City of miniature cities, laid out on lawns like picnic lunches, skyscrapers made from sweetstuffs, syringes for telecommunications towers, lights blinking away the loneliness of miniature people gazing up at the stars. City of landing strips and vertical automobile repositories filled with carcasses of crashes long extinct, shards of steel bone and empty rearview mirrors. City of horror and hope, ocean and shore. White with chalk, the streets dream of empire. Strange mists roll in from the sea, making navigation difficult. The new transport craft are rumoured to be arriving soon, their saltwater power supply offering emancipation from the manacles of gasoline. Refineries shoot fumes into the darkness, their miniature workers like specks of dust around cooling tank rims, fuel vats. City of museums dedicated to the excesses of human foolishness. City of demilitarized zones and school zones. Shopping ceases during the annual demonstration season. It is no longer safe to walk without riot-proof gear. Your movements are being summarised for Monday morning’s briefing session. Expect a transcript in the mail. Suffer fools gladly, for they shall inherit your tax burden. Socialism is an occasion of public drunkenness, renegade pitchers filled with the blood of small berry trees. Soon the time for our departure will also arrive. I expectorate gladly, shadowing my chosen mark, while another tails my family. Cheap gore, two dollar techno blares. In an underground bar full of old-fashioned LPs, fashionistas while away the hours. These songs are familiar to you but the words remain hidden beyond drink. They all have names like “Feminism”, “Rampant” and “Waterfall”. Our invasion soundtrack continues overhead, spy planes contributing to the drone, this faint metallic whirr of today. Emptiness is an emoticon, a symbol sent via cellphone, arriving not at its intended destination but the end of the mechanical life cycle. Evem machines must reproduce. In the planned obsolescence of the human condition, breathe freely even when the gases penetrate your senses. Adjust the plastic mask designed for self-suffocation and peer out through the orange agent. Await the final outcome.

First published in Softblow (Singapore), June 2006.

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