I’m committed to making Oakland the least annoying government to speed up new building construction and help developers maximize profits.

–Libby "Quanabee" Schaaf

Hives

Right across the street, a monster coils. Green ichor, the ooze of ancient, rotten plants clings to her carbon and iron skeleton. She snores and wheezes, mostly. Occasionally, eyelids crack open, eyes try to see and not be disturbed, the head lifts quickly, a bolt of tongue and teeth and the thunder of metal. Another power cable is severed.

Somewhere in the dead building, she lays her eggs. Tended by her husbands until they hatch, then the husbands will tear down the walls, throwing chunks of concrete and rebar into the hungry children’s mouths, faster and faster, until the children catch them and eat them. Then the children, still hungry, eat the mother that surrounded them.

Then they run off into the world, looking for ruins and department stores, but it’s only the beginning for the plot.

Next, the orange walls of slime slap in, begin devouring the dirt, their favorite food, but only after it’s been under concrete and asphalt for decades. They savor the flavors: paint, rebellion, funk music, black power, loud signs, radio waves marinated in jazz. They sit around the pit, belching with laziness and satisfaction. Many will fall so deep asleep, they’ll be killed by wild cars and humans, not for food, but pleasure.

A sludge of stone flows in and coats the pit, hardening into the bones of something new. Iron and stone crawl up each other, pushing directly against gravity, mocking the flatness of the earth, rising above the pit, above the houses, and thankfully above the billboards.

Wood collects around them, gathering into almost rectangular patterns. Sky dances through the beams, making the wood sparkle and shine as crystal does.

The air will soon grow dark and tight. Trees will be murdered for falling out of fashion. Sunbeams will be snapped, broken, and scattered across the road and walls. A poisonous dream will be planted, then buried under tons of rock and steel.

The poisonous dream is no mystery, it’s the same one that haunts us all. A dream of more and not enough, the never ending waltz. The dream will twist this lovely child. It will starve her, keep her cold and hungry even when it is warm and she has plenty. She will sleep only in fits, or after them, but never fully be awake. She’ll seek nourishment from innocent humans coming to her for protection and safety. She will give them that, mostly, and slowly crush them, so slowly they would never trace it back to her.

I mean, everyone else is doing that too.

Her masters, her owners, will definitely be doing it. Draining her of her vitality, squeezing out what brings her the most joy. They make the rules, she lives by them, and her roof is their roof according to the law. True, she squeezes the people gathering to her, just looking for a home, but she squeezes as gently as she can.

In the rain somedays, we could see how hard she tries. There’s a moment, shortly after the hard rain arrives, where she lets it all go. The pressure, the fear, the crushing, the worry, the messed up childhood, the messed up parents, the greed and brutality that washes around her. She finally is able to release it all, and enjoy the bright salmon edges of the rainy sky.

She loves how they’re never the same, but despite that…. Despite having watched these ragged pink rivers, edged with thick steel clouds, for decades, she’s never been afraid of them. She looks up into the darkening sky, as a green monster coils around the building across the street, and she thanks the clouds for never being the same, and never giving up on beauty.

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