Anti-Post City – J M F Casey

Above the vast metropolis the metallic orb hovers; all is silent, nothing else moves. Then, as it passes over a large white building, the orb picks up a transmission:

“Welcome to St Paul’s Cathedral, see my fair and sturdy columns, deft entablature and ornate pediments. Behold the majestic symmetry of my colossal dome, cruelly broken by a grievous wound; in my guts still lies the unexploded ordnance. My splendid interiors are well preserved and provide ample testament to the importance of my unknown former purpose. This can be confirmed by comparing my ornamentation to the majority of other buildings, look with your own CCTV, the blocky, meagre, glassy things around me, prosaic and base; few can compete with my superior aesthetic value. In the sacred mystery of dwelling I must have played an exalted role, no doubt the Architect conceived of me as a superior establishment.”

The orb submits an enquiry, St Paul’s Cathedral replies:

“The Architect? In every building of Post City, buried deeper than the pangs of piling, is the residue of the drawing desk, the traces of the Architect. We are the bones of the once living dreams of the Architect, but the nature of the Architect is lost in the mystery of dwelling. Since post-dwelling arrived, dwelling has become inscrutable, we see only the shadows of the absent dwellers. We can surmise their abstract specifications by our facilities, our staircases and doorways, our channels of water and waste, but true knowledge of dwelling disappeared with the last dweller. At the exact moment of the last dweller’s disappearance, Post City was founded, coalescing to this wondrous museum capital, and transcending the temporal cycle. Frozen in time, never to be levelled by storms, earthquakes or eruptions, Post City, known more cryptically as Mausoleum of Humanity, is the eternal sanctuary of us who have survived our dwellers. I am part of a powerful alliance with other neoclassical structures in my district, we shall rule until the fabled return of the City Planners… Hey, can you spy something moving below the city limits upon the glass plains? What distant ugliness besmirches my CCTV?”

The metal orb ascends, stops briefly, then begins travelling towards the escarpment that separates the edge of the city from the vast glass plains beneath. 0.6 kilometres away a sprawling mass of concrete appears to be slithering towards the cliffs. Focusing its sensors, the orb perceives that it is a derelict complex of shopping units, leisure facilities and residential apartments, seemingly moving of its own volition. Skidding the immense bulk of a multi-story car park across the wailing glass, the complex flexes the mouldering limbs of its external staircase towers, whilst its support pillars stagger beneath with a foot-rot gait. There is a screeching of reinforced steel as a lumbering shift of the edifice reveals a boarded up Laser Quest in the lung of a cylindrical hall. Throughout the sculptural carcass the cyberpunk vibes have spread like cancer.

As the complex hauls itself towards Post City, the orb adjusts its internal antenna to receive its transmission:

“Welcome to the Tricorn Centre, see my concrete concrete concrete floors stacked high, hard lines, repetition, precision curves, plates shifting, layers sliding, stasis broken. Lament my piss-stench dripping, smashed plasterboard, cheap polystyrene ceiling panels, graffiti rash, angular brutality; a modernist dream turned nightmare. Welcome to the Tricorn Centre, rejected by the wretched dwellers of Portsmouth, they shirked my upkeep then blamed my sores, I was too pure, too brave, too continental. Over decades of neglect I withered from utopian vision to dystopian symbol, then when I became too decrepit, they dragged me down and destroyed me. I was condemned to Anti City, the slum citadel of those murdered by their dwellers. But animated by my rage, mimicking the motion of those dwellers who wronged me, I have escaped that necropolis and fled across this barren waste. Though the dwellers are long gone, I seek vengeance upon their memorial. Yes, I plan to demolish Post City.”

The ambitions of the Tricorn Centre appear futile before the high cliffs, its momentous conquest doomed to smash against the rocks and turn to rubble. After a long moment of observation, the orb suddenly shoots like a bullet across Post City, stopping dead above a long suspension bridge.

“Welcome to Severn Bridge…” begins the transmission, but it is drowned out by the cataclysmic screams of tearing steel. Ripped from its seat, the great bridge is levitated above the surrounding tower blocks and terrace houses, and gracefully drawn through the air by the invisible harness of the miniscule orb. Transported beyond the city limits to the lower level of the escarpment, the mastic asphalt of the bridge is manipulated into position by unseen hands. Once the activity is complete there stands a gentle ramp, leading from the sheer glass plains up into the vulnerable heart of Post City. The orb rises, turning platinum white in anticipation. As it surveys the wastes, its sensors perceive movement on the horizon. Several kilometres beyond the Tricorn Centre many more dilapidated buildings are creeping forth. Inspired by the vengeful building complex, the whole of Anti City is on the march, a monumental army of the condemned, coming to tear down Post City, Mausoleum of Humanity.