Nightwatch.

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By: A.E. Sanford

“Is freedom worth more than feeling free?”

or adopting terroristic attitudes. Greed was most definitely present. now rules everything: fashion. The youth bonded under it. I don‟t really know. crime management. the economy. as long as he or she abstains from “condemnation of progress.” People who criticize their conditions. because people could vote back then.Most kids liked the habituation. Then. Prog-Reform is now the governing system of… wherever we are. or type out anything remotely suspicious to the efforts of progress have their privileges of using the General Internet revoked. or any other interesting school of thought. This isn‟t an egocentric rant. it was supposedly the resurrection of Populist ideology. and information. You couldn‟t blame them. however. “For the people. and society. At least. and I‟m just a teenager who complains about the world. . Writers use it. everywhere. Any person can access the general levels. Businesses use it. to whatever past it had. The nation I live in is Nineveh. It was via constituents that Prog-Reform came to be. the General Internet. eschewed from our history courses. I was always headstrong.” altering its flawed constitution for general. Progressive Reform. The General Internet is the final word in all news. The books I‟ve read told me that it came about through the internet. Prog-Ref rules the world. Most people call it the Prog-Net. This isn‟t centered on processing my recently-collected observations with what we deem as adolescent hormones thriving inside my brain. Even Prog-Ref facilities use it. candy and classical conditioning come hand in hand when a government takes control of its people. Schools use it. gossip over public figures. the news. and most importantly. because the geographical history of this country has been. confirm only part of this to be true. But the General Internet goes by another name. denouncing both capitalist parties for their intense partisanships and greed-centered functioning. because most people believe it is the only network that ever existed. The internet is the database between computer terminals and servers that basically provides the world information. artistic culture. but so were constituents. Troublesome fields of today‟s anthropology such as the economy. or Prog-Ref. This is a story about what the future will be. more appealing rules so that everyone could be safe and free. people began to take its arguments from their keyboard to the dais. are all under control by Prog-Ref. Prog-Reformers procured their votes. like some new social phenomenon. sometimes abbreviated 9veh or 9-VA (despite the second syllable). After winning the heart of the people. education.” But I preferred instead to learn things my own way. The scary part? I‟m one of the last. media. Behind the scenes were “political parties. and other general politics. They say the past was run by a faulty government. The books I‟ve been reading. for some reason. And so Prog-Ref shaped the government into something more “People-Friendly. music. My name is Cath. Every building in Nineveh has a terminal. malicious libel. the government.” corrupted ideologies thriving off political showboating in a race for capitalist greed. or what‟s left of it. cinema.

or administrators. and top it all off by reciting the national anthem (with my hand on my heart and my eyes on our glorious leader) while shooting terrorists and cultists insipidly with my other hand. I did it for amusement. But. but I later found a practical purpose for it. Mom called me “Cat. handsprings. you would think that it would retain total control over the city. and I‟d estimate it‟s half the size Texas. and I forced myself to leave high school in the second semester of my senior year. changing mine to Cath.” I wanted no part in it. The Jurisdictive Visionaries of Novel Horizons. Instead. walk half a mile to the nearest Rec Center. but I can‟t say much about her. I‟ve been reading books with the lowest professional reviews. occasionally funny. and I was raised by my drunken uncle. This has been going on every morning from I was thirteen to when I was seventeen. plug in my brain for an hour-long episode of either sloppy. Nineveh is small for a country because it‟s really a city-state. you name it. anyway. but was far too large to be a city. on the shadier side of Nineveh. waterways. For something as sociologically thorough as Prog-Ref. I need a Class-A ticket if I want to leave my home district. or any gem of an old novel I could discover. worsely-acted pornography. our educators decided it would be the most efficient manner of “communication. JVNH. I didn‟t have many friends in the institution. I was enduring physical training for acrobatics as a sort of hobby. So I can‟t leave. It is in the center of Nineveh and borders all other districts. Instead. and rooftops to explore. Because of this.” Since she died. I took her name. I‟m naturally a curious person. they all seemed either oblivious or dependent. I loved my mother. Brainwashing. which means I must wake up at 4:15 in the morning. It crept into my dreams. Tops. as it turns out. agent. Didn‟t want to hurt myself. so now it‟s part of my real one. But I feel as though she was a stock character for most of the time I knew her. so I resigned and nearly gave my teacher a heart attack doing so. supporting. But I‟m not a policeman.Now. I said anarchical boondocks. Well. cartwheel. have divided Nineveh into multiple districts. In case you don‟t know what Texas is (most people don‟t) it was smaller than most countries of its time. outside the business district and on the edge of the Anarchical Boondocks. There are 5 Provinces holding these districts: The Administration District does not have any code in Neoverse as of yet. I‟d learn to take a couple of steps up a wall. It crept into my nightmares. agents. where the administrators of Prog-Ref reside. you think you might have heard of it. Why would I practice this? At first. and administrators. When I was not scanning my eyes along a page of what was most probably scandalous. Since then. I‟d jump over two-thirds of my height and roll over my back as I landed. vault over thresholds. crack open. She was like most mothers: loving. somersault. this is only partly true. like many other aspects of society. in the second semester of my senior year. Couldn‟t do a backflip yet. Class-A tickets are available to Workers of Progress. Yes. it crept into my education. Steadily. Dad died before I was born. such as policemen. negatively-reinforced violence or poorlywritten. illegal material. In Nineveh there are many dark alleys. . It is where JVNH operates. The one thing we shared was my nickname. no matter how many people asked me to do one when I practiced. I must mandatorily adhere to my “personalized” Virtual Training Schedule.

I fervently perused the sheet as if I‟d never feast my eyes it again. small pamphlet and. is the kingdom of Kingship. of bounty in government. my eyes scanned every word they could find. and the queens and goddesses of Ulster are associated with battle and death. hospitality. Why it was printed I couldn‟t know. One night. Meath. It is where I live.” is the southernmost Province of 9VA. Looking at the date it was printed. The fairs of Munster were the greatest in all [unreadable]. of harpers. the traditional seat of the [scratched out]. Leinster. The last kingdom. is completely off-limits to everyone spare its scientists. the ghosts of skyscrapers from Rye‟s rooftops. I don‟t think anyone does.” is the northernmost Province. beyond the irradiated Lake Eere. the men of Ulster are the fiercest warriors of all [illegible].0b Ri N. The Fields. I have never been there. Administrators seem to pride this region on being the most Liberally Artistic. It is northwest of Rye. a general district for the average class or workers. much of the paper was incomprehensibly damaged by water and time. boasting. The ancient earthwork of Tara is called Rath na Ríthe. Ulster in the north is the seat of battle valour. it must have been from the Capitalist days. long ago. Script in italic print with the following verse: “Connacht in the west is the kingdom of learning. called “Eye. the men of Connacht are famed for their eloquence. the importing of rich foreign wares like silk or wine. the eastern kingdom. 0c On R. the men of Leinster are noble in speech and their women are exceptionally beautiful. strife. JVNH. called “Rye. and I don‟t know what it‟s like. of haughtiness. a district dedicated for botanical study on the oxygen output of grass. grassy acres of the Fields. of skilled ficheall players and of skilled horsemen. in Meath lies the Hill of Tara. the seat of the greatest and wisest druids and magicians. I found an old. I can see the dilapidated wreckage. Munster in the south is the kingdom of music and the arts. 0n Ei L. to my dismay. of stewardship. I doubt we would be able to breathe. I was scavenging through one of Rye‟s man y dark alleyways. Rye is the only district to hold the Anarchial Boondocks. Able to find but a single dry section hidden in the brochure. the badlands. and the occasional administrator. Most of the text was illegible. used to be a sprawling cityscape before the cultists destroyed everything. their handsomeness and their ability to pronounce true judgment. Without the vast.” . is the seat of prosperity. Maybe it was a tourist‟s paper memorabilia or prompt for general information. It was computer-generated or at least designed on one—the print was too uniform.

Sometimes I found something illegal. plastered smile nearly gave her a heart attack the day I left. Right now would be a good time to mention that all of Nineveh is urbanized. I‟d lie on my couch ignoring his occasionally frequent cries of “Bottoms-Tops!” and read a magazine to drown out the sounds of his alcoholic gurgling. Officials claim that it is not as much of a problem anymore due to the resurfacing of promoting peaceful thought among the youth. I had no other reason to fix my gaze intently on an overwhelmingly positive review of some 13+ sex simulator (that‟s an age rating. „While we still have hardened criminals and terrorists running rampart throughout the country and we need your patriotic support to take them down. someone didn‟t want that word seen. I felt. I sure hope that works out!” . Kitchener! I‟m positive that purchasing 10 copies of the same mathematical text. “Oh. When I was at home. Right. Sometimes I still smile and wonder if I‟d ever feel the same experience. Rather than partaking in the normal occupations of sheeple my age. As if VR could give me that.The paper seemed insignificant at first. don‟t worry. Mrs. basically. Gee. terrorist husband you said you were harboring! We all know how dangerous terrorists to ProgRef can be. which can only mean two things: one. I walked around the neighborhood. and that this new program conflicts with my interests for duty to Nineveh! Oh. I also heard that some Prog-Ref Agents resumed their investigation for your fugitive. expensive. The rest is basically a cityscape. Any whatsoever. in the background). and the windowsills. Punching someone would require “pacific remediation. Most of the plants I‟ve seen in Rye perch the myriad of fire escapes hugging each other between their red brick walls. until the accusation of distant police sirens frightened them off. Outside of the fields there are a few city parks and private gardens. Sometimes kids around my age or younger would sneak up on the metal wrought framework and perch on the gardens upon its banisters. Optimism. But then I noticed that portions of it had been purposefully removed. necking. This means. I needed to plaster some gigantic smile on my face and speak in the most ludicrous euphemisms my imagination could afford me. not a score) because I utterly despised VR simulators after the first week of my teenage conditioning and I had better. Every time I spoke to an adult. gurgling. et cetera. book! Thank you!” I‟m almost glad my big. or ran across the pipes.” a 6-hour VR course on “pacific study” (which would include a lobotomy in extreme cases). will prove to be very beneficial to the security of my knowledge! In fact. crashing into any and every piece of furniture still on its legs downstairs. “Bye. the walls. would be the death of me. and two. including self-defense. but that‟s it. Mrs. they wanted the rest to be seen. because you said to. Kitchener! It would appear that I‟ve already acquired all of my Civil Remediation hours in VR training. et cetera. their night sky ceiling. we have effectively brainwashed your typically already-law-abiding children outside of self-reliance and into a repressed neurosis of inferiority!” I lived with my uncle. less optimistic books to read (which I didn‟t want to spoil with the constant yodeling. it worked very well last year when my previous teacher suggested that I buy 5 copies of this very same. All violence in Nineveh was illegal.

it was here. And my life would change forever. If I ever began to feel liberty. But my remarks had distracted her long enough for me to hop on to a faculty terminal and resign myself out of the school. but that would be over in a few weeks. My birthday was coming. I had yet to complete my Virtual Training Schedule. Civil Remediation was an optional course. It didn‟t carry any weight for school credit. The following days I had to myself.I said this mainly because my reasons for leaving were actually invalid. I would be eighteen. .

Most of the crown molding. mustardy. Uncle Tops always joked that he was allergic to me whenever I asked for a pet. are you really my Uncle?” “No. especially cats. and I felt thin spindles of cat hair beneath the side of my head. probably just for the convenience of street patrols. Despite the cat hairs meticulously placed over the couch (one was sticking in my eye). boy. was eaten away by termites the size of my finger nail. once mahogany in hue. “Hey. Inside Deadworld was a quaint.” “Okay. which was primarily residential. so long as you kept alert and didn‟t upset anyone. I was still Cat to Tops. but I was so afraid of the answer. that his sinuses couldn‟t handle two “Cats” at a time.Chapter 2 I woke up again to the dim lighting of the ceiling fan and the skittered beeping of our ramshackle Prog-Net terminal. one of his heavy nights after coming from the pub. It really wasn‟t all that bad. A likable drunkard. matching the sickened. The residents of the area themselves refer to it as Deadworld. Because JVNH is infallible. Our district was run down. so instead the area becomes a scapegoat. it was somehow because of it. violent society run by small gangs and prostitution. who took the name from my mom. Tops.A. Tops. Home sweet home. It was supposed to be the ultimate prison. JVNH uses the anarchy project to scare the populace out of freethinking ideas. too. cardboard-like fiberglass peeping out the walls. I‟m not your Da‟. The room smelled of them. or rather in spite of them. and whenever a terrorist attack occurred. was the Anarchy project. My head still lay on the arm of my plaid fabric loveseat. outdated insulation between its multiple tears.” “Then I‟ll tell you again. Most streets had building debris plowed to the ends and edges. I got it. The Anarchy project was a district set aside to demonstrate what results from uninhibited liberty. At one point I asked him if he was really my uncle. People in Rye call the area the Anarchial Boondocks. It was contained chaos.” . I‟m not yer Da‟. Uncle Tops‟ shack stood around me.” “I didn‟t ask if you were my dad. Many of them crawled along the ceiling from the moldings. Beside our section. Uncle Tops. boy. Tops never really seemed to resemble me. the mistake JVNH knew not to repeat in other Provinces. it could not correct itself and repeal this decision. I made sure to ask him tonight.K. we didn‟t own any pets. A. It winced in awkward discomfort of its jaundiced olive wallpaper which revealed the dark. yellow.

I rushed my fingers through my hair and gradually descending flakes of dandruff told me it was dirty.“You‟re a straightened lil‟ feller. Just remember: I‟m not yer Da‟. nerveshattering admonition. The coffee finally spouted out. He was mouthing “like” through each hiccup. The screen was cracked a few years back as Tops tried to ward off the Repo Men (they work for the Upper Class) from taking it. The sparkle in his eye wasn‟t the wanderlust of inebriation. “Da‟.” “Thank you. and then I realized what he was really saying: “I‟m not *like* your Da‟. I muffled a whine as . Like yesterday. I repeatedly pressed the areas around the lit-up coffee cup on the refrigeration device.” “Just like yer Da‟.” “Okay. Just like your-” he paused for a minute. I lethargically push myself up to the coffee machine on the kitchen counter a few mere steps away from where I slept. It was a silent. Tops. boy. erratic jet stream of dark-brown java until it filled to the brim. Was he speaking in some sort of code? I remembered his lips. they were distinct. boy. I drifted to sleep for an hour or two and woke up to the décor of dilapidation in the apartment. I was too tired to think further on. I thought about it for a second. only water came out. It wasn‟t until an hour later that I realized that he hiccupped between “yer” and “Da” every time he repeated the words. I‟m not like your Da‟. No cream this time—if we were allotted any this month—the cup was too full. I filled a doily with coffee grinds. wavering his head back and forth. Then I replayed his first response in my head. Quickly gulping the burning black lava down my throat (to burn the taste of dinner out of my tongue). packaged it in. I hadn‟t reprogrammed the clock for a later hour since I‟ve left school.” That must have been it. For some reason. It took them 3 hours.” Not like my father? What could that mean? Did he and my dad share different viewpoints on politics? Wouldn‟t share toys when they were kids? Or perhaps it was something deeper than that? I contemplated this for hours. Arching my spine forward a bit. Uncle Tops. I walked him upstairs to his room. and touched the screen on my food console for my Insta-Coffee. are you really my uncle?” “No. It noisily received the skinny. the Repo Men shouted that they would be back. where he always bumped his head on the mantle. Ugh. Our Prog-Net Terminal had been signaling all night. arguing before he dialed the console for General Assistance. As the water spouted from the console. and I was just in time to avoid burning my hands and wrists as I quickly brought a Styrofoam cup to the stout nozzle. y‟know. to confirm that he was contributing his payments.” He had been sloppily mouthing some unspoken syllable every time he spoke. Was he even related to my father? Giving into exhaustion quickly. yawning as the alarm clock on the nightstand beside me sounded for the usual 3:15 AM. and stifled my laughter. assuring them he paid his weeklies. “Hey.

or making a show of one‟s self. streetlight branching out the left wall. and get some sleep. Something shined from under its neck. but it should have been. but I‟d rather not break an ankle trying to care about it--. You must understand that no terminal was to be out of perfect condition. like a collar. it most likely went by other names. Sorry about the laundry. complicated knot and put them back where they rightfully belong—my legs—before I notice that I haven‟t explored this particular alley before. The fence of was average height. JVNH operates through every computer.. run. Look before you leap. but never inside the apartment. where they administrate. due to my clumsy. Vandalism meant death. and omnipotent” rule. lethargic footwork. musty with drywall and rebar around and inside of them. omnibenevolent. They are arguably the most important symbol of Prog-Ref to ever exist. hurriedly gripping a clothesline halfway to try and break my fall. injuring it. Brinking isn‟t about taking needless risks. I string on my shoes over some gray sweatpants. holed in by a baseball from last week‟s community game. This derelict terminal was… revolutionary. Each unit mandatorily received conditioning by engineers of progress. Instead. I kicked a foot off the top of it in hope to land in a roll. walk across the hall. vault. It only snapped. Exceptionally tired. . and still others view it as unlawful. People always bother me about back-flipping for their amusement. haphazard terminal. I leapt out the wrong one. dusty ash.I immediately look for the next thing to save me from injuring myself. Brinking is what I practice when I can. Its fur was a dark gray. To brink is to jump. It was notably darker than the others with a single. almost like velvet charcoal singed to a lighter. and any malfunctioning unit was to be reported immediately to the nearest Worker of Progress. Through the terminals does Prog-Ref offer us “omniscient. and even why they administrate. hanging by my ankle. So I manage to relinquish my bottoms back from the greedy.the hot coffee scorched down my esophagus. which is a generator boxed in by a chain-link fence. but I never trained myself to do it. Fiddling meant correction. or on top of any surface possible. or leap over. I then slip out of my pants and painfully land my shoulder on the asphalt. It was painful and humiliating. It had a few green dumpsters along both sides. and vault out the second floor‟s window. Tampering meant death.. Ready to awaken myself. Whoops. safely. across. one of the link ends snags my sweatpants and I flip into the face of the fence. It‟s an art of movement. lady. omnipresent. put on a lightweight hooded sweatshirt. I heard a cat purr and dart my head to the only window in the room. but I view it as a method of tasteful and effective transportation. They were to look immaculate in every situation. I‟ve seen it before once or twice. Maybe it was practiced in the past. with no cream for comfort. Managing some remark to it about staying off my couch. but if it was. Some people mistake it simply for acrobatics. So of course. climb. cold. I watch it scamper out the hole and I jog up the stairs. I walked closer to the light and discovered under it a dirty. I leap into a free-fall for about two stories. and head out the door for some early morning brinking. Just before I headed upstairs. land. Computers are how they administrate. what they administrate. I was still tired. It was the single most rebellious thing I‟ve seen up to that moment. So a few feet downward from where the clothesline snapped. sprint.

sir. After reaching a hasty decision. but I could only see from the light in the alley. I was just strolling through the alley with my incredibly poor eyesight and walked into this already-open doorway in which I presumed to be my apartments. After I pressed the console. a square about the size of my fingertip. A secret passageway.” I murmur under my breath My foot found a staircase. my defiant nature kicked in and I—cautiously—marched back into the room. suppressing my gasp from any who might have heard it. meaning it was out of order. I took a deep sigh and turned backwards to leave the mysterious room. Then. where was no ground to catch it. and its holo-projector array was cracked in half. or worse. If I were caught. “corrected”. Finding nothing. was to feign stupidity. The best way to describe that little light? An inaudible warning from an invisible rattlesnake. I might as well have been lobotomized. The dials. It sounded like a automated safe lock opening itself. It would have to do. the buttons. Perchance tell me if this is indeed a bus stop? Meh. So I walked in. seeking out a railing or a banister of some sort to safely traverse down the void. It had an olive green hue. I looked around the frame. My best chance. a thought in my head stopped me. But I didn‟t want to be a mindslave in the first place. standing next to it gave me a bad vibe. The wall moved. Fear slowly kicked in. “Oo. hello. and I couldn‟t see 5 inches in front of me. The chamber was nearly pitch black. everything on it looks old. I wondered about the functioning streetlight and how it loomed over the terminal. kept to the wall for guidance. like a burglar in an old cartoon. obfuscated my curiosity with sheer ignorance. Nothing happened. It was dangerously dark inside. throwing caution to the wind like a provoked animal. muted clank. Instantly I became nervous. I shook at the sound of a low-pitched whir and a deep. And it was. Why. That’s just what they want you to do. Was it a pressure key? Snooping around. something from before I was born. I would be forced to Prog-Ref Labor. It could probably work if I dulled my tone. covering my nostrils with a heavy dust. It took my several minutes to realize how unnecessarily suspicious I was acting. The chassis of the console was definitely an older model. As soon as I stepped in. something I couldn‟t answer so much as egg on. The place seemed to empty so far. And the brick wall beside the terminal rumbled before quickly darting aside. it would definitely result in judicial remediation. incarcerated. Everything about this terminal seemed eerie. The next step I take leaves my foot hanging perilously in midair. rediscovered the threshold. and made my way down the . Realizing this. I bent over and pressed it. My heels did not touch the floor and I crouched into every.I take a closer look at it.brainwashed to the point of unquestioning the ideals and leaders of Prog-Ref. my conscience demanded the reason for doing this. should I be caught in the intrusion. But my curiosity took over and I pressed the big red button in the middle to see if its audio systems would function. and saw an indented space. I guided my arm in all directions before me. I debated the safety of proceeding downwards.

staircase. I went down two stories before reaching the bottom. pure white when I looked directly at them. was the moment I found the light in the darkness. Inside that complex was where everything began. of Progressive Reform. The moment I walked into that room hidden deep inside the darkness of the alley. My source of light had then been a broken generator box. and entered a short hallway into a room with an even more puzzling processer than the derelict terminal form before. wary of any stray sparks. spewing out intense electric arcs. They were stupefying with brilliance. but blue in my peripheral sight and visual memory. . I circumvented electrocution by keeping my distance.

I stole away into the darkness and crawled over the rooftop of the brick building nearby. symbols. called „em nozzles. letters. Vulgarities. and every shortcoming of mankind on its behalf to allow choices to dominate society. if I could even survive to it. the expressions I always wanted to hear. sickness. I told myself that I have crossed over the border into violence. People find these old cans lying about „n pick „em up. profanities. hot pink. utter helplessness of a sitting duck—which I indeed had. I did not know. Staring at the city before me from the end of another little dark alley. and witty epithets all hung out together. “Spray-paint. holding burning trash as a well-needed source of heat and light. “Saw you look curious. I waited a minute to take everything in. He managed up a pale smile. in this state of chaos lay the last hope of humanity. where the will of any individual powerful enough to carry it out is law. Getting out would be the hard part.” “No it‟s not a problem. It had been lit by trashcans as if they were giant torches. The walls were hassled with ridiculously-shaped characters. Avoiding any confrontation. Press their fingers on a button at the top. my face scared it away. I was now inside a state of utter chaos. so convoluted to their level of intricacy. I let curiosity take over so that I wouldn‟t indicate to any predators the complete. gawkily awkward in his baby blue bathrobe as his skinny neck turned around from the fire.” I found the words and smiled. What could make their shapes and textures so unique. It was beautiful. However. thank you.” He had to be around 50.[Chapter 3 Excluded] Chapter 4 So I made it in. Blazing in orange. It crumbled when I looked at him in response. A man in his bathrobe huddled up and chaffed his hands next to the can. „s all. n‟ spray everywhere these weird pictures and rude wordins‟. I rather like „em m‟self. embracing its warmth. death. A group of four men prowled the alley from its mouth. Maintaining an ample air of caution. I was so focused on looking tough.” . punching through their boring brick canvas. I assured myself. “uh. The man behind me answered for me. neon green. Getting in was easy after I found the right way. or scarlet crimson were the words I always wanted to see. And that‟s when I knew that I was walking into Pandora‟s Box. drawings. across the side of the street I was standing on. Many were hard to read or understand. lewd jokes.

” His eyes brighten as he sees the protein bar and he nods a thank you to my direction. Probably the latter. but it‟s very possible. too. talking about my brinking or perhaps something else more deserving of their attention. I take off and explore the world I‟ve only thought so much about before. and every store sold only certain products for the exact amount margined by the government. of all places…” “Well. Don‟t know what keeps „em so clean. You jus‟ need to know the right people. who would either find themselves at the end of a rip-off or a really sweet bargain. and the lack of law enforcement all night. Prog-Ref administrators monitored our food consoles and decided when to restock our foods. People who overate had this privilege revoked. “Thank you.” he pointed to the trashcan. I know the right hidin‟ spots for when raiders come a-knockin‟. A group of women nearby chattered as I dusted myself off. interesting. Me myself. Herbert. Rather. I can scavenge pretty good. thank you. “I don‟t think they stop watchin‟ us just because they don‟t protect us over here. the bars. the women standing on the corners of the street. “Yes… and could you mind explaining what things are like in these parts?” And so I walked across the rooftop of that small.” I hand him over a snack from my satchel. not supply and demand. but a closely-monitored one. loads o‟ people.” he coughed. not wanting to tell too much. “Hm. and he regaled me with tales from his past. It was incredible. food was either cheap or healthy. body still facing the fire. rolling as I landed with the proper technique. but some of us manage to do without laws just fine. Cath. though it wasn‟t as noisy as I thought it would be. though. We talked about the raiders. the gangs. Not as many as the News would say. “You‟re not from around here.” “Wow. I can set up a fire well enough. either. I noticed that I appeared to be in a marketplace. keeping them safe in here. We couldn‟t just walk up to the food console one day and pluck out an apple. People couldn‟t shop for themselves. old building. Well. News makes it look like all sorts of folk like to get out o‟ here. The shopkeepers held their stands up and down the walls. But similar to the markets in the boondocks. really? JVNH must really care about those things. are you? Are you new here?” I nodded nervously. selling their assorted goods and food products for whatever deal they could hassle out their buyers. we‟d have to schedule our snacking and mealtimes at the start of every year. but I think I need to get going now.” “Has anyone gotten out?” “Oh. I really appreciate all of this. If you wanted good-tasting food. Never both. after all. I hopped off the roof into a mattress below. It‟s s‟posed to be a shithole. The economy was run by JVNH. No one in Nineveh had the same liberty. “The terminals are still in tip-top shape. and Prog-Ref would design a thinner eating schedule for them. you‟d have to schedule a reservation for one of your nearby .He once again looks back to me.

Besides the rivalries. they often attacked rival gangs in brutal manners. Sure.” the fourth kept looking at my satchel.) The three gangs were known as the Revenant. “Hey there. so of course fine dining was accessible to Workers of Progress in the Administration District. want some spruce tonight?” the first asked “You need bitches? We got bitches. I felt good about doing it. Who knew that something as simple and friendly as an honest conversation could be currency in something as dangerous and fearful as anarchy? I never completely trusted what my teachers taught me about the free-market system.” The third made a gesture of closing his index finger and his thumb and blew out his lips. the Ghouls. but the members were only human.restaurants. there was no evidence for any of this and their motives were dubious. thanks. Supposedly. “I‟m fine. Instantly they seethed with anger. the gangs were the people responsible for it. like I was supposed to understand what it meant. The Ghouls approached me as a potential business client after I walked out of that marketplace and through the plaza. I was skeptical when my Historical Culture courses covered this matter. The chocolate bar tasted nice. As I entranced a wide alley branching from the plaza. and raping every living organism they can manage to rape. They hate each other and compete to control all of the boondocks. they kill anyone outside of their party in cold blood and run the economy for their own violent hobbies such as eating infant children. I purchased a chocolate bar from a lonely woman with a few odd items I found lying in the bottom of my satchel and a pleasant conversation. mate. If you couldn‟t tell already. Then I walked out the market into a plaza surrounded by buildings that actually managed to find electrical power. “You want some hype stuff? We got everything.” They were known throughout Rye for harboring terrorists and for starting wildfires in The Fields to hinder botanical research (Needless to say. crucifying and electrifying pregnant women.” “How about a room? Need a place to stay? We even got running water. They were all run by three gangs—gangs being “triumvirates of vice and violence. and the Zombies. guessing to himself what might be inside. however. a few were casinos. Yes. the four hooded men I tried to avoid earlier popped out of nowhere. JVNH also deemed it cruel to put the best chefs out of their jobs. which were usually packed up for the year. none of it was true. but that often meant body-guarding clients and people of importance.” my anxiety answered for me. but I didn‟t think it could be this welcoming. they were something more along the lines of mercenaries. JVNH didn‟t want to spare the workforce on unnecessary luxuries such as delicious food. but having a talk with the old lady about her cats was even better. Most were hotels and brothels. . organs of capitalist corruption. even if it is dead. if there was such a thing as law enforcement. In fact.

because the third locked my arms behind my head before I knew it. but still I downed one man. I didn‟t see if it was successful. he was strong—too strong—and I grunted in each blow. now. Surprisingly. I needed to move. anywhere. I was adapting. I attempted to do the one thing I would have never tried before. the other three charged towards me. like he was still trying to scare me. I flounder out in the most unrealistic and geeky voice. though. What could I do? The knife was already heading straight for my center! The first thing—the craziest thing—that came to my mind possessed me before I could stop myself from doing it. As only my upper body was locked in the grapple. something I would never do unless I was about to die. “Know what I‟m in here for? Protocol Ten. My eyes were brazen with anger. He was going to stab me. I panicked. I suddenly chuck the bag at the one with the knife. the one obsessed with my belongings. You don‟t believe me?” He then bent in his head to stare me down. The first man sauntered up. laughing. At this point. and I knew what would happen next. I immediately wrestled my hands to his head and pulled it towards me. My ears were ringing. giving me a cut on the side of my eye. simultaneously smashing my knee into the small of his back. “You from Rye. Then. It went well enough. I jumped and tucked backward with all the strength in my abdominals. Found it lying around in some alley and hid it before the police could take it. . Even the man who had been rummaging my sack joined in until he spotted what I had in my hands. Ignoring it for now. punk?” He pulled back his arm. My helplessness steadily began to turn my fear into rage. knowing I couldn‟t break out of that deadlock arm-hold. he went down on that single blow. trying to force my diaphragm to open so I could finally take in air. I was. to impress my attackers. “Nelson! Your vertebrae!” I bent down and clasped a bag of marbles slung off the side of his belt. any direction away from that knife. “Damone!” It exploded in his face. figuring they might prove useful for a getaway. long and razor sharp. Nevertheless. I tried to backflip.” he flicks out a knife blade from its handle. But as I stood up.“Motherf-” “Bitch-ass!” “Grab his bag!” The first launched a right hook at me. rummaged through my sack as I yelled at the man punching me. That‟s right. What was the point in that? He began to repeatedly punch me in the gut with some clumsy hooks and ham-fisted jabs. “You asshole!” It was stupid and I looked cheap. I sloppily but quickly landed behind him and the back of my mind screamed at me in pain when my left leg landed. Switchblade. but I managed to kick the second in the groin as he charged to grab me. Not knowing how to react. curbing my legs over my head and rolling across the man who held me. assault! I stabbed a punk with a knife just like this one back in Rye. The fourth. “Oh. please kid.

and we‟re gonna have to let Tombs know what happened here. I really had no choice but to follow. I saw that his face and torso looked charred. whatever! You were going through my stuff anyway! What was that for? If you just wanted to intimidate me. For now.” “You guys are in a gang?” “Hey! We prefer the term affliated faction. He hands me my bag and urges me to come with him. I finally realized that what I threw in his face were laced marbles. I‟ve heard of them before. picking up the Switchblade. You probably need a place to stay tonight. explain all this out. “Who‟s Tombs?” “He runs everything down here in Deadworld.” he began breathing out. putting his arms to his head to take in the situation.” “How can I trust you?” My eyes narrowed.” I suspected aloud. “The hell is wrong with you?” “You guys were mugging me! He would have stabbed me!” “We only wanted your business.” . he will. shiv.We all flew back a foot or two. Cursing and screaming. obsessed with my belongings— jogged back to me. even though I was still inhaling widely and my leg felt like it lost a scuffle with a welding torch. once we Ghouls finally take over the Zombies and the Revenant. or other explosive dusts. calling his bluff. or other bombs. “Don‟t you know how shite works out here? All you had to do was make an offer!” “Well sorry that I was busy trying to avoid a. They would use them to throw handfuls of mini-bombs or bolster the explosions of dynamite. Disabled. but indeed alive. salt peter. Disabled. mate! It was all a gag!” “You‟re lying.” “Switchblade. “Let me make it up to you. hand grenades. you wouldn‟t have—” “Alright. a-“ “Switchblade. I‟ll take you to Tombs. Damone gets out of hand sometimes. My left leg was cut. Did I just kill Damone? Looking up. Well. one of them fled. The man who yelled before the impact—the one who went through my satchel. listen: I‟m sorry. Terrorists and other criminals would fill seemingly innocent packages or marble bags with old musket balls or other small round objects (sometimes actually marbles) and gunpowder. aggressively. probably the one I kicked in the groin. but he was still breathing.

” “Oh. that world out there is the real prison. accompanied by the décor of a casinohotel. Least I shrugged it off.” And so we toured through Deadworld and made our way to The Mortuarie. But mate. how‟d you learn to wrassle like that?” Unsure if I should reveal more about myself to him. ain‟t ya? I‟m glad I busted outta that place.“No. You‟re from the ordered districts. a somewhat large apartment complex with advertisement boards all over it. Let me tell you. we have too many euphemisms for everything and names just end up confusing people. chuckling. “I didn‟t. I gotta ask you. This was the headquarters of the Ghouls… . I feel you. Where I come from. I decided to in order to gain his trust.

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