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A Babel-SF Publication

In cooperation with Meznir Publishing

The David Effect

Mike Jansen


Middle of the night, Greater Amsterdam. It is quiet and that’s a novelty. The only sound that might be heard is the faraway surf of waves breaking on the metal-and-stone barrier of the Northern Ring Dike, where the huge bellows of the generator stations are continuously filled and emptied with sea water. They generate the power that supplies the city ring of Holland-below-the-sea with electricity, while simultaneously dampening the ever-present angry rise and fall of the North Sea.

The weather is moist, humid, and warm for those who are out this late. More than an hour ago most of the noise stopped, together with the light of thousands of many-coloured billboards, traffic lights, street lighting, public cars and all things electrical.

So many things that run on electricity, Pavel reflects, as he watches a man struggling with a condom vending machine that refuses to budge. The woman standing next to him looks shabby, pale. Pavel guesses she is paid by the hour. She won’t mind.

Far above a few stars have appeared, peeking through the eternal haze that covers the edges of the ring-dike, where warm and moist city air meets the colder sea air. Pavel can hear the crashing of the surf, only a few hundred yards north. He admires the stars that shine down upon the hulk of the Central Station. Its weathered red stone looks somehow different in the cold light from above. Pavel has seen stars before, on a previous power outage, several months ago. There was also a sliver of moon then and the sky was clearer, colder. He had been sitting on the square in front of the Station, smoking some excellent Dutch grass. Now, he had brought a bottle of Jim Beam, his personal favourite poison.

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