Author : Cesium

Each clutching the other’s hand, they waited atop the Green Building.

They weren’t supposed to be here. No one was. But the tallest building in Cambridge, Massachusetts would soon depart the soil on which it had stood for so long, and they couldn’t have missed the chance to be here. To watch the final stage of Daedalus, from the inside.

Some enterprising soul had planted a replica of an Apollo Lunar Module on the roof behind them, likening to the old Saturn Vs the twenty-one-story concrete box on which it perched. A flag hung above it, unmoving in the still air. The motionless silence unnerved her. There should be wind. There should be people walking far below, talking of subjects she would never understand. Yet there was nothing. Beyond the sheath that now enclosed the building, she could see the labyrinthine tracery of streets that filled Cambridge to the north, the cars in their orderly caravans sliding efficiently from place to place, while the sun crept down to the horizon and the fiery clouds above glowed orange and violet.

But within, the Green Building, neatly packaged for transport, rested in preparation for its own journey.

Around them, a huge tract of land adjacent to the Charles lay vacant, fallow dirt under long shadows. It had of course long since gone to the highest bidder, a Dubai company planning to raise an arcology on the site. But that had to wait until Daedalus finished. Until it cleared away this, the last remnant of old MIT.

It was just MIT now, as it had been for decades, since its focus had shifted offworld and “Massachusetts” had become inaccurate (and also, if the rumor was to be believed, so it could sue the pants off MarsTech). For almost as long the original campus, here in Cambridge, had been suffering from declining admissions and increasing irrelevance. Yet its reputation remained untarnished, and history still lived in its bones. So now, as the wealth of the outer system was starting to pour back to the mother planet, the children of MIT, the architects and the chemists and the astroengineers, had returned to lift these old halls into the future. Just because they could.

And that was Daedalus.

Giant engines above had raised the buildings of MIT one by one out of Earth’s gravity well. An unprecedented feat, it had taken years and drawn the awe and fascination of the world. Enclosed in protective organic sheaths, miracles of bioengineering, the buildings floating like soap bubbles among the stars had joined the construction of New Boston, a gigantic space station with artificial gravity. Not all had emerged unscathed, of course, but that most survived had given them courage enough to stand here on this night, looking out over the city spread below them.

There was a slight tremor beneath their feet; the near-transparent sheath rippled noticeably. Cables, pillars and struts holding the building in place adjusted automatically. Her hand tightened its grip on his. It was time.

“Boston is lovely at night,” he said, slowly. “But you have to see it from above–”

They leapt toward the sky.

Discuss the Future: The 365 Tomorrows Forums
The 365 Tomorrows Free Podcast: Voices of Tomorrow
This is your future: Submit your stories to 365 Tomorrows