The lift came to a halt. Stepping out, he found himself in a courtyard, surrounded by high-rise buildings. In the gaps between the buildings, other buildings loomed, each one a hundred storeys or more, as far as the eye could see.
He spun round slowly, taking in the scene. The sheer number of windows. All dark. All the same. There must be as many again that he couldn’t see. Hundreds of thousands. Millions.
And I’m supposed to find my way around here?
He stepped back into the lift. He was about to press the button when a voice called, ‘Hey, Curtis!’ A young woman approached. Frizzy black hair. Glasses. ‘You leaving already?’ She had a friendly, welcoming expression which he liked instantly.
‘Must have got out at the wrong floor. I pressed 101 and… Well, it’s just too big, you know? I’m going back. Underground.’
‘Wait. Let me show you something.’ With a sweeping gesture, she indicated the buildings. ‘You’re right – kinda frightening, huh? And they all look the same. But they’re not. Hundreds of windows on every storey and behind each window the story’s different.’ Her features spread into a 🙂 ‘Here.’ She handed him a bag. ‘A welcome present – a survival kit. There’s a load of gizmos inside – we call them widgets. This one for example.’ She held it up and pressed. A laser beam hit one of the windows. It lit up instantly, revealing a bright interior and someone inside, waving. She did the same with a few other windows. ‘See? They’re all different. Now look at this.’
She showed him a catalogue. Rooms, furniture, interior decoration. ‘Choose one you like. That one? Twenty-eleven. Fine. You can change it later if you want. What’s more important is what you make of it anyway.’ She gave him a key. ‘It’s waiting for you. Just go up and play with that bag of widgets. If you need any help, you can give me a call. Name’s Michelle, by the way.’
He soon discovered there were people at every window, beams of light flashing all over, forming a vast, interconnected, ever-changing cluster. A whole galaxy at his fingertips. ‘Hmm, Faraday’s Candle – I like that. And Losing Screws looks cool. Oh, and Hogrider Dookes is Welsh, like me! And there’s umpteen things going on there…’
A week or so after taking up residence, he didn’t feel quite so lost. On the other hand, he realised, it would be quite easy to get lost – so much going on, so many things to see. Maybe it was time to take stock. What was it now he was really interested in? Ah, yes, writing. Or maybe not. Maybe it was just people.