It is rumored that the excavation of the city of Heliopoli will cease operations on Oct. 4, 2009, exactly two years after its start. Though I can’t confirm this, it is true that nearly all the major structures have been unearthed and described, excepting the Lightworks,the Slideway Shopping Mall and the Museum of Futoria. There are plenty of details to explore, however, so it is hard to say whether this record will merely change slightly at that time, or become its own archeological artifact (and we have wandered from our course occasionally anyway). Certainly there is a great amount of cataloging to be done given the amount of mood rings, Uncandles, Fidgets, fiber-optic lamps, and bean-bag chairs that have been found, not to mention the necessity to pay tribute to the color lime green.
At any rate, more major structures might be uncovered as the excavators redouble their efforts, or merely stumble upon them. Take the Balloon Ferry, for instance.
As mentioned before, Heliopoli is a circular city that never lacked in transportation. It is ringed and trisected by the monorail and honeycombed underground by the Metro. It sports slideways and pedways, and its citizens make use of the ubiquitous uniped single-wheel transport. So why would the city need a Balloon Ferry?
At opposite ends of the city lie platforms that are now known to be stations for hot-air balloons. These were at first thought to be unfinished monorail stations until excavator Theronomous Moon wandered past the city into the desert and found sprays of color just under the sandy surface. These proved to be buried portions of hot-air balloon fabric. The rest fell into place.
As a transportation system, hot-air balloons would be quite efficient; as an aesthetic experience, unparalleled. One floats above the city; there is no wind, since one is traveling with it. This aerial view can make one appreciate the city’s design like never before. The city’s own citizens can then apprehend its circularity, its aesthetic aplomb, its radial symmetry, its shining wonder; and there is evidence that the pedways surrounding the Central Plaza create a certain pattern, a symbol, that can only be ascertained from above. Besides, to travel from one end of the city to the other could not be achieved faster than by hot-air balloon.
But no. The theory doesn’t work.
The gondolas that have been found attached to the balloons can hold at most two people. This is hardly an efficient transportation system, or cost-effective for any other purpose — if the purpose was to carry people.
So now we know, and know that there can be other reasons for the city’s need for a Balloon Ferry than just what lies at the surface:
The balloons of Heliopoli were not for looking down from but for looking up at.
There would be at least two or three balloons aloft at any given time. Carrying only one or two attendants, they decorated the air with a looking up, a striving to.
At any hour of the day, a good portion of the citizens of Heliopoli were shading their eyes and gazing into a rainbow sky.