She had been following the cracked black stone towards the city, wondering about the straightness of it. At least it made it easier for her to walk. The dusty plains had slowly given way to gentle hillocks, with the black stone rising and falling over them as Janny trudged on.
She spotted the structures in the distance from a little way away, even though they were half hidden by the dust and smog. The straight edges made them stick out against the rolling curves of the surrounding landscape. So she followed the black stone, and the structures slowly came closer.
But before they came nearer, something else loomed into view. Along the sides of the stone were human-height lumps, evenly spaced. They were – she struggled for the word – statues. At first she was surprised that they hadn’t been taken like most of the other human things, but as she gingerly stepped off the black stone to take a closer look, she realised why.
Each statue was encased in glass.
“What are they?” she asked Friend.
Friend was silent. Friend never lied, but sometimes there were…silences. Omissions. This sounded like one of those.
Janny stepped closer, through the dust that surrounded the statues. There were many of them – the glass blocks stretched away from her along the black stone, the muggy air curling around them.
“Why are they here?” Janny asked Friend, tapping the box.
“I do not know.” Friend said.
This time, Janny wasn’t in a mood to take obstruction. “You have no memory, or you are not able to tell me?”
“I have no memory.” Friend said.
“Why not? Did you ever have the memories?”
“I…think so.” Friend said, sounding slightly more human for an instant. “I have similar memories. But I do not know what these are or why they are here.”
Janny looked at them again. She felt tiny, standing in front of the glass block, and gently pressed a finger against it. It felt cold in the fog, with tiny droplets of condensation that gathered and trickled slowly downwards.
The figure inside was humanoid, but looked as if it was made of metal and shiny plastic. Janny pressed her finger harder against the glass, almost willing it to let her in. The…thing…was standing, large eyes closed, coils of what looked like hair resting on its blocky shoulders. It was strangely sexless, but somehow beautiful.
Janny slowly moved onto the next one, which was a different shape; this one was squat, rounded, resting on a multiplication of legs. It was encased in the same size glass block, and as Janny looked down the row, the glass blocks stretched off into the fog.
“Why are they here?” she murmured, puzzled. “And what are they?”