Monday, 22 January 2007

The White City

The coastline beyond the “Beetle and Bull”, the name I coined for the strange prankster bar I had just visited, broke up into a jumbled landscape of buildings and other objects; some seemingly put together with some plan, others almost just thrown onto the ground. Looking inland revealed a similar confusion of styles and shapes. It was almost as if the further I got from the relative familiarity of the colony and Penan, the more outlandish and unusual the buildings were becoming. Once more I passed a few buildings surrounded by their electrical red bands, making sure that any visitors knew they would not be welcome. The hour was drawing late and I decided I had to start looking for a landing spot for the evening.

Almost on cue, a large white edifice emerged from the gloom: A beautiful white city.

I circled once overhead looking for signs of it's inhabitants, but there was none. In the same way that the architecture became more outlandish as Penan shrank away behind me, the population of the grid seemed to decrease. Despite all the talk we had heard in Penan about the overpopulation of the mainland, this stretch of coastland appears almost deserted. I had only seen three people in my entire trip so far and I could not be entirely certain that two of those even existed.

Landing on the large flat area on the waterfront seemed the most sensible choice and the balloon drifted in like a dream, the light of the burner flaring yellow light across the pristine white walls of the city as I bumped to a halt.

The city was deserted and unusually, beautifully eerie. Fires burned and a boat creaked on the river below, but there were no signs of life. It looked almost like a story book city and one could almost imagine that the denizens had just stepped out for a moment. There had obviously been people here at one point, as rounding a corner I found myself in a shop surrounded by all manner of items. Some I am afraid I cannot describe for fear that this report may fall into the hands of the young or impressionable, but others like the walls of building materials were incredible. Seeing these brought to mind the wonderful panelling that Mr Whittlesea sells and I thought how much he would enjoy a visit here.

In another part of the city I found a boutique that sold the most wonderful bags and boxes, including an item called an “Explorer’s Lunch Box”. Purchasing one, I was only slightly disappointed to find it did not contain any lunch but did contain a compass and a series of maps. In the morning I will have to look at these more closely and see if they contain any more information on the mainland or the safe passage to the north.

I was almost tempted to stay overnight, but the empty city was really beginning to give me a strange feeling of dread that I cannot fully put into words. I feared that should I stay here I, like its previous inhabitants, may vanish too.

I am about to take off to seek an alternate landing and camp site for the evening. However before I do, I am dispatching this message immediately to ensure the location of this city is communicated back to Caledon, as I am sure it is worthy of a more detailed study. According to my calculations the location is: Tofalar (111, 240, 27)

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