Images & Words: Void the Light

Images & Words: Void the Light – Part 1


Image
Black and White by Levy Wang

Words
Neal Ulen

When : Where
269 DE (2579 CE) : Terra / Techspire 1 / The Tangle


Void the Light info:

This is part of a first draft novella entitled “Void the Light” that takes place in my Infinispace Universe.

The novella is set about 15 years before the events of “Infinispace: Deception” and is approximately 30,000 words in length. It will be posted in serialized format.

If you’d like to start at the beginning, click this link.

They lived in the Tangle, in the Eighth Circle, near the Barrier Wall … and they kept to themselves.

That’s not to say they didn’t have friends, but Martos and Taria were very careful who they shared their lives and personal affairs with. The Spire knew almost everything concerning their affairs, so it was only natural that they controlled as much of their privacy as they were able. One can never be too careful when living between the shadows of the Techspire and the Barrier Wall, especially when you are breaking the Covenants. The walls had ears and the streets had eyes.

His cube overlooked a dead end avenue where trash usually collected due to the winds swirling through the maze of the deep streets that made up most of the Tangle, even this far away from the base of the Spire. Thankfully, in one way, the avenue was always shrouded in dim light helping to hide the chaotic refuse that congregated far below his single window. Glorious sunlight touched the alley only during a handful of minutes, during a handful of days, toward the end of summer … if it wasn’t cloudy or if a dust storm wasn’t blowing through the Tangle.

Walk Across by Eddie Del Rio
Walk Across by Eddie Del Rio

But luck had been with him when this latest cube had been assigned. Being ten stories above the street afforded him a sense of security, especially considering he had further been blessed with a window.

Martos and Taria were like all citizens of the Tangle that surrounded the Spire. They worked for it and depended on it for almost everything in their lives. Food, water, shelter, and currency for all other necessities. Black markets did exist within the Tangle, or were allowed to exist, as long as those endeavors did not interfere with the Techspire’s interests.

Taria was assigned to a health distribution center doling out care to citizens who required it. The citizens must remain healthy! Martos labored in the desalination plant, which was one of the most important jobs in the Tangle. The citizens must remain hydrated!

He was late for labors.

The warm sheets rustled softly as he rolled over and kissed Taria on the cheek. She didn’t open her eyes but smiled gently acknowledging the affection. Her body shifted as she gently stretched the morning sleep from her muscles.

The cube was perpetually dark and he stumbled across the room to turn on a dim light so as not to disturb Taria. Martos went through the motions of his morning routine quietly and efficiently. Just before he was ready to depart he opened the food storage unit. Empty.

Shit, he thought to himself, another errand to run today.

His weathered shoulder bag was hanging on a chair near the bed. As he went to retrieve it Taria opened her eyes and stared at him.

“Sorry, didn’t mean to wake you.”

“It’s okay,” she said as she sat up. “I was already awake.”

Martos leaned in close over the bed as he grabbed his bag. “Listen, try not to let anyone see you leave.”

“I know, I know … but easier said than done. But I have become quite good at it.” She smiled.

“Okay, I have to go!” He gave her a quick peck on the lips. “And lock the door!” He said as he closed it behind him.

The streets, alleys, and hidden paths of the Tangle were always dim and always crowded, even this far out in the Eighth Circle. A thin sliver of sky could be seen if it wasn’t blocked by a nest of wires, pipes, balconies, signage, overpass walkways, or tunnel roofs. Twenty four hours a day the dark recesses of the Tangle were illuminated by a myriad of light sources, from the archaic to the near arcane. Colorful neon signs helped the lost to find their way. Likewise three dimensional projected A.I.s paced outside shops hawking wares and lighting up the street with their glow. Old, but readily available, incandescent bulbs festooned the chasms above the Tangle, draped like glowing vines growing between the cubes. And in better sections of the Tangle, in the Rise closer to the Spire, the streets were illuminated by a source that had no discernible location nor did it seem to cast a shadow.

The streets, alleys, and hidden paths of the Tangle were always dim and always crowded, even this far out in the Eighth Circle. A thin sliver of sky could be seen if it wasn’t blocked by a nest of wires, pipes, balconies, signage, overpass walkways, or tunnel roofs. Twenty four hours a day the dark recesses of the Tangle were illuminated by a myriad of light sources, from the archaic to the near arcane.

Once at street level Martos elbowed his way through the bustling crowd making his general way toward a Spoke so he could make the one mile walk to the Exchange.

It was a warm morning and the scents of the densely packed populace swept around him as he dodged workers, children, elderly resting at corners, and packs of rats … but no vehicles. Vehicles were rare in the Tangle due to the narrow avenues, more walkways than streets really, and the crush of people. If a vehicle did need to access to the Tangle it typically lighted to the roof of a cube complex. But few Tangle citizens owned vehicles. Visitors from the Spire were almost the sole users of the rooftops as access points into and out of the Tangle. As one moved away from the Barrier and closer to the Spire vehicles became more prevalent.

Martos rounded a corner and entered a Spoke, one of eight great roadways that radiated from the massive Techspire that loomed menacingly from the center of the Tangle.

The sight of the spire piercing three miles in to the hazy blue sky filled him with wonder and dread. It always has, and in a likelihood always will, until the end of his days.

The Spoke was clogged with citizens moving through the Tangle to complete their private tasks, or to complete their assigned Spire duties. Since it was a clear day Martos could see all the way along the Spoke as it sloped gently upwards to fade into the haze of the Rise, the denser and more opulent cube clusters that splashed up against the base of the Spire. On either side of the Spoke cube clusters of various construction lined the wide roadway. Approximately one mile away Martos could see the bridge of the elevated tram cross the space between the cubes.

In the twenty five years that he had been alive Martos had only see a fraction of the Tangle, had never seen what was beyond the Barrier, and had never won a lottery to visit Pinnacle City atop the Spire. He wondered what he would see from that precipice. Would he behold the supposed truth? Was the Zone beyond the Barrier an uninhabitable wasteland of deadly creatures and inhospitable conditions? How did humanity come to such a state that only a couple hundred million were left on Earth huddled in a massive city surrounding a technological wonder that controlled the flow of information within the entirety of human space?

The ten mile diameter Tangle could only hold a fixed amount of citizens. Surely he would hit the off world lottery and be able to travel to one of the other colonies, and when he did he would be able to take one person with him. Taria.

His pace quickened as he glanced at the beaten and tarnished chronometer on his wrist and realized he was running behind.
Continued in Void the Light – Part 2.


Words © 2020, Neal Ulen. All rights reserved.
Images/videos cited © to their respective owner(s).


2 Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To the top