The tallest building in the world is. Tall.
And so the people are nothing but ants rushing by: voices hissing, individual conversations coming together haphazardly to birth a collective droning wave of noise. To say they were muffled would be a colossal understatement, rather, it would paramount to attempting to hear a pin drop through a brick wall. While perhaps being simultaneously submerged in the ocean.
No railing exists to obstruct your view of the workings of the earth below, but likewise, there is no barrier to hold you in.
Nothing would prevent you from swaying out of balance and potentially falling to your death. You don’t particularly care.
(They were all so, so, very busy.)
You wake with the stain of grey on your tongue.
A second passes where you do absolutely nothing at all, the universe pitying you another moment of subconscious bliss. No less than another handful of precious seconds goes by before the familiar croning of your alarm shatters the false calm—a loud, jolting staccato that digs deep into your bones and fully pushes away the dream. If today was the final day the clock made its final wheezing cries, it was very well deserved in your opinion.
You throw it into the wall.
The walk to the station is brief, as usual.
City noise seemed to be a language by now: the honk of a taxi, flashing colours of traffic lights. Persuasive yells of street marketers mingle with the quick steps of the crowd; your own steps conditioned, automatic. (Watch for bicyclists here, tight smile at the saleswoman there, avoid the pothole on the third street corner.)
You wonder idly just when you’d become a part of the dialect itself. The concept quickly becomes irrelevant as you near the rapidly swelling station.
Of course, there are no seats left when you board.
It’s long after the train kicks into gear and leaves the station that you even find a spot to stand. You glance around briefly, cataloguing the abnormal flush of people on your route today.
Down the row, a lanky man with patches of brown hair lining his jawbone puffs away at the cigarette hanging between his thin lips. The train attendee, barely five feet tall and adorned with a permanent scowl on her face, persistently nags at him to cease and desist. Meanwhile, some poor dad in the upper left simultaneously tries and fails to keep his kids on leash as they run unbidden round his legs.
It was the same. Different individuals with different problems, but the same cloying mundanity. You wonder for a moment at the reason behind the influx of this many newcomers heading the same direction, but decide in the next breath that you don't actually care. You recline your head against the cool wall of the transport.
The next thing you register, you are opening your eyes.
Grogginess slows your senses down to near halt. You’re not sure exactly when you had drifted off, much less how long for, but the reason for your returning alertness suddenly grows rapidly obvious.
The air, previously thick with the buzz of morning talk and pleasantries, has become deathly still. Every single one of the inhabitants is staring upward.
You dazedly follow their gazes. You blink.
The train’s roof has been cleanly ripped off.
A monster is slowly but surely rising above you all, the roof--now only an amalgamation of twisted metal and protruding wires beyond recognition--crushed between its hands. The creature stands ridiculously tall, closing in on a size perhaps two thirds a skyscraper. No one moves. Its face is mostly scar tissue, and the smell that drifts down from its body to fill the space reminds you of month old dry rot. Seven eyes blink unnaturally down, one after the other, the sound visceral as they pry apart.
Oh, you think. That's where the draft was coming from.
Someone lets out a choked scream, and just like that, the freeze is broken.
The train—what was left of it anyways—explodes into motion, people scrambling further back, crawling over seats, anywhere they could go to escape. Behind you, there starts the unmistakable sound of crying. Shouts pick up in desperation.
“Yes, scream!” The monster’s mouth opens in an awful laugh to show rows of clicking sharp teeth. “Cower before me worthless humans–”
You twist your lips. You are in no mood for this.
Indeed, it was incredibly rare for a day to go past without some kind of spectacle happening somewhere. So why did they endlessly need to scatter about like mice from a cat? Weren’t they used to this already? The world you lived in dictated it.
The first couple times you’d been in a similar situation, you'd descended into hysteria--quite literally soiling yourself at the unfortunate reality that these creatures could just crush you like a nut without a thought. Then it happened again. And again.
Over time you found yourself becoming less and less affected. Desensitization bloomed, patient, calculating, eating away at any resemblance of a spark within you. Like a foot stomping out a cigarette, the flame at the heart of your being went cold, leaving something void empty and wriggling in its place.
Eventually, everything just...stopped.
Ugly laughter still echoes from above. Hands are on you now, sweatslick and urgent, bodies squeezing by to evacuate through the doors—when had they gotten those open?—for hope of safety. You snatch your bag tight to your form to prevent it from being swept away in the human wave; nevertheless, you surely begin to get dragged along.
The crowd rolls, a strange combination of altruism: those snatching up kids, working together to make sure no one is injured; and utter selfishness: fists knocking others aside to get themselves to freedom, ‘every man for himself’ displayed loud and clear.
You frown. You twist and stuff your phone into your back pocket and then you twist again, because what holds the degree of separation of great importance? One might argue the shape of consciousness, might have laid maps out bare for analysis on the memories, vivid constructs enough to saturate character in the brevity of dizzying illumination. The reach of fingertips, the occurrences which leave indestructible vestiges in a mind's eye, never forgotten, so layered over potent, twice, thrice, lifetimes into multitudes of canyons of recollections.
You sink into your breath. You look into the panic, the panic laughs back, you soak up the offered chaos like an oilskin, you feel without all the feeling, you twist round again and the flash in the corner of your vision sears across your heart eternally because a sharp whistle slices through your skull.
Clutching your head, you bend in half and gasp around your tongue at the threatened dryheaveal.
That wasn’t of any human origin, no, it was the sound of something moving so fast it rendered the laws of physics a child's plaything and pierced the very atmosphere.
By the time you regain any sense of sanity, the monster is already defeated.
Shreds of flesh splatter outwards, any and everything else vaporized in the sheer magnitude of force that had been acted against it. A draft of wind barrels into you from the impact, sending your hair flying around your face.
And suddenly, you see the sun.
The silhouette of the figure smolders—a cape fluttering in the wind, bright yellow burning into your retina in all of its glory and heat. Awe follows the shine and fills the hollows of your eyes, spills over your cheeks into your open mouth like ichor. A head turns slowly. The raised fist lowers soft as whiplash, glove steaming red redred as blood. You gasp breathlessly.
"Out of the way!"
Someone shoves you from behind to save their own skin. You fling an arm out against the wall, ankle twisting something fierce as you trip over yourself. Your head snaps back up.
The figure is gone.