The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel…
The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.
He’d found her, one rainy night, in an arcade. Under bright ghosts burning through a blue haze of cigarette smoke, holograms of Wizard’s Castle, Tank War Europa, the New York skyline …
Images formed and reformed: a flickering montage of the Sprawl’s towers and ragged Fuller domes, dim figures moving toward him in the shade beneath a bridge or overpass …
The alley was an old place, too old, the walls cut from blocks of dark stone. The pavement was uneven and smelled of a century’s dripping gasoline, absorbed by ancient limestone.
He passed yakitori stands and massage parlors, a franchised coffee shop called Beautiful Girl, the electronic thunder of an arcade. He stepped out of the way to let a dark-suited sarariman by, spotting the Mitsubishi-Genentech logo tattooed across the back of the man’s right hand.
Somewhere down in the Sprawl’s ferroconcrete roots, a train drove a column of stale air through a tunnel. The train itself was silent, gliding over its induction cushion, but displaced air made the tunnel sing, bass down into subsonics.
Each space in Straylight is in some way secret, this endless series of chambers linked by passages, by stairwells vaulted like intestines, where the eye is trapped in narrow curves, carried past ornate screens, empty alcoves …
The road in from the airport had been dead straight, like a neat incision, laying the city open. He’d watched the crazy walls of patchwork wooden tenements slide by, condos, arcologies, grim housing projects, more walls of plyboard and corrugated iron.
By day, the bars down Ninsei were shuttered and featureless, the neon dead, the holograms inert, waiting, under the poisoned silver sky.
She knelt and touched the dark sand on the floor of the imitation tunnel. It felt like sand, cool and dry, but when she drew her finger through it, it closed like a fluid, leaving the surface undisturbed. A dozen meters ahead, the tunnel curved. Harsh yellow light threw hard shadows on the seamed pseudo-rock of the walls.
He picked the star up and walked to the window, turning it in his hands. He’d found it in the pocket of his jacket, in Zion, when they were preparing to leave for the JAL station.
He’d come in out of the warm rain that sizzled across the Ninsei pavement and somehow she’d been singled out for him, one face out of the dozens who stood at the consoles, lost in the game she played.
He woke repeatedly, Molly curled beside him, and heard the water, voices drifting in through the open glass panels of the balcony, a woman’s laughter from the stepped condos on the opposite slope.
The corridor lights were blue. Case stepped out of the elevator and chose a direction at random. Numbered doors. A hush like the halls of an expensive clinic.
Behind the port lay the city, factory domes dominated by the vast cubes of corporate arcologies. Port and city were divided by a narrow borderland of older streets, an area with no official name.
Captions by William Gibson, excerpted from Neuromancer (1984, HarperCollinsPublishers)