Originally entitled “The Conspiracy,” the short story that would become “Skylined” began a century ago (well, the late 1990s anyway). I was living and working in Philadelphia at the time. It’s a great city with a number of notable skyscrapers. It occurred to me that one could easily view these constructs as living adversaries with their own agenda.
This notion provided the basis for the story. I believe it was originally published on my first, and long defunct, website. I kept the story around and recently rediscovered it. Upon reading through the first few chapters, I realized that I still felt a connection to this story but that it needed a heavy rewrite. I should note that I enjoy rewriting almost as much as writing. There are so many ways to convey ideas in words, and I find it enjoyable to revisit work to see how it might be improved upon.
I can’t say for sure that “Skylined” was inspired by Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone, but upon rereading it, I can definitely see the connection. It certainly contains elements of Serling’s classic story, “A Stop at Willoughby,” but I do feel that both stories are unique. “Willoughby’s” protagonist, Gart Williams (adeptly portrayed by actor James Daly), faces multiple obstacles, notably his work and home life situations. He longs to escape from the oppression these forces reign upon his everyday existence. In “Skylined,” Treat’s antagonist is Combustible, a city not viewed as welcoming but as a steel and concrete bully. Combustible does what it wants, when it wants, and to whom it wants, without consequence. It has a certain Santa Clausian oversight, knowing who’s sleeping, who’s awake. But rather than a safe haven for its residents, Combustible is a spider’s web and its residents, flies.
Next: A new story arc begins.