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Nature had invaded deep into the concrete landscape surrounding Darren. Vines snaked up cement and steel towers, curling around the trees spreading from the lower floors. Patches of grass pushed through the cracks in the streets and sidewalks. Abandoned cars lined the overgrown streets, tries flat, glass broken and bodies rusting. Low streets, drains and subways flooded, becoming cement swamps and concrete rivers.

Motion caught Darren’s eye. Birds flitted in and out of cracked high-rise windows, nesting in the former offices and apartments. He had seen feral cats, mice and even escaped zoo monkeys move into the skyscrapers with the birds and vines.

Wild dogs, wolves and the occasional lion or tiger ruled the street levels. They hunted the roaming cattle and sheep that wandered in and out of the city. The deer were somewhat more elusive, but the humans... not so much.

Highways had become convenient migration paths and cities persistent watering holes.

Darren looked over the abandoned cityscape from his perch on the high-rise roof. This city, whatever it was once called, had fared better than some he’d seen. Floods had taken cities near coasts or rivers, while others were toppled by earthquakes or storms, gutted by fire or buried by nature.

The constructs of mankind had no chance without mankind to maintain them, and unfortunately the Earth was short about eleven billion mankind… at least, in physical terms.

It all started with Rowley Alastair McLean, the Mechasiah. McLean and his digital disciples had finally created the key to every wirehead’s cyber dream – a way to upload a human consciousness into a computer network. The genius of his discovery was a data pipeline that allowed a computer to download the brain’s contents through the optic and auditory nerves. After that, it was easy to tie the pipeline into a digital upload hood – it was fast, portable, cheap. McLean and his cult announced their invention, and their intent to upload billions of humans to the net.

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