Kelvin Adams lived in a billion dollar apartment with his son, Kevin II, on the 448th stratum of Very Large Habitation Cube 66E. Their home had north-facing windows, through which they had a perfect view of Very Large Habitation Cube 66F, but of little besides. A penthouse, with rooftop access, was Kelvin’s dream but, with five years left until his retirement, he understood that it would have to remain as such.
Kelvin II was a singular sort. At twenty-five, he had yet in his life to experience a day of hard work or earn an honest pound. Yet he seemed to want no part in the world of privilege into which he had been born: the corrective surgery; the expensive education; the outward-facing flat. Instead, he spent weeks at a time exploring the interior, sleeping in the hostels and pleasure palaces, or not sleeping at all.
When home, he would sit by the front room window, gazing across the divide at 66F, drinking poteen from a bottle.
“Why don’t you make something of yourself? Do something constructive?” Kelvin would say.
“Some people are destined to construct the world,” Kelvin II would reply, “And some are destined to experience it.”
One day, Kelvin returned from work to find his son packing a travel bag.
“I’m going away,” said Kelvin II, “And I’m not coming back.”
“You always come back,” said Kelvin.
Kelvin II shook his head. “I want to show you something,” he said.
The Muawe Skybridge connected the 200th stratum of Cube 66E with the 198th stratum of Cube 66F. Crossing the bridge was not forbidden, but no one crossed. Iannus Muabwe had constructed the bridge in the hope of opening the world to the people of 66E. On the day it opened, Muabwe walked out, stood in the centre of the bridge, and threw himself off. Only a handful of people had gathered to watch the bridge open, and they stood silently as Muabwe disappeared into the clouds below. Then they went back to their business.
A small, plastic sign now marked the place where Iannus Muabwe had stood before jumping to his presumed death. Kelvin II pointed it out to his father, who stood yards away, too scared to step onto the bridge.
“Muabwe never intended for us to cross over,” said Kelvin II, “He showed us what he wanted us to do.” Kelvin II then climbed onto the railing and stood with his arms out like the wings of a bird. Kelvin Adams felt a rushing in his ears and a tightness in his chest, and he realised that he had never feared for his son until this moment and that his fears for himself had gone. He ran to his son’s side.
“Don’t jump,” he said.
“It’s alright,” said Kelvin II. And he jumped.
As Kelvin watched his son fall, he thought momentarily of his penthouse dream. He forgot who he was and thought that he was watching himself fall. He imagined that he could feel the wind on his face and the cold, damp stickiness of the clouds. He looked back at Very Large Habitation Cube 66E, turned toward Very Large Habitation Cube 66F. He couldn’t remember which was which. He looked down again. His son was gone. Then before he understood the reasons why, he climbed the railing and leapt off.
As he emerged, falling from the belly of the cloud, he saw for the first time in his life the ocean that surrounded the Cube, and he knew that he was going to die. But as he came to accept this, a shadow came across him and he felt himself lifted up.
“I caught you,” said Kelvin II.
His son carried him away from the Cube and across the ocean, and they landed on a distant beach. Kelvin saw that his son had built a glider: a strong and light wing that folded neatly into his travel bag. It was a marvel.
“Where did you learn to make something like that?” he said.
“I taught myself,” said his son, “Now we can’t go back, but look around you.”
Kelvin did as he was told. He looked around and saw the dunes and the forest, and the gentle waves. He buried his toes in the sand and he stretched out his fingers and felt the warm wind between them. Then he and his son ventured inland.