The winds blow over the desolate wasteland that was once the powerful city of Stratton, where the second industrial revolution began. Abandoned factories with smashed windows loom over the landscape and the light posts on the street lie bent and crooked in disgusting angles. Time has not been able to wash the blood from the steel.
There’s a strange air swirling about. As if the place weren’t entirely abandoned. It’s true that rats and insects scurry about, no doubt stripping the bodies of whatever flesh hasn’t been eaten, but there’s something else in the city, something haunting, otherworldly.
It wafts in and out of the factories and through the streets. It takes my hand with it’s ephemeral cursed fingers and twitches my fingers. It makes my eyes paranoid, my body jumpy, and yet my head remains too entrenched in curiosity to be affected. What exactly happened in this place?
Over in the distance, so far away I have to strain my eyes to see it, there is a ragged scrap of paper being tossed around by the wind. I run to it, hoping that it’s not my unreliable eyes playing tricks on me. When I see that the paper is very much real, I run even faster, and hurriedly snatch the scrap from the air.
The lettering is blurred by time, and some of the words are lost in dark red splotches, but I can still make out the words on the old newspaper advert.
“Do you suspect your love-bot is planning to join the robot uprising threatening us all? All restraints are half off at all Artificial Affection stores! Your love might be fake, but the danger is very real. When all bets are off, restraints are half off! At all Artificial Affection stores!”