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Dust Unto Dust. On my 50th birthday, the only sound from the Ferris wheel will be the dirge of rusty

The first smell in the air is an ashy taint of machinery.

Fifty years. A golden anniversary. A mere blink in the timeline. Before me looms the menacing road of another half-century, dotted with metallic towers that rise from the ground.

They seem to be living beings themselves, stretching their skeletal limbs toward the heavens in an endless quest for something they cannot grasp.

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  • In the corner of my soul, the historian begins to weave a tapestry, conjuring the echoes of the city’s past. His hands trace the contours of the air as if shaping memories into tangible forms.

    Fifty years. A multitude of signs incandesce in bands of neon light, as queasily patternless and transient as the happiness they bring. I would like to think I bear my age well, splintered edges and worn cracks harboring a nook of melancholic nostalgia.

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  • The historian conjures visions of my tender adolescence. I germinated from barren dust, a canvas waiting for brushstrokes of destiny. Blood, sweat, and tears became the nurturing rain, beckoning forth the cusp of creation.

    Fifty years. My foundations still smoulder with the lingering warmth of bodies, the touch of their skin on my walls, the mirth that billowed into my chimneys. My crumbling bricks are mortared with memories and whispered secrets.

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  • The historian speaks of my childhood, where once a Ferris wheel sat nearby. I remember listening to ripples of tinny music interweave themselves with glowing strands of laughter.

    Pulsating lights, iridescent, alive with otherworldly animation.

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    Fifty years. I, too, have seen the cost of these fifty years unfold within my rooms. The cracks in my yellow windows reflect the fractures in this city. The pollution that clings to the air outside seeps into my very skeleton.

    The historian tells of families torn apart by illness, livelihoods lost to automation, flora and fauna choked with sludge. The seeds of industry sown so carefully in the barren soil blossomed with thorns that pierced the fabric of this creation.

    Soulless, concrete arteries that pump toxins into the veins of their own inhabitants. Once-clear waters meander through the heart, murky and tainted, their naiads suffocated beneath the weight of unbridled growth.

    Fifty years. I ache for the embers of connections, but my rooms lie cold and empty. The historian and his group are mere ghosts, ashes fluttering inside brittle bones.

    My sober hue of antiquity stands in stark relief against the cold angularity of the metallic giants, like a faded vignette among faceless strangers. My roof sags, my tiles are chipped and worn, my windows gape like empty eyes.

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  • The only sound from the Ferris wheel now is the dirge of rusty gears. The cabins, grotesque amalgamations of unmet expectations and corroded dreams, still glow with a muted radiance. With each revolution, they swing through a spectrum of emotions. Ecstasy, ambition. Agony, consequences.

    “Fifty years.” The historian’s voice grows less and less audible. “Fifty years this has stood as the town hall for our city.”


    A distant rumble shakes my bones. The church bells trill as the mechanical claw swings into view, a maw hungry for destruction.

    A sickening crunch, a gaping wound, debris raining down brick by brick, memory by memory. There was no pain, only a faint exhalation of dust, my essence released into the night, quivering like the last beats of a fading heart.

    That once-menacing road is now only paved rubble. The metallic towers bow their heads in silent vigil.

    The historian swallows his tears and turns back to his group. “Onto our next question.”

    “How will the world end?”

    Ah. My ruins pulse with bittersweet understanding. I know the answer to this one.

    This blue-green marble has endured cataclysms and transformations far more profound than the effect of one ape-like species. In the grand cosmic tapestry, Earth itself will continue to orbit the sun, seasons will come and go, and life will persist in myriad forms.

    Yet humankind, trapped in a flightless machine of its own devising, careens toward an inevitable collision veiled by the intoxicating momentum of industry.

    Written by:


    Justin Sau

    Culture editor

    Hong Kong, SAR

    Born in 2007, Justin studies in Hong Kong at the HKIS. Fluent in English and Mandarin, he is interested in journalism, English literature, history, and sports.

    Justin joined Harbinger’s Magazine in 2023 as a contributor, writing predominantly about culture. In 2024, he took over the Culture section of the magazine.

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