Sunday, April 1, 2007

Restoration (2)

The susurrus of a rough straw broom slipped over the floor of the the great hall.  Once, thousands of people had streamed onto the city over this floor, now barely a handful of people crossed it, and some days not even the sweeper descended from her lofty perch.  The ticketing counters had been empty for decades, as it was extraordinarily rare for any passenger trains to stop here.  The freights still came, summoned by the new owners of the station, to drop off needed supplies and take away scrap as well as finished products.

The station had been abandoned even before the fall of the cities.  It stood as a testament to the men who had built it in the 1930's, a massive building that had withstood centuries of abandonment, squatters, arson attempts and scores of careless owners.  It had very few of the original windows remaining when it had been re-inhabited a decade or so ago.  The large holes in the roof  had been covered by large sheets of steel crudely patched together, although the craftsmanship clearly increased in the more recent repairs.  The original staircases had been destroyed long ago, elaborately wrought creations of stainless steel and marble now ascended through the lower levels; much simpler wooden staircases and ladders served the upper floors where more durable solutions had not yet been installed.  The top of the building rising off the main concourse had been shorn of several floors, apparently deliberately.  Great stacks of reclaimed materials filled the floors below the new roof in orderly rows.  A vertical axis wind turbine rose above the roof, placed on a pedestal to put it above the forest garden.  A similar arrangement had taken over part of the train yard, trees replacing tracks and topsoil covering a formerly barren area, and solar panels glinting on the awnings over the platforms.  The entire area had been well fenced off, the fencing itself showing a diverse selection of materials, from a massive version of a white picket fence, to cinder blocks, and cement.  The cement portion was decorated with bits of broken tile sketching out a rough mosaic of hamster with a knife taped to it.  One particularly colorful segment of the wall was comprised of totaled cars held together with various pieces of scrap.

A gate in the picket fence opened, and a fellow in a bright yellow coat stepped through, closing and locking the gate behind him.  Dragging an oily large bag and squinting against the sunlight he walked into the tower and began placing salvaged items from the bag into the large array of shelves.

Robert Alverson


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