Wednesday, 4 November 2015

What if? Metropolis: Travelogue

Pilar starts out like any other city. It has a dock, farmland, a town square, shops and stalls, a church, a library and a cinema. As the Traveller progresses through the hill side city, from the quiet dockside , further into the towns interior, climbing up a vast number of stairs before reaching a steep cliff at a back alley of the darkest depths Pilar has to offer. Leaning against the rock face is a tall, flimsy-looking ladder , he decides to take the chance and sets of up ladder’s steps. The climb is torturously long, the Traveller’s view of the city below is blurred but he continues to progress up the torturous climb to the unknown of what awaits him above. He arrives at the peak of the hill to see the entrance to a lavish cathedral, giant hall empty apart from a spiral staircase, leading up to the buildings peak. Outside the sky is a dark otherworldly blue, a red sun towers over the dream scape of this side of Pilar that only a few outsiders have seen. A secret higher city above the peaceful classic holiday destination situated below. Kites fly from strange looking buildings in all shapes and sizes. A tall dark green pillar shaped building is stationed at the very peak of the mysterious ‘other’ city, at the top of the pillar a large red semi circle emerges with a giant circular hole cut from it. Its circular yellow face with large white painted eyes and orange beak, looks down on the bizarre dreamlike architecture like a bird of prey.

Speaking to the residents on this part of the city, Pilar Above, is useless. One type with ignore you, much more interested in going to the shrine behind the looming bird shaped tower, to pray to the mysterious Red Sun and the asterisk shaped stars that are always present no matter the time of day. The other type of city folk will be more then willing to talk to a foreigner, however, they do not share a common tongue with them, instead they speak rapidly in their own language, a strange and complex tongue of shapes and colours rather then words and sentences, untranslatable to the rest of the world including the city hundreds of thousands of metres below. Luckily there is one man, who used to be just like the traveller, who still speaks the language of the people below. Wrapped in a black cloak, plain in comparison to the highly decorated ones of the other citizens, with beige eyes and a wide mouth. He tells a tale of the motive of this city, of finding the connection between dreams and the stars and sun. Every day they look through telescopes to the sky above, looking for answers to the secrets that plague their city’s mysterious origins. “They hold the secrets of their city, of Pilar Above” he hisses, before going back to stare at a vaguely feminine shaped building, with a round bust and base, part of a series of similarly shaped buildings surrounding the square of the above city. In the center a bare tree, that can barely be called a tree because of the bare branches that never bore any leaves in all of its century long existence.

The differences between Pilar Below and Pilar Above are most intriguing, especially how culturally different the two are despite still being part of the same city. Pilar Below being a standard holiday retreat with its green and purple fields, standard angular homes, and tall, slim hotels which welcome any type of tourist and traveller in their midst. The small dock, situated at the very edge of the city’s border, is a haven for small time fisherman who arrive in the evening to deliver their catches to the market stalls and mend their nets in the rich moonlight as they await for the next day of fishing. Every year a parade takes place, celebrating past victories hundreds of years ago with the city’s famous dish of smoked mackerel, drowning it down with beer and wine.
Religion is not as commonplace as it once was in Pilar Below, It’s modern day life style not needing to depend on any God. However, even though the townspeople have stopped believing, the church is stills standing proud, open and willing to take in anyone who is wanting to pray to their forgotten ancient God.
In general, the residents live a relatively mediocre and quiet life style, some work hard on the farms, sun pounding on their backs as the sweat drips down their faces. While others work in the town as shopkeepers, bankers, tour guides and waiters and hove to deal with the demands of a time schedule and rowdy costumers from the richer locals further up the hillside.

The ladder at the very back of Pilar Below, behind a Bank and a very Expensive pizza restaurant, next to a dried up abandoned well, is the only connection between the city on the ground and the city high up on the hillside. Despite its weak appearance it is permanently stuck to the cliff face, being there for as long as the city has existed for. Upon climbing and reaching the Cathedral that beckons only a certain type of traveller inside its mysterious walls, only to reveal that it is a decoy on the inside, only containing the spiral staircase that leads to Pilar Above. Working as if it is transporting the traveller to a whole new world and not just a hours trip up to the bizarreness of the upper city. At its peak is a shrine gate with a small bell hanging from the connecting beam ringing ominously as it is passed, the sky does not have a set colour, it changes from , red to blue to green to yellow, depending on the unbeknown traveller’s aura. What always remains the same however is the Red Sun and the peculiarly shaped stars, which are visible night and day without fail, while the sun sets to reveal a pale ghostly blue moon in its wake.

Pilar Above is a very bizarre. Each building is different and unique, all of them have a interesting story of how they were built, and they come in all shapes and sizes: angular, spherical, tall, short, unusual, and ordinary. The residence have adored their houses with incomprehensible symbols that only they can deceiver. They are all related, from birds to astrology to dreams, key factors present in the local religion that every citizen is a part of exclusive to only those who live on the higher plains of Pilar. They all dedicate their lives to know what the abstract sky above them means, and what is up there. They throw themselves into researching in a cultish like fashion, meeting up on Friday evenings at the shrine behind the bird pillar to appease their ruler, the Red Sun. Their true goal is shrouded in mystery due to their language being untranslatable, the only thing known about it however is that they want to see the connection between their dreams and of the odd shaped stars and sun ruling above them and only them.
This dedication to their cause as affected their lifestyle drastically. It is hard to tell two city dwellers apart due to the black cloaks adored in blocks of primary colours, in a similar way as some of the households. They are all in almost perfect unison and in such a way that the city doesn’t feel alive in a natural sense but a mechanical sense like the cogs of toy robots and machines.
Recent studies into the city above have revealed that the city produces a strange hallucinogenic mist that might have a connection with the dream like setting and the reasons for the odd structures. The oddest thing about this phenomenon however is how it only effected the citizens of Pilar Above and of how the city seems to choose which outsider has the privilege of viewing the madness of the upper half of the city for themselves.

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