The York Sector: a densely populated region in the northeastern United States. An estimated 116 million people have made their homes in this 118,000 mi² sector. New York City became the central hub for all of those things, and every day the city has something new to offer if you look for it.
Or if you ran straight into it, as Ethan Glass did to a pole because he was distracted.
“Oof!” Every last breath of air was punched out of his lungs and with a spin, he slammed down onto his back. “Ffff...” A couple of people stopped to watch if he was going to get back to his feet on his own, and when he did, they carried on. Thanks, he thought, straightening his shirt and patting the dust from the seat of his pants. He picked his feet up to make sure his streams were still in working order. They flickered orange, looking for a connection to the ground, so they were likely fine. Ethan put his feet back down and continued to skate home.
He whizzed by the crowds, just trying to keep up with dodging people. Even on a Sunday, rush hour always made skating around a bit of a hassle, and even with sharp reflexes from playing football in school, it wasn’t worth the trouble most of the time.
Sore from the fall, Ethan kicked his heel into the side of his other foot, shut his skates off, and resigned to just walking like everyone else. He pulled a small black earpiece that could fit on his thumb, known as a wing, from his shorts’ pocket and pushed it into his ear. After a moment a few faded windows flickered in front of his eyes. Watching some videos or browsing social media didn’t seem like a bad plan for the journey home, so Ethan let his eyes navigate through the screens and continued on his way.
In time, he noticed the crowds began to thin in front of him, and slowing down, he shut the wing off with a gentle tap to his ear. Normally it was a fight just to breathe between one person and the next with little exception, so it was unusual to have some freedom of movement. He continued walking, realizing that further up ahead he would find the missing crowd staring upward, pushed back by a blockade of blue light.
Uncertain but curious, Ethan joined the crowd. After looking up a couple times, his attention went to the line of Lawmen securing the area. Within the barricade were plainclothes officers, while uniforms kept people from trespassing on the scene. They were just rows of white helmets and tight blue attire, their various stature and protruding noses were the only things that didn’t come across as universal.
Two plainclothes detectives were on the scene. A tall man that looked more like a punk rocker than a cop - tons of earrings, a leather jacket; the works - but with badge and gun on display, there was no doubt what he did for a living. There was another one at the entrance to the building that actually fit the role: brown kept hair, white shirt and tan slacks, also donning a badge and gun to indicate his status.
He seemed ready to go in when the punk-rock cop stopped him. Listening to something in his wing, the detective quickly looking upward with the rest of the group. The urgency between the two detectives was apparent and before they could give any orders, someone in the crowd shouted in distress.
Ethan followed their pointed fingers to a person swandiving from the top of the building. His throat clenched at their freefall towards Earth. The Lawmen pushed the crowds back with urgency as their descent quickened and their demise was imminent, and though he was prepared to look away, something stopped Ethan. As their hair and coat thrashed behind them, he realized they were holding their form, relaxed and accepting of what was coming.
The air was frosty against her cheeks as she dropped towards the ground, her nose and eyebrows numb. There was a fear she wouldn’t see him before she came to her final destination through the tears in her eyes, the wind violent against her eyelashes and forcing them open, but - ah…
She smiled against the pressure.
This wouldn’t be meaningless. This was the future she had hoped for.
Their body grew closer, closer - ever closer as the detectives and cops tried to clear the area. Ethan wondered if they planned to throw a net out to catch them - digital binds to ensnare the current in their clothes and stop them from hitting the ground - but the lights never came up, nor did anyone seem to call for their execution.
Still, he looked on. Still, they fell. And when the world deafened around Ethan just before impact -
A heartbeat expanded the air between the fallen and the Earth.
Everyone and everything in the area was thrown back by the force, Ethan pushed by multiple people toppling over and losing balance from the energy. A blast of hot wind, though brief, disoriented all present, and when the collective regained composure…
No blood. No guts. Not even a strand of hair remained to indicate anyone had leapt to their death at all.