All tagged the red city

The gargoyles of the Red City cannot fly; the wings of fossilized coral that they carry on their backs serve as an ever-present reminder that they were built by humanity to surveil in stillness. Even so, they shamble through the streets of the city at night on legs that groan in defiance of their stone composition.

Few visitors can be found within the walls of the Red City, and among these few, there are none who dare set foot in its Burning District. There is very good reason for this, as its name might suggest; it is a place set aside for destruction to live, so that what remains of humanity’s works beyond might be spared.

Phlebic White was originally marketed to the public as “the world’s first intelligent lubricant,” a slogan which holds to this day. Rather than passively facilitating motion in the same manner as oil or grease, this pearlescent substance does so actively. Every droplet of the fluid contains millions of individual, microscopic cells, which wobble, throb, and vibrate when exposed to heat. They learn from repetitive motion, as well as from interactions with one another, allowing them to become a churning milk of pressurized horsepower.

Around the peak of the Red City’s prosperity, a new dominant currency began to emerge. These coins, known as binari, were wrought from a soft, warm metal, and squirmed slightly when held in human hands. What was perhaps most curious about them was that they were classified not only by denomination, but also by sex. If male and female binari were left in the same purse overnight, more could usually be found when it was opened again in the morning.

The highway’s first head clings to the mountain’s northern face much like a remora clings to a shark. Its face is a mess of steel teeth that have been worn down over the centuries, drills and grindstones that process its host’s tectonic body into liquid stone. Rust and weathering have rendered this process imperfect, and waterfalls of wet concrete drool forth from its mandibles.

The tyrant’s skull is hammered from the same tin as his throne. His eyes are tired rhinestones through which no light passes, but there isn’t much to see in his concrete palace anyway. He cannot rise from the velvet cushions beneath him, for he is held in place by hundreds of thick wires, not to mention the bronze spear that’s been rammed through his battered chest.

The delivery man waits to descend onto the subway platform until its last train has departed for the night. This is a shrewd decision; many of his colleagues failed to take this precaution, and in turn, were dragged down into the world beneath the rails. He’s carrying precious cargo, after all: a backpack full of premium beverages ranging from black neon fizz to carbonated fire. Were he to perish on this errand, his ghost would be liable for the damages to company property, a debt which could take decades to repay.

There’s a crumbling mansion in the Red City that overlooks the marina with sixteen eyes of fractured glass. Although weary from old age, it watches for thieves with unwavering paranoia. It has known the taste of many who have sought its riches over the years, and expects that another will arrive any day now.