CHAPTER 6: THE STOOP-BACKED CITY
They drove for what felt like miles until finally the city began to shade the horizon, slowly becoming darker and more solid.
“Who built this place?” Marie whispered, and you had to whisper.
“No one knows.” said Angela “It was always here.”
And it looked like it had always been there. The houses looked like ruins in the jungle look, as if they are part of the trees and the vines, as if they too are of the forest and not made by man. They looked as if they had been grown, as if the bricks and mud and mortar had slowly pushed their way out of the ground and come to rest. No two were alike, some leaned left and some right. As they drove through the streets she saw that there were quite a number of people out, but they looked fewer, because everyone kept their distance from each other. Nobody walked in pairs, and everyone walked hunched and with their eyes downward cast, stark against the pale walls of the silent, grave-like houses.
Marie felt a shudder pass through her, and the walls on either side of the street seemed to cave in a little closer. She sat back in her seat and closed her eyes, and felt for her comb.
If you could, for a moment, be whisked away from home and stand in any street of the city, you would at first be struck by the horrible, unbreakable greyness of the place. The buildings were as grey as the sand which was as grey as the people which was as grey as the sky which was as grey as the buildings…and on and on it went in a never ending cycle of dullness and despair. But after a few minutes you would begin to feel a horrible sensation that you had been here before. Those grim, rainy Thursdays. Those winter vigils at inner city bus stops with the sky hanging like an iron dome overhead. For purgatory is little more than life played again, a repeat of the main feature. Only now the jokes have been done to death, the twists can be seen a mile off, the characters irritate through familiarity and anything that once was new has now been seen a million times before.
The truck finally shuddered to a halt and there was a silence.