Vignette:Sunrise at Sundown

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Sunrise at Sundown

Café August, Alvastadt, Imperial State of Alva
July 9th, 1980

he Alva is particularly picturesque tonight with its incandescent lights lining the calm banks and illuminating the antiquated storefronts against the backdrop of the slowly dimming orange-pink sky. Even on a Saturday evening, the streets are lined with people. There’s a family of three among the crowd of people watching a street performer blow fire out of his mouth with much applause. The child is awe-struck by the performer; it’s in his eyes. On a nearby bench, a bearded fellow plays a calm tune on a guitar that’s seen better days; not as many people crowd around him, but it doesn’t matter as long as he’s getting the emotions running through them.

This isn’t what Oli was expecting from the monarchist autocratic state he was sent here to spy on. The coffee in his hands has an aroma that rivals any drink he could ever get his hands on in Oberlandscheid; it must be the locally sourced beans that make it smell so earthy. The television screen precariously hung atop the ceiling of the cafe shows images quite perplexing to his mind: the election results are in, and the conservative bloc has won the vote. Sure, he’d incited and organized a few dozen riots and protests within the past few months or so, but to see the fruits of his efforts be… this? Where’s the revolution? Where are the hardliner leftists taking up arms?

Perhaps they had resigned themselves to the many cafes and tea houses dotting the city, just like him. Life goes on as usual; people continue to fulfil their daily routines as if there were never something constantly breathing down their necks. One thing he has noticed is the lack of armed soldiers patrolling the streets, though. Nothing like Oberlandscheid, with the Stasi and the Guards in every nook and cranny. Instead, there’s just the regular police with their batons and cuffs, chatting away without a care in the world about what’s going on around them.

As he sips his cup of coffee before stepping into the palm tree-lined cobble promenade, he wonders what changed over the past 55 years. Maybe it was his and his comrades’ actions over the past few years. Maybe it was the people that made this land change so drastically yet so unnoticeably. Maybe all of this was decided by a higher-up that got tired of the stagnancy. Or maybe it came from the despicable Kaiserin herself. Oli knows he’ll never really find a definitive answer to his question as he slips away into the busy streets of Alvastadt, but he knows that this sudden change means something.

Tossing the empty cup into a garbage bin, he can only think about the vibrant orange sun slowly disappearing behind the tens of thousands of tiled roofs and cloth tents.

It’s quite beautiful.

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