The world’s biggest city condensed down to nothingness, and with indifferent cruelty burrowed its way into her optical nerve. A miracle to the technologically illiterate but one robbed of it’s grandeur by sterile routine.

The procedure had been her choice. Though she was far from the first to undertake it. If anything she was a latecomer to the Grey Revolution. Not quite a hold out but far from the rash crowds of early adopters who’d undertaken a mad rush towards a muted future.

The result of the blinding shots of images into her eyes was near instantaneous. All consuming grey swept over her, obscuring the functionally bare and insufferably bright room she’d been in, the last she’d ever be in as far as the reality out there went. What came next, the artificial city, looked, felt, smelt and tasted grey and within a second she had accepted it. How could she not? The procedure bore absolute results, re-building her mind to account for a new, if unreal, world. It wasn’t a thing to look through or around or behind, because there was nothing else left. Even if there were any discordant traces of colour or clashing images beyond the grand and dull city scape it would be no more than a jarring oddity. A quirk of a brain spasming against imposed alteration. Such things were not meant to exist in this new place and so they couldn’t. Not to her newly closed eyes anyway.

It was an escape undertaken less for the destination than for what was left behind. Lights, colours, potential – ideas of hope for those with the will to live for them. But living for something wasn’t easy. Or living for the illusion of something wasn’t easy. That’s what it had become, out there, an overload of enthused purpose, meaningless in it’s fervour and all consuming in it’s demands. And hollow, at least weighed against the solid mass of mere human experience.

Rather than fight the inevitable openness of opportunity, or the imposed demand to pretend to it, she and so many others had opted to sink back into the one offered alternative. The grey city, the Grey Revolution. Serene certainty in a hallucinatory dream state compiled and controlled to fit the resigned observer. Already it could boast more inhabitants than any metropolis outside of it. More than whole nations where grand, if not noble, ends had been declared as things to live for rather than landscapes to live in.

She watched the grey walls of estates, houses, streets and offices she’d now committed herself to. A minimalist mirror of the world outside, neatly stripped of anything beyond the necessities of a silent existence. It felt indifferent. It felt like heaven. And for the rest of her days she would live in it.

Be sure to check out my new book No Cure for Shell Shock.

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