Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Prompt: City Nightscape, or Finding the old, lost in the new

Thanks to Abdel for permission to use his beautiful image, "Titel-title"!

Ben ran his hands over the flight panel and checked the approach schedule one last time. He submitted his approval to the controller and leaned back in his pilot’s seat. Snorting with derision at the thought of this as piloting, he cleared the window so he could watch their approach.

Prague was still one of his favorite metros. You could hardly make out the old city tucked low against the river and surrounded by towering skyscrapers. As one of the oldest metros, Prague’s central towers weren’t as high as later developments. Ben’s home base in Dallas, for instance, didn’t have a single tower less than 150 floors. But he preferred Prague’s chaotic mishmash of old and new.

The hovercraft reached the entry point on their flight path and Ben felt the brief stomach flip he always did as the Martine Drive suspended their forward motion. The large round engines on either side of the craft rotated from forward-facing to upward-facing, and they began to descend from their hi-atmo cruising altitude into the city airspace.

Ben loved night landings into metros. He wouldn’t admit it to anyone else – they’d think he was being ridiculous – and it did make him feel like a kid again, watching his granddad pilot one of the old airjets. Now, that was piloting. Hands on controls the whole flight. Sure, Granddad had plenty of help, but he was still the real pilot. Ben felt cheated of that experience. By the time he was old enough, the airjets had been replaced by the automated craft like this one, doubled in speed and size. Like the metro towers themselves, everything bigger was better.

Leaning his forehead against the cold glass, Ben peered down through the moonlit towers and tried to identify the familiar nightscape of the old city. The Einstein Tower—currently the largest residential building in New Europe—loomed in the metro center, with its lighted crown piercing the sparse louds. Below it, Ben could barely see the glint of the Vltava as it meandered through the metro. Following its path, he found the broad S-curves that framed the old city. Even the lights of the stumpy buildings were different, casting a yellow glow like ancient lamplight instead of the cold blue and white gleam of the tall towers.

Ben heaved a sigh in time with the engines’ shift into final descent. Staring up at the towers that now loomed over the hovercraft, he rolled his forehead on the glass once more, searching the darkness that was old Prague. There—there was St. Vitus Cathedral. If he had enough time between loads, he would go light a candle. Maybe step into one of the booths. He always had something to offer up for a priest to give him a penalty. Never the real thing though. He was still working that out with God himself. If he got it right with God, maybe he could go home someday and make it right with Granddad.

Dogs in house
Houdini, Brindle

Time writing:
~40 minutes, including research

October word count:

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