San Agustin! Once the crown jewel of all the towns in the cylinder. Once in the town of Macho Grande a peasant girl asked me if I were rich when told her I was from San Agustin. She wasn’t kidding. That’s what everybody in the cylinder thinks. A shining city on the hill where the streets are paved with gold.
Heartbreaking as it is I roll into San Agustin to see what happened to it. Up until I get to Municipal Park the streets are clear. There are more and more dead butterflies as I drive father into town. I have to assure Juan that they are dead to keep him from screaming out into the night. Instead he crosses himself and mumbles old prayers.
They’re dead alright. The cold and mountain top pressure all over the cylinder have killed them. I get Juan to sit in the jeep while I find a bulldozer with gas in it and push them aside to get into the government office complex. The first place I stop is the power station and I have to push aside more dead fucks that were electrocuted trying to get into the place because of the warmth.
It’s not that hard to get the generators going again and suddenly there is power all over San Agustin. Juan has never seen electrical power close up and asks if I am a brujo. I tell him I’m not and to stop worrying. He reluctantly agrees to stand guard while I am in Joaquim’s old office. There I am able to hack into his files and piece together what happened.
The butterflies in the valley never did come up out of it and onto the plain of San Agustin. What happened here was a Jurassic Park scenario; the butterflies captured in the valley and brought here to study adapted to the thin air and could fly. They even evolved quickly enough to chew through the butterfly proof seals that held them captive. I don’t know how they adapted to the cyanide gas and gamma rays that would have flooded the facility automatically when they got out. Once that happened there was chaos and everybody died. And of course then they spread out all over the cylinder, evolving until they could almost fly up into the mountains.
The plexiglass dome over the valley was finished and the air drawn out and the fucks there were all dead from the hard vacuum and the minus 70 cold. The mistake was in bringing the ones up here to study.
From Joaquim’s office I can do a great deal. I turn on the power all over the cylinder except of course for Spanish towns like Caborca and Macho Grande that never had any. And though nobody ever told me, there is a cylinder wide web that just needs booting up from the software in this personal computer. But then Joaquim was the Autarch of San Agustin. And just like that this tiny world goes from the nineteenth century with no electricity to the twenty first with the world wide web, even though outside of towns like Oldenburg and Fon Du Lac and San Agustin there are hardly any personal computers.
What’s even more interesting is that according to the instruments the hard vacuum is still there and the seals on the plexiglass dome quarantining the Valle de Mariposas are holding. The air must’ve been voided into outer space before the fucks broke out in here in San Agustin. Hard vacuum all over the valley. Temperature -70 F. Joaquim must’ve had the same idea I did.
From here I see lights go on in distant towns. Whether anyone is there to see it IDK. I could get a fine view from over at Punto de Pesadillas but I have to avoid that place because of the memories. Memories of fucking Holly on the pine straw forest floor on dry, sunny afternoons under the palms. I cant think of anything else to do here, not now. So I get Juan and turn off the lights in the office and get into the jeep and drive over the hill toward the road out of San Agustin.
When I crest the hill I see a vehicle in the road with its flashers going. I put on my blinkers and drive slowly to within ten yards and stop. And this is ultimately creepy because I have no idea who this is or what they are doing here. Juan’s constant level of terror gets even higher as he senses my apprehension.
As I get out of the HumVee I say, Juan, whatever you do stay in the car. If you leave it I cant protect you. Comprende?
He nods vigorously, his face white in the street lights. I walk slowly toward the other jeep. A driver slowly emerges and stands beside it. And my neck hair is standing on end.