Author : Carter Lee
There was no one else, anymore. Something had happened, and I am all that is left. Here on this empty, dusty stretch of nothingness. Grey plane stretched out on all sides, merging with the grey sky, lit only by a dim sun. There was no one, there was nothing, just me, and the plain, and the sky.
I had walked, for a while. However, nothing and no one existed here, except me, and so I just sat. I looked at the plain, and at the sky, and breathed the still air in and out.
All alone. I closed my eyes.
I woke as the helmet lifted off my head, and the safety bars retracted. I slid out as the next user slid in, our chests brushing and our breath mixing as we changed places. She didn’t look at me, but at the alcove, her eyes filled with hunger and anticipation. No doubt, my eyes held the same hunger, but now that my time was up, the hunger would be replaced with regret.
I pulled my gaze away, and looked at the mass of people passing in front of me. The corridor was filled with a never-ending mass of hurrying men and women, their eyes fixed on the back in front of them as they sped past, endlessly, without pause. God help the person who came out of step with the person behind or in front of them. Just yesterday, more than 200 hundred people had died in one of the North6LevDown corridors, trampled when the Hall Monitors hadn’t been able to divert the flow fast enough.
I slid into the flow, and over the next mile, pressed from the right side to the left side of the corridor. I made it across just in time to spin myself into the downstream line for my local elevator.
I just managed to squeeze into the ‘Vator, pressed tight against the inner safety mesh. For just a second, I saw the resigned expression of the person who was now at the head of the downstream line, saw his shoulder hunch down to fight the pushing of the mass streaming past, rubbing and bumping him as his hands, white-knuckled, gripped the support bar. Head of the line, fighting the flow, it’s a tough spot to be in.
The ride was interminable, creeping upward while constantly moving, sliding this way and that to get out of the way of those leaving at the next level, then pressing forward myself as my level neared. Sliding out, into the flow, across the hallway, navigating the tricky left at Junc. 317, crossing the corridor again, and finally, miles later, joining the flow into my section. Finally, I slid into my niche just as my predecessor left. Good timing, I thought as I got comfortable, leaning back slightly. Eight hours of full sleep before the next shift arrived, and I would have to have eight hours of ‘recreation’ before work.
I closed my eyes.
I woke to the sound of electricity crackling, smelling smoke, eyes filled with the destroyed world I hated so much. The machine had malfunctioned again. And I was cast out of my lovely, barely remembered dream. Cast back into my personal hell of devastation and loneliness.
The machine is broken, and I do not know if I can fix it, this time. Here, in the city of destroyed buildings and rotting corpses, I found myself alone, again. In despair, I began to cry, feeling more tired than was possible, and sank to the ground, eyes closed. Against my wishes, I slept.
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