Apex Magazine have just published Israeli author Nir Yaniv‘s story, Undercity. The story was published in the exclusive pre-order edition of The Apex Book of World SF 2 but will not be available in the regular edition. You can, however, read it for free online!
That day, the complacent city received three warnings. No one bothered to take notice. The city listened only to itself.
At the seashore, just before sunrise, a teenage girl met an old man. A westerly wind played with the water and with a grey beard and with some golden curls. On the promenade, a street sweeper passed, unnoticed.
“Child,” the old man said, his hand reaching for his worn cap, which was slightly smaller than the measure of his head. Surprisingly, this did not make him look ridiculous, only slightly older. The girl looked at him, dazzled, as if she’d opened her eyes for the first time in her life, and did not answer.
“Child,” the old man said in the pleasant tone of someone not used to any kind of pleasantry, either given or received, “is not this too early an hour?”
The girl said, “Soon it’ll be too late.” She did not look bitter when saying this. There wasn’t a hint of drama in her words. It was merely a statement of fact.
“I would have liked to argue the falsehood of your words,” the old man said. “To delve into the expression ‘too late’ and prove that no matter what the circumstances, it cannot be true. To say that always, always there is something that can be done, always there is hope. But if I do so, I shall be lying.”
The girl stared at him.
“I shall be lying,” the old man repeated, looking eager to add some drama to the conversation. “It is always too late. This way or another, no matter what you do, no matter what we do, it is always too late.”
“Yes,” the girl said. “No.”
She closed her eyes and turned away from him. “No matter what you do, no matter what we do, it’s always too late,” she said, “but there is one thing that’s going to happen just in time. Right now.”
The sun rose. Slowly, majestically, it floated above the eastern city line, illuminating the old man and the so-called child.
The girl smiled. – continue reading!