When the sky is scraped.
12.15.17 – Outran
I couldn’t get my head out of the stack. I kept watching the strings counting in a dead language, enthralled because they were the most vibrant slice of the sky at the moment. There was mist gathering on the borders of the city like it was an army awaiting siege orders. I didn’t think it’d ever reach here and even if it did I’d probably still see the chrome clouds of the city blaring their advertisements through any screen that tried to stand in front of them. It was the crowning achievement of technology that allowed such sales pitches to continue through a bout of blindness or, as I’ve heard, unconsciousness. They wrote them in a way that made them hard to ignore, or forget, or grow accustomed to; they wormed their way into your ear and kept whispering until you gave them enough attention. Some rumor traveled out from the grey towers that the marketing technocrats had hired a team of psychologists to study how we consumed them and had worked for years to find something that was palatable but also sort of indigestible so that it’d pass through our brain and drop hints but not stick strongly enough to form a detailed image that we could call back to. It meant you kept having a weird, reinforcing déjà vu about buying that car you always wanted but weren’t sure why. I’d tried to tune it out by watching the data streams slide by and counting the odd digits that my eyes were fast enough to catch.
I was in a position of patience, which was difficult given the design of the streets. Everything gave off the subtle suggestion that moving was a better action than waiting. Even sanity from the ads was accomplished by running tasks that kept them on the periphery and not stealing your consideration, walking, even aimlessly, was one such option. I held my ground because I currently had a roof and lacked an umbrella and the red rain had come again as a warning of that impending grey groan. The precipitation was hot and stung like it was a recent memory of a thorn prick when it hit bare skin. It didn’t leave traced stains but it shimmered a dreadful sort of crimson and broke upon impact with anything. You couldn’t find puddles of the stuff, it fell as a liquid but something about the composition had it sublimating the moment it touched the ground or any object really. The Green Trade would have said it was just the earth coughing back a virus, one we’d injected with the spread of our civilization. I didn’t find that a cause worth burning everything down for but I tried to stay dry all the same.
Everything about felt out of place and risky when you spent anytime considering how we were expected to interact with this state of the world. But I suppose we were always going to feel like outsiders; even this city we built was dazzling and brutish, running like two threads that shouldn’t match but were tied together all the same. That was the pull I felt, and as I caught faces dashing in and out of the falling fire, I knew they must have sat that way as well.