Author: Morrow Brady

For years, the travellers, with their grimy little lives, laboured their way up through the pillar engine, in a vain hope of reaching the great power chamber. Long lives of suffering through industrial tunnel networks, chain powered lift corporations and mechanised fuel courts. They were near deaf as the machine’s roar grew ever louder. The legend of the gantry fuelled them onwards.

From oil-drenched crevices, they finally crawled out into the great underground chamber atop steel pillar city, their disorientation magnified by the crashing clatter of the world’s machinery. The engineered city struck angled poses, as it teetered on the edge of a bottomless divide serving only to imprison them. Beyond the divide, the mirrored wall, a surface of angry bismuth, rose from deep darkness to the chamber’s ceiling where glistening machinery came alive. Blue streaks of light held motionless silhouettes that watched.

The travellers stood horrified, as edge zealots flung themselves into the dark divide. Their sacrifice but subtle carnage compared to hammering a life out of this den of despair. Leaning over the edge, the travellers looked down the pillar’s steel wall, to catch their first glimpse of the gantry, nestled in like a sleeping coiled snake.

With the extortionate traversal fee paid, the travellers were shoved down oily, machined access-ways to the gantry’s greasy dock. After clambering through an assault course of structural bolts, a large yellow painted assembly led to a series of articulated arms. Wearily they scaled across surfaces slick with machine oil and calloused in salty build-up, to reach the platform at gantry’s end. On the teetering platform, they fearfully looked into the divide.

Glowing green from the control station, the operator awoke the gantry. It shuddered into life and stuttered away from its snug dock, languidly cantilevering out across the perilous divide. Thrown to the platform floor, the exhausted travellers desperately tried to find purchase, as their lungs heaved the hideous stench surging up from divide’s bowel.

The travellers cowered as pillar dwellers gathered at the edge and peppered greasy shards of metal down at them. The gantry sluggishly unfolded, creaking at each movement and snakily extended out across the great void of the divide. The insane surface of the mirrored wall grew in detail as they swung towards it and the gantry then began its final pivot that flung the platform in a wide mechanical arc. In precise articulation, it aligned the platform through a hidden wall port. The platform shook as it penetrated the port and emerged on the other side of the wall to another bottomless chamber. The travellers gasped in amazement at a glass dome above them filled with colourful planets beyond. The legends were true after all.

Against the inside face of the mirrored wall was a broad ledge awaiting the gantry’s arrival. The platform drew closer and as each traveller nervously edged forward in preparation, it suddenly stopped short. It was too far to reach the ledge and after a few tense minutes of confusion, the gantry jogged and started to reverse its journey. Anger turned to bitter disappointment as the platform slowly slid back towards the port. Their screams to the operator sounded in vain.

Before the platform re-entered the port, the gantry jolted with such severity that it flipped the platform. Every traveller was silently dumped into the black void, never to return. The platform reset itself, slid back through the wall port and slowly returned to the dock in the pillar.

In the great chamber, the oblivious operator shutdown the gantry and returned to the edge to seek more travellers.