It was dingy as hell, not recognizable as the city everyone saw in the postcards: moss and algae crept down the walls; the side streets were lined with open sewers; the factories ran all hours of the day, belching out waste and haze. Soot streaked down the faces of the workers whose hands were cracked and brown with exposure. What little they had they called home, whether roof or coat, they took what they could. They struggled through narrow congested streets, seemingly stuck in the past — a bygone era, that had long since been passed by the rest of the city — an open sore without medicine.
On these congested streets lived all manner of discard: tech no longer current, factory waste, dreams of fame and fortune, the relics of the country people once left, heirlooms of cultures long swallowed. But as the streets turned oceanside they widened and lightened, the haze of smog dropping away the closer one moved to the harbor, the mecca of trade, the jewel of the city, the picture perfect postcard. Harborside was a world of glass and gold that rose high enough that those with bloodshot eyes and wasted dreams believed that maybe it reached heaven.
The city of Harborside was rich, modern, urban, cultured, and only surface deep. Every man, woman, and child that lived in the skyward reaching world was a dreamer, a planner, a story. Their streets were lined with rare plants and their roads paved with exotic shell. Every home was its own, sitting pretty at the height of progress. They would want for nothing and everything.
Such severance was there in the city of Harborside that it was as if a blight, a disease, had been stretching out from the landward outskirts of the city but had abruptly hit a vaccine three quarters of the way toward the harbor. It was as if an immunization had been injected into the sea and had spread to the seafront but had been content to protect the few.
Life was bobbing at a sea-sickening rate as Frank finally found the city. He had taken every form of transport available to him: car, bus, train, plane, his own two aching feet, bicycle, and finally boat. As the city rose over the bow of the leaky, decades-old fishing boat, the tug behind his gut seemed to loosen. The folded postcard in his breast pocket was a molten brand of hope and childlike optimism on his heart.
Life had ground to an overly warm stagnate existence for Amelia. Trapped above the cloud level – in a glass box – Amelia had the entire world at her fingertips. She was at the height of modern technology, she was as mapped out as the best planned city. There was no one like her, there never had been another like her, nor would there ever be one like her. She was a road map. She was not her own. She was caught, ensnared. Made and unmade.