Monday, 24 May 2021

The Things in the Financial District

Since windows became permanently sealed and rooftops locked with electrical alarms, it’s become almost impossible to jump and paint the tarmac with your blood. The Things in the Financial District have had to adapt.

They shifted to the vertical deserts of reflective glass, hiding in the cross-reflected building-images. If you look out of a skyscraper and see, across the street, another wash of glass with your own small face reflected somewhere in it, and then, in the mirror in the mirror, in the reflection in the reflection, pin-prick size, you might see someone in the other building who isn't there.
Your mind won't register this consciously, it's almost impossible to see, even if you were looking for it, and no-one does look for it because looking for that would be mad.
Mad people do not work in banks.
But you might feel lost for a moment. As if you were falling.

They live up there in the glass sheath of desert-world wrapped around the spikes of the globes financial hub. At night they ride the accelerated winds down to the empty streets and scour the earth with their hatred and their empty joy.
Void calls to void and the abyss is in the digits. A lot of zeros run through those machines. A lot of nothing being generated and traded, counted on, horded, stolen and lost. The finance sector runs on nothing after all, and creates nothing, and builds vast ziggurats of nothing which are temples to nothing and palaces of nothing, where nothing lives or can live. And the nothing that does live there is angry. Angry at the world outside its comprehension or its grasp, a world that is not a glass reflection or a computer model or a financial report. A disgusting world.
So we grow used to the winds in the financial district, leaning into them at 45 degrees, and we argue with each other about planning permissions and architectural plans, and we don't go there at night.
The people who work there don't like being there at night. The people who planned the buildings don't like being there at night. Even the people who paid for the plans don't really want to be there when it's dark.
Which is interesting and strange, because they paid for, planned and work inside, a desert that they made, and fear.

The Things in the Financial District like it there. They enjoy the emptiness, the reflections and the high-velocity winds. At lunch-hour they turn, half-dreaming and invisible, in the sky and reach out playful tendrils to push people under the wheels of buses and slap boiling coffee into their eyes. To drag off their clothes and hurl them into steel beams. Once, fifteen feet of toughened glass was left leaning against a wall and the Things in the Financial District tipped it onto a young woman who was walking along and turned her into a smear on the ground that everybody had to look at through the extra-strong glass, spread out like a petri-dish, all through lunch, until special equipment was brought.
These are the dreams of the Things in the Financial District. At night they wake and hurl themselves around the pinnacles of the global economy screaming for joy and hatred in the dark. You can probably hear them moaning and vibrating the glass.
And at night they can get inside.
You've seen this; you were inside an office building, or a train, at night and as the darkness filled the outside air, instead of looking out, the windows started looking in. The light inside the building reflected back from the glass until the windows were like mirrors showing pale people pooled in shadow drifting mutely through a shadow world.
Of course that can be frightening in its way. Sitting alone at your desk as the office empties and the motion-sensitive lights switch off, sitting alone in the armour of light from your screen showing whatever version of Windows this is.
Windows inside windows inside windows of course. Updating and replicating. Re-reflecting.
The darkness gathering in the room is not the threat, neither is your reflection inside the window on the 40th floor. It's when you look into the reflection, across the room, at the reflection of the reflection on the other side.
There it is. The office. You. And a person-thing who is not there. Just a shape in the glass. A smear in the eye.
Now they are inside the building. Murmuring through the air conditioning, tapping idly on the keyboards two rows back, waking up the screensavers, screaming distantly inside the recessed lights. Calling up your phone in its bag and leaving silent messages from foreign numbers.
They're in the cameras. They learnt that first. Static. Digital glitches and frozen screens. Files corrupted as they decompressed. Informational noise.
If they like you or they hate you they'll take you on the way to your Uber.
You'll feel that howling wind and walk at 45 degrees with your skin pressed to your skull and your hair pressed to your skin like a plastic wrap. The street will be dark and you will be relieved because you were getting scared alone and the shining digital glyph for your cab is only fifty feet away behind a sharp angled glass wall.
Then the wind will change. Your body will twist like a fish, thinking it will fall. You flail, expecting tarmac granules cutting the soft skin of your palms.
You feel nothing. You flail again.
You can't see but it’s OK; if you had fallen or been mugged, you would be in pain. But you can't feel the floor through your feet and all you can see is air and darkness and spinning black reflective glass.
And you look down and see the headlights of your cab laid out like a perspective diagram, and the lamp-pools of the street shrinking like grapes on a grill. Disappearing into the distance.
Your scream is the howl of the wind.
You will never return to the earth, you are in the glass world now.


  1. The wind outside is still rising. I made it to the bathrooms but there is chrome everywhere. Why did I have to work so late..

    Awesome thematic content, thank you for the chills down my spine.

  2. And if you thought that was bad everyone there are neoliberals.... and money rules and dictates.

  3. Business districts always struck me as an inhumane environment but this gives a different dimension to them.
    Do you think that Things might create 'minions' of some sort from those they devoured? A shell of human in a distance, used as a lure?

    1. Managerssending emails from offices no-one ever goes into. Meetings organised by people who never turn up and who may no longer fully exist. Linkedin requests from blank profiles.

    2. Old boxes and new folders on hard drives full of reports for people whose names nobody remembers. A jacket on a coat hanger which is here all the time and presumed forgotten by some long-left employee. Each Friday caretaker clean up the fridge from unclaimed dinners.

  4. And no one thought to cover her, that newly-made specimen. So much were the people used to viewing things through glass that it never occurred that they did not have to.

  5. We need modern d20 dungeons from Patrick. Also High Rise by JG Ballard is the vibe here

  6. Reminds me of stories about Wendigo ,and there's some connection there with people getting infected with insatiable unnatural hungers and the share market.