Every hour or so, the two skies of the city of Serendipity change as the lonely metropolis crosses paths with anothe...

Two Skies Before Night by Robert Gryn

Two Skies Before Night by Robert Gryn cover

Every hour or so, the two skies of the city of Serendipity change as the lonely metropolis crosses paths with another pair of worlds. Wanderers and refugees from these strange places find their way into the city. Those who enter Above are deemed worthy and live life to its fullest. Those who enter Below are thought somehow lesser and struggle to survive with only their memories and dreams to give them solace.
In the decrepit neighborhoods of Below, Detective Lang hunts a killer. The chase will take him all the way to the highest towers of Above. There he will find himself caught in a game between ambition and betrayal, where the stakes are not life or death, only his soul.

TWO SKIES BEFORE NIGHT (12/7/18) by Robert Gryn is a sci-fi/fantasy detective story set in a two-sided city that periodically crosses all realities, and is populated by inadvertent refugees of countless physical versions of humanity. 


The staircase ended abruptly with rubble and fallen trees. Lang couldn't be sure whether the floor before them was the top or if the stairway had been blocked. Unlike the other floors, people and empty dreams littered the chambers near the stairway. These were not the squatters or refugees who lived on the lower floors, but rather dream addicts. Unkempt and emaciated sleepers lay everywhere, curled up between the roots of trees as they passed away their days lost in their private delusions. Dreams affected people differently, but Lang could see that as different as their anatomies may be, most became something less than they used to be, atrophying in their unique ways, as they lost interest in food, water, and love.A hand reached out and grabbed Lang's ankle. He looked down to see one of the dreamers weakly clutching his ankle. The man was a pale green. His bones appeared to be on the outside of his limbs and torso, supporting a thin exoskeleton. Lang couldn't tell whether the man's thinness was a natural attribute of his people, or if his addiction had brought him to this. His arms and fingers were so frail that Lang was concerned he would break them if he pulled away too quickly.
He knelt by the man and said, "Friend, you need to let me go."
The man looked at him, his eyes staring past him into the light of a broken window. Lang could see the dark patterns of dreams in the man's green eyes. They looked like black veins that turned at right angles in no particular pattern, but bearing the feeling of something made and not grown. The man spoke in a quiet whisper, never quite looking at Lang.
"…reaches far above, past the tallest towers, past ambition and avarice. For all its height, it is only half. A broken bone, jagged, its marrow spills, rains on our heads. And for what, for what? Just to know who or what or nothing? As if, as if, in knowing there is a new birth. She lies! A thousand thousand flies cover our eyes, stinging and biting. They cut our flesh, weigh it carefully, letting not a tear drop to the ground. It is counted, packaged, discarded, found, and traded for happy stories of infinities. The endless abyss is nothing to fear. There is always the next gasp in the fall. It is the ground lurking below, just in sight. Oh, terror! The ground, it comes, it comes, and they close their eyes, letting delusional truths carry them past the ground forevermore…" The man grew quiet and slipped back into his dreams. His hand loosened around Lang's ankle and fell to the floor.
The other dreamers were quiet for the most part, their breaths and moans lost in the sway and stretch of branches, the rustle of leaves, the crash of water against itself. The only real sounds seemed to be the crush of the crystal vials that had held dreams as Lang and Reve stepped on them.
Lang still couldn't tell if they were on the top floor. He could see the outside through the few windows not covered in branch, leaf, or bark, but it seemed that the city was gone. That the only thing that existed was this multi-level forest and that below it was nothing but the oversky. The sudden realization of his place in relation to the other side of the city gave Lang a sense of vertigo. He pushed this feeling away, angry that a life spent in the city, and his many trips to Above, had not taught his body to respect the natural order of things. It should instinctively know its place with respect to Above and Below, and not become nauseous at the thought that what rested below him was Above.
It was then that Lang realized that Reve was no longer next to him. He figured she had left him for a reason, either to scout ahead or outflank whatever was ahead of them. He then heard the unnatural clatter of voices nearby and thought this the reason for Reve to get out of sight. Him being the distraction was one of their moves, one that Lang never minded. Men and women appeared among the trees. By their careful stances, Lang knew these were not dreamers, but the crew that ran this place.
"Who's in charge here?" he called out.
"You want to dream, then you've come to the right place," came the reply.
"Looking for a friend. Name's Lucid."
"What do you want with him?"
"His sister sold me some good dreams. Said to come here if I wanted more."
A man with blue skin and dark hair appeared from behind one of the trees. Lang saw the same features he had seen on Clarity's face, but with a hard bent. "You a lawman?" he asked.
"Do I look like it?" Lang said with a smile. "Just looking to dream a little. I got paper."
"How do you know Clarity?"
"I know her neighbor. She said Clarity had a hookup."
"Yeah, well I never gave Clarity dreams to sell."
"I don't know where she got them. She just said to come see you if I wanted more."
"You don't look like a dreamer."
"Come look into my eyes, I've been dreaming all day."
The response was the bark of iron guns. Crude weapons that projected solid bullets by means of base explosions. Lang wasn't sure who had fired. He ran for the cover of the nearest tree. Maybe Lucid had recognized him, maybe one of the others did. He saw them behind the trees, firing their barking weapons. The missiles flew past him, unseen in their speed, but leaving behind echoes of their passage. Lang drew his ghost gun and fired into the air. The almost human scream of the flight of his ghostly bullets could be heard above the mechanical cries of the iron guns.


Two Skies Before Night by Robert Gryn


About the Author

Robert Gryn

Robert Gryn was born in Poland during the latter years of the communist regime. His parents recognized that the socialist experiment was doomed to fail and set out for the more hopeful shores of America. Robert spent his youth moving from one school to another, winding up in one of the worst high schools in New Jersey. After graduating, Robert spent years working odd jobs in warehouses and construction sites. Like his parents before him, Robert soon realized that the personal experiment of his own life was doomed to fail.
Determined to find a better path, Robert decided to attend Columbia University where he studied everything from Psychology to Japanese, as well as Creative Writing. Unfortunately, even graduating with highest honors didn’t put him on a path that spoke to him. He drifted again and accidentally wound up becoming a successful technology consultant, primarily because he knew how to turn on a computer.

It was a beach vacation to St. Martin that changed his life once again. Bored with the bright sunlight and the pristine beaches he sat down to begin writing the books that had always been in the back of his mind. He soon found that he was not so much a writer but a chronicler, as if the words had drifted into his mind from all those future centuries. What could he do but tell the stories of all those people who may never exist?

Robert has written a number of novels of impossible futures and unbelievable dreams. And as long as he knows how to turn on a computer, or how to commune with the thinking machines of tomorrow, he will continue to do so.