Author : Andrew D. Hudson

The night breathes quietly beneath the world. Everything glints and shimmers off the water-smooth curves of ‘tites and ‘mites, catching the half-light of pale glowing fungi in ways our eyes never evolved to expect. Who knew the earth would be so porous?—a termite-tunneled maze of twisting underground rivers and Cthulhu-carved caverns the size of small countries. Mine shafts spiral down at right-angles towards the core, crisscrossed by lava tubes and spun out into the fractal temples dream-dug by renegade swarms of nanobots. At some point the subway builders of New York and Tokyo simply forgot to stop digging and drilled down deeper and deeper into the dark depths with cult-like precision, leaving whole underworlds in their wake: a promised land for hobos and mole-people. Occasionally a train will head down the wrong track, carrying its passengers further and further into the hot night to found strange kingdoms floating in the bubbles of volcanic seas.

I’ve always loved the hidden places, those old surface places that sunk into the earth for their eternal rest, still and silent, content to finally dream away the eons in peace. Tall towers mark dead cities like headstones, as if to say “Here Lies Los Angeles,” “Here Lies London.” We try to keep these old names as best we can. I was named Manhattan to remember an island of bright lights and straight streets. Maybe one night the people come to me and say “Manhattan, tell us of your old place, and we will remake it in the New World.”

We try so hard to remember now. Some folks move slower, trying to memorize every person, every step, every story. Historians of the now obsessively scratch diaries and news stories into tunnel walls, carving whole catacombs with the details of a single night. We didn’t used to think of ourselves as archeology, didn’t think that our bones and pocket change might one night be museum treasures. Now we know better. We have accepted that we may again find catastrophe our only recourse, and this time we want to be remembered. Humanity is a cataclysmic thing.

It weighs so heavily on some people, not knowing what came before. So much has been forgotten. We don’t remember why the Movement started, or why it was abandoned when the earth was still half-unmade. Were the people mesmerized by the sparkling emerald geodes larger than most houses? Did they walk for weeks along the shores of oil-black seas, eating lichens haphazardly, entranced by the subtle soothing symphonies of gasses glub-glubbing out of the water, smelling of sulfur and sending spirals scuttling unseen across the otherwise still surface? Did they suddenly catch themselves thinking, “Couldn’t we live like this forever?”

365 Tomorrows Merchandise: The 365 Tomorrows Store
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows