Meet Me in the Strange
Publication date: March 27th 2018
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
From the author of Beautiful City of the Dead and Stonecutter comes a dreamy, atmospheric coming of age story that will appeal to readers of all ages.
Davi tries to help a new friend, Anna Z, escape a cruel and controlling brother, and the teens end up running away to follow the tour of their rock idol, the otherworldly Django Conn. The story is set in a weird and wonderful retro-futuristic city of glam-girls and glister-boys and a strange phenomenon that Anna Z calls the “Alien Drift.”
Darkness came. The city changed before us as we stood there. Buildings blurred, then disappeared. Lights, hundreds and thousands, emerged like the constellations looming out of the night sky. Anna Z said, “I found a way up to the roof from the balcony. You want to go up there? It’s pretty amazing.”
“Of course. You and me.”
She grabbed a blanket and a pillow off the bed. I opened the balcony door and the sounds of the city were suddenly much more distinct. Church bells, double iron wheels on the cobblestone street, a man singing with a voice like a wooden flute, night birds, a train whistle. We slid over the low stone balcony wall, inched along a ledge, and went up an iron fire escape ladder. She stopped suddenly, and I thought for a second that we’d been found out. But she pulled me close and kissed me on the cheek. Her laugh, then, was like a special gift, something she’d offer only to me. She’d fled from Lukas and their secret world. And now it was just her and me.
Tugging on my hand, she led me across the lumpy, tarred surface of a roof. There was one more above that. Another iron ladder, this one wobbling as we climbed. Half the bolts that fastened it to the wall had rusted free. She went first, with the blanket wrapped around her like a billowing cloak. I had the pillow, tucked under one arm. She went over the edge. I followed and there was our private rooftop.
The Angelus was more than a hundred years old. Over that time, towers, wings, buttresses, skylights, a chapel, and a penthouse had been added. So around and below us the hotel looked more like a small city than a single, huge building. Beyond that, the city proper extended as far as we could see. Still, this rooftop was a hidden place where no one could see us.
The moon was up, the sun’s secret mirror. Anna Z said something about the solar rays going out gold, hitting the moon, and coming back to us converted into lunar silver. I was listening as best I could. But as she spoke about celestial light, she was taking off her clothes. She told me about getting a moon-tan, how good it felt to be open and free in the glow of the night sky. I tried to listen and understand. But what I saw standing there before me was making my head spin and my heart slam. I don’t mean there was anything wrong about it. Or that I hadn’t looked at pictures in the galleries and at the white marble statues of beautiful girls wearing almost nothing. I couldn’t go ten feet into a museum without seeing nude goddesses, naked mermaids, nymphs clothed in nothing but moonbeams. But Anna Z was real, alive, warm, and only for me.
An avid musician, Leander Watts has played and sung for decades in a wide variety of bands. His interests range from garage rock to skronky jazz, from baroque organ to Appalachian gospel. The first rock concert he attended was David Bowie on the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974. He teaches writing and literature at the State University of New York at Geneseo (his alma mater). Leander Watts is the author of Stonecutter, Wild Ride to Heaven, Ten Thousand Charms, and Beautiful City of the Dead.
- $25 Amazon gift card