the grid stretches on as far as the eye can see, forming pavement-bounded squares in a wave halted only by the mountains
the roads have always been here, buried beneath the cacti and the mountains, ready and waiting for cars to drive on them
before your very eyes, new chain stores rise from bulldozed lots
they weren't there yesterday and won't be there tomorrow, when they will have been replaced by still more chains
"who shops at these? who lives here?" you wonder aloud and the cloudless sky refuses to answer
the terraced sides of the pit gain another level with every degree you tilt your head down, the hint of a bottom full of murky water just out of sight
the tailings piles rise before you, forming towers of wasted minerals ("number 5 mine in the world even after being closed for twenty years!") that blot out the sun
the shadow they cast never cools you, no matter where you stand.
you turn at the traffic light, only for a guard post to rise up before you to protect an ominous military object stabbing its corners into the grid at off angles
you turn around and make another turn at the light, only to be faced with a different guard post
all roads you can possibly take are surrounded by fences with neat rows of military aircraft behind them
the space force is never roused from their guard post, no matter how long you circle in futility.
you ignore the sign outside of the cave and heed the call of the earth instead
its yellow-streaked walls are warm to the touch
their warmth makes you feel warm inside in a way you've never felt before
the 92nd element has pierced your heart, and you pull down the forest service sign warning of radiation danger to share the love.
the inexplicable emanations of a foreign sun corrode your body from the bones out, their burning light piercing all attempts to stop them
at night, the only time you are safe from the deadly beams, you gaze up at an alien cosmos moving at such great speed that the stars become lines
you get the distinct impression that you can develop sunburns from the light of the differently scarred moon alone.
the pylons beckon to you, a chorus of many different designs singing at 60 hertz
you stand beneath the gently humming wires and feel recharged.
half of the biomes you pass through and half of the curves you drive around on the mountain road are on no published map
the rules of reality are different here, and nothing distinguishes your world from the one next door apart from slight differences in the hue of the sky and a growing sense of unease
at a rare straight piece of road, a truck passes yours, kicking up a trail of dust
you give a wave and a nod to its driver, but when you look back in the mirror, there is no dust cloud and no other truck.
this entire idea was stolen from this thread by @foundbysara on twitter and was hurriedly scribbled in a notebook on the plane home from my trip to Arizona