Network

Photo by Becky Strike, Oak Alley Plantation, LA

The storm clouds rolled in to compete with the afternoon’s brilliant blue sky. Right on schedule, Lije thought with satisfaction. He settled onto the bench beneath the metal pergola to watch the show.

It was a particularly fine one today. He had put the finishing touches on it himself only this morning, and rather regretted being the only one in the Botanical Walk to see it. He would have enjoyed watching the reactions. No matter; he wouldn’t have long himself if he didn’t want to get wet.

He rose and moved to lean against the brick pillar opposite the bench, patting it affectionately. No one would ever guess the pergolas true purpose; the designers had been brilliant. He let his gaze drift to the metal over his head and froze. Was that rust? It couldn’t be! With a quick glance around just to be sure he was alone, he yanked the bench closer and stepped up for a closer look.

There. Just at the joining. His cheeks flushed with hot anger; someone must be removed from the Maintenance Corps immediately. Neglect like that could jeopardize the entire network; the delicate fibers forming the weather matrix within the pergola could survive no exposure.

A peal of thunder jerked his attention to the sky as the first drops struck his face. His jaw dropped in horror as what should have been lightening pixelated across the sky. Once, twice, as the water plinked against the metal rows, then a section of cloud went blank. The storm roiled distortedly around the electrified tiles revealed behind them, pixels flickering.

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