Xmas in Berlin

by John.e.Normal

Her long brown hair streamed behind her as she ran toward the bus, her feet were numb with cold and her legs ached. The buildings behind her were dark and silent, and she felt as though that emptiness was reaching out to drag her backward. She longed for the safety of the Caretakers' bunkers.

She carried a delicately balanced pile of packages that were constantly on the verge of falling to the ground. When she arrived at the bus doors she stretched her hand out and tapped on the glass. The driver's head turned and settled on her. She could just make out the tiny movement of its lenses through the chipped and snow covered glass. She felt the scan pass through her public data matrix, and she shivered. The doors opened inward with a tiny sigh and she stepped forward with a wave of cold air.

The driver's head turned back toward the front as she passed. The synthetic skin that constituted its face was covered in blemishes, a result of gradual polymer degradation. There was a gaping wound on its left temple where the movement sensor had burnt out and sat protruding through the burnt polymer skin.

Most of the seats in the empty bus were little more that metal frames from which shreds of vinyl seating hung like forgotten laundry. She was still making her way toward the back when the bus lurched forward, upsetting her balance and knocking her into a seat. The packages tumbled down beside her. She collected them together and then rubbed the condensation away from the window with her hand so she could peer out into the night.

The once gleaming glass frontage of Berlin slid by, now smudged and sooty. Dismembered mannequins huddled together behind the panes of glass. Their arms lay on the ground beneath them, reaching out blindly toward the street. The clothing that adorned their bodies had turned into pale pastels over years of being exposed to the sunlight that trickled down between the buildings.

On the very edge of her vision she caught movement. She turned to see a small animal darting across the street in front of them. It slipped between the bars of a courtyard gate, and disappeared into the darkness. Her heart soared with this tiny encounter, life was returning to the city.

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