The lights glowed hazy from behind the smog and dust weaving through the crowd of buildings. Their silhouettes were like the shadows of monsters crouching down to bare their teeth and impose their menace, but for the mechanical hearts, minds, and bodies marching from task to task the imagination to see that was non-existent. They marched along lines unseen, but well-known, from building to building; to endlessly labouring machine to endlessly labouring machine.
Once, the landscape had served flesh and blood. The people bustled and absorbed all that was offered from the hands of the tireless machines. One-hundred-foot high displays, pixilated if one stood too near yet placed so high above street-level that it was never a concern, would speak words of such conviction that they’d be jotted down on paper immediately and without consideration. “God bless this place!” would punctuate the ending of each delivery, and the people would return it with force. Years stitched together through centuries and generations carried on this way without notice of the weakening enthusiasm. Instead of shouting in to the sea of light above them the people would say it aloud as if casually greeting an acquaintance. Their children would say it an octave quieter; their children would mumble it to themselves. When their mouths were soon covered to protect themselves from the air they struggled to wheeze in, they choked and coughed in the name of the voice, disembodied by the thick air and unseen.
Now only the machines remained; rusting and disassembling year-by-year. There were no eyes to observe their work; no ears to take in their news. They themselves did not observe the decaying bodies left in the streets where they’d collapsed, nor did they observe the homes, offices, and shopping centres littered with the same death. Loyally they served the long-fallen society, unable to observe the great die-off.