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Chapter 16


Sometimes I don't know if I am in space, or on on the surface of a world.  Space elevators, stations, capsules, and pods rise in chains through the stratosphere and deep into the black beyond.  Likewise, spindly towers, orbiting platforms and airships float above and below.

Sometimes I reach what appears to be a solid patch of earth.  Park like, grassy fields, stately trees, all quiet and serene.   I might wander here for a while.  To my surprise, I suddenly come to the edge.   It was not the surface of a globe, but only a wide veranda on a high tower.

I might find myself in a grove of trees indistinguishable from the neck of a vast forest.  Then, jetting away, I see the grove from a new angle.  It was only a ball of mud and stones cradled in wire suspended by vast metallic cables hooked to sky scrapers.

In search of the planet below I descend- into clouds, smog, past rainbows of technicolored vehicles.  I land on numerous floating islands along the way.

On one, by a strip of sycamores and junipers, I take a bit of soil in my hand, a few twigs, flowers.  By pulling up these weeds, have I just created one more separation?  One more island?  Or, by touching these beings and directing them, do I build a conscious bridge from one ledge to another?

Perhaps there is no planet at all, I wonder.  Just swirling sky, above and below.

But time still passes.  Each day the clouds pinken and the sky darkens.  I can only go so far in each day.  I measure islands in days and stories.