The countless people shuffling past take no notice of her. Their shoulders brush against hers, some harder than others. A man pushing his way through the horde knocks into her and she stumbles back. “Sorry,” he mumbles over his shoulder. She blinks and regains her footing.
The flashing lights along the side of the road illuminate large signs, advertising things that don’t matter. She thought they would matter.
Why don’t they matter?
Gazing up at the dark sky, Maia locates a single flickering star. The constellations she has grown to love so fiercely have all but disappeared, devoured by the hungry lights of this large metropolis. Light pollution, she was told in orientation, right before being chastised by an annoyed instructor to stop asking so many questions.
It is Leucothea Day. Today, the people of this massive city have piled out from behind the closed curtains and locked doors of their private homes to celebrate “the greatest civilization on Earth.” They’ve filled the streets, laughing and cheering and waving little black flags with a single white star in the middle—symbolizing Leucothea as a beacon of light in a dark world. Enormous signs with bold letters plaster the city, repeating the same slogan Maia has heard repeatedly from the moment she arrived … or at least from the moment she awoke:
Leucothea has saved you.
The festival is coming to a close now that the early-autumn sun has finally dipped below the horizon enough to give the people the darkness they crave. The heaving crowds make their way toward Leucothea Square, each holding a candle to be lit as their beloved leader delivers his awe-inspiring speech, broadcasted on screens across the city. Then Leucothea’s citizens will cheer the fact that they are in here and no longer out there. And the echo of thousands will be heard across the Arctic.
They have been saved. Protected. Walled in.
To be continued...