Author : Terry J. Golob

I ride the slow rails on the trashed echelon in a dying sector of the multi-city; the rotting, moss-covered penthouses glow fuzzy green in an opalescent fog. Crusty, white-scaled pipes of flimsy scaffolding demarcate progress not made, improvements not implemented. This high up in the moist cloud cover I detect poverty stricken members of a failed ecosystem. Rot insects devour the wooden infrastructure. Spider vines and drastic weather patterns crack thick panes in cryptic increments. Creeping rust lichens consume concrete, metal, and plastic leaving flakes and grounded motes of soggy poly-colored dust.

My nameless guide (a human, scarred and cowering from too many experiments) left me many tiers down on a different rail with obtuse directions and next to no advice. I have to choose the drop and find my marks. To chase and be chased has me close to a fake state: the winding border between confidence, panic, and total collapse.

Nothing is solid. There are so many jagged fissures elegantly random in size and timing of appearance that I hesitate. The trains slow, quiet momentum means a well-timed jump is all that it would take, but it’s tricky as fuck and a plummet isn’t a variable that I have even remotely factored into this transient equation.

Winding down, no one rides these rails anymore. It doesn’t even make the stops. A platform appears in the fog. An illusion? I count a strange time signature, just like my nameless guide instructed. Remembering the sequence, I press the buttons. The door slides open. Soft shearing is the shallow voice of deceptive momentum punctuated by snapping cracks and the zigzag tear of widening fault-lines in stone, metal, and plastic. Fog and decay enter. The platform is almost passed.

I jump.