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I read a short story in the early 2000s, about a disappearing street. I can't remember if I read it in English or Greek, or whether it had been translated from another language.

I think I remember a lot about the story's outline:

  • The narrator was a young man and had an older man as a friend.
  • The friend had discovered a street in their city that only existed at certain dates and times, and was telling the narrator about it. When the street didn't exist there was just a wall there.
  • I think the entrance to the street was near a bridge, or under a bridge.
  • They were afraid to enter the street in case it disappeared while they were in it.
  • The friend eventually figured out the pattern of when the street appeared.
  • The narrator received a letter from his friend asking him to meet in the street and bring something.
  • The narrator walked into the street to meet his friend but had to remember he could only walk in as far as he could in half the time the street would be there, so he could be sure to leave before the exit was gone.
  • The friend was there with some other people. I think they didn't speak and the narrator thought there was something strange about them but couldn't put his finger on what.
  • The friend asked the narrator to make a choice about whether he'd stay or go back. The narrator decided to return and they never saw each other again.

Does the story sound familiar to anyone?

  • 1
    There must be a thousand disappearing street stories. Can you remember any names, or anything else that might help pinpoint the story? It isn't your story, but for the record Slade House by David Mitchell is my favourite disappearing street story (well, novel). It's seriously creepy! – John Rennie Jul 4 '16 at 9:41
  • It sounds vaguely familiar to me, and I believe it was a short story I read in a sci-fi anthology. However, it also reminds me of Roger Zelazny's 'Roadmarks' stories, though I doubt this is what you're looking for. – Howard Miller Jul 6 '16 at 1:30
7

It sounds like China Miéville's 2005 short story "Reports of Certain Events in London" in his short story collection "Looking for Jake" to me.

This short story, in the form of a collection of fictional documents supposedly "received" by the author, presents the idea that there exist certain autonomous streets which phase in and out of existence, living complex and mysterious lives of their own, and even having romances and violent feuds amongst their alley selves. The street that is the focus of the story (Varmin Way) is also mentioned in Un Lun Dun briefly.

The rest of that collection is pretty good too, if you like New Weird.

  • 1
    Could you please expand on "a lot like"? How many of the OP's 9 bullet points does it satisfy? – user14111 Jul 3 '16 at 21:39
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    This is a great story, but it's not at like the OP's description. It's just one of the many, many disappearing street stories out there. – John Rennie Jul 4 '16 at 9:39
  • @user14111 I don't have access to a copy of this until next weekend at least so this was done from memory. I'm pretty sure it matches 2, 4, and 5; I'm less sure about the rest; I'll expand as soon as I can. – tardigrade Jul 5 '16 at 10:47
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    @john-rennie It might not be the only 'disappearing street' story out there but I'd say that still seems like the most distinctive descriptor of the story described by the OP. If you can name ten other short stories about disappearing streets from the early 2000s, I'll be very impressed... – tardigrade Jul 5 '16 at 10:49
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    The OP says he read the story in the early 2000s, so we know it can't be any newer than that, but it could be a hundred years old. – user14111 Jul 5 '16 at 11:30
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It was called, "The Street That Got Mislaid" by Patrick Waddington. I just went on the same hunt and it led me here. I remember reading it in middle school.

‘The Street Got Mislaid’ is a short story written by Patrick Waddington. Its main protagonist is Marc Girondin who is a clerk working for the city’s engineering department. His experience in his job has made him an expert in identifying the roads and different passageways within the city. That is why his familiarity is sought after by people who sought to know in-depth about Montreal. However, his job remains to be monotonous and often taken for granted by people. This changed when Marc discovered that Green Bottle Street got mislaid. It is through his search that he is able to find the location and forever change the outlook he has over the place and its dwellers.

A copy can be found online here.

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    I don't think this is a good match. The road exists at all times (albeit not officially due to a filing error) and there is no friend that induces him on the journey. That said, maybe I'm misunderstanding. Can you clarify why you feel this title is the answer? – FuzzyBoots Aug 23 '18 at 19:26

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