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Zone Two Sunset

Escaping from the heat of the day on to the roof, where I actually seem to be able to get some work done.

Instead I find myself trying to capture the feel of an evening up here on the edge of the metropolis, in that limbo that lies between suburb and city. This is Zone Two. This is the space on the map which marks the edges. The not quite real. Where New Corobuzon drags Perdido Street Station out of the heart of London. Where the houses empty onto the 8 am trains and fill again at 7 pm.

The sun is a flat red circle slowly drifting down in the west, a child's balloon swimming in the heat haze, marking a road for the jets drifting out of the cloudless sky as they slide down to Heathrow. In the distance the tube rattles over the Thames, clattering its way in and out of the city.

A rumble of angry diesel splits the evening. Two huge engines are lumbering past on the line into London, pulling a massive high speed train. Where has it come from, where is it going? There's little between here and Reading... Not quite big enough to be a Eurostar on a roundabout route from North Pole, so I'm guessing it was one of the new Virgin Pendolinos being towed somewhere for repair or to be shown to the general public.

I doubt I'll ever find out.

Somewhere there is an alarm clock, bleeping its way to a flat battery.

Bleep.

Bleep.

Bleep.

The sun is a deep, angry cerise.

The foxes are starting to stir. Beside me a cat wakes as a pigeon batters the air, flapping from tree to tree.

The setting sun is just above the trees on the western skyline, drawing the tower of Putney Wharf as a dark wedge on the skyline, while a helicopter dragonflies itself up the river.

I can smell a barbecue. The burnt coals and the seared meat. This is the sign of a summer city.

The sun fades to magenta, and settles behind the haze. Above me the sky is a pale, silken blue. Massive and slow, a jumbo jet marks its passage in a rumble and whine of turbofans, and a miasma of burnt kerosene.

Below, I can hear a clatter of cutlery. Next door preparing dinner in their shining new kitchen.

The sun has gone, fallen behind the edge of the world.

I can still hear the alarm clock.

Bleep.

Bleep.

Bleep.

Sun gone, the lights come out, tracing the edges of the high rise towers.

Bleep.

Bleep.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
jhaelan
Aug. 8th, 2003 01:02 pm (UTC)
Amen, sir.
rickbooth
Aug. 8th, 2003 04:59 pm (UTC)
That was really rather good. You're absolutely right - these conditions are very Perdido Street Station. The air feels greasy.
flick
Aug. 9th, 2003 04:18 am (UTC)
Beautiful, darling.

You write so well.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )