This is the first section of the first chapter of Sonnets from a Proton. It starts here.
The next section is here
Martin stretched out his hand to the glass wall in front of him, trying to touch the wall beyond that. Wall was really the wrong word, but he just couldn’t call it anything else, what else do you call a structure that your eye sees raise straight in front of you towering up vertically? Well soon he’d be calling it lakes and sand dunes, but until then here it was towering in front of him. If he looked carefully he could see the irregularities in the surface that would fill up with water and be the lakes; earlier he’d got his binoculars and seen the pipework that would feed and exploit those water reserves, but until then there they were, faint blemishes on the vertical wall as it curved up in front of him.
“Five minutes remaining” boomed the announcement.
Everyone would hear that and yet he felt that he would be the only one who was actually going to watch the event properly. Well no doubt there would be plenty of people at the pylon, but that felt to Martin like cheating; feeling the ground fall out from underneath you with the reassurance of the pylon there seemed like missing out on the whole point. No he would stay here, stars on one side, forest on the other side. Well forest was a bit generous, grove perhaps? Arboretum, technically it was an indoor or at least undercover structure so maybe it was; no that was wrong if the forest was indoors then everything here was indoors and that just felt wrong. You can’t normally see the stars from indoors, you don’t have wind indoors. The whole point of indoors and outdoors was that there was some distinction to be made. Surface and City just felt like the wrong description, sure the plate was enclosed to keep in the atmosphere but that didn’t make here indoors, indoors was in the city below. Wait no that wasn’t right either.
He watched the horizon against the stars trying to track his movement, trying to calculate the speed or rotation and wondered if he’d be able to notice as their rotation slowed, not at once but by this time tomorrow would he still notice the stars as they rolled past the horizon. Probably he decided, but never again would it be this dramatic. There was something very romantic about watching the starts always moving, not just moving day to day as they did on Earth but perceptibly second to second if you watched carefully enough. Never quite seeing the same sky, the constant unchanging yet always moving. He’d heard that sitting here frightened some people, what appeared to be an infinite drop just a meter or so in front of him was enough to make a lot of his friends lose more than just their lunch. He’d heard it was worse in Earth orbit where you could see the ground below you and imagine hitting it. He saw neither, just a beautiful endless skyscape.
The announcement sounded again, just a couple of minutes left. Nearly a half of the human race would hear that, and yet he was still the only one here, to his mind the only one that cared.