But this isn't a cyberpunk story

What is unusual isn't the heights to which the towers rise, or the inhuman size and scope of the ribbons of steel and concrete stacked on each other, forming a knot of interlocking shapes and sizes. What is unusual is the rotting, ramshackle wooden pillars that hold up the entire thing, along with the broken concrete and weathered asphalt below. Construction workers peel back the skin of the city, revealing the raw flesh inside, the simple mud and gravel that this improbable city rests on. It is intimidating that natural scales and materials have been so far removed from this citadel, but doubly confusing that beneath that giant silver beehive is a warren of worn rock, worn timber, and worn flesh. Perhaps a good metaphor for the cities social structure, with the shiny buildings and shiny people sitting on top of a community of exhausted and ragged people who look like they have given up.

But this isn't a cyberpunk story. This is a cyberpunk city, maybe the second cyberpunk city after the inevitable San Francisco.

And it isn't unusual that I've just left a sprawling county fill of vacation homes and trailer parks, damp dense woods and upscale shops, of strip malls and typical American suburbia dropped over a fractal landscape of intersections and twisting roads. A county that, taken on its own, is easily the third largest nuclear weapon power on earth.

But this isn't a cyberpunk story.

And it isn't unusual that I am on a town that moves at 20 mph, a town with its own mayor and police force and banking system and store and overpriced coffee. A town where people from dozens of countries and cultures sit and converse in an equal amount of languages, where people born in villages in India or Tanzania talk with their friends about the once-abstract mathematical concepts that have brought them halfway around the world to make the type of money that I can't understand.

But this isn't a cyberpunk story.

If this was a cyberpunk story, a group of impeccably dressed men would approach me discreetly as I fumbled with my credit card to buy a soda at one of the machines, and in vague terms would offer me a deal that would tip the balance of the world's power through the most ephemeral means. An offer that I would respond to with either polite and indirect speech, a spinning heel kick, or a USB drive full of FORTRAN code. But instead I am just dressed in bulky clothing, carrying a lumpy backpack filled with crumbled granola bars, receipts hastily stashed away and clothing that I hope don't smell bad. I don't even have my ankle-length navy blue trench coat, bought for ten dollars at Goodwill ten years ago, which looks nice and keeps me dry, but also tangles too much for traveling. I won't be approached by agents of Chesed and/or Geburrah so that I can end up giving a long speech about their endless and bitter war. The only possibility of agents approaching me would be if one of the many police forces around here notices my nervousness, pacing and lumpy luggage, like what happened back in Dallas (at least that was a few blocks from Dealy Plaza), and in such a situation speech making is ill-advised.

And yet.

Here I am, looking out at the horizon, looking out for possibilities, and looking properly rumpled and yet savoir faire. And just as the wind whips at me, a flow of symbols has launched me here, nodal points and ironic electronic obliquities nudging me and directing me to take part in an improbable tale that started in the dim, nervous, scattered focal length years of my youth. And this is normal now, I am not the only traveler launched into schemes and revelations by forces that were once incomprehensible but are now a fact of life.

And so as I step out onto the pier, the press of bodies hurrying away into the mixed grey and color of this city, and as I run to make another connection, maybe this is a cyberpunk story, after all.

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