That old warehouse down the street
From the place we all would eat
Has a history like most buildings out there
And unlike most, it’s left it out to share.
Old equipment scattered around an open space
But it i not like any other empty place.
The equipment hasn’t been moved or been victim to theft.
By vagrants or vandals, it’s simply sat where it was left.
Rotting boxes beneath a hole in the metal roof,
Mold encrusted shipping labels, barely reveal their proof.
That within are medical supplies, by the ton.
Why wouldn’t anyone take these? Or destroy them for fun?
The offices are oddly full, computers from 10 years before,
Filing cabinets, still neatly organized, save a few, their contents on the floor.
Upon a desk, beneath a “Safety First” sign affixed to the wall by rusty tacks
Are scattered papers with names, numbers, and emergency contacts.
I read a few, that cold night in late November,
With Colin, Nathan, Joanne and Amber.
They’ll tell you we were there, and more you might hear,
But only to this point in my story, and no further, for fear.
The names on the papers meant little to me,
Their wives, their fathers, a dangerous allergy
But I checked on my phone, just to know,
That every one had died, 10 years ago.
Now this is a coincidence one doesn’t ignore,
The rest of my group, however, wanted no more,
Thought maybe it would be better not to remain,
Even though, at that moment, it had started to rain.
We went to the doors, that led out of the office,
We’d come in the back way, to avoid any notice.
The lock, though unsettling was merely a stall
It was the newly jammed door in the back that unsettled us all.
The rain poured in through that rusted out gap,
And something came out of those boxes and oozed like a sap,
Mold and pulped cardboard, Colin said it might be,
But that’s when we saw the derelict form of a wrecked AC.
Beneath the sagging boxes, previously unseen,
Sat the wreckage of an industrial air conditioning machine.
It dawned on me, then, that this place was not overlooked,
And the reason this place was empty, was for the lives it still took.
Upon closer observation under the stacks all around,
We found pools of toxic black sludge all over the ground.
The supplies had defrosted, molded, and grew,
Into something toxic and deadly, a poisonous stew.
We fled in all directions, searching for an open door,
Our frantic steps echoed across the cement floor.
Our determined silence was broken shortly thereafter,
By a scream that shook our nerves, and clanged off the rafters.
Amber had tripped and fallen behind a pallet
We rushed to her aid and found she had gone pallid.
She’d narrowly missed a pool of that forboding black scum,
When she tripped over the rotten leg of a long dead bum.
Our nerve finally broke, as panic took hold.
For that homeless man’s corpse had already foretold
Our future in this forgotten crypt of disease.
We’d succumb to sickness and die by degrees.
Finally we found it, a hidden emergency escape,
Behind a tall pile of boxes, wrapped in shining red tape.
The door opened easily, and we ran into the night,
But the handle I pushed, was buried in that black blight.
I knew you’d not listen, if I’d told you that first,
But I needed you to hear that I’ve avoided the worst.
I washed my hands soon after, and scrubbed the black off.
There’s no sign I’m dying, I’ve just got this cough.
The stacks are quiet towers now,
They spew smoke and soot no more.
The boilers, cracked and empty, are cold
The product line is a pile of unfinished pieces.
Once the foremen shouted for more,
The workers would sweat and run.
Fires like volcanic fissures burning their faces.
An overture of deafening clangs and hisses.
The people in the streets and the stores would buy.
They bought their livlihoods. They bought their distractions.
The people that sold to them
Told them how much they needed those things.
But people aren’t always fools.
They got angry. They didn’t like what they bought.
The distractions would last minutes. The necessities; hours.
They would not buy what would not last.
The sellers insisted “You’re using them wrong,”
“The new one is better, we’ve fixed it all.”
The lies were obvious, the product failed.
The people stopped buying.
And now the wind whistles through dusty vents,
Spider webs hang from rusted chains,
A single office chair in the middle of a sagging room
Twists toward a broken window,
Where the hundreds of other silent stacks
Touch the sky.
“Do you remember that view two days ago?”
“Saturn’s rings?” Carson propped himself onto his elbows where he lay on the cold floor.
Don turned away from the flickering monitor, “Yeah.”
“Yeah, when that comet punched a hole in the outer ring? Made an amazing clound of dust.” He let himself back down and adjusted the jumpsuit he was using as a pillow. “We should’ve gotten a picture.”
Don turned back to the monitor, “I think we were a little busy that day. Still… A rare event. At least we got to see it.” The screen suddenly went blank, plunging the room into darkness, save for the dim light from a hole in the wall.
“Don, did you hook it up to Auxilery 4?”
“Yes! And 3! And 2! They’re all acting up! I-” A sharp electric snap cut him off and the monitor came to life, “…I apparently have crappy wiring skills.”
“It’s working?” Carson rolled over and pushed himself onto his knees. Moving himself over to Carson, he asked “Are you getting anything?”
Don pulled his glasses down from his bald scalp and began rapidly typing on the control pad, “Not yet but it’s accepting input, and that’s better than anything we’ve had yet.”
Carson nodded and stood up. Smoothing back his shaggy blong hair, he glanced around the small room for a moment, as if checking things off on a mental list. He walked over to the metal door and gave the handle a test pull, “The seal’s still good here… I wish this thing had windows.”
Don looked over his shoulder and looked at Carson over his glasses, “What, the door?”
He turned his head back, “If it had windows, do you honestly think we’d still be alive?”
Carson looked sadly at the dull steel bolts across the door. He ran his hand across the smooth surface. Letting out a sigh, he uttered, “I suppose not…”
“So thank your lucky stars you’re not breathing Martian air.” The screen was alive with digital progress bars and lines of code. Across several of the bars was written ‘Searching for signal’.
Carson was still staring at the door. The sharp light from the monitor reflected off of the steel door, catching the tear on his right cheek.
Don turned again and took his glasses off, “Look, Carson, it wouldn’t be any easier to say goodbye if you could see her on the other side of that door.” Behind him, one of the progress bars changed from red to green with the word ‘Connecting…’ blinking over it.
“I could at least say it, though…”
I noticed a blog called Daily Post and they were presenting a challenge. I thought I might exercise my creative writing muscles and try it out.
See for yourself.
You can feel it.
Your eyes swing back and forth,
Looking for the trouble, looking for the shadow.
It’s all cloudy, fog filled thoughts.
Ambition reaches out in all directions,
And finds nothing.
Touching, switching, moving,
Where are you going?
If you felt it before, now you know what it is,
If you don’t, you’re terrified.
Death? Tumor? Gas?
It hurts, but it doesn’t,
You’re scared, but you’re angry
Or maybe not.
What are you?
The pit is coming. The cliff crumbling closer.
It would be easier to jump and ride the worst of it.
But you don’t know which way.
You’re sick, but you can’t throw up.
Your joint is stiff, but it won’t crack.
Your lungs suck in, but you can’t breath.
When will it be over?
Can’t feel it start…
You only know when it’s over.
To be young, to wonder at the world,
(Pogo stick and ray gun adventure.)
To see it all in an unformed mind
(C:/>cd games, C:/games/>dir/p)
To grow up slowly, to learn what they told me,
(Pick a side, build your base)
To form my habits, and be made to play outside
(Sandblaster, Boris is always right there)
To be opinionated, to know the world,
(Action – Attack – Soldier)
To believe that the world works simply, and for you
(Avoid the police, new paint job is anonymity)
To be exposed to it all, to feel heartache and lonliness
(Aim for the head, conserve your ammunition)
To realize you never knew what you really wanted
(Crawling across the catwalks, incoming transmission)
To slowly wake up to what needs doing, responsibilities rise,
(Do not be detected, defend the truth)
To take action and make your own way,
(Lightning from your fingertips, an ocean above)
To find my love and friends anew,
(Defend the galaxy, gain your team’s trust)
To marry her, and come back home
(Evil rises as one, the heavens shall tremble)
Detroit is going to collapse under its own weight. Downtown is going to lose more business as the population becomes poorer and poorer until not even a basic grocery store can survive. Businesses continue to close as people shop less and people shop less as businesses offer less jobs.
Eventually downtown becomes deserted with old Going Out of Business signs flapping in the wind from empty and broken windows. Dilapidated buildings become squatter cities, smoke pouring from windows as the homeless burn what they can to stay warm in the Detroit winters. The food supply from abandoned apartments and restaurant dumpsters slowly disappears as it either rots or gets picked through. Things become even more desperate. Violence becomes the norm in the struggle for supplies.
The outer areas start to see an influx of violent homeless people, robbing and stealing to stay alive. Suburbs experience exponential increases in robberies and muggings. The police, tied up with the downtown situation, are spread thin as it is and can’t help the dwindling middle class. More and more leave Detroit, in search of safer, more stable cities.
The homeless spread further and further out as the inner city becomes gang territory where gunshots echo throughout the night and bonfires in the streets dimly reflect off of the broken windows high up in the abandoned office buildings.
Finally, as the last home owners and tenants in the Detroit area pack up their vehicles and leave, the ‘undesirable’ population begins to die out, eventually leaving the biggest ghost town in America.
…At least that’s the best that could happen.
So I started contemplating that semi-famous Alice in Wonderland riddle;
“Why is a raven like a writing desk?”
Even though Lewis Carroll eventually answered it (“Because it can produce a few notes, tho they are very flat; and it is nevar put with the wrong end in front!” with never being intentionally mispelled as to be raven backward), I was struck with the same sense of demented madness that Wonderland reeks of.
The question is not “How?”, it is “Why?”. Why must it be like that? What purpose would it serve? With that logic at work, and the setting in which the riddle is presented, any number of silly or disturbing reasons arise.
“Because something has to be!”
“Because who would tolerate such a nuisance?”
“Because how then would we ever awaken from our nightmares…?”