Some of my favorite urban sights:
- Bricked-up windows
- Upper-story doorways that open into empty space
- Staircases that lead nowhere
- Clean, working, fully stocked vending machines in obscure and inaccessible places
- Detailed graffiti on surfaces with no obvious spot for the artist to stand, like the underside of a high bridge, or ten meters up a bare wall
- Machinery left to rust because there’s no use for it anymore, but it’s in a weird or precarious location and there’s no way to safely remove it
(I’m sure there’s a theme here…)
I’m not convinced that there isn’t some occult significance to some of these. The vending machine in particular stems from what’s definitely one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had.
First, some context: I don’t know if it’s like this everywhere, but cities tend to have a lot of underground infrastructure – particularly in their downtown areas, where train tunnels, parking garages, underground shopping malls, and hotel basements often connect in such a way that you can easily walk for miles without ever seeing sunlight. The interconnections typically aren’t public, or at least not advertised, but a surprising number of them are accessible if poke around; I once followed a maintenance tunnel in a shopping mall parking complex and emerged in the basement of a nearby casino!
Anyway, I was snooping around in the maintenance tunnels below one of the larger local hotels – legitimately, mind you; I was working for the local telecom at the time, trying to track down an errant network cable – when I rounded a bend and noticed that the corridor a few dozen feet ahead of me was brightly illuminated by something. On top of being filthy and difficult to access, the tunnel was also unlit (I’d been navigating by flashlight), so this really stood out.
I couldn’t see any obvious light fixture to account for it – the light seemed to be emerging from an alcove off to the side of the tunnel – so I went to investigate, and discovered… a Coke machine.
Spotlessly clean, fully stocked, and apparently in full working order; the illumination was coming from its interior display lighting.
In a grimy, unlit maintenance corridor twenty feet below ground level.
In retrospect, I’m kind of glad I didn’t have any change on me at the time, because I’d have been sorely tempted to buy something, and who knows how that would have worked out.
If I’d had that coke, in accordance with the laws of food and drink consumption in the otherworld, I probably wouldn’t be here to tell you this story, dear journal.
Poor Maggie Lawson, Outmatched is garbage.