Rain fell from the silvery grey clouds in the sky, tip-tapping on the roofs and trickling down the windows of the idyllic pillared houses. Those out in the street put up umbrellas and smiled at the children splashing in puddles on the pavement.

Only one figure ignored the water-inspired joy of those around him as he scurried down the side-walk, a dark hood covering most of his face. He dodged around people in their brightly coloured coats who did

not seem to notice him. Between two houses there was a small opening and he slipped in so quickly that he seemed to have disappeared. Emerging on the other side, he ran through a few yards so quickly that
he only saw flashes of fountains and cherry trees in full bloom.

As he stepped into a muddy street framed on either side by dilapidated houses, a low rolling sound that
could easily be mistaken for thunder washed over and echoed around him. The figure in dark and colourless clothing put down his hood and quickened his pace, glancing around to see that the street was empty. The streets zig-zagged and narrowed and widened and were silent until he heard running steps splashing in the mud behind him.

A figure caught up with him, face so splattered with mud that all he could see were her eyes, one blue and one brown. They nodded to each other in greeting and continued down the street at a run.

Soon they could see the building they were running to, a large low-standing building that was just as run-down as the houses around it, but was clearly not abandoned as the others were. Yellow light and the sound of voices spilled out into the muddy streets, broken up occasionally by silhouettes.
The voices went silent as the light suddenly turned blue and the two running figures looked at each other, eyes wide and panicked.

"Do you think we'll make it?" said the man in a gravely voice as the blue light got brighter and brighter.

"We'd better," said the woman. "I don't think I could take another hour here."

They ran faster as the light became almost painful to look at and slid into the door just as it reached its peak. There was a deafening high-pitched tone that could even be heard by those walking along the straight, paved street lined by oak trees under their colourful umbrellas. They all stopped and looked at each other in confusion at this terrible sound that had interrupted their fun.

Soon it stopped and the rainbow-clad citizens continued on with their day with no more interruptions.

Their carpeted houses with their sparkling chandeliers and their plush furniture had not changed.

Neither had anything else that they could see.

It took them weeks before they found that, behind their picturesque lives, the muddy colour-less streets were completely empty.