Robin de Voh
there's never enough stories

Nanoprep 2021 Day 2: The Wall

By Robin de Voh on 2021-10-05

High, shiny apartment buildings formed the skyline of Geo City. Between the different building, skyways snaked back and forth. They were the only way from building to building, and all of the skyways and buildings together, well, they essentially were Geo City. Most of which was invisible, due to the heavy fog.

King looked down and adjusted his footing on the edge of the building top. He was up on the highest building he had found an entrance to the upper levels for. He checked his breather stats and they were fine. 89% full, he'd be fine for another solid 17 hours. He took a deep breath in, and closed his eyes. It's now or never. After all the preparation, he couldn't turn back now. He tensed up and let his breath slowly escape.

Then he jumped.

From up here, ground level was impossible to see. Not just because of the distance, but because of the carbon dioxide fog down there. Being at ground level would be a terrible idea anyway, since the ozone that's being trapped by the CO2 would damage your lungs within hours. And his breather didn't filter ozone out. Not because they couldn't -- air filters had been able to do this for a century -- but that for some obscure reason, Geo City didn't actually make any air filters that did so.

He had stopped wondering why ages ago.

His foldable wings unfolded from his backpack as planned and caught wind, jerking him upwards suddenly. It took him a few seconds to adjust and find the air flow he was looking for.

He could see some of his friends at the top of somewhat lower buildings, looking up at him. Not cheering, because they didn't want to attract attention to them or King himself, but he knew they were supportive. His comm beeped a few times as he received messages of well-wishes on his visor, but he blinked to make them go away.

He had to turn right, towards the wall, but the wind wasn't quite what had been predicted. He struggled to get his wings aimed the right way, but eventually, with a small detour, he found an airflow that guided him in the right direction.

He couldn't see the wall quite yet, due to the fog, but his navigation was telling him he was going the right way. Just straight on for another 20 minutes and if he didn't have to maneuver too much and lose altitude, he'd be able to scale the wall comfortably. Unless the stories about the wall's height were incorrect.

They had called him crazy. But even those who did, understood why. They were afraid to do it themselves, but part of them wanted to do it as well.

They were all stuck there. It wasn't a good place. Benevolent captivity, King had called it. He'd read it online somewhere, but he'd happily taken credit for it, because it was accurate.

"It's worse out there," the propaganda went. "It's just a wasteland, everything and everybody is dead," it would continue. "We haven't heard anything from outside Geo City for years," they said to try and clinch the deal.

But just saying that something's the case doesn't mean that it actually is. Especially if it's the city government saying it, those who quell every single voice that dares disagree with them or ask critical questions with violence. Or, at least, that's what most people thought, since critical people generally just... Went away.

"Fuck you all," King said awkwardly, as moving his mouth was hard with his breather in. But he really felt it, the need to say that out loud, go beyond just thinking it. In fact, he was doing it. Fuck them. Ignore them. Go beyond them. Go beyond the wall.

More messages showed up, and he blinked them away. He needed to stay focused. He wasn't sure if beyond the wall he'd still be able to respond, but he'd at least be able to read them. He had a few pre-written messages ready to be sent to everyone he knew, some of which would be sent automatically when the comm signal got low enough. He considered that good enough. These were the choices and risks he'd decided on accepting. There was nothing left for him in Geo City.

Do the job you're assigned. Date the person you're assigned. Live the way you're assigned. Feel the way you're assigned. Be the person you're assigned.

If the climate hadn't gotten all fucked up, King wasn't so sure this wasn't still where the world had been heading. He felt like it had merely been a catalyst. An argument, excuse, to take significant measures to 'maintain' the human species and culture. Geo City proclaimed to be the savior of mankind, but he didn't believe it. He believed that there was something else going on.

Because he had effectively been living in a Company Town. Geo City. By Geo City Inc. No individual freedoms, no choice. You did what the city needed, which is what the company needed. Every single alternative voice had been stamped out -- at least in public. And where it wasn't, soon they'd disappear and voilĂ , peace has been reached yet again. All hail Geo City, savior of mankind. Be thankful.

So instead of going against the grain, he'd decided to try and get out.

He noticed he was by now no longer surrounded by buildings, soaring in free but foggy skies. His navigation was still happy about his trajectory, so he continued.

He could see a vague outline in the distance. The wall. He'd only ever seen it on video, never clear, never in real life. There were no buildings around it, so there was no way of getting there unless you wanted to go into the ozone below, but those who had tried had never returned. King had suspected that the ground level wasn't just unsafe because of the ozone, but because the city had made sure that it was unsafe. Besides, the wall was higher than most buildings in the city. There would be no way to climb it.

But flying over it -- now that was maybe possible.

It had taken years of experimenting and trying -- as secretively as possible -- but he'd been able to build a set of foldable wings that were strong enough to carry his weight, and light enough to -- on paper -- allow him to actually reach the wall. He'd had no skill in this beforehand, but with the help of some smarter and more skilled people, he'd been able to get there. And by now he was higher than the wall was supposed to be. But, he admitted to himself as the wall became less fogged in the distance, he couldn't be sure either.

He saw that he was indeed high enough, the top of the wall was well enough below him that if he could just keep a straight approach he'd be able to get over it. He got cautiously hopeful.

He triggered the pre-written message that told his friends he was flying higher than the wall and all looked good. Messages back streamed in immediately, all positive, but he blinked a few times so he couldn't be distracted at this critical time.

The fog around him seemed to be lifting, and he blinked a few times, because it didn't really make sense what he was seeing.

The wall was certainly there, and it was higher than he'd expected, but still lower than he absolutely needed it to be. But the fog in front of him was way less dense than he'd ever experienced. The wall was simply visible to him. And even beyond, he thought he could make out a few objects in the distance, but not quite yet.

He looked back and couldn't see the city. It was covered in the fog he'd expected to extend far further than it actually did. He looked down and saw that at ground level, the ground was pock-marked with blast holes. Mines, he thought to himself. No wonder nobody made it to the wall.

He reached the top of the wall and started to circle, his elevation dropping with every turn. He wanted to land on it. It was risky, but he could see he still had some comm signal, and he wanted to really take this moment in. This would be his only chance to do this. Maybe send a few pictures back to his friends, inspire them to follow, or do anything constructive with them, really.

He managed to land on top of the wall, a 10 meter wide concrete beast, running and eventually falling over. He quickly checked his wings, but they were fine. He folded them in and got up, shaking a little. He wasn't prepared for this, even though he'd prepared for this.

He looked back at Geo City. Or, at least, the fog he could see. He then looked to the other side. He took pictures of it all, including the mine damage down on the ground, as the realization started to seep into his mind.

Geo City hadn't lied. It was for sure not great on the other side of the wall. It was mostly water, waves crashing into the wall. But in the distance he could see a bit of land, on which he could see buildings. And in those, lights were on. And he couldn't see any of the denser fog at the bottom like he always had in the city.

It was bad out there. This was obvious. But it definitely wasn't worse out there.

He started a new message. It would be the message he hoped they would share with everyone, however they could. And if they weren't comfortable doing that, they could take his plans, build more wings, and follow him out here. Because he knew he could never go back.

"Geo City lied to you. It's better out here. Yes, the world is ruined, but I truly believe now that Geo City has amplified the effects within their own walls to keep their population in fear. To keep them in place. They are not being honest with you. Follow me, and at least we'll be able to make our own decisions. Or fight them. I support you either way, though from a distance. King."

He attached the pictures and unfolded his wings, then walked to the other side of the wall, towards the outer world.

He looked back over his shoulder, and blinked send on the message.

King hoped his friends would be fine, that he'd see some of them soon, as he pushed off to fly even further beyond the wall.