So, my opinion is mixed.
On one hand, the atmosphere here is fascinating. You've crafted a pretty original object-level setting (gargantuan tower-city that ceaselessly expands outwards, now managed by a flawed algorithm), intercepted with some very compelling Kafkaesque/surreal horror (the trial at the beginning with an absent defendant, C's inability to get through to anyone, the secret police agent (?) following her that everyone pretends not to see, the RAT KINGDOM lurking at the edges of everything...). I've read all public entries to the contest, and on that metric, it's one of the most intriguing.
On the other hand:
Overall, an intriguing read. Especially loved the ‘Gustav, I need to know about the rats’ refrain, it was so delightfully weird.
Warning: I'm an unrepentant perfectionist, incredibly nitpicky, and way more suited for describing flaws in things than for celebrating the good parts. I think I'm getting better at the latter, but, uh, don't be too discouraged.
To sum up: very interesting and well-explored concept, but the narrative focus is misaimed, and the management of readers' expectations needs some work.
No payment necessary: your willingness to pay serves as a strong enough signal of your interest to improve for me to take the time to respond.
Lovely! Ontological mysteries are always fun, and the narrator's voice is extremely engaging, with this combination of sheer enthusiasm and simple vocabulary being used to describe complex thoughts. A bit disappointed it didn't speed up towards some sort of resolution, though: the story works as an exploration of the joys of learning, but it's a bit too long for its message, started to drag on for me in the last third.
Still, very fun. Have you written anything else?