were bustling past me on either side and I let myself get tumbled along in the flush of salary men, shoppers, hustlers and students. My senses dampened with the creeping smell of cigarette smoke, fast food and yakitori; and the shops with their high-pitched clerks and in-store jingles on repeat. But I wanted to keep my head above water, above the rush of faces with their variously contorted expressions. I lifted my chin and looked upwards beneath the shadow of my brow.

The giant walls of the corridor pressed in from either side. But they shone with yellow light, escaping from the windows of shops and restaurants, offices and hotel rooms. Up to my left, on the other side of the road, I watched a room window flicker as the lights came on. The light seemed to fill the glass of the window itself, reflecting forth in a violent burst of light, searing into my eyes. It took me by surprise a little, and I stopped walking. My eyeballs began to throb.

Glancing from building to building, from window to window, the effect repeated itself as the panes of glass lit up like filaments, flashing white light across my vision. The light tore out of the windows in horizontal lines, cutting through the concrete walls. And then it slowly receded, drawing back into a mere glint, sparkling knowingly.

I had come to a dazed halt in the middle of the sidewalk, staring up at the paparazzi of flashing lights. But now I felt the crowd shouldering past me and I could feel a sharp pain lancing through the soft tissue in my head. I forced myself to look away from the windows, trying to concentrate on the street at eye level, trying to regain my composure. The sparks of light continued to fizzle around the outskirts of my vision.

I closed my eyes and pixels of colour swarmed comfortingly against my eyelids. A moment passed and then a white spot appeared, spreading amongst the pixels like a drop of paint on a sponge. As the spot grew bigger it faded away, but another spot appeared, and another, spreading into each other and filling my eyes.

Just then somebody knocked into me from behind. Instinctively my eyes opened, and I was shocked by the intensity of the lights, which were prickling ferociously around me. I jostled my way out of the heavy crowd to the side of the road and stepped down from the curb, breathing heavily. I raised my fingers to my temples, trying to control my breathing, not wanting to look and not wanting to close my eyes. I could feel my pulse jerking through my temples as the blood churned through my head.
It wasn’t just the building windows. Light broke from car windscreens, street lamps and the mass of neon signs which lined the street. It exploded silently outwards, cutting lines of electric shrapnel through the mix of concrete metal and glass. Yet it seemed to originate from somewhere beyond the glass. It was as if the light were a white-hot flame burning through the back of a canvass, flaring excitedly as it blistered through the paint.

It was getting harder and harder to see. The borders of my vision were filled with the white light. In an attempt to regain my focus, I looked sideways into the crowd. Having stepped down from the curb my line of sight was bobbing beneath the surface of faces.

A man in a business suit was walking hurriedly along the outside of the pavement. I staggered backwards to let him pass, but my eyes were riveted on his face. As he passed he looked sideways straight at me. His glasses were large and square and the lenses were glinting under the streetlights. Suddenly the glint ignited and the frames flared with light, obliterating the upper half of his face. Then his mouth opened and the light caught on a shiny gold cap, exploding in shiny white streaks across the crowd.

I spun away from him. But as I looked from face to face the whites of their eyes were electric filaments. They sparkled threateningly for an instant before the light broke free, tearing away in violent pulses.
The flashing white lights were spreading into each other, blanking my vision almost entirely. The world seemed to be getting quieter and quieter, further and further away. All I could see was a small porthole of colour in the centre of the whiteness. The hole was sealing up, the rising white tide about to submerge me. I blinked rapidly but it made no difference.
As the white light seeped into the remaining space, casting my entire vision white, I lost my balance and started to fall backwards. I threw my hands behind me to break the fall, expecting the impact of concrete. But the impact never came and after a few seconds it occurred to me that I was no longer falling.

There was nothing but whiteness. Yet it did not press against me and it did not spread into the distance. There was no distance. There was no perspective at all. There was neither up nor down, no floor on which to plant my feet. The only thing which had any dimensions at all, the only thing left in existence, was my body, which strangely enough, I could still see in its entirety.
I looked down at my dirty trainers, wiggling my unanchored feet, and then brought a palm up to my face. The skin began to bulge and morph, the lines slowly rewriting themselves across my hand. Something was glowing beneath the thin pink membrane. It burned like ice, then punctured the skin. My hand disappeared in a flash of white light.

Twisting and turning with panic I looked down at my body to see the light breaking through my shoes and jeans. Impulsively I reached down to touch myself, but my hands were nowhere - my hands, my arms, my chest - the whiteness was swallowing me up. When I screamed there was no sound. There was nothing but white light.

6th February, 2003 A rather strange thing happened today. For some reason I felt foolish telling anybody, so I’m writing it down instead. I was rushing to meet my wife after work. As usual I was late, and I was hurrying down the outside of the pavement when I passed a young foreigner. He was standing in the gutter and looked to be in a veritable daze. Well, there’s nothing too remarkable about that. However, just as I was passing him, he turned his head in my direction and gave me the most penetrating of looks. How can I describe it? It was like he was looking right through me, like he was looking beyond me, beyond my physical being into my very soul. My mouth fell open in surprise.
I walked on a little further but couldn’t help turning back around to take another look at the man. Just as I did so he collapsed to the floor. He seemed to be having some kind of fit. In a panic, I fumbled for my phone and dialled for an ambulance. As I was speaking to the operator I tried to move closer to the man, but the crowd on the pavement was surging past and I felt like I was battling against the flow. In the struggle I worked myself into quite a state. But when I eventually reached the spot where the man had fallen, he had gone.

© Joseph Sinclair March 2003

Also by Joe - Vietnam by Bus

More Travel

< Back to Index
< Reply to this Article

© Hackwriters 2000-2003 all rights reserved