Red Velvet

I was a hot and humid summer day, the day the red mud fell from the sky, it had rained lightly that day for an hour, and the rain had stopped and quickly evaporated, filling the city with this muggy, ugly, sticky, stuffy feeling.

Then, after an eerie silence, no wind or air current, the sky still covered with grey clouds, the strange reddish colored mud fell, plopping onto the ground, the streets, buildings, fields, trees, the rivers, the beaches. It fell in the metropolitan area of Shanghai.

Early reports had claimed that the red mud may have contained some type of biological life. But the government quickly dismissed these claims, stating that such unfounded claims would hurt Shanghai’s business and tourist sectors. The media outlets were warned not to cover the story. The government dismissed the event altogether, when the rain returned a few hours later to wash away the alleged fall of red mud.

And that was all that was heard of the red mud for a while during that summer season. Until spring came.

On the tall buildings, on the concrete sidewalks, and cars, there grew spots of rusty colored mold, something like mold, bread mold, but rust red in coloration, fuzzy. It was simply a type of fungus they said, a newly discovered type of mycelium. It was harmless and would go away, they said. But it didn’t. The fuzzy red mycelium persisted, and continued to spread gradually across the city.

And the rusty colored mold appeared in spots of other cities, and were even found in the Chinatowns of Vancouver, New York, and Los Angeles. At first the fuzzy reddish spots which grew here and there on the sidewalks and cars of these Chinatowns were overlooked. Until a few American mycologists studied the reddish mold. They were more open about it than the Chinese government.

The red mycelium wasn’t mycelium, or mold, or living microbe. It was a reddish colored nanobacteria, which most scientists agree were not living organisms. And this red nanobacteria was found to eat concrete and metal. And they produced spores.

They tried to clean the red mold away in Shanghai, but they grew back, it was too far spread across the city, and during the next summer, the red mold cast their microscopic spores into the air. The metal beneath the red mold which grew on the cars had grown thin and weak. Proof that this thing ate metal.

In Shanghai, the epicenter of the red mold, it was everywhere. Red fuzzy spots visibly covered the sky scrapers, the ships, the trains, the sidewalk, like coin sized velvet carpet. Nothing made the red spots go away. They just grew back, it was too everywhere, too late now. There was a discernible panic, a worry for the structural integrity of the tall buildings in Shanghai… and abroad.

There was worrisome speculation regarding the implications among the inhabitants of New York, Vancouver, and Los Angeles. A mold which ate concrete and metal, that which our modern human civilization is built of! A civilization which is the foundation of the economy, society, industry, and the political system.

What would these cities look like a hundred years from now, they thought, what would the human world look like, if this thing can’t be stopped? And it couldn’t be stopped. The big cities were already covered in red velvet.


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