- Vol. 06
- Chapter 01
The vent was soldered into the hole he had cut in the roof, and the wind had peeled the solder away, so the vent was beating itself to death. Thakthakthakthakthak. Through the tearing sound of the wind, he could hear it was cracked already.
The city is as good as paper now. What man joined together, wind puts asunder.
He stretched his fingers a little further up into the top of the vent. A piece came away in his hand, along with the furred alveoli that lined it. His face was close to the air outside for a moment. He listened to the powdery sound of the wind, thinking he could hear splinters of glass, caught up in a huge crystalline whirlwind, pounding into the brick of the squashed Victorian pub next door. Probably not as bad as it sounds, he thought as he came slowly down the ladder.
Standing with the piece of lung in his palm, he thought if only it could mend itself. He put it into a bag of fluid and tied off the top. Then he rummaged around the rest of the workshop, stepping over his barbells where they had been left on the floor, running his hand over the alcoves he had built from leftover juice packets. Nothing will have a chance to set with the wind as it is. There was a soft bag of fibre under his left hand. I could just push that in there. Might last about five seconds.
He heard the trembling of metal under stress and then another unwanted cracking sound from the vent above. The concrete floor at his feet was dusted with brick. He grabbed the fibre and tore it out of the bag as he climbed over the barbells onto the ladder. The fibre was wet with its own mucous; it began to cling to his fingers, and as he pushed his arm up into the vent, he stuffed it into the gap where the piece had broken away.
PAPER CITYIf he could hold it in place for long enough, it might stick. He felt the fibres begin to react ever so slightly. Minutes passed and his arm started to tremble.
His mind strayed. He fancied that he could hear the great lungs of a living house – not just a house that had some life pasted onto it, he thought. A living house that could hold you in its belly, could walk steadily on its knees, close to the ground, and suck itself onto the earth for stability. Could hold you safely inside, and hold your breath inside its own.