City - quotes and descriptions to inspire creative writing
It was a city of wide avenues and small places to sit and eat, to relax as folk went about their day. There were the sky towers in the centre, what was once thousands of homes now took up less ground space than an old shopping mall. The rest was parks and wild spaces, a chance to walk among nature or enjoy the trails on bicycles or horseback. Yet perhaps my favourite thing was the river that flowed through the centre, crossing the bridges, pausing just to look at the view I saw every day and loved all the more. There are times my Grandfather speaks of the cars man used to have, the boxes on wheels that moved around cities spread out over the Earth, suffocating the soils and poisoning the air. I'm so glad to be born later, after the struggles of the end of the insanity era, when our species almost killed our planet. It's as if there was a war going on but nobody noticed, to absorbed with other battles and ideas that locked the mind. I wonder what I would have done if I'd have been alive back then, if I'd have followed the herd or been one of the shapers of the new world, the one we live in now.
The city loves me in ways no person ever has. It listens to my fierce footsteps, the clicking of my polished heels against it's dirty pavements early on a Monday morning. It sees me smile ear to ear when I see the windows on it's skyscrapers reflect the orange glow of the afternoon sun. It empathises with my frustrated groan long past midnight when I can't flag down a taxi to take me home. It hears my satisfied sigh in winter as the first sip of a morning coffee warms my throat and thaws my freezing hands. It celebrates with me when I'm on top of the world and cries for me when life gets hard. The city sees and hears and feels every moment of every day of my life. The city understands.
Before the virus the city was always moving; cars, people, busses, trains. All those people making the organic part of the city, the part that determined the character and the structures. Those people dreamed of stadiums and theatres, they built ice-rinks and laid out parks with soccer pitches. They built churches, mosques and temples. There were hospitals, libraries, police stations, courts and jails. They made the roads wide and the tower blocks tall. Sometimes in the dark I can still hear the cars and imagine a street so busy I must weave between the people. Every other other Canadian was carrying a cup, or so it seemed, and the coffee shops sprang up faster than springtime weeds. Back then I wished there weren't so many people, trust me, that's not one you ever want to be granted. The city was always quieter at night though, perhaps that's another reason I prefer the night. But even then there were lights everywhere, from cars, restaurants, apartments and late-night shops.
Found in Darwin's Ghost - first draft, authored by .
This was alway a city of the haves and have-nots. There were those in West-Van with their exotic cars and luxury life style and those on Hastings Street, drug addled and abused. Of course there was a huge middle class that was neither. Working all their waking hours to give their kids ski lessons, music lessons, two sports clubs and foreign vacations. After the virus we were equal for a short time. Equal in our grief, our losses, our mental disarray. There was no shortage of nice homes to move into so long as you removed the dead. No amount of money could save you, you either won the genetic lottery or you didn't. The city was ghostly for those frozen weeks, no-one moved for fear of contracting the virus. Then hunger took over and the looting began. Cowering behind locked doors saved no-one, eventually it found a way in under the door or down the chimney. Most of the people who fled to the country came back too, no idea how to farm, no tolerance for the back breaking work.
Found in Darwin's ghost - first draft, authored by .
The city was simply urban, just like he’d imagined - tall buildings in an exact grid pattern. Ubiquitous skyscrapers were smudged by the smog-filled sky, no sunlight, no birds. Cars raced between red traffic lights, stubbornly flickering in the grey.
In the winter I thought that the coldness of this city was seasonal, that with the spring warmth it would transform and I could feel at home. I was mistaken. Even in the summer there is no softening of the chill. Service is without a smile; fast, efficient, mechanical. There is no greenery at all, the planters installed by some optimistic architect remain bare, not even a weed. It is clean and utterly soul-less. There is no music unless it is the tinny prelude to a police announcement, there are no street vendors, there are no street artists or brightly covered store fronts. Everything is monochrome from the stores, to cars to clothing. When I got here I wore a red woollen jacket and orange mitts but apparently you can't get hired looking like that. Now my black heeled shoes strike the grey cement and my black overcoat descends to my knees. My hat is black and as a small act of defiance my scarf is the softest of blues, almost grey.
Once out of the subway I navigate by intersection and aromas. Otherwise it would be impossible to know where I am. I move along in the thick crowd, mostly several inches to a foot shorter than everyone else. I can't see the bright shop signs, or the buildings to orient me - only backpacks, coats and hair. I am frequently jostled, but then I don't weigh much more than a child. With the smell of coffee I know I need to turn right next and start to weave my way over. The crowd parts around a newspaper dispenser but I fail and am instead left smooshed up against it for a few moments, my smart cream suit brushing up against the traffic dirtied glass. Unlike a child there is no Mom or Dad to pull me away and instead I must inch sideways until once again I am in the current. I veer into the next street to the aroma of samosas. If I can get close enough I'll buy a few; some for lunch, some to take home. But I can't see the cart, once again I am adrift in the moving bodies...
The city changes every few minutes on the journey home; the downtown flicking between affluence and poverty. There are streets of up-market stores, smooth black and glass exteriors, fancy names in fancier lettering. The kind of places with perfumed atmospheres made all the more inviting by music and well groomed subservient staff; exchanging their tokens of the upper class life for the swipe of a credit card. In moments were are passing the run-down pawn shops, the liquor stores and dingy supermarkets that are about as wide as two bowling lanes at Lucky Strike. These human off-casts are clad in everything from skimpy summer ware to thick wintry jackets, either freezing or roasting in the cool but sunny fall day. On the sidewalk are spaced out women with wild tangles of hair and more than one person with a cart of aluminum cans. A few moments more and we are in suburbia, rows of uniform houses and neatly moved lawns, each wide avenue draped in the seasonal reds and golds. One city...
There is misery in these streets. It has soaked into the sidewalk cracks and into the graffitied walls. It is in the stores that were once loaded with designer goods and now house everything for a dollar. It is in the back alleys where the few restaurants who persist in trading have their garbage searched several times a day, and not just by the cats. It is etched in every gaunt and dejected face that has given up on life getting any better than mean survival on mean streets; and those faces become more ubiquitous with each passing year. Some sleep in the streets rather than take the bed bugs in the shelters, some cling to their holy books as their last hope for something better; not in this life of course, but after they pass of pneumonia or some highly treatable infection. They have become garbage - damaged bodies and damaged minds. Each one of them has a story that could snap your heart in two, so don't ask. Pass through with your windows up, doors locked, music on...
Once the smells of the city were alien to me and their chaotic fragrance set me on edge. There was no tinge of earthy loam to the air, no fragrance of spring growth or heady warning when rain was due. The fumes from belching vehicles underpinned everything, but punching right out of it would be the spicy offerings of the street vendors, coming sharply into focus like a camera zoom and then ebbing away again; only to be replaced by the next vendor and the next. Now these are the smells of home every bit as much as the old ones were, perhaps less healthy but reassuring nonetheless.
Deryn had never seen a Clanker city before.
Constantinople rolled past below, the hills filled to bursting with humanity. Pale stone palaces and domed mosques squashed against modern buildings, some rising up to six stories tall. Two narrow arms of sparkling water carved the city into three parts, and a placid sea stretched away to the south, peppered with countless merchant ships under steam and sail, flying a dozen different flags.
A pall of smoke hung over everything, coughed up from countless engines and factories, veiling the walkers striding the narrow streets. The muddled air was empty of messenger birds; only a few biplanes and gyrothopters skimmed the rooftops, skirting stone spires and bristling wireless aerials.
The city lay close clustered, ruddy on the plains, glittering in the clear air with its flat roofs and domes and square towers, strangely naked-seeming in the clear, clean air.
In the plaza the pigeons outnumber the red paving slabs. Just to walk from the tall terraced houses around the edges, with their stores at ground level, I must take small steps to avoid kicking them. These birds have no fear of me, I'm more scared they'll foul up the Italian leather shoes I bought only last week at Darcy's. A few minutes later my efforts are rewarded by being able to sit on the edge of the octagonal pool that surrounds the fountain, water spraying many feet into the dry summer air from the lips of a busty mermaid. The droplets arc high before cascading down at the will of gravity. I dig in my satchel for the baguette I plan to eat for lunch and the mass of grey feathers before me gets so dense you can't see the stone underneath. Between the splashing behind and the squawking in front the sound of the city traffic disappears, and that is why I walk here to eat. Here I can admire the brightly painted old buildings and imagine I am back in my home town. Just for a moment.
SATELLITE CITY: THE CITY OF THE FUTURE, proclaimed the bill boards. A metropolis completely controlled by the Myishi 9 Satellite hovering overhead like a floating man-of-war. An entire city custom constructed for the third millennium. Everything the body wanted, and nothing the soul needed. Three hundred square miles of gray steel and automobiles.
Satellite city. A supercity of twenty-five million souls, each one with a story more heartbreaking than the last. If it's happy-ever-afters you want, stay away from the city of the future.
The city was a vast, intricate, labyrinth of noisy, streets and alleys. You could hear the incessant honking of the vehicles even before the sun rose. Impatient businessmen who had to get to the office, mothers who had to leave their children at their schools, facing the puzzling challenge of navigating through the crowd of parents and children; even some of the teachers who had stopped at the local bakery to get a bagel or two before their morning classes. After every person had reached their respective destination, the traffic congestions cleared significantly as if humungous snakes had eaten their fills and were retracting back into their dark and eerie caves. Walking down the street, he could smell the fresh batch of sweet and spicy rolls being baked for the lunch hour rush. To him,it was a clear sign of the city slowly waking up. He anticipated to see what the new day would bring for everyone, new tenders, business proposals, math homework, even hope.
Trumpets blare in the distance and crowds yell enthusiastically. The marble buildings tower over the hordes of people. A chariot storms through the street and you narrowly miss being trampled by his black stallion. Musicians play exotic pipes and foreign harps, creating a majestic, albeit merry atmosphere. Tantalizing scents waft through the breeze. A woman begins offering you some pudding. You trade a coin for the white, stiff pudding. It’s creamy, sweet, and cold. It tastes refreshingly of lemon. You spoon it into your mouth, savoring the cold cream in your stomach on a warm day. Slaves, dressed in brown raggedy tunics, rush through the streets, eager to complete errands for their masters. Wealthy, pompous aristocrats are dressed in bright colors of purple and white.
The white buildings are rectangular and protrude proudly from the desert sands. You enter the maze of buildings on a chestnut colored horse. Stalls crowd the market place and dark-skinned children play. The Egyptians greet you with dazzling smiles, hoping you will buy their wares. Their stalls are covered with magnificently bright cloth. They sell browned fish, hard bread, shimmering jewels, shining metals, crisp, pristine linen, and juicy figs. A dancer, dressed in a gauzy white tunic, twirls in the streets and the crowd tosses golden coins to her. You hand a golden coin to a merchant, missing a front tooth. He smiles and weighs it on a scale before handing you a honey roll. The roll is pure white and coated in sticky, sweet honey. You take a bite, savoring the fluffy
Like a woman's wispy dress that has slipped off it's hanger, the city shimmered and fell in fantastic folds, not held up by anything, a discarnate iridescence limply suspended in the azure autumnal air. Beyond the nacrine desert of the square, across which a car sped now and then with a new metropolitan trumpeting, great pink edifices loomed, and suddenly a sunbeam, a gleam of glass, would stab him painfully in the pupil.
As we step into the cool, windy evening air, I catch my breath at the view. The Capitol twinkles like a vast field of fireflies.
Unprosperous inner city suburb, low rise terrace containing amorphous mixture of run down stores and those renovated with newer signs, concrete high rise tower block set back from the road, graffiti on a concrete wall, betting shops, take-aways, small grocery store. People seemingly aimless milling around, mothers pushing strollers with pale determination, never ending streams of traffic spewing fumes, honking horns, pedestrians waiting at crosswalks.
I lifted my head to see out the window; what I saw, took my breath away. The ground below me was alive with lights, like someone had taken a handful of glitter and thrown it as far as the eye could see. It was too dark to make out individual buildings, but the lights were enough for me. I sighed, amazed at the view laid out before me.