We rode the elevator to the skyscraper’s peak, where its monstrous caldera awaited us. The goddess took my hand and led me to its ledge, and together, we gazed down into the pit. Fifty stories beneath us, a lake of molten rock could be seen churning and bubbling and folding in on itself. Only the furthest edges of the tower’s former floors remained, as most of the interior had melted inward from the heat.
“Before this place came to be, there were only the mountains,” she began. “They were greedy beings, fat with metal and stone after thousands of years spent drinking the Earth’s red milk. No amount of wind or rain seemed to be enough to slow their growth. They were massive, gnarled things, immune to the works of other elements.
“Then, in a geological instant, humans arrived. Despite an obvious difference in size, they had much in common with the mountains, for no force of nature had been enough to control their multiplication. There were billions of humans then, and they flowed from place to place as thick rivers of nerve and bone.
“This is the way that the city came to be: through the erosion caused by human presence. Canyons through the mountains formed along the paths where their boots and wheels paraded, and as those canyons criss-crossed, they deepened to form buildings separated by road. Their wastes and wires trickled downward and pooled into caves even deeper still, which slowly transformed into tunnels and sewers.
“Eventually, the people of the city forgot the mountains, for so little of their original forms remained. In place of history, they instead established an elaborate mythology: that they had built their city from the ground up, and its columns and canyons were the work of craftsmen alone. They claimed to have risen from prairies and deserts, and imagined all that surrounded them to be the product of their minds.
“As for the mountains themselves, though largely forgotten, they were very much alive. The arts of architecture had left them gaunt and hollow, yet they had continued to feed on the fire of the world beneath them in secret. Their hunger had outgrown their size, however, and after many years of silence, the skyscrapers of the city erupted, digesting all the works of man within.
“Now, there are no humans here; the few of their kind that persist have wandered far away. Just as they do not remember the mountains now, in a few centuries, they will not remember the city, either. The mountains, however- they’ve forgotten nothing; since the day humanity left, they have continued to feed, and a day will come when they are all that is left."