I am not, however, good at writing my dreams out the way I dream them, and that plot doesn't make sense anyway, so I'm taking the sense of the nightmare and making it up as I go along. I'll be adopting the same strategy as the one I used for writing Harry Dresden / Hermione Granger ficlets - few hundred words at a time, focusing on a tight wordcount each session.
Anyway, this is all writerly blather, so, fanfic ahoy!
Title: (working title) Dream Ended
Waking up to the sound of crashes in the morning is no small thing in my neighbourhood. We are not a dangerous burough, and we are not anywhere close to the urban heart of the city, where crime rates are high for no particular reason, and random people actually do walk around wielding acid at the behest of other heartless people. I do not understand that. This is why I live out in the suburbs. But I am lucky; so many others don't get to. I try to fit as many in my house as possible as they transition out from the hateful city to someplace kinder, someplace further away, but my rooms have several bunk beds, my basement houses ten, my garden feeds twenty, but there never seems to be enough. I do what I can.
They bring their sins with them, sometimes, trailing behind them like the tails of kites, and like the tails of kites, these sins are useful, because it gives them balance, lets them know why they are here, where they are going, drives them with an impetus to get away from this thing holding them down.
I don't cut their strings; they cut them themselves, and sometimes? the strings fall into my garden. I imagine that is what has happened this morning - evening? I check my watch and it somewhere in between.
The whole house is waking up, and people are shouting because in the distance, something has definitely crashed. It isn’t a car or any vehicle that we can recognize – something bigger. I’m grateful for the moment that it didn’t crash into my house, but then I realize it has crashed into other people’s houses, and that makes me sad. My guests are waking up, throwing on shirts and hopping into jeans, little children screaming from fear because they pick up on the anxiety of the adults.
When I walk out of the house, I see the dusty orange night. When I was a child, I asked my father why the nightsky is orange when in my storybooks it is black with a white moon, and he told me it is because there is now so much smoke in the sky, the sun is reflected everywhere instead of just off the moon, and this made sense to me. Orange should be an angry colour, a warm colour, this I also read, but it is usually cold out.
Usually. Tonight, we have a conflagration of flames in the skyline, and so the night looks uglier than usual. The fire department sirens are blaring, which is a good thing, and there are as many of us running towards the scene as there are as many of us running from it. I have neighbours screaming as they run towards me covered in blood, holding broken limbs or loved ones close to their bodies helplessly. I nearly throw up several times in my mouth, and try to help people, but medics are on the way, so the only thing I can do is guide them to the relative safety of another neighbour’s house. We bring out fans to cool the wounded down, sloppy first-aid kits for minor scratches that must now make do for large gaping holes, water hoses to wash away caked blood, and anything else we can think of. Anyone who has seen the source of the accident is incoherent, and the coherent ones are busy answering questions about their wounds and talking about the crash.
Running to the crash site, I am somewhat unsurprised at what I see: Prospero Taligant’s perpetual motion airship.
I see no sense in hiding what I feel about this millionaire magnate who, with his glorious inventions, changed the face of the world, and not just here in our safely-contained continent. He tried very hard to be a good employer, with fair wages, hiring local workers, never outsourcing where he could help it, and according to whim, threw money everywhere. His fancies were far-flung and fickle, one moment generous, sharing with us his new glorious idea made living, the next sullen and withdrawn, angry at the world for not appreciating his genius. Like many in power, his priorities were ideas, not people, and as usual, others suffered for it.
The only beneficiary I know of from his generosity is his daughter, Miranda, but she has... issues. Oh, yes, I, too, got the radio station where she decided to address random people in the etherwaves, meandering rambles about her life in her ivory tower. I tuned in every evening to see if I could catch what she had to say. I remember the newspaper articles about the latest times she went missing, running away from home, her father upset and wanting her back. The picture we got of her life was not as pretty as her press photos.
Actually, if anybody stopped to think about it, the incongruence between what she said her life was like in Taligent Towers, if true, is horrifying, but of course, no one did, because you know how it is with rich eccentric people – of course are going to be hella more messed up than us regular folk.
But it’s not for Miranda that I hate Prospero Taligent; I barely know her, and her life is, was, remote from mine. No, I hate Prospero Taligent for being what he was – an insane millionaire magnate who shaped the world into what it is today, which is every bit as insane as he is, was (is he even still alive? I’ve been out of the loop), but with none of the riches.
Well, some, but I don’t have any part of it. Neither do the many people passing through my home, looking for a way out, looking for a way up. Whatever up means.
I pick my way through the debris, looking for survivors, but not feeling very hopeful. Trees that have been standing since I was a child are burning, hopefully not to death; if they die, that’s one more reason to dance on Prospero Taligent’s grave.
I don’t really know much about airships, but I figure that there has to be more people in it than what I’m seeing. Even disintegrated bodies would leave behind skeletons, right? Actually, I don’t know, but the lack of bodies is creepy, especially since the airship doesn’t look totally destroyed. Large pieces of it have fallen apart, but still, much of it looks intact. Rescue workers are running around, moving in between pieces, finding ways in and out and around.
Walking around the perimeter of the airship, I try to make myself useful, but there are way more qualified people than I am, so I satisfy my curiousity, staring at the hulking pieces, until I come to the place where I figure the engine should be.
There is no such thing as perpetual motion. I wish Prospero Taligent was alive now so I could watch him backpedal and make all sorts of excuses for this new tragedy. He would try and try again; that’s the kind of asshole a guy like him is like.
I hear a low croaking howl, see charred arms, and bend to help someone out.
No one knows who the victim is. She is badly burned, somewhat maimed. She’s not a neighbour, that much I know, because I have been spending my whole week identifying dead bodies, and everyone else is accounted for. My house has gone from transition center to makeshift hospital, accommodating people who cannot be transported into the city. Everyone is pitching in to help, which warms my heart, but frustrates my mind, because not everybody knows what they’re doing, and the inefficiency of a score of people working at cross-purposes makes work harder.
Eventually, some form of order will have to be established, but right now? I can barely think in my own house.
Doctors confirmed that the mystery victim is a woman. She has been installed in one of the best hospitals, and I’ve put myself down as her contact, because she appears to have no one else. I jokingly call her Miranda, because it was better than Jane Doe. Besides, Miranda and Prospero were last reported to have been installed on the perpetual motion airship, so it’s not really that far off the mark to guess she might be Miranda.
In my secret heart, I hope she really is Miranda Taligent. It would be a mystery solved. I think about the questions I will ask her when she wakes up as I pack a bag for a trip into the city.
Among the wreckage, rescue workers found a cryogenic chamber containing the body of Prospero Taligent. I’m guessing he was hoping to be revived in several years from now, when technology of the world finally caught up to his genius. Vandals got to him first, though, and destroyed everything that would preserve his body properly.
In my even secreter heart, I laugh at the irony, and think good goddamn riddance. The train is packed with commuters, and I take my place among the blank faces traveling into the city.
The city has changed since the abandonment of Taligent Tower, the launch of the perpetual motion machine airship, where Prospero Taligent said he was going to rule the world from the air through some maniac announcement complete with paper propaganda. It was all very silly, but the results weren’t. For starters, this city, and a whole bunch of others across the world, went batshit. Bananas. Lost their minds. Chaos erupted. There were riots. City folk decided to act like it was the end of the world. My folks in the country didn’t have a clue what was going on, but we in the suburbs were infected with the panic.
In the year that has passed, some semblance of calm has arrived. People have started working again. Taligent Enterprises or whatever the company is called is still functioning without its head honcho. And, ugh, still controlling much of production. Rich people are still buying robots because, but the middle-class folk have started realizing that it’s nicer to hire actual people for some jobs that require a human touch.
My train rolls into the station closest to the hospital that Miranda is housed in, and I step out into the dingy subway air. I follow the crowd up to the surface, but it’s not much of an improvement. I pull my scarf around my face and shrug my jacket on even more tightly. Somehow I ignore the shops with broken windows, the graffiti that screams HE’S BACK JACK, the kids hollering the headlines of the papers they wave, and punks beating up on mechanical men.
The streetlamp in front of the hospital is flickering as I arrive, an ominous invitation: Come in.