The Old School
An unimaginable thing suddenly possible:
He could see the whole world from the height of space orbit. The newly made islands off Dubai and Abu Dhabi, archipelagoes in the shapes of palm trees or the seven continents. All of Paris at once, every arrondissement. The five boroughs of Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Staten Island. The darkness of North Korea at night against the spider webs of cobalt that lighted the rest of Asia. In daylight he could zoom to helicopter height and see the prison camps where three generations there lived and died.
Some magic of silicon and rocketry and a worldwide network of optical fibers of silica glass had made it possible for voice or fingers to command images and they would instantly appear: Stonehenge, Machu Picchu, the Great Wall of China. Aurora Borealis, the Nebula Crab, the moons of Jupiter, the rings of Saturn . . .
All the mysteries of time and space, and yet he aimed his cameras again and again at a patch of ground near the airport in West Palm Beach, Florida, not far from the dog track where he’d sometimes made a few extra dollars by slipping numbers to the drunken bettors who always tipped when they won. That was the kind of thing that would have got him kicked out of school, but the school was gone now. The evidence from the sky was conclusive. Most of the buildings were now a squares of dirt, and the old football field was a big square of dirt, and they’d knocked down the paper trees and the Banyan trees and the starfruit trees and the giant Australian pines that so grandly lined the entrance that greeted his mother’s school bus every morning.
All the important things were gone, and though he’d hated it while he was in it, now he searched for traces of it all the time in the pixelated grass and dirt.