The waning sun gave way to the cloying half-light of the Industrial District. Pale orange light surged from the city above as its denizens go forth to live the nightlife; partying and drinking to gross excess. That was the way of the wealthy, to live without a care, or so Dante had heard. No one born of the underclass, the filthy dwellers of the Industrial District, far below the jovial terraced houses, clothed in the volatile clouds of their labours.
Down here, you worked. You had to, for that was the way of things. It was the only life they had known for nearly 80 years. There are few who had lived in the time before, when the island was open to the rest of the world. They say it was a dark day, when the message came from Europe. No one knows what secrets it held, only that the borders were to be shut immediately. And so it was done, and for exactly 78 years, 11 months and 5 days, the mighty island was isolated from the world.
Since that time, they had lived in one great city. But then they required more workers for the machines of industry. People were chosen at random to be cast down into the forest of iron and work until they die. Those that remained were ordered to forget their former brethren, to focus on the life they had been granted, rather than those that had been wasted.
Being born into a family that operated the mighty pistons of the Great Machine, the monolithic source of power for both above and below, Dante was considered “important”, or at least as far as the dwellers are concerned. His family had been respectable, renowned people. His father rose to Head of the Great Machines, just under the main operatives from the city, which was literally as far as you got. On the other hand, his mother had been a worker in the output lines, and informally married Dante’s father after they met on an inspection of the lines.
After that, they had Dante. He was a large boy for his age, like his father, and was ideal for working in the high rises, where the most physical work was required. He had grown believing that it was his duty to work ceaselessly, as did everyone else born down here. But one thing they were never taught was why they worked as they did. But that never festered within them, for all thoughts of envy or curiosity has been ruthlessly bred out of the outcasts through brutal and grinding work.