The woolly-skinned man smiled at me as he twisted a shiny stick in the socket. The metal beast gave a low grumbling roar as it awoke. The man pulled a stick and light erupted from the front of the beast, piercing the night and illuminating the path in front of us. Then, the beast began running forward. I hadn’t seen any legs on the beast when I stepped inside; perhaps they were nestled beneath.
The beast had been tamed extraordinarily well; it had many rounded lumps which the man pressed regularly, and one even made the beast sing to us for a short time. Even the slightest movement of the trainer would cause the beast to turn direction.
We ran on the grey path for a while longer. I noticed many more of these sleeping beasts by the side of the path. The diversity of the beasts was incredible. They came in many different colours and different sizes. The humans were clearly expert breeders.
We turned a corner and the beast ran even faster. The trees rushed past us and slowly the greenery faded to grey. We were on a wider path and still running very quickly. Other beasts ran with us, some in the opposite direction. It was like a great migration.
In the distance, seemingly monolithic pillars had risen out from the ground. They towered above us and seemed to dominate the landscape. I could tell they were not natural, but were the manifestation of humanity’s needs. I explained my observation to the beast’s trainer. He laughed and told me that humans had to build up as they were running out of room on the ground.
It was only then that I realised that the landscape was devoid of any trees. The forests had given way to a grey jungle. There was no bird song; only the roar of these beasts. The moonlight was twice filtered by cloud and smog as we entered the network of pillars.