"I hate going to the City," Gareth moaned. "It was picked clean decades ago. It's not like we'll suddenly find an old Usian artifact or anything."
Ahead, the shells of skyscrapers quivered under a blanket of creeping vines and fungus. The encircling highways and overpasses were crumbled fragments.
"Just watch," Tito said. "You've never seen anything like this." He paused at the top of a hill and pulled out his grandfather's telescope. Overhead, the sun inched imperceptibly toward what had once been five o'clock. Sweat dripped from their foreheads.
With a heat-mirage ripple, the ancient roads were suddenly full of cars. Hazy, indistinct shapes moved inside the safety-glass windows. They lined the roads for miles, immobile. There was the faintest taste of exhaust in the air, and the ground trembled with the grumble-roar of a million impossibly idling engines.
Gareth gaped, but before he could so much as draw breath, the roads were suddenly as empty and ruined as before.
"It's briefer every day, the more the city falls apart," said Tito. He kept the 'scope raised, as if still watching the vision. "I wonder how long they've been coming here. Do you think the ancient Usians ever noticed them?"
14 hours ago