Sectors 1 / Old Retrocity
Inside the black wall
A city within the City. Inside. Separated from the other sectors by a gigantic black wall. Unbreakable. A monumental monster of concrete. Vestige of the original Project Retrocity.
The wall is made of massive towers of dark stones, linked together by more blackened sections of concrete. Each tower was built to keep the city from outsiders, and to watch the people on the inside. Giant light projectors ornate the top of the miradors, and they are still functional! In fact, the beams of light can reach such a distance that police still uses them to push the shadows away from the darkest areas of the old city’s forgotten neighborhoods.
The nine gates of the old walls are now permanently opened. The heavy and rusted portcullises kept up. I heard that when Project retrocity was built, about a century ago, the only access to the inside was by train. Each gate was also a station where the original inhabitants were being delivered. The old rails are now mostly covered, but some remain visible in the asphalt. Cold and polished pieces of steel that have reflected many faces from the past.
Past the wall, an entire city awaits. With its own structure. Public squares, apartment buildings, sky scrappers and malls. A city within the City. A place that had been locked on itself for so long that its streets still smell like death and oblivion.
When the government reopened the wall, decades ago, the citizens left the old city to relocate in new, more modern, neighborhoods of the current city. The Old Retrocity was already underpopulated because of the experiments and the afflictions, so when the gates finally opened it became a ghost town.
The silent streets
Not many cops patrol the old Retrocity. It’s not like there is anybody there anyway.
I mean, there are people as well as some kind of police presence in a few neighborhoods, but so many areas are just completely abandoned, and nobody goes there.
It’s a dark place. A testimony of all the sick business operated within the walls for decades. Busts of broken androids suspended by chains between the facades of the buildings, the camera in their eyes still operating, skeletons of mechanical animals lying on the asphalt forever. Opened doors of empty buildings. Blackened facades. Curtains flying out of broken windows.
From what I heard, when the Hover Corporation started to intensify the experimentations during the previous century, they hit the population pretty hard. Deaths, disappearances. So much that entire zones simply became empty. Empty-ish I would say. A lot of inhabitants stayed there anyway, because they were sick. At the final stages of their diseases. They merged with the walls, with the doors and the street lights. Their souls are still there. Trapped forever, I guess.
I will never forget the night I followed an individual into the old city. I was parked at the crossroad, waiting for the guy to leave the apartment he just walked in. The window of the interceptor was half opened. To let the cigarette smoke escape while trying at the same time to not let the rain soak my shoulder. I heard a voice, someone calling “hey sir … sir?”. I could see no one around and it took me a minute to realize that the streetlight pole was talking to me. It was a bit crooked, old piece of painted metal with odd shapes like a rib cage and a tortured face. It was asking for a smoke.
I have seen and heard of many cases of Retroprocessus, but I will never forget this one. We chatted a minute under the rain. Me at the window of my car, and him a piece of metal shining under the neon light. He told me his story. How he stayed there after she left him. He looked at her crossing the street to never come back, and he stayed there. He lit a cigarette, his back against the cold pole, and he stayed for a moment. This moment never ended.
Then the guy I was after came out of the apartment. I turned the key and started the car.
And the guy led me straight to another area I suggest you avoid by all means.
People who know about this place call it “The Black Heart”.
The Black Heart
I was afraid you would ask.
Where Coliseum Street crosses 39th, at what is said to be the exact center of Old Retrocity, is the Black Heart.
If you search for it, you will find it. Lost in the middle of the abandoned neighborhood. The serpenting streets are all leading to it. Not a soul around. Even the rats ran away from it. If you stop a moment to let the echo of your steps dissipate between the buildings walls, you will feel it. More and more as you get closer. The slow pulse. The heartbeat.
If you search for it, you will find it. Some say they followed the whispers. Others speak of the subtle melody that got them there. I parked my car and just followed the pulse.
And there it was standing.
A massive cube of black stone. At least twenty stories tall. I don’t know if it’s some kind of polished concrete or actual marble, but its surface has a shine that reflects the neon light from the buildings around. It has no doors, no windows, no apparent openings. The cube is warm and a mist surrounds it when it rains, slowly rising to the sky in odd designs and shapes.
For all your questions the answer is the same: I don’t know.
Nobody knows when it was built, or if it was built.
Nobody remembers what was there before it was.
Nobody knows if it has a purpose.
Citizens avoid the place at all cost. They refuse to mention it in conversations. In fact, the denial is so strong that most people do not even know it is there.
And yet, for some it became an obsession. Some people have seen the Heart in their dreams and can describe it with great accuracy even if they swear that they have never been there.
And among those who have seen it, many have given correlating testimonies about windows appearing on the dark facades, and silhouettes staring at them through the warm glow of light before vanishing as they appeared.
I just don’t know.
Don’t go there.
I never went back. And if I ever do, it will be to try to get back this part of myself that remained there, trapped forever in the black stone and the mist.
Where the life still goes on!
And despite all of this, life still goes on in the Old Retrocity. Among the deserted zones left without power, some areas still maintain a pseudo normal activity. Stores, boutiques and various center of activities, still stuck in this vintage style of the previous decades. As if Old Retrocity was still evolving at its own pace, no matter the fact that the wall’s gates are now open.
The government and the Corporation are actively trying to re-populate the old city, and it seems like it’s beginning to work! The cheap interest rates and competitive mortgages are clearly very appealing for a certain part of Retrocity’s population.
So people came back to the (still) active neighborhoods first, and today they are starting to invest in the forgotten neighborhoods and the empty streets.
And I don’t know what to think about that. There is a darkness there.
What is really going on?
The facts talk for themselves: there are a lot more cases of sick people within the walls of the old city than anywhere else in Retrocity. And when I say “sick”, I mean “afflicted” by one of the three diseases that are officially considered as remnants of the past experimentations.
If you ask me, it is suspicious that even the Hover Corporation decided to relocate their building away from Old Retrocity. They rebuilt the same twin towers outside of the wall, close to the Hills. So now there are four of them, the old twin towers left behind in the old city, and the new ones, built identically, but somewhere else!
Landmarks and important places
Bar Hooker’s where William goes
The blue hotel
To refuse to see, to deny, to forget, to remain quiet