The dust gathered in pallid clots between the sandal straps of the men and streaked yellow against grey on the tatters and flicking zeniths of the women’s long garments. They were walking toward the meeting place between the old town and the market. The pounding of the earth grew immense, knuckling its way into the ears and thumping through the breastbones of the crowd, clattering like the kettle drums of the end days. The streets around the centre of the city were twisting arteries of choking air, humid and hanging with the ozone of purpose, of raised fists, makeshift banners and burning symbols piled together from old newspapers, kitchen utensils and goat hide. The multitude were raising their voices and carving the pavement into new shapes, screaming for the death of a king, praying for an architect to sketch in the billowing sand-clouds a new structure for them and their dark-eyed offspring.
The papers had been counted, it was said. The people’s voices had been heard, they were told.
The chanting begins as a dull murmur, and rolls, wavelike into the statues of the central courtyard. They begin to quiver.
A million hands point upwards, turn, and fall to hammer into the paving.
Great cracks appear.