Fields of barley zip past her window at about a hundred miles an hour. The girl looks into the rear-view mirror of her Aztec to make sure there’s no-one tailing her. A train — or rather a relic of one — stands stationery on the tracks along the road. Her car radio’s playing an eighties song reimagined for listeners of the noughties. Naughty listeners, a man’s voice pierces through the wall of synthesisers that forms the song’s outro, the next song is for you. This is X22RME, by fellow British DJ, Actress. She turns the volume knob, a digital display appears, 10, 11, 12. 13. The road’s bathed in indigo. In her rear-view mirror, she sees street-lights flickering to life in the distance. Here among the fields of barley, there are no street-lights.
Once, not too long ago, all six-hundred miles of the Future Corridor — it was a thousand kilometres back then, before the Reclassification Act of 2038 — were lined with solar-powered street lights. It was a sign of a soaring India. A highway from coast to coast, a link between Old Mumbai and New Amaravathi, a bridge to tomorrow, from the concrete and mud of old India to the dizzying lights and heights of new India.
The wheels of the bus go round and round. Round and round. Around and around.
Not too long ago ago, New Amaravathi was a different place, filled with colour, not derelict and concrete like it is today. In the two years since, India has soared past New Amaravathi into the sky, leaving the city behind to be infested by bottom-dwellers. In that way, New Amaravathi is no different today from Old Mumbai.
Welcome to Old Mumbai. The last place for humans to stay being
In many other ways, it is.
New Amaravathi, and the erstwhile district of which it serves as the de facto capital, the New Amaravathi Territory (or NAT) is still civilised. It remains governed by the laws of India. Old Mumbai, on the other hand, is the wild west unfolding in reverse — a once civilised land in the middle of a deliberate and desperate descent into barbarism. A land of sex, drugs, and violence not unlike the one imagined in so many cyberpunk classics.
But it was one of the few places to drive an MV like the Aztec in peace.
Your friends don’t drive, and if they don’t drive, then they ain’t no friends of mine.
Thank you for visiting NAT, a signboard flies past. She’s visibly relieved. Thank B, she says. I’m finally free. She turns the headlights of her Aztec on.