Glass City Picture

It’s a funny thing, sand.

Its properties are strange and magical: Ubiquitous and pervading of every gap, crack, groove and depression it encounters, like a persistent and stubborn plague. But look carefully, and you see a myriad of stories—shiny crystal fragments of quartz and agate. Tiny little black dots of smooth volcanic glass. Rough splinters of bone and seashells. The minutiae of details separating one from another—for they are all different—is but another world operating at a different scale than our own. And together, as legion, they form vast landscapes of shorelines, dunes and deserts.

The Arabian Desert alone has perhaps 60 trillion grains, stretching across the entire peninsula. Out of these arid conditions came a city, built speedily from black gold with the goal of touching the sky. Towers stretched higher than the highest masts and minarets. Sand was flattened and vitrified at the foot of these behemoths, and more was carted in to fill out the water’s edge with new islands—painting fantasies on an atlas and reality followed suit.

But the Towers of steel and stone were not mere huts and habitations. They were mechanical megaliths, man-made-mountains of sheer human will and resourcefulness. Designed to thrill and delight on the desert floor and in the stratosphere in equal measure… for those who could afford to attend.
Such hubris would not stand in any mythology, let alone a reality governed by the delicious taste of greed and kept in line by the divine justice of Physics. The overwrought mechanisms by which the vertical miles were kept temperate and pleasing created such noxious waves of heat, the sand upon which the city rested began to melt into glass.

While some buildings sank into the pliable quicksand of molten grains, throughout most of the city, great big sheets—often miles long and but a fraction of an inch thick—would simply shatter under the weight of the monstrosities they carried. It wasn’t long before the air and the water were choked with tiny particles of fractured glass. Scintillating dust storms would blow the sharp debris through skin, clothes, windows… The water had become an undrinkable cocktail of abrasive particulates.

And so the city has quickly became devoid of people. The urban peaks nestled amongst a constant billowing of hazardous sharps, and the native fauna and flora, which were anxious, to reclaim what land was one theirs, have remade the city into a new place: a jungle, toxic to the refined but sterile way of life for which it had been designed.

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