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The virtual watchmen surveyed their gaze across the abandoned street, piercing through the midnight darkness, seeking for any signs of trespassers and unruly fiends. Although these security cameras were state of the art, they were no match for our speed. We had prepared extensively for this operation; our faces were hidden behind ski-masks, our bodies blended in the night with matching all-black vests, joggers, and sneakers. We were one with the shadows of the night; we were invisible. As we dashed across the street like silent panthers pouncing on their prey, we glanced up at the looming tower above; like those before us, we knew what awaited at the tower's peak. We ducked behind an emerald green shed and came face to face with a barbed wire fence. My friend nodded calmly, signalling me to grab two pairs of wire cutters hidden inside my bag. As we made quick work of the pathetic steel defence, we couldn’t help but laugh in excitement as we crawled through the rabbit hole and stood right outside of the concrete fortress of Nylex.
On the outskirts of the city of Melbourne, are a litter of abandoned factories which serve as vantage points overlooking the Melbourne skyline. Groups of rebellious teenagers will scale and traverse these urban mazes seeking adrenaline rushes, “insta worthy” photography, and juvenile adventure. One such abandoned factory was Nylex, and it was the crown jewel of all “abandos.” However, conquering an abando is no small feat. There are many dangers that come with exploring the unexplored, such as asbestos fibres, gas leaks, weak structures, and worst of all, getting apprehended by the police. The risks were no different this time around, yet as my best friend and I stood outside the base of this concrete mountain, our minds were focused only on the prize that awaited above.
We had already scouted the abando before and decided to use one of the four entry points that we had previously discovered the day before. As we entered the pitch-black darkness of the concrete chamber we couldn’t help but feel as if we had intruded into the lair of Hades himself. The air was thick and must, every step we took, no matter how gentle, would echo throughout Nylex. The sound of rats scattering across the top of our heads reminded us that we didn’t belong in this urban underworld. When we illuminated the chamber with our flashlights it seemed as if the darkness itself was absorbing the light beams, reducing them to thin slivers of white gold.
We searched for a pathway to the rooftop for what felt like an eternity, picking our way past locks and jumping across railways, all of which led to dead ends. We finally stumbled across a winding spiral staircase, which was previously hidden behind a wooden door we had to breach using a fire extinguisher as a battering ram. As we marched up the staircase, the early light of dawn began seeping through the cracks of the concrete walls, creating a golden haze that seemed to lead us to the top of the silo.
We finally came across a heavily rusted maroon door at the end of the staircase. I took a deep breath and pushed open the rooftop door letting the morning sun bathe us in its light as our eyes readjusted from the darkness. Our breaths were caught in the back of our throats as we glided to the edge of the rooftop slowly; we stood there silently, taking it all in. It was simply beautiful. There she was in all of her glory: Melbourne. The city was beginning to awaken from its slumber as cars, trams, and buses all slowly floated across the grounds. The skyscrapers stood frozen like sentinels guarding the heart of the city. At the centre of it all was Eureka Tower, with its golden crown reflecting the sun’s rays in spectacular fashion. We felt like kings looking down upon our holy kingdom.
“In all the years of I’ve known you…” my friend began, “you were always the one to stick by my side.” He chuckled turning to me. “You’re not gonna forget 'bout me when you leave for Canada, right?”
I wrapped my arm around his shoulder and turned my head to face him. I smiled softly.
“I never forget a brother.”