ones who survived learned to ignore their hunger for long periods of time - he picked up a broken metal door stopper out of his pther pocket, and scratched the phrase “I do not like this age” in the rusted stall side next to the Frankie Goes To Hollywood lyrics, then put the stopper back in his grimy pocket and looked at his work.
“I have done something,” he thought, but while reading the wall he forgot entirely what it was, noticed he was hungry, and went out looking for food. He shuffled his way out to the main hallway, then followed the light to the main concourse.
It was a massive atrium five stories tall, with blackened skylights letting in a sulfuric light, terraces of stained, prestressed concrete connected by banks of long-dead escalators. There were lots of people - perhaps hundreds - in there. On the big atrium walls there were a few examples of large framed artwork left , generally high enough and far enough from outcroppings to prevent them from being torn down. They were all vague abstracts., whether by intention or simply the passage of time. Whatever they had been intended to be - a cubistic representation of the glories of flight, or a mural of a cow - they‘d ended up abstracts now. The walls were stained with blood, grime, soot, dust, dirt, every bit as bad as the floors in the terminal had been. Small objects thrown against them would stick. Larger objects thrown against them would gradually pull away with an intestinal “Schlopping” kind of nose before they fell to the floor. The ground floor was covered yards-deep in human feces, refuse, and dead bodies. It had been so long that this was gradually turning to compost and soil, after a fashion. It was covered with a small forest of mushrooms and chives. There was a perpetual cloud of cooking fire smoke at the top of the atrium. What they were cooking is best unasked.
How long had he been there? A moment just coming out of the concourse, or had he been living there for years? For him there was no substantial difference, everything was in the now.
In the now, with no memory of how he got there, he stood looking around in the purgatorial half-light that could have been a cloudy day or a bright cloudless night. He saw the abstracts, and for the hundredth time he couldn’t make sense of them.
A live body fell past his balcony on the second floor of the atrium, and hit the fungus and feces and chives with a loud slapping, splattering sound. He hadn’t seen where the body came from - if he fell from the third or fourth floors, he had a fair chance to survive, since there was a good six feet of squishy filth to cushion the blow. He, himself, had once been thrown off the fourth floor after loosing a rumble, and survived, though it took him two days to dig his way out of the suffocating filth. Again, fortunately, he didn’t remember it.
There was a general migration from day to day from the bottom of the atrium to the top. People began down below in the filth, and wandered upstairs gradually, rediscovering themselves time and time again in some new-to-them surrounding with no memory of getting there, no sense of who they were, and they attempted to survive by instinct. The top two floors were the most crowded and violent, the place where everyone wanted to be, though no one knew why. From thence, people went back down again, one way or another: Perhaps forced out by stronger people working their ways up from the lower floors, perhaps thrown over the side. Even in this there were a couple ways one could go: either as a person, or as the digested remains of a person shat over a high banister in to the emptiness below. What goes up must come down, he had thought several times/for the first time, and chucked to himself, then forgotten his own cleverness before he’d even finished laughing.
A gaggle of people came by, several of them carrying food. He wanted food. He jumped in to the small throng and attacked one of the people carrying a mercifully-unidentifiable shank of meat. The others piled on him and started wailing on him, and he clawed back at them. At first focused, the fight went much longer than