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October 18, 2011

Walking through the inner city streets of Zala-Kun-Mez you are confronted with skeletal buildings, winding curbs, and layered walls, graffitid, repainted, and grafitid again with epitaphs and elegies. Several centuries ago, Zala-Kun-Mez housed the largest library in the kingdom, but it was burned down in a fire that consumed over half of the city. Despondent and afraid, the occupants of Zala-Kun-Mez erected monuments for the forgotten dead, attempting to inscribe in them some essence of the people they honored: the bicycle repairman who cherished Mozart, the teenage girl who trained for a bicycle race and took second place.

Over the years, people complained of the echoes and dusty footprints of ghosts, and a new faction arose and scraped the monuments clean of their epitaphs. Every few decades, the mood in Zala-Kun-Mez changes, and the people inscribe new epitaphs, or erase old ones; sometimes they erase only a few words or add a few new ones, changing the meanings to suit their vision of the past. Complaints of ghosts, over the years, have not diminished: the inhabitants of Zala-Kun-Mez try not to open doors, to peel back wallpaper, to sweep the streets or wash the soot from the chimneys: some fear that they will hear voices; others fear that they will not.

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