I worked on the sixty-first floor of the tower, a height from which the streets could not be seen, but we were all gathered at the window that day, looking out at the rainbow spectacle. A flock of sky anemones was migrating through the city, slowly floating from west to east, back towards their home vortex over the open ocean. The jet stream had tossed them further north than usual this year, paralyzing the city below. Their elastic bodies bounced and rolled against the windows as they wandered, leaving venomous smears behind.
The last shift ended hours before, but it was too dangerous to head home just yet. The regional manager was standing next to me, explaining the biology of the anemones to his assistant (she already knew all about them, but nodded along just the same). “They float from place to place using the Earth’s magnetic field. They’ve got these little iron beads spinning around in their guts, letting them ride it wherever they need to go. I’ve always wondered what they eat, though. I wonder if they’re photosynthetic?”
“Actually, bugs mistake them for flowers and get trapped in their tentacles,” she replied.
“Ah, that makes sense.” That was the end of their conversation, but not the end of the ambient small talk. I ignored for three hours, waiting in silence, just watching the little orbs bumble around. At the height of it all, there were thousands of them within view, eighty stories of gelatinous confetti.
By the time the radio had finally announced that the curfew had been lifted, night had long since fallen. During my walk home, I found a dead anemone on the sidewalk, lying in the center of a spiral of feathers. A pigeon’s bottom half was sticking out of its tentacled mouth, just as motionless as its unfortunate predator. The two creatures must have collided in midair and tumbled to the pavement below, unable to separate.
“That’s just the way it goes, sometimes,” came a voice from behind me. A homeless woman was hiding there, tucked away in a laundromat’s entrance. “When it happens to you, will you be the pigeon, or the anemone?”
I thought about it for a moment before replying. “The anemone, I hope.”
“You hope? Hah! I don’t.” She laughed to herself. “Don't kid yourself. I know damn well what I am, and so do you.”
I left in silence, unsure how to respond to those words. As I opened the door to my apartment block, however, I took one last look at the city around me, and wondered if I’d ever escape its tentacles of steel and glass.