The halo didn’t work as scientists expected then, the crown of thorns did not pierce the star as intended, its insides did not spill out like a slit belly and dim its brightness.
Awoken from its slumber, uncontained it reached octopus-like light tendrils around the earth; held you close in its embrace. Forced you to say goodbye to the moon, night and stars. The traumatic asphyxiation that followed set humanity in motion, launching us skyward on nothing but hope.
We did our job: climbed from troposphere to stratosphere, slotted transparent panels of circuitry to filter out the strongest ultraviolet radiation. The land stopped burning. At least for a little while.
Afterwards, we retired to slumber beneath Tenochtitlan’s plastic-infested waters. A city built upon a lake was always meant to flood; our bodies ever-present on the surface, a chain of mechanical archipelagos, interconnected; axolotls carry our voices, we speak to one another underwater.
You use chinampas to slide from one to the next, tools like bell chimes around your belts, and guide your child’s gentle hands over the weathered metal of my arm, stiff with disuse. “This one here is Tlatoani Nezahualcoyotl. We clean the joints with the pressurized water, see?”
The spray clears the surface of overgrowing moss and synthetic filaments. In the blink of an eye, the child will be an adult teaching the next generation this same routine. A long chain until neither one of us remains, scorched and buried under the midnight-sun.
Tania Chen is a Chinese-Mexican queer writer. Her work has been published in Unfettered Hexes by Neon Hemlock, Baffling Magazine, Strange Horizons, Apparition Lit and Pleiades Magazine. A graduate of the Clarion West Novella Bootcamp workshop of January/Feb 2021. Currently she is an assistant editor for Uncanny Magazine.