The Long Road

Heliopoli_Full_EX52As has been said one too many times, Heliopoli is a circular city. Its outer edge is bordered by the monorail system, and this creates, if not a physical barrier, then a mental one. You can stand beside a pylon of the monorail with the city at your back and look out over a vast, empty expanse of desert. Though the city is 10 miles in diameter, there is a limiting factor in such a boundary, since it ends so abruptly; it creates an impression of a bubble that must be burst.

The architects of Heliopoli took many psychological factors into consideration, including this one. They constructed a single road out of the city, perfectly straight, toward the west. It is nonfunctional, but only physically so. No cars or unipedes run on it; neither trucks nor rails mar its surface. There is no need. Stand by the pylon now as the sun sets, your hand above your eyes, and watch the road soar to the very horizon. The effect is exactly the same as if you are at the beach, standing where the waves lap your feet, gazing to where the sky meets the sea. It is just as sad, just as satisfying.

Instead of feeling that Heliopoli is limited, boundaried, there is that piercing road out, one way. Your soul is not circular; it is an arrow. And though the sun sets every evening near or on the road, there is one day of the year when it kisses its exact center and pours golden light into the city’s┬áheart, turning the glass buildings copper, your companion’s eyes auburn.

When this happens, the feeling instilled in the inhabitants of the city can only be translated thus: “We are here; we are happy.”

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