Miss Margaret McTuckleberry is incredibly tall, incredibly thin, and incredibly strong. Strong enough that, if she wanted, she could pick up a troublesome visitor to her pub by the scruff of his neck and throw him out of the front door from several paces, sending him sailing straight over the porch and onto the gravel just outside “The Dancing Bear”, perhaps the toughest and most notorious pub of all the pubs in perhaps one of the toughest and most notorious counties of the entire United Kingdom, the county of Kent.
I was looking out the window of my 3rd story deluxe apartment, the ceiling high windows the selling point of the hip, modern home. All the people below looked so different, yet eerily similar. Long hair, man buns, side shaves, and bright awful color streaks through their hair to match the dull plaid shirts with the sleeves rolled to the elbows.
“It’s time to go down to the surface.”
Mayli turned her face against the cabin wall. “I’m too tired.”
Tama took a breath. “I know you are. But you’ll like the surface, and it’s an easy transport.”
Mayli swiveled her head back to reveal a pale face, too thin, too creased for such a young age. “Easy?”
Of course nothing was easy for Mayli. The encroaching paralysis brought pain with every movement. But that was the point, wasn’t it?
Rain is pounding on the cobblestones of Place Luxembourg as people cluster to the bars around the square for an after work drink. Colorful umbrellas alternate with newspapers hastily turned into makeshift headgear and the occasional “Merde!” can be heard when a passing car splashes water on a pedestrian.
“Have we got any biscuits? I’m feeling a bit peckish”
“You’re not peckish, you’ve only just had lunch. You’re just bored; you know you don’t like it when it’s too quiet in the factory”
In the Archial, what some call the Little Light Library, it is always night. The distant ceiling is a night’s sky held by pillars, and connecting those pillars are shelves of books coated in leather and dust. The only light comes from lanterns. Inside steel cages, white fires flicker eternally, generated by a lost art. The lanterns are stars if anything. The lower one travels, the bluer those stars. Deep enough and there are no lights at all.