Tuesday, 3 November 2015

What If? Metropolis: Travelogue

Travelogue: Antiqua
You travel for weeks, wandering hundreds of miles through the dark night, where tall naked trees stretch across the starless sky, the only light being borrowed from the full moon. When you reach Antiqua it is unclear that it is a city, it is missed by many as they pass as it is as black as the night in which it always seems to be entombed. This is a city like no other, black on black, monochrome, the outline of the black city bleeding into the velvet sky. There are no obvious houses or shopping centres, roads or pathways or gardens. The city is made up of what seems like piled up objects and junk, disposed of furniture and parts of houses in mounds and hills. It is gloomy and depressing, a vision of a horror story setting or a nightmare
There is a colossal hill of rubble in the centre of the city, which stretches up towards the sky so highthat you have to strain your neck to look up high enough to see the peak of it. This mammoth heap of jutting wooden scraps is jagged and threatening, with no clear paths or structures but black holes which look as if they have creatures tucked away inside them, ready to grab your ankles as you pass by and drag you into the abyss of the black mountain of rubbish. The assemblage of clutter is so immense and massive that many are intimidated at first glance and shy away from the city.
If you stay long enough in Antiqua, once your eyes have adjusted to the thick blackness of the night, you start to see that there is order to this chaos, another city under the cloak of darkness. Instead of the junk and debris, you see the blue moonlight bouncing off of the ornamental design of decorative table legs, chair backs and engraved candlesticks, stacked up to create mysterious, intricate structures. There are so many piles of beautifully organised odd bits and pieces that it would be impossible to see and take in all of the detail if you were to spend a lifetime there.
Open, exposed boxes of organised antique trinkets stack on top of each other to create buildings, houses, and theatres. There is a great sense that everything has is it’s own place and use. From a rusted nail to a once golden trumpet blackened with age, every part of this city has been thought out, designed and placed with care, and nothing is left to waste. There is a building which looks imposing and grandiose, it is huge and regal, like a cathedral made of decorative wooden splinters with pillars made of giant claw footed cabinet legs.
There are no windows on buildings, although there are small random shapes made by the gaps in the wooden furniture which allow ventilation and candlelight to spill out into the outside of the city. Nestled among the black wood, you can see fragments of gold broken statues and bronze furniture twinkle and sparkle in contrast to the rest of the black architecture. If you look closely, you can see that some of the broken furniture seems to radiate a glow, illuminated from within by the candlelight from the people who live inside.
The twisted, polished wood is old and antique, it glows with an enchanting aura and centuries worth of ancient secrets, old stories and myths. The order of the objects are so precise and at the same time so unorderly and random that visitors often think that there are stories in the way the objects are laid out, illustrations and pictures depicting the cities history and stories made from the piles of broken furniture and houses. It gives the city a life of its own, although Antiqua is still, it is alive and abuzz with its rich history. All of this spectacle is due to a recycled era, where the past stays the same, but is not what it used to be, and nothing has the same use as it once had. This cities past is on display on the exterior of the city, and is worn with pride and honour by the city itself, and also its occupants.
The inhabitants of Antiqua are as proud as the tall secret city, but are never seen. They are shrouded in mystery and nobody has ever claimed to have seen a face of a person who lives there. The only clues to what they may look like are the reflections in the carved broken statues that resemble human faces in stone, along with gargoyles and other mythical creatures. There are rumours and old wives tales of the great people of Antiqua, that it is not humans that live there at all, but creatures of the night, that live in shadow because of their fear of being exposed. There are beings, human or not, who come outside every few weeks to polish and dust away the collected leaves and various debris that the winter wind sweeps onto their city, they care very much about how their city looks and how it is represented. They come out cloaked in dark fabrics and keep to the shadows that their elegant, splintered buildings cast. It is an eerily silent city, although if you get close enough to a gap in the exterior of a building you would sometimes hear a hushed humming and murmuring in an unrecognisable language.
The occupants are always shrouded in the city, they seem to live underneath it, to travel from place to place within it. You never see any sign of movement through streets, they move through the dark passages between structures and gaps created between structures like alleyways. You never see underneath the wooden mosaic exterior, it seems that there are no entrances or exit ways. It is believed by some, that to live in the city, you have to be born within it, as there is no visible way in to the city to visitors and passers-by.
At first glance Antiqua is nothing more than a city of junk, a wasteland, but those who are curious enough to see under the blanket of night and deceit, see that there lies a trove of treasure from the cities past. Antiqua is a fractured wooden treasury of myths and secrets of another era, and its’ perpetual gloomy midnight illuminates this magnificent heap of ancient debris in silver moonlight.

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