For a moment Daniel thought he was hallucinating until Msi’ proved to see the same thing as him.
–What is that?
–They’re buildings. Like on my planet.
–Are we on your planet?
–No. Mine is different, unless something very bad happened, but if that were so the chancellor would have informed me.
–I don’t know. Come on, let's see.
As soon as Dan took two steps, the earth beneath his boots disappeared. She kept him from falling into the void by pulling him out of his vest. As the mist continued to disperse, in front of them appeared a small cliff that led to a grove. The man sighed in relief, happy to find it.
Daniel helped the girl down the hill to prevent her from hurting, once down, they walked among the trees, looking for some water or food. For him, everything was very familiar.
–This place looks like a park.
–Yes, in my world there aren’t many trees or plants, so in some areas of the cities, buildings were made as a half circle of glass and trees were planted, so people could walk in them and also, those things helped to produce oxygen. When I was a child, sometimes my mother would take us there. My brothers and I spent hours playing.
–What is oxygen?
–Oh well, that's what lets you breathe, you'll see… it, it doesn’t matter.
The boys continued their way as they spoke. In the grove they found the remains of what seemed to Dan a shed of some sort, he though that it would be better to rest in that place, now that the night had fallen, so he lit a campfire to appease the freezing wind that was entering. They had also located a green pond, which was moldy and had a horrible smell of rotting, so he preferred to put it aside and wait. To their fortune, Msi’ had taken several fruits from the top of the waterfall, they both had one of them for dinner and tried to sleep. Dan's restless mind didn’t take long to do his work, but that day the boy was so tired that he didn’t even notice when the fatigue defeat him. The girl huddled in his arms trying to cover herself from the intense cold and so, they passed the night.
Early the next day they both set out on the journey. Dan had left the vest to Msi’ so that the cold of the dawn didn’t hurt her. The light of the sun soon showed the entrance to the ruins of the city. Its resemblance to the cities on Earth of Tomorrow was enormous, however there were still entrances on the floor and a network of thin tubes connected to each building. Some plants had begun to grow among the skyscrapers that still standing and also among the rubble.
In their search for water, they ventured to enter to one of the condominiums. The apartments were common houses, with remnants of what appeared to be dusty furniture, things thrown, glass everywhere as if the place had been purposely destroyed. The simple walk of the boys produced chilling noises. That reminded him a lot of his mother's house despite the state it was in, moving him to the time when he and his siblings were coming back from school, ate, played, cared from each other, their mother's affections, the scoldings and quarrels with his father. For Msi’ all that was surprising, although the man had told her a lot about his old home, seeing it there, was completely beyond what she had ever imagined, especially because everything was different. He headed to one of the rooms and ran into bits of a sink and exposed water pipe.
–There's no water. Maybe if we go to the reservoir in the city we'll find something. Come on.
Msi’ followed Dani without questioning anything, with him, she felt safe, somehow, she couldn’t even realize in her mind the idea that he could or should hurt her. Once she thought about how he’d end her life to fulfill his mission, but no matter what, she had faith that he would find a way to do it without making her suffer, so she really wasn’t afraid, for her that just didn’t seem real.
On the way, they found a little stream that came to a park, wetting the trees and plants. Dan took a sip, and despite not being very clean and having a slight salty taste, the water seemed drinkable. Both quenched their thirst and cool off some of the heat that had began to increase. Once they felt more calmly, began to follow it.
The flow led them to the main warehouse, together they entered the great building which wasn’t so tall, but yes very broad. What remained of the place made it look like a warehouse with small windows at the top, there were large containers rusty and full of holes. The water had spilled on the floor, that had become moldy and some plants began to cover the place. The site was divided between generation zone and purification zone. Both entered the second part that was flooded and they noticed that tremendous smell of stagnant water, the containers were holey or their pipes were broken and from there the liquid escaped. Dan climbed up the steps of one of the huge containers and watched how a dirty small stream fell inside.
–I see the problem, in my world the place also has two areas, in the generation one is used the energy of light to induce the production of clean water and in the purification one, water from seas, rivers or lakes is brought in to clean it. Here the purifiers still bring water, I guess from the ponds, and it's coming out a little cleaner. I imagine that their cleaning process is very basic, so it's still working.
–No, this place hasn't been inhabited for centuries, nothing should work –The young man went down again and wiped his hand with the running water–. It's not quite clean, but it's better than nothing.
Satisfied, they left and accidentally, arrived to what seemed to be the center of the city. A square with a dry, destroyed and almost buried fountain in the center, surrounded by buildings all similar, Dan took a look and one of them caught his attention immediately.
A tall construction a bit broad of the base, with paint suggesting to have been white at some time, beautiful carved doors gnawed by time and a visible transparent elevator, the place was surprisingly similar to the one in which the LIFE Center was.
–That one, it looks like the chancellor's palace –Dan pointed out, taking her by the hand to walk there.
Passing by the debris they found a kind of reception covered with a thick layer of dust, as in the other buildings, a desk in pieces, and what appeared to be some pictures. Dan took Msi’ to the elevator, but instead there was only a deep gap. The man took all the ropes he had in his belt and tied them to each other and secured them in a few broken irons from the old palace. He knelt to carry the girl on his back and together they went down the tunnel.
In the background was the glass door of a dark place. A slight layer of earth blocked the entrance to a hall that lead to another entrance. Daniel drew his weapon and tried to light up a little, under the reflections he could see a large white vault, with a somewhat archaic control center, and a huge empty space, the place was almost intact except that everything had dust; there were several devices and documents torn and scattered everywhere. He didn’t need much time to realize what was in front of him.
–They had the light here.