Rob Does Words
Treating fiction poorly since 2019


The riots came and went periodically. The water would keep them at bay for a time, but eventually the rioters would start to swim towards The Aviary.

It wasn't an actual aviary - and it never was - but from the towers it kind of looked like one, so the name stuck. In actual fact, it used to be a sporting arena.

The older people called it The Skydome. It was a more appropriate name, sure, but it also represented a time before the riots and floods; a time no one, except them, really knew or remembered.

Most of the people who were left in Toronto lived in, or around, The Aviary. It was the safest place. It was large but defensible and had room for supplies and refugees, should any more appear.

The towers had been built a few blocks out from The Aviary recently to give advance warning of the mobs, who lived out on the edges of the city. There were two currently on the eastern side, with more on the north and western sides planned or already started.

While the building itself was safe and secure from the riots and, more importantly, the floods, it was the roof of The Aviary which made it the best place for the survivors to live. It was made from a special kind of glass which had been installed a few weeks before the flooding and subsequent riots. The glass was made with one of the most efficient photo voltaic technologies available and was able to provide almost all of the power needed for the people who lived inside.

The towers were a touch taller than The Aviary itself and just shorter than an old skyscraper that used to stand between them, but which now lay broken and useless on the ground. They had been built to supplement The Aviary; to provide protection against the rioters, advance warning on the water levels and safe places for the refugees to live. They were built on foundations of older buildings which made it easier for the mostly inexperienced survivors to build.

But, also, the towers were as much underground as they were above ground. The underground portion used the floodwaters to generate any power they needed that The Aviary’s roof did not provide.

David was one of the engineers in the towers. He spent most of his time traveling between the towers and The Aviary fixing the myriad of issues that arose from the ad hoc nature of the society they had made.

Today, though, he had some spare time, so he was heading to the southern side of the towers where a small project had been started by some of the other engineers.

Before the riots, a technology which enabled a low powered non-physical barrier fence had been demonstrated in use at The Aviary – back when it was still a sports ground. The idea was to be able to use this to protect their new home from the rioters more efficiently and also to hold back the flood waters once a more sustained construction effort was able to be undertaken for the new towers.

Currently, they had only managed to get a small, roughly 10 meter stretch of this fence up and had been scratching their heads as to why it wouldn't stretch any further. David arrived as the four other engineers were arguing about power requirements and whether or not the original demonstration was a scam.

“Still no luck then,” he asked.

“This whole thing was a crock,” one of them said, slumped against one of the fence emitters. “Whoever made this was trying to sell incomplete tech. We’re wasting our time.”

“Hold on though,” one of the others said, obviously frustrated. “It works! Look, we have this stretch working fine, so it works in principle. We just need to find how we can scale it.”

“We’re all ears, Ray,” the first shot back.

“Well, before you kill each other,” David said getting between them. “What’s different between the demo and now? What’s changed?”

The others looked at him like he was an idiot. “Everything! Toronto isn’t even the same city any more. There was never any water here, for one.”

“The rioters may have fucked with the power stations as well. We don’t really know how all this works as it is. Who knows what those idiots did.”

“Well, we cant do anything about the rioters yet, so if they are, in any way, responsible for why the fence isn’t working, that’s that. I doubt that’s the case though; namely because we aren’t hanging off the power stations, but also, they’re not an organised group. They just mob together. They don’t have the structure to hinder any groups like ours on that scale.”

“Well, maybe. But we’re still working blind here. We stumbled on this tech by chance, remember. There’s no tech data, no instructions, just a basic overview of the demo and these emitters.”

“And the data says two emitters can string a fence for more than 10 meters. Either that’s wrong or we’re doing something wrong.”

“I’d suggest the latter, if I were a betting man,” David said, reading over the stuff the other guy, Ray, had handed him. “You guys aren’t the techs behind this, you don’t have access to 99% of their data and you can’t get any of it.”

The engineers nodded reluctantly. They knew all that, but it made them feel better to yell and scream at the sky and blame others.

David looked between the data in front of him and the five meter tall emitters nearby, comparing the two. “Have you tried them anywhere else?”


“Like, have you moved them somewhere else? Or put them in different relative positions?”

“We can’t,” Ray said slowly, thinking the question over in his head. “They’re fixed in place here. Getting them out could break them or have some effect we can’t undo.”

Well, they’re not working now and you don’t know if you can fix it. There’s not a lot worse it could get. Also, these are supposed to be movable,” David tapped one of the pages in the paperwork. “Therefore moving them should be simple.”

It took less than a week for the engineers to move and reorient the emitters. For reasons they could not explain, they worked as the demo data explained and a non-physical barrier wall that ran around the entire outside wall of The Aviary had been established.

The engineers celebrated well into the night, but had to stop and sober up when a patrol team rushed in yelling that the rioters were heading in from the north.