The hot wind hit Angel like a warm towel. The sand aloft in the air scratched like the fabric. The sand, it was hard to walk through the sand with no socks — only shoes that he was forced to empty every block or two. The sand was everywhere in the city. It piled along the buildings and alleyways like the snowdrifts of years past.
Gone were the plows to clear the way for traffic. Occasionally the wind would reveal a patch of pavement. Sometimes Angel would spot a crosswalk or a yellow line that ran down the middle of the road.
Block by block he worked his way across the city. The sun baked down on him. Without his clothes his mile-long walk would have given him cancer, or at least an excruciating sun burn.
He walked it every week. He walked among the empty streets and buildings of this once magnificent, second city. This place had survived a tragedy before, a great conflagration that destroyed nearly everything. There was no escape for her majesty this time around. The devastation was complete, along with every other city around the world.
Ten years had passed since the last remaining vestiges of the world’s military squared off for the slivers of fertile land near the poles. The final battles took place in Antarctica. The West won, but their prize was short-lived. Even the southern continent succumbed to the warmth. The heat and the dryness obliterated crops, as they had done across the globe years before.
On he trekked, climbing over rusted relics that used to move along the streets, but were now buried in tons of silicon and grit. He climbed down from upper streets to lower streets on scattered fences, jumping into dunes when the makeshift ladder fell short.
Only the wind, the sand, the sun and the decay made any sort of sound. Glassless behemoths stood and howled, as if to call out in slow anguish while the years tore them down. Pitted walls gouged by the relentless beating of the air made them look as ancient stone in some places, relics and ruins in others.
The air was thick with heat, but short of oxygen. More than the shoes, exhaustion slowed Angel’s pace.
A world had gone wrong, infested with a short-sighted species that valued power over existence. A world that had been abandoned by logic and empathy had no recourse to right the wrong, and no way to cry for help.