Lines of travel (roads, tracks, the cropduster-airport on the edge of town). Lines of utility (sewers, steam tunnels, water manes, electrical cables, refineries, generators, sewage plants). Lines of commerce (store-clusters, banking-clusters, light industrial clusters, heavy industrial clusters, warehouses, and failed versions of the above). Lines of power (the government-mesh, the congress of the cats, the community grids, the displaced). The city is a nest of grids. It is a difficult place to find the pulse, should one not be able to find the omphalos, the magic, the heart-line of a city, at which point all becomes clear. She entered the offices of the Maximum People’s Government of Summerland, where the lost continued to type messages on broken keyboards into gutted computers as though nothing ever happened, as though nothing ever changed. Dampeners in the tiles of the ceiling along the hallways absorb faith and radiate blistered fear. She was protected, but knew to pay attention to such foul omens. At a certain length, tone-sequences begin to fold on themselves, algorithms coded in the first few sequences in order to map the unfolding of the entire piece, frequency limiters and repetition hues, cerulean in this light, a milk-white hum as the interoffice spiral tightens and she closed in on this place’s heart, tucked away, stored in a jar of bleach and gooseberries to repel stray dreams. “You, you are a key,” she whispers, and tucks the jar beneath her colored coat. A wash inside, captured storm clouds, a mirror-skin surrounds the sentinels surveying her from the places where they hide, the recording angels, the sentient video cameras crawling across the ceiling nestled in the exoskeletons of hissing beetles. The only hiding method is action at a distance, two places at once, four, eight, until you are everywhere. She scurries along the filing cabinets, calling up submerged ocular subroutines embedded within eidetic images of her teacher, the Black Thighed Witch, a mapping of arcane knowledge onto a form designed to slip out of focus, misdirect the mind’s eye, the forms of her flesh blurred. Within the frame she fragments, strobing in and out of sight, surrounded now by the swarm angels, the butterfly armor of Vons Serin, and then vanishes from the building, lost forever to the surveillance which sought to pin her to a specific location in space-time, as though she were a single instance.

the exit is hidden within the exit