The Bridge

Surreal flash fiction.

There is a bridge with no end.

One end of this bridge is contained in a city, built up over the millennia from a small hamlet into a great metropolis, but the other end, if indeed there is one, cannot be glimpsed in the thick fog that rolls in from the ocean.

Occasionally, someone will attempt to reach the other end of the bridge. Some of these explorers have been very well-prepared, taking enough rations for weeks, camping gear, even compasses. Yet very few of these men (for they are by and large men) ever return from those expeditions, and those that do seem strangely out of time, claiming that they had walked for years, worn ragged, despite leaving mere minutes before, or disappearing for decades before returning, youthful and energetic, claiming they nervously backed out before the expedition had gone too far.

All the accounts of all these explorers do share some commonalities, however. As you walk along the bridge, they all unanimously say, the air grows cold and dark, such that you must turn on headlamps and wrap yourself in Arctic cold-weather gear. The fog grows thicker and thicker, until you can barely see a few feet in front of you—on some of these expeditions, members have walked off into the mist, seemingly a stone’s throw away, and never returned. Any compasses brought will start to go haywire, pointing first this way, then that; sometimes staying consistent for hours, then suddenly pointing the opposite direction, and other times slowly drifting, as if there was a tiny, almost imperceptible curve to the bridge.

The only constant, all these reports say, is the churning of the water far below and the gentle swaying of the bridge.

There have been proposals to mount a larger expedition to cross the bridge—to form a human chain across the bridge, perhaps, or explore it with military equipment. But these proposals have, for the most part, fallen on dead ears. Most residents of the city know that the bridge is endless and know not to bother starting down it. And so it is that the bridge stands, silent, ominous, yet also comfortable, as an enduring symbol of the city and its people.

It is said in some tourist guides—the cheaper, less reliable ones—that the people of the city so love this emblem of their city that, as their lives draw to a close, they find themselves drawn to the bridge, and take first one step, then another, and another, and soon are enveloped in mist, never to be seen again. Most residents of the city are generally annoyed when this urban legend is brought up, since after all the city has perfectly functional hospices and graveyards and crematorium. Yet it is also true that a tourist such as yourself, walking along the beach past dusk, lit only by the lights of the distant highway, can often spot solitary figures walking slowly, calmly, down the bridge and into the night.