Port Salinas
rating: +13+x

I remember the day when I was going through my old stuff, and I found a box of old floppy discs. Not the real old kind that were actually floppy; no, these were the later kind, smaller and harder. Now, my family used to have a whole bunch of these things, and for some odd reason here I had about three and a half dozen of 'em. Well, maybe it wasn't that odd, seeing as my father Kristoff pretty much gave me all his computer junk before he passed away. …okay, so maybe it was pretty odd after all. We were a weird bunch.

Anyway, most of it consisted of old programs and text files containing stuff I didn't really care about that much just then. Prob'ly tech stuff, seeing as BTCOS was still in use back then; and anyone who used it most likely had batch files saved somewhere to make using that damn system less painful to your sanity. There were two that caught my eye, though. One was a disk that had a shareware copy of Castle Hasselhoff. Y'know, that really old Nazi-killer game. I'm guessing it sat on that disk for a good thirty-five, maybe forty years, just waiting to be registered for the low, low price of fifty credits. Or its equivalent in old dollars, or whatever they used back then. The other was a generic floppy that had something written on the label in thick felt-tip.

It was an old city of mine from Mayor 2, the city sim. Pity it's not being developed by Morning these days. Must have been one of my first cities, seeing as I put it on one of those things in the first place. Naturally, I had an intense desire to see my dear town again. There was just one thing stopping me, and that was the fact that no computer these days had a floppy drive. It's all datachips now, see. I was pretty sure I had an old floppy reader in my dad's stuff, though, and after the better part of a day looking I found it. Then all I had to do was find my soft-copy of the game - easy enough - install it on my Lox machine which wasn't nearly as easy, plug in the reader and go back to Port Salinas

It has been a long while, yet nothing has changed. Nothing, despite the actions and lamentations of our citizenry. We have scoured every inch of our burg - especially the Most Honorable Mayor's residence - for some sort of clue or sign from Him, sent countless messages and prayers…and still our fair city stands frozen in time.

There is no escape. We have tried that already. The borders are impassable, and we found out the hard way…some of us more than others. The first inkling that something was wrong were the hundreds and hundreds of cars that first crashed into the municipal boundaries, some of them sheared in half. The 8:15 outbound express, crushed like an accordion. When the authorities arrived at the crash sites, so did the realization that nobody could die anymore. Every driver, every passenger was still alive, but only some of them could make it out. The fire department eventually got to the rest. That was when we realized we were only immune to physical harm.

At least they were not aboard Flight 342. It took slightly less than a week and a half to reach the fallen bodies. The bent, burnt, but still living bodies. Small wonder the psychiatric ward at Kennedy General soon 'expanded' to the rest of the building.

The Mayor was gone. During every other disaster that befell us, He was there to provide His strength and voice. Not anymore. The panic and rioting eventually died down; that much we could be thankful for. The police department, aided by the soldiers from Fort Dolor, ran the city; at least for a while. No form of communication could pierce the barrier. A number of desperate mariners took to the sea, hoping to escape that way. The lucky ones came back, their vessels damaged but still operable.

All of these events happened a long time ago, but nobody can tell exactly how long anymore. 2043 was the date it started, according to the old newspapers. People tried to resume what could be salvaged of their normal lives, an activity that mostly consisted of being scared and hiding in their homes, or maintaining a pretense of work to be done. Praying to the Most Honorable Mayor or damning His name for leaving us. That, or simply losing one's mind.

Tensions eventually came to a head on Kristoff Avenue. The suppression effort mounted by what remained of the police fell apart when most of them joined the fighting. There was no death, not in the conventional sense at least; but by then there were things best described as…glitches. Things I still cannot bring myself to fathom, even despite all I have seen. All I have allowed myself to remember is that the road does…used to…not normally eat people. At any rate, the true believers of the Most Honorable Mayor ran what was left of the streets for a while longer.

One of my closer friends, William, told me something of note before he became completely insane. While we were all prisoners in our own city, we could at least still see the surrounding land outside our borders. It too was stuck in time, and for a number of us the view proved to be the straw that broke the llama's back, so to speak. But William…before he abandoned rational thought as so many of my fellow citizens have, he spoke to me of the 'true face' of our municipality.

He spoke of the blocks everything was supposedly constructed out of and the raw veins of numbers embedded in their flesh. And of the great void outside, just beyond the invisible wall. After a moment of shivering in what I assumed to be raw terror, he started to elucidate on what he claimed to have seen in the sky. Something watching us, visible and yet not visible, a power even greater than the Mayor Himself.

That was when he slipped over the brink. I had to leave him to his heresy. There weren't many left that possessed clarity of mind.

City Hall, the grand bureaucratic center of our municipality, stands cold and quiet. There is not much need for municipal administration in a city that stands still; its steel and concrete arteries silent, its trains stuck to the tracks and its borders impassable. The census data, the figures and numbers collected for the glory of the Mayor and the advancement of our city, mean little now. But the printers are far from inactive. Every hour of every day they have been printing endless pages of a single message.

ERROR: Cannot load file

An error message greeted me every time I tried to start the city. Game couldn't load it. I guess I shoulda known from the start I wouldn't be accessing that city, but I tried again and again anyway. What can I say? I was always a stubborn asshole. I tried for another hour, then had to stop. Contrary to what some think, I do have a life, thank you very much.

I wish there was still some alcohol left. We have no need to drink, or eat, or sleep, but it would still help. Perhaps the only thing that kept me from losing my head is the knowledge that He will return eventually. He could not have left us out of malice, or forgetfulness.

Despite our grim situation, we knew we had to do something. I knew of a small group who were planning a trip to the microwave station near the edge of town, to hijack the signal and try to broadcast something. Those of us that remained sane were getting desperate, and after I saw a procession of floating hands carrying themselves down Mose Street I joined them in their plot.

Apart from the things roaming around, there were also a number of former humans between us and the power facility. I don't know if it was the hopelessness of their predicament combined with everything they have seen, or if they themselves were glitched, but they were no longer civilized. And only some of them were content to simply exist in a catatonic state.

I consider it a miracle, then, that we made it relatively unscathed. The WrightCo Microwave Power Facility was…still is…a true marvel of engineering. Solar power collected from orbiting satellites is beamed down to the planet, right into the gigantic collection dish that practically dominates the hill it is built on. It was long abandoned, but to make a long story short there was enough fuel to kickstart the backup generators, and suffice to say one of the orchestrators of our plan was formerly employed in the control room. He was able to route outgoing transmission power to the main dish, and took it upon himself to send our missive. We have not seen him since.

There has been no response, and our situation worsens by the day. I do not even know why I am continuing to put this apocalypse to writing, because I am not quite sure this will be found. The plant is surrounded by things that should not exist. The sky is cracking open, and I cannot look at it anymore. I pray He has not forsaken us, forsaken the city of Port Salinas. I pray I have not written in va

So later that night, a bit before I went to bed, I went 'what the hell' and tried to load it again. Figured it wouldn't hurt.

I still couldn't start it. I quickly came to the conclusion that that goddamned file was corrupted to shit. Iunno why I was getting riled up over a Mayor city; then again I was never going to see it again. Maybe it was because I was tired, maybe it was because I knew I should have taken better care of my old stuff…

I was going to close the floppy's Peeker window and go to bed when I saw a second file on the disk. A text file. Up until now there had only been one file, the city file. I clicked on TRANSMIT999494928.txt.

1 1 22 1 4 1
2 11 1 4 2
3 W L 2
H E 1
4 A1 1
6 E R 1 1
8 3 1 1
U 1 1
1 D 2 S 1 1
I 2
2 D 1 1 1
5 2 1 D
1 Y 1 7
1 O 3 1 8
6 11 U
U 1 1 1 S
E S7
UU 1

There was nothing in it.

…would I lie to you?

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