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He could see that the urban landscape was getting rougher further down towards the port: this was an area where a river of debris had come rushing down the mountain at the peak of the hurricane, following the tracks of the ancient creek that had been paved over hundreds of years ago. It had carried with it anything and everything in its path: entire buildings scrubbed off the hillside, people in them, pieces of road, fencing, cars and electronics, turning all of this into a “civilization smoothie”. All of it had been turned into sediment that was feeding a new delta, just as other parts of the city had been submerged. The weeds would soon grow on this fertile virgin land, hiding the debris below. Eventually trees could take the place of weeds, just like with those ancient civilizations in Asia that are buried under thick jungle. Some of them were discovered thousands of years later completely by accident, others uncovered through the help of sophisticated imaging technology that can detect entire cities that the rainforest cleverly tried to hide. For now, the jumbled-up debris was a silent monument to the failure of civilization. John spotted a photographer standing next to a leaning building that was half-submerged in the quicksand of the new river delta. He looked confused, as he wondered how to best capture the scene. There was almost a hopeless look in his expression as he struggled to concentrate, to detach himself from the subject matter the way a professional photographer does, able to see people, buildings and things as shapes and shadows. He was probably questioning his own art form: “why do I photograph things? Why am I always at the scene way after the crime has already happened? Am I just a voyeur with a sick fetish?”
John left the photographer behind to wrestle with his own thoughts and took a left turn onto the road that gently sloped up, and away from the beach. This was a much more intact part of the city. The evening streetlights came on just as he hit the pavement, almost as if they were responding to him. A couple of people were seen crossing the street half a mile down, rushing to beat the darkness even though curfew had been lifted days ago. He turned again, on the final stretch towards his new neighborhood within what had been left of the central business district. The few mimosa trees that had survived were beginning to fill the balmy summer air with their luxurious peach evening scent. John looked up towards the blossoms that reached down to almost human height. He closed his eyes as he brought a low-hanging branch close to his face, and took a deep breath.
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George is an author, researcher, podcast host, chemist, molecular biologist and food scientist. You can follow him on Twitter @99blackbaloons , listen to his Spotify podcast George reads George, sign up for blog alerts below, or enjoy his books