art by Shannon N. Kelly
by Alexander Stanmyer
This city is dying. Did you know that? There hasn't been a press release, but if you pay attention you can find the signs of decay yourself.
It's breathing heavier, for starters. Listen to its breathing next time you're lying in bed at night. I mean really listen. It's laboring just a little more than you remember it, I promise. Soon it'll start having real trouble. You'll be kept awake at night while it takes desperate, ragged, sucks through its pores.
You can smell the death too, if you go to one of the waste exits. When the crap comes careening out into the degrading pits take a whiff. It's all supposed to be sterile and odorless. Except it's not odorless anymore. There's the faintest hint of floral sweetness there. The telltale scent of oncoming rot.
The buildings are even starting to sag. Not on the street level of course, but go into a deep basement or look carefully next time you're on the subway. Look at the walls down there in the dark and you'll see that they're starting to sag ever so slightly, like the skin of a beautiful woman just entering middle age.
They told us that the living cities would be the answer. They would deal with waste, pollution, and energy as effectively as our own bodies. Global warming would be a thing of the past with the cities keeping close eyes on emissions. Beings of their size would live for thousands of years, they reasoned. But they didn't plan on a premature end, did they? What happens to the people when the billions of tons of flesh and bone that are their homes, schools, and workplaces collapse on them?
The crows will descend on the city's rotting flesh first, I imagine, but then they'll move on to our dead and dying. The Red Cross might come to try and help, but where would they put everyone?
It's not like we can pick up and move to Boston or Toronto or Denver or anywhere. The other cities would reject us; they would send their antibodies to eliminate us like we were an instance of the flu. Sure, the wealthy and powerful can afford the genetic therapy to be recognized by any city, but what about the rest of us? Are we going to be left here to die with our home?
You might be wondering how I came to notice the minutiae of our city's slow demise. It's a simple answer, really. I'm the one that set this thing rolling.