The Light Fantastics
A City Romance (also available for animation)
Meet the Light Fantastics.
This is Lady in Red. This is Green Go-to Guy. They live in two little spaces in a traffic light in the Big City, on a busy corner of Main Street and Crosstown Avenue.
Lady in Red tells people to stop and wait before they cross Main Street.
Green Go-to Guy tells them when to cross Main Street.
They have to wake up early in the morning when they hear the first trucks rumbling down Main Street and be ready for work. Their first walker is always Dust Cart Man. Lady in Red makes him wait. Green Go-to Guy tells him when to cross and sweep the other side of Main Street.
Then come the early workers.
Then come the regular workers.
Then come the schoolchildren. Lady in Red makes them all stop. Green Go-to Guy tells them to cross.
Then it’s the late workers. Some of them want to cross in a hurry, but Lady in Red makes them wait like anyone else, before Green Go-to Guy lets them go.
Then it’s the shoppers. Then the people taking early lunch. Then the people taking regular lunch. Then the people taking late lunch. Lady in Red and Green Go-to Guy tell them all what to do.
Then it’s the schoolchildren and the workers crossing the other way.
Then it’s the people going out for dinner, or to see a play or a movie or a concert.
Then it’s the clubbers. Lady in Red stops them all, Green Go-to Guy lets them cross.
But when the last clubber crosses Main Street to go home, the Big City belongs to the Light Fantastics. They watch the last clubber let himself into his house. They look at each other and slide down the traffic light into Main Street. They stretch… and stretch… and stretch a bit more. And when they are tall enough, they dance… and dance… and dance…
They dance down Main Street. Past all the places where the people work or shop or go to school. But nobody can see them. Through the Big Square with the Victory Arch and the statue of Marshal Law. Past the Town Hall with the statue of Mayor Culpa. Into the park with the bandstand – where they can tap dance. They finish the routine with a big kiss. Then they take a drink at the fountain. And since nobody’s looking they bathe their feet.
Then they walk together, hand in hand, under the stars. They leave the park and walk back to Main Street. This time they reach the part with lots of advertising boards.
Lady in Red stops Green Go-to Guy. She looks at one of the big boards and says “We’ve never seen this one,” and he says “Do you want to try it?” It has a picture of a flashy fast car. An Alfa Pseud. And the two of them jump right into the car – because they own everything in the Big City at night, including the advertising boards and everything inside them.
The picture in the board has the Alfa Pseud all on its own on a long desert highway. Green Go-to Guy opens the door for Lady in Red and lets her drive first. All the way to the end of the highway in the picture. Then they change places and Green Go-to Guy drives it all the way back. Who do you think drives faster? Wrong. It’s Lady in Red. After stopping people all day, at night time she likes to put on a little speed.
Green Go-to Guy parks the car in the same spot in the picture. They get out and jump out of the board back onto Main Street.
“What did you think?” asks Green Go-to Guy. Lady in Red shakes her head and says “It went pocketa-pocketa-pocketa-qweep in sixth gear.”
They walk a bit longer along Main Street and stop in front of another advertising board. This one’s for a big blockbuster movie with the world’s biggest stars – Luke Upward and Stella Cast. But since they own everything in the Big City they jump right into the movie set and Green Go-to Guy says “Luke, my man, do you want to take five?” and Lady in Red says “Stella, honey, would you like to powder your nose?” And the stars leave, so that Green Go-to Guy and Lady in Red can play the big scene themselves. They look at the scripts the stars leave behind.
“You don’t love me any more.”
“But I do.”
“Your lips are moving but your eyes are lying.”
They give it all they can and then they look at each other and say the same thing. “This stinks.” They call back Luke and Stella and jump out of the board back into Main Street.
They walk a bit further and stop at another advertising board. This one has a tropical beach with nobody on it. They stare and stare at it. They have never seen anything so beautiful in the Big City. Finally Lady in Red says “We deserve a vacation.”
Green Go-To Guy says “We haven’t got much time. You know what happens if we’re missing…”
Lady in Red says “Just a quick swim?” And she takes his hand.
So they jump onto the beach. They kick up a little sand. They look at the clear blue water and run towards it, still hand in hand. But before they can jump in, the whole beach starts to shake. Not just the sand. Not just the sea. But the sky and the sun too. It can only mean one thing. They run back along the beach and look out of the board. It’s the first truck rumbling along Main Street. The Big City will not belong to them much longer. They will not be allowed in the advertising boards – or anywhere else. If they don’t get back to their traffic light in time they could be locked up as deserters.
So they jump back onto Main Street. No more dancing, they just run, and run, and run. Hand in hand. When one gets tired, the other pulls. Run, Lady in Red! Run, Green Go-to Guy! Back into the park… past the fountain… past the bandstand… Past Marshal Law and Mayor Culpa. Past the workplaces and the shops and the schools. They see more and more trucks. Faster, Lady in Red! Faster, Green Go-to Guy! The dawn is breaking over the Big City. At last they reach their section of Main Street.
They can hear the Dust Cart. One final sprint… They reach their traffic light just in time. They help each other up, and shrink again to fit into their little spaces. They are ready for Dust Cart Man. Lady in Red stops him in the usual way. Green Go-to Guy lets him cross in the usual way. He notices nothing different about them and heads down Main Street to sweep the other side.
Lady in Red and Green Go-to Guy watch him disappear. They look round the street. No trucks. No people. They slip out of their little spaces and have one final kiss.
The plot device in which the two characters inhabit and interact with the images of poster advertising could be used in a series of sequels, with a similar premise at the end: the pair must finish their adventure at daybreak in time to resume their normal duties inside the traffic light. In other possible sequels, Green might have a rival, Bicycle Man, and the two might go into combat using traffic arrows as spears; Green and Red might raise a family of lesser lights; Red could save a child’s life in the busy street (or more exotically, a lost circus elephant); Green and Red could have a peaceful vacation in a remote country township with almost no traffic.