X. The End of the Wold.
Updated: Mar 31
The moments that followed Simone’s reawakening were sudden and spontaneous like combusting oxygen. His brain seemed to have jumped into hyperdrive. Twisting the screws loose and letting raw unsolicited instincts take the steering wheel. Before accelerating off into God-knows-where, there needed to be some grounding. The ‘no internet connection’ notice had hovered right above his mind frame causing him to ask himself a series of questions that would pull him back to reality. raw unsolicited instincts take the steering wheel. Before accelerating off into God-knows-where, there needed to be some grounding. The ‘no internet connection’ notice had hovered right above his mind frame causing him to ask himself a series of questions that would pull him back to reality.
‘No internet at all? No internet to be logged into? Or used? No internet for food? No internet for conversation? No internet for life? For love?
No internet for Adwoa?!
Skidding, he spun back to the world he was physically in. There was absolutely nothing preventing him from just getting up and going to Adwoa. She was in Ghana. He had seen on his Find Friends (Stalkingly, he admitted). So there was really nothing stopping him. Well, after consideration, only the fact that he had no idea how to get to her. What mode of transport. Or even which general direction she was in. Simone wasn’t thinking of this as he pulled up, and readied himself for the trek into the city to find his beloved.
Exasperatedly down the flight of steps (the elevator he was horrified to learn was controlled through the Cloud) he gingered himself as he reached the pedestrian gate that led to the open streets. Simone bent on his knees, braced himself to meet the World. It was not like he hadn’t ventured off into the world ever before. But the fact that he wasn’t doing so from the comfort of an automated e-vehicle, but on his own two feet, was all the difference. Instinctively, he lifted his arm to check for directions but quickly realized that his location wasn’t updated, so any directions given to him would be inaccurate.
‘What if I can’t find Adwoa? What if I get lost? With no internet? What the hell do I do then?’ Swallowing the anxiety that was threatening to overcome, he leaned over the security interface at the gate and once it verified his face as his, unlocked it to venture forth into the unknown.
When he had checked his maps earlier it had saved from the last time it updated and so he still had access to some information. Using his Find Friends, which acted as an overlay on the maps itself, he could track Adwoa’s address and last known whereabouts. Tapping now, fervently, he opened her profile and scanned the address of where she was known to have been last seen.
Osu. The Times Square of New Accra.
Pausing for a heartbeat, Simone lifted his head up to a rather curious scene unfolding before him at Labone Circle. People he could only imagine being his neighbors since he didn’t see anyone outside of his floor, were concentrated at the park. All of them hardly noticing the other. But all participating in a similar exercise of shuffling about, tilting their heads and devices toward the sky. It was only on further inspection that Simone realized they were searching for the Internet. Whether it was a phone, watch, or angling their heads’, everyone seemed to be partaking in this odd dance for connectivity.
Busting in-between and around the stretched arms and musky armpits, Simone paced through the internet zombies toward the rent-a-bike. The bike station was parked in rows opposite the reinforced concrete fortress that was the American Embassy. He knew the bikes had their own maps he could use to figure out the direction he should take to Adwoa’s last location. Waving his hand over the interface, then again to move the address off his phone to the bike’s map, he studied the recommended route. There was a tram about a couple of streets down that connected Labone to Osu. Saving the route, he spun on his heels and dashed toward the tram terminal hoping that it would be functioning. Praying to whoever, for this bit of luck.
Heaving a bit, and gasping a lot, he stumbled onto the platform right at the edge of the highway that separated Osu and Labone. The tram was charging quietly on its solar dock awaiting customers before departing. Luckily, it was preprogrammed and therefore didn’t need the Cloud to operate. Simone was more concerned with how it would fare with the other Cloud-based auto-mobiles on the road. Taking a peek up the highway before jumping onboard the tram, he spied on the bridge just ahead spiraling curls of smoke and the wailing sounds of sirens. People running away. Some running toward. Some simply just standing. Angling themselves for internet connectivity.
Simone, holding onto the cool metal pole on the tram as it drudged along its fixed route, could feel a tightness in his chest. He had been in such a rush he hadn’t taken the time to absorb the ensuing danger around him. The insulated bubbles of the fragmented city were bursting over each other, as enclosed worlds were suddenly splashed into the open court of free doom. There was no restraint. No civilization here anymore.
Clutching onto the pole, his tram glided silently by the wreckage of driverless cars on the bridge. Ringing sirens, scores of lifted arms and tilted heads reaching upward. And onward he went toward the packed concrete jumbo that was Osu.
Where the other neighborhoods of New Accra, like Dzorwulu, Labone, Airport Residential, and East Legon were well-trimmed and manicured enclaves, Osu was a messy massive unfinished Rubix cube of concrete and people.
During the Accra riots, over a decade ago, the trend of closing parts of the city into gated communities exploded. The chaos of the riots swept a burning fear that blackened social fabrics tied together by ever loosening threads of religious morality and the good nature that Ghanaians were so known for. The intimacy and violence of the crimes committed hastened the upper classes desire to wrap themselves completely from the ooze emanating from the deprived. Soon it wasn’t just residences that were building walls, the commerce, the work, the entertainment, and the life was all encapsulated within the gated community. However, the fragmented nature of Accra meant that it couldn’t consolidate into one giant organism but rather satellite cities. Cities within the city.
What one neighborhood started, another continued, and with the help of security and infrastructure contractors Accra’s global and local elite conjured up a network that linked these satellite cities to one another, forming New Accra.
But Osu was different. It was the convergence point between the old and the new. Osu grew and learned to host these opposing worlds. It grew sideways. It shot up. It folded on top of itself, caved-in from underneath, exploded at its top, then solidified like cooled lava over its surroundings. The scale and intensity of economic activity duly gave it enormous clout. Every inch of Osu was crammed with enterprise, the panorama packed with city-folk. And even after cars were banned, and informal stands smashed, there was still no order that could be bestowed on Osu.
As Simone edged further, now on foot, through the raucous of the main street, any semblance of harmony was nowhere to be seen.
Just as he thought he was making headway he ran into a crowd facing off with strapped security forces standing as a wall in front of the telecommunications HQ. The crowd was vehemently demanding internet access from their providers as the armed forces shouted over blared mega-phones
“The HQ is closed, please step back! The HQ is closed, PLEASE STEP BACK! PLEASE STEP BACK OR WE WILL BE FORCED TO OPEN FIRE!”
Simone had found himself lodged between the vanguard of protestors and the forces in front of the HQ. Wriggling between a brick and a hard place, he lost his footing, spun sharply and threw a flailing arm which caught a hard-jawed policeman right on the face. Suddenly, Simone’s face was planted on the wet concrete. Knees bruised from the impact. Flipping onto his side, the policeman was already upon him, but a protestor had wrapped his arms around his neck and tossed him over. Simone scrambled backward slamming himself against a street stall. Panting. Reaching for air. Sweat dripping down his flustered face.
The spark had been lit and there was no stopping the carnage. The hard-jawed security had vanquished his foe and was now taking purposeful steps toward Simone to exact a swift christening. His meaty forearm was upon Simone before he could gather himself. His steel grip raised Simone off the street before unleashing a powerful knuckle across Simone’s face.
There was no street.
The left side of his world was shut out. Bloodied. A ringing that deafened the clattering skirmish happening in the backdrop. Just as the man was about to unleash another punch, hands thrust into Simone’s punctured vision. Waving forcefully at the man. Stopping him from punching Simone again. The intervener pushed the police back and he tumbled to his elbows before being enveloped in the brawl behind.
Simone’s savior women turned to him. Bending down on one knee and gently placed her hand on his swollen cheek.
“Simone, what are you doing here?” She demanded.
The voice sounded familiar? But it couldn’t be? Could it?
Startled by the coincidence but somehow knowing that I was meant to be, Simone spurted out.
“Adwoa, I came to find you!”
Simone had now tilted his head slightly so he could take in the full image of Adwoa Weyi, and every bit of her was better than he could’ve imagined.
“You are going to get yourself killed! What were you thinking? The whole city is in shit.”
Adwoa was rummaging in her rucksack for something but Simone clumsily shoved her hand away. She scowled at him and was half-way insulting him before he quenched her retort.
“You said I should get out more often…” A wry smile crept on his beaten face. His cheeks violently purple. Adwoa stared down at Simone, considering the intriguing specimen that he was. She didn’t fully understand it/him. But everything about him was a joy for her. She let out a wholehearted laugh then took the back of his head, shoving his face into hers, locking lips as armageddon descended on the streets around them.