Let Her Stay (pt2/8)

Let Her Stay

Why do you Build Me Up Buttercup, just to Let Me Down?
(continued from Let Her Stay (pt1/8))

As she looked up, a building over the river caught her eye. It was constructed in a style that her mind still insisted on calling futuristic, even though nano-architecture had been around for at least 2 decades. It was just more economical to let this tried and trusted technology construct these self-repairing structures that seemed to defy the laws of gravity.

This one looked just like a mushroom – if such things could be 800 metres tall and blue. She knew that the resemblance was an illusion. The walls, invisible at this distance, were actually made of polarised nano-glass that absorbed and reused solar energy, storing it for use in the night. It was, in fact, a greenhouse, not accommodation. She could see the residential blocks further off – blighting the skyline like mould creeping up a wall.

Between the trees, the mock-Tudor mansion, its white walls framed with timber, drew her eye. What the heck was that doing there? It must cost a fortune to keep it in shape. The bug-buildings, as they’d come to be known, cost virtually nothing to upkeep, but this thing would need cleaning and painting every year.

As she watched, the double-doors opened and a river of red and gold began to flow out. She could hear them from where she stood – a chatter of voices and laughter. She didn’t need to look closely to know that this was a Chinese wedding party.

Like darting birds were the camera drones capturing every angle. Intelligent and virtually silent, these devices synched with the party as they emerged. They would cover everything with pinpoint precision and stream it to whoever chose to register for the private feeds, but she still noticed several of the guests taking out their own devices to supplement the already ample audio-visual feast.

Well, that explains why that building’s still standing, then. Weddings, particularly involving the growing Chinese community, were big business. China was by now by far the biggest economy in the world and showed no signs of slowing down. Were the instant visas granted to Chinese citizens a form of discrimination? She pursed her lips as she thought of this.

She calculated her own angles and coverage as she watched the Chinese party spread themselves around the gardens. Some of the more adventurous were straying into dangerous territory but most of them would get away scot free. She clamped down on a laugh as the irony of that expression hit her. This was no time for levity.

Her eyes closed and she thought of home. She thought of the arid wastes. The ruined land. A country that was once so fertile, now reduced to a near-desert. The soil – salted and spoiled. Scorching heat turning temperate areas to an unlivable inferno. What choice did they have? The dispossessed – starving and shunned by the thriving northern nations. Old grudges used as excuses for immoral behaviour.

But they would not get away with it. There would be a price to pay. This time, she could not stop her lips from curving into a smile as she contemplated this.

(continues in Let Her Stay (pt3/8))

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