I dragged a cart limping on a single wheel through an orchard of high rise dereliction. A judgmental rank of crows presided over the road from the upper skeleton of a building part consumed by fire. I hauled the near-spent frame to a road I recalled held a decades old bicycle shop. A trio of cardboard women photographed in uniform for tyre commercials stood eternally behind the glass doors years since shattered. In their twenties when the shutter closed and then sunbleached pale before the true ending of the world. Their smiles immortal against the world’s long death.
I sat on the curb to rest and watch the store. Nothing moved. I placed my hands on the tarmac to stand and my fingers brushed a scattering of dead maggots curled like burnt matchsticks. I turned a slow look either way down the length of the street and all was still.
Above me a gentle squeal rose from a light gust. I shifted my gaze up, following a brown link of chains to a wrought iron mounting hammered into a gibbet. On it hung a cage, a lurid vertical coil of wires affixed with discarded razors, plier-sheared safety pins and nails pulled from fences. Each soldered or welded to make a prison with pain as its walls. A bearded shape stood naked and silent and blinked down behind the splintered threads and shivered and mouthed a plea of despair. A distant light in the store flickered on, and the crows began to call.