Author : Riley Meachem
The stars in our sky are run on electrical wires. Shaped like logos and dyed the color of neon and glass. They come on the fronts and backs of cars, on huge billboards. There’s a sort of beauty to it, I suppose, knowing that your mountains were drawn by architects and city planners, that your grassy fields were purchased for sporting events. No, not beauty. A beauty off-shoot, a less popular cousin, some generic brand-name aestheticism. But it’s the only beauty I know.
I’ve lived here, as long as I can remember. When it was just five square miles set adrift out on the sea. When the skies weren’t always ablaze and children could run out on the streets, while shopkeepers and fishermen and workers of every kind went about their business. Where everyone knew each other. When we were just an odd social experiment– a city built on pontoons and set to move around the seas like a ship. Then, of course, things changed—as they always do.
People are wont to tell you change is always a good thing. Well it’s not. But it’s not a bad thing, either. Change is just change. It doesn’t care who or what it affects, what happens when it comes. Doesn’t bother moralizing or deciding whether or not to be good or evil. No, it’s just change. And it comes rambling forward without stopping.
I was too young to remember what it was really all about. Just that the first bomb fell in Pakistan, the next in some place called India. Then others joined in, fiery ICBM’s annihilating whole civilizations, their buildings and their memories. I cannot even remember most of the world before the bombs started to fall. All that’s left of them are the dust clouds that still linger in the skies.
Fallout swept over the land, killing crops and animals in places that had never so much as seen a missile silo. But our city in the sea grew. Morphed, perhaps, is a better word. People flocked here from all over, any survivors crawling, floating, swimming from the wastelands to this lone oasis. And we welcomed them. They brought business, built houses.
Then winter set in, but we just kept moving southward and southward. And then the fish started to die. Night set in as the sun was blocked out by the dust. And more people kept coming and we kept floating along, desperate to survive for some unknown reason. Living on where it’s always night, the air is always cold, and the water is always warm.
One by one the stars have started to go out, as fuel dwindles. The divers have had to go deeper and deeper to find food. We’ve started making farms with solar lamps. It’s really quite ingenious what this species can do when it isn’t busy killing itself. Plants that grow towards fake suns and stars that don’t exist.
And the funniest thing is, our impending doom doesn’t even bother me at all. It just seems so unimportant now.
I wonder why we bother going on in a world like this. I wonder what my role is in this puzzle that seems to be black and devoid of any image. And I cry, as I always do, as I stare out at the inkwell ocean meeting the jet stone sky, wondering when the blackness will overflow and wash all this away.
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