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You have to be a good engineer to build a bridge cross the Styx, Lethe, Acheron, Phlegethon or Cocytus. The best in fact. Every day nearly 57 million people cross them, and few are those that can pay the price of the ferry across the Acheron. The rest walk and swim, scrambling and climbing over each other, churning the banks to mud and the water to silt. There is no bedrock, only swimmers, water, silt and mud, pushing down forever. It is a horrible thing to try and sink foundations into, and you can not clear an area of the struggling swimmers.

If you are the best, you have to build the bridge. It's a tautology, but a true one, and the best bridge builder is the Bishop of Rome. His predecessors wrested the title form the old high priests of Rome, and he's stuck with it. Their half is complete and the three hundred-odd squabbling, triple-crowned workers sit waiting, legs dangling over the end of their kilometre-wide roadway. Soon it will be time to widen the bridge again. There is no point of course; the live side can't be seen from their vantage point because it doesn't exist, but they keep the bridge wide enough for the expected traffic as a matter of pride.

The live side doesn't exist because the dead are compelled to cross, and any construction by the lone worker is inevitably dragged down and by slow degrees, buried under mud and silt by the constant churning of endless feet.

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