At the back of a dusty old shop, Annabelle sits every evening and counts boxes. Small tins and wooden chests and neatly folded shapes of old card. It gets cold as the sun goes down, and she brings in an old gas heater and sits close by, fire warming her bones as she neatly orders pile after pile of beautiful boxes.
Akane remembered being a child, running through this garden, blissful and unaware. Her friends would visit her, and sit for hours at the bases of trees, feeling the cool, clear wind, marvelling. She could never understand it. Now, after years in Osaka and in the United States and on long haul space flights to the distant Alpha colony, Akane could finally recognise the wonder in a soft breeze.
Rach hobbles down the street, alone on bare feet. The cocktail buzz is slowly starting to wear off, punctured by the cool early morning air. Ahead the gleaming vacancy light of a taxi, shimmering and attractive. She walks past it, carries on into the streets ahead, her mind a few steps ahead, her body fumbling to catch up. For now, she needs to keep walking.
“You are immortal,” he was told. “You will live forever.” This was quite impressive news to take in. To be told that one would never die is like releasing a pressure valve. Time stops, in an instant, suddenly an intangible force. The man drank a cup of tea, and sat in a chair for a long while, and thought about how he would move forward with this impressive news. He got nowhere fast. The tea grew cold, and the chair began to sink.
Everyone is gone. She can’t see, but she can sense the glaring absence – she’s alone in the dark. As the lights flickered out, everyone disappeared. Their candles snuffed. The faint tremor of their silently whirring bodies, a feeling that ripples out through the air and comforts one another’s quiet souls, now gone. Hushed.
As he walked down the narrow aisle between rows of cubicles, he felt green fluorescent light creep into the sides of his eyes. Out the window, saw the glowing lights of a city encased in thick, man-made fog. Heard barely a sound but for the nearly inaudible whirr of the building’s network. Did it have to be here? Wasn’t there somewhere else he could do this, somewhere where the air was less dry and the carpet a bit dirtier?
Up here, far above the crippling, coloured chiaroscuro of Osaka, everything was soft. The ground, the light, the shades of green and white and blue. The air was thin, and Kiko’s lungs took a while to adjust. As she trudged forward, moving from concrete road to stone path to dirt track, she felt fatigue creep through her more quickly than normal, but she liked it. Revelled in it, even; felt it hold her to the earth like an anchor.