“Stop,” I hear, though no one is around. The soles of my shoes scrape lightly against the asphalt as I turn my head, looking up and down the alley. It’s full of parked cars, but empty of people.
“Just stop,” the voice says gently. I lock my legs in place, tilting my head sideways. “Stop and look around you.”
“It’s just an alley,” I reply to no one in particular, surprisingly comfortable with the fact that I’m talking out loud to myself in an empty alley.
“Look down,” the voice says.
I glance at the tops of my shoes, white and orange with threadbare shoelaces running loosely through the holes. “Yep,” I say to myself. “Those are my shoes. Bought them years ago at a skate shop, even though I don’t skate.”
“Next to your shoes,” the voice replies patiently. “Look.”
I sigh, pulling my gaze from my shoes. It’s then that I see it. “Whoa.”
I get down on one knee and carefully examine the ice, the water still frozen in the tall shadow of an apartment building selfishly absorbing all the sunlight. “It looks like the surface of some exoplanet.”
“An entire alien world waiting patiently to be explored,” the voice replies. “Sitting silently next to a pair of shoes you bought at a skate shop, even though you don’t skate.”
“And I would have walked right by without noticing.”
“You’re welcome,” the voice says.
“Who are you?” I ask, leaning in closer, now traveling through deep canyons, climbing towering mountains, and exploring rugged landscapes made entirely of ice.
“Stop asking silly questions,” the voice replies. “Just look.”
Photographs and Prose copyright Mike Yost 2016