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|In the puritanistic society of late 21st century Earth there remains one bane, one blot upon human existence manifested as an accursed city where street gangs rule and all attempts at order are for nought. A world empire's attempt to remove this last bastion of evil by blotting out the sun, and encasing the city in an opaque capsule backfires as the evil thrives in its new found darkness and the gangs find new ways to torture, oppress and exploit those 'innocents' now unfortunate enough to find themselves captive in the architectural Hell. In this story I'm playing with a different writing style. I naturally write in long, complex sentences. I thought I'd try choppy writing. I envision a dark graphic novel more than a book.||
The street lay calm. Dank. Dark. At least as calm as it ever was. And it was always dank and dark. The screams of the distance fell in minimal proximity. The guns, hooting, cackling rested upon ones ears as the sweet sounds of morning. The alleys smelled of urine, blood, paint and rotting corpses, for there was no one to collect the bodies left behind as darkness crept across the streets like a plague carrying with it the night’s transgressions.
Electric lights lit the streets for most of the day, but when they went out no hope remained for the weak. The dim auxiliaries lit the night but only in spots far removed from each other.
It was cold but not too cold as a tall thin figure stood there, leaning casually against the old stone building. Violated as it was, with graffiti from one or another street gang. Who was controlling the territory now? She believed it was the P-Hoods. Valley Park had fought a bloody battle there on the corner of Clementine and Ramos, but in the end they had slinked off into the darkness as the hooded warriors proclaimed themselves kings of at least that much of the city.
Her nose and two piercing eyes tipped the horizon of a nearly rotten apple, as she took another bite. She did not look up as a loud buzz sounded then ten nine eight seven six five four three two one and the lights floated away one by every beloved one.
Absolute darkness that few ever experience. The absence of light. Ten minutes would squeak by and then the auxiliaries would kick on, but until then she just stood there waiting. Watching the swirls of circuitry playing in her mind.
It didn’t phase her. The darkness. She was accustomed to it. She knew it well. It’s like that for children who have never seen the moon. They know what real darkness is. Sunlight could they neither fathom nor comprehend. A shining orb warming their faces. A preposterous myth. A tale told children by aged parents who thought such once had existed.
With out warning the auxiliaries kicked in. They were much dimmer and further apart than the others, but they would do. She liked the dark. It was her friend. It hid her well with her skin darker than the darkness.
Oh, Well, maybe she had lingered too long and should have been heading for home. Thoughts snaked through her drifting mind as a step fell before the other to be followed by another. Trading minutes of complete darkness for minutes of dull light which gave little comfort. She took another bite before twisting the remaining apple core from her fingertips into an alley way of a row of abandoned warehouses. Short. Metallic. Rusted by the dankness.
She crossed another intersection.1st it was called. The very center of Hell. It wasn’t far now. She rounded a corner and disappeared into an alley way, past a row of nonfunctioning metallic modular transport units. They made little more than small dwellings now since there was no power left to move them from place to place. The girl started as a dirty face flew into one of the windows with sweaty palms. His visage of fear morphed into merely an outstretched tongue as she returned the gesture---thin sliver of pink between raven lips.
He would be one of them soon. One of Suarez’s children. His mother was quickly loosing all sanity from her spirit. The time would come when he would be taken from that place, but for now he would lie there in that transport unit’s additional passenger compartment at his mother’s breast.
As she cleared the alley, she fell into another patch of dim light. She could see in the distance five from the street gang Blind-Eye. She could tell them by their colors--a sickly yellow like gangrenous flesh around the right eye that they removed when they joined that particular group. They stood around their prey, like hovering demons. Three men, two women. One no more than eight years of age for certain.
What did they have cornered this time? The young woman tilted her head to see as she walked past without a sound. It was an old woman. Legs bloody and riddled with bullets. Must’ve tried to run. Poor hag. She sat there, right under an auxiliary with hands over her eyes as if to imagine them away. Blood dripping through her fingers.
Didn’t see many of her type around. Old that is. She must’ve been about sixty, by the looks of her sagging hands. She would soon meet the statistic though of eighteen being the average age of death there in that city.
They had just wanted her rations. She could have given it to them, and they might have left her be. But no, she was a fighter and now after a long miserable existence she would die. That is after they had done what they wished with her. The fact that girls were among the assailants made her feel ever so slightly for the old woman. Women were always more creative when thinking of ways to toy with and torture their victims.
Even with these thoughts, the girl past them in near apathy. It was none of her concern.
The child of seven maybe eight, looked up to her from the excitement as they kicked at the old woman and shot rounds past her head to terrify her yet more. There was no look of innocence in that one left eye. Resting next to a recently opened socket.
The girl, who was on her way home, did not look at her. She did not desire to call their games her way.
“You guys. Look.” The pointing finger of the one-eyed eight year old pulled for a moment their attention from their play thing.
There was nothing there. Only the night. The dim electric lights. And the darkness. The screams. And the gunfire. Death and desperation.
The year was 2048. Ancient history to you and me, but to the people who shaped that history a time very real indeed. It was in this time in which all evil in the world had been first eradicated. Disease, poverty, crime, hunger, violence. All forgotten memories. The history book tell how the world powers had at last come together, put their hate, their jealousy, their selfish wants aside for the greater good.
But still there existed one place. A place many of those same books would like to forget. One last haven for evil and all of the above. A place called Hellview or maybe more well known as The Accursed City.
Hellview, they say was originally a city just like any other. But rival gangs ruled the streets. Killing each other. Raping their enemies’ women. Ravaging the cities they claimed to protect. And fighting for their share of it. The world at that time was beginning to eliminate such activity, but this city was particularly difficult. The gang presences were strong. And there was talk of dropping a bomb on the city and being done with it. But the Human Rights advocates would not have it. Those were people, living in those streets, among the horror.
So a compromise was met as the onlookers baked in that mid July sun. All police officers would withdraw in a secret maneuver. And when they were out they would erect a wall, encasing the city. A wall that could be neither penetrated nor destroyed. The “capsule project” they called it. They would “quarantine” the illness that was within and wait for it to die out. So the capsule went up. A barrier, a half sphere surrounded the city, covering all who were unfortunate enough to be caught up there in eternal darkness.
But the human spirit, it would seem, does not die out so easily. The gangs grew stronger with no daylight to hinder their activities. They built artificially lit greenhouses to grow food. They dredged the waste to find water. Built generators for power. Cultivated and artificially sun-bathed rows and rows of trees where before there had been a select few to maintain proper oxygen/carbon dioxide levels. And all continued on as if the capsule had never been put into place. Except now, to “own” a particular territory not only meant that they received percentage of all drug sales in their slum, but also revenue from sales of all food, water, and energy as well as tax on the very air they breathed for they could indeed say that they had provided that air. They owned the very lives of the people who dwelled in their territory. Each and every inhabitant was in debt to them. And the gangs would therefore do what they pleased with those lives.
Five years past, an eternity to those wishing only for the heat of the sun, the dots they called stars, the caring light of the moon, when another council was held to discuss what was to become of the place. The people were not dying out as they had thought. They could not just bring down the capsule. The gangs would surely retaliate. Taking many lives before they could at last be destroyed. So what was plan B?
The council was clever. They would make good out of a bad situation. A penal colony. It would become a penal colony. A city where they could send the refuse of the world. Dissention was rare in the utopia that they had created, but now they had a place to send those offenders.
And so it began. People being “sent away” as they called it. Murderers, Rapists, Adulterers, Liars, Cheats, Dissenters. They were sent to the Accursed City to pay for their crimes and never to be heard from again.
Justice was among them. She was one of those unfortunate enough to be caught up with the garbage of society. She was not a murderer, an adulterer, a liar. She was just a girl trying to survive in the hell in which she was born.
Her life had not been easy. Born to a heroin fiend mother on a cold August night, sixteen years after the capsule was first erected. The mother had been raped by so many times in the streets of Hellview she could not even suspect who the father was.
She had no need of a child. It was of great surprise to her that it was even born alive as many times as she had been beaten and raped in the past few weeks. It was a miracle, but she didn’t see it that way. She would leave it to die. There, next to the dumpster where she had just given it life. Alone, Cold, but not afraid of the future. There was no future anymore. And no need to fear it. She would only set out, walking the streets awaiting the next attack.
But Justice would not die so easily, she wailed as well as she could, with her mouth still caked with womb debris.
A man happened by. Old, but seeming older still by the life he had lived. He had been one of the first to be “sent away.” Had gone crazy one night. Killed forty-eight people in a Boston night club, with merely an automatic rifle and a pillow case, before they took him down.
The man approached to find the source of the sounds that met his ears among the screaming and gunshot of the night. He found her there, wrapped as she was in a tattered basketball jersey. Electric lights buzzing over head as they flickered about. She was pulled up into his arms as he freed her breath. “Come child, you’ll go home with me now.” He carried her off into the night.
His home was a modest establishment. A sink and stove against the back wall and to the left a row of twenty or more cots with blankets neatly folded upon them. He ran her a bath in the kitchen sink. Not too warm. Not too cold. And finished the job her mother had started. Pulling free from tufts of black bits of blood and flesh. Then he pulled her up. Wrapping a clean towel around her. “This will be your bed.” He said kindly, as he approached the cot closest to his own.
Suddenly, eleven children burst through in sequence, carrying their weekly food rations in fully biodegradable, non toxic bags. Boys and girls ages ranging from two to fourteen made their ways to the kitchen sink.
A six year old boy approached the old man, staring at the new face. Twisting his chin length hair between two fingers as he did.
Another much older followed behind. “Suarez, not another one.”
Suarez smiled to the boys a peaceful, gentle smile. They all knew well that they were her only hope for survival.
In disgust, a girl of twelve picked up the jersey from the floor at her feet. It bore upon the back the words, “Saint Louis Justice.” She dropped it to the floor again and kicked it aside. She would not be the one told to clean it.
So, Justice grew there with her brothers and sisters. Others came along. Children deserted by their parents. Wanted by no one. But Suarez just would not have it. Each he could find, he took as his own, raising them in the knowledge of right and good, which were so absent in that city. Protecting them as well as he could from the world beyond his doors.
They were a family. They looked out for each other. They were a gang of sorts. With each his own job and charge in that family. And so the years shifted. Orphans came and went. Their fates many. Some killed in the streets with the rest. Some initiated into gangs. But most were like Justice, they just grew up and set out to find their own way, knowing that if need be they could always return to their loving home. The one place such a thing could be found in the Accursed City.
Electric light trickled up and down the street in a low roar. The night muggy, glowing, sleepless. Rats scurried about in disease infested streets alongside a million mangy cats as gunshot hung low in the distance. Pigeons cooed high in their lofts, dropping their waste to the cracked walk below. A seven story toy factory lay there. Bare. Empty. Void of laughter and joy. As Justice contemplated her life.
The air compressed and cracked as a stray bullet flew past Justice’s ear before sailing into the already broken third story window. She heard a splat, a clang and a thump and knew it had hit someone. No scream though. Must have gone clean through the head.
Did not really bother Justice too much. It was a good way to go. Quick. She could think of worse. She had seen much worse.
But it would never happen to her. She never let her guard down. She staid vigilant. Didn’t mess with those mind altering liquids and pills. She understood why they did it, for a moment’s escape from the misery, but she would keep her wits about her and hopefully her life.
A tan and black face banged against a multi passenger transport unit, once known as a van. It was unique because all the windows were intact, but it was quite disused, being that its tires were flattened and quickly rotting away. The head slammed again, as Justice looked this time to see the tan and back face, tongue hanging low. Slobber covering the window.
The beast was mad with thirst, as he slammed his head again and again into the surface as if he could break it. Unfortunately for him, glass technology had quite improved around the middle of the century. He was not getting out of there unless his massive paws somehow transformed suddenly into hands and undid the latch. Justice walked by as if she hadn’t noticed. He would soon die of dehydration, but Justice would do nothing to stop it. That was the intent of those who locked him in that place.
A high pitched cackle met her ear as she rounded 1st street toward Clementine Blvd. It broke a moment of silence found only in her head. Justice drew her blade. It rang out high, rivaling the pitch of the cackle. They were up to no good on that eve. And she would not have herself become a part of it.
They were four. She could see them there in the alleyway. The Yodels. Even through the darkness of the alley she could see the shaved heads. With the Letter “Y” beginning on the tops of their heads with open arms and ending with the stick tattooed down their grimy necks.
They had some poor soul cornered between the dumpster and the wall. One of the men stood on one side of it and another on the other as the figure she could not quite make out moved back and forth avoiding their grasp. They were out of their territory by at least a couple blocks. This one must have given them quite a chase.
Justice watched for a moment as the men cackled and hooted. They would have their fill tonight. Whatever it was. They would have their way with it. But it was of no consequence to Justice. It was what it was.
Finally the maiden was caught, up by the collar of the lovely spring blouse she wore with log frilly skirts. One threw her to the ground, landing her on all fours, scraping her palms and knees. She cowered away from his feet as he pulled his belt free.
“Poor soul,” thought Justice, “Must be a recently sent one. She’ll have to learn one way or another.”
Justice wanted to turn away, be on her way home, but somehow she was compelled to watch. She really had nothing better to do on that night. Curiosity if not pity. She heard the rip of clothing. Buttons unfastening, zippers being loosed.
Then as if without precedent, the girl darted out, somehow missing their grasps. Racing through the alleyway in Justice’s direction. The girl fell at Justice’s feet, running her bloody palms down Justice’s left leg. Justice shook them free and ripped away the back of her dress revealing her freshly placed numbers. Justice had been right. She was newly sent. Justice looked down to meet the tear drenched eyes. “Help me, please.” The maiden’s face straightened from a grimace of terror to a smile of relief.
Justice sighed, perturbed. Mulling thoughts in her mind. She didn’t really care to get involved. She saw it everyday. She couldn’t save everyone. And the pathetic girl thought Justice was her savior. Justice looked down to her in distain. She knew she could help the girl. She had taken on more than these. Weaponless hoodlums that they were. But did she really want to get involved. The frail female would just be attacked by the next blood thirsties who happened upon her innocence.
Oh, what’s the harm?
She pulled the girl to her feet and shoved her behind. She hit the ground yet again as the four who had set out to catch her after fastening their pants now ran into the force that was Justice. As they first neared her, she swung her blade low, just catching a belt in her tip. Pulling it free. She sliced through the non animal byproduct leather, allowing his pants to drop to his knees before he could catch them. As he struggled with them, he tripped. Tumbling back as the others neared her, signaling to small bulges in their pants. Another, for the taking she was not. Kitana fell again upon another. Severing hand from wrist as it signaled so vilely in her direction. She pulled up to take the next, another if need be, but the remaining two backed away, before darting around her to save themselves as did the man who now had no right hand.
The man who had been de-panted still lay there, backing against the cold stone wall. Fear-stricken as he was. Unable to move. Justice strolled to him with kitana firmly grasped. He slunk back as her head fell in between the streetlight and his own. A shadow upon his face. His vulnerability still lay open to the air. Justice knelt. Looking the man over. Then as he gasped she swifted her blade across his pant leg, cleaning it of that night’s transgression before returning it to its sheath. Justice walked away.
The patter of quickening steps did not startle her as she continued on to Brennen Avenue. She knew what it was. But she would not turn around.
“I’m Helen.” Her wide blue eyes fell only upon Justice’s cheeks as she refused the girl so much as eye contact.
Nothing was her reply.
“Don’t you talk? I’m Helen McCoy.” Helen pulled her body around in front of Justice. Placing two hands firmly on her chest to stop her.
Justice jerked away. “You really should find a place to stay the night, 75429.” The numbers on her back were her name now.
Helen ignored the reference. “I thought I had found a place. I’ve been in that dumpster back there for four nights now. But they found me.”
“They’ll always find you.”
“I don’t know. I think they’ll think twice after what you did to them.”
“If not them then others. It will happen a couple dozen times before the months over, I can guarantee it. That’s just how it is here. It happens to them as well if they are not careful. You’ll learn soon enough.”
“Guess I better stay close to you then.”
Justice released a low groan.
“And If I don’t want to be taken like that. I can’t imagine. How awful.”
“What you in for, 75429?” Justice’s deep, dark eyes remained forward as she kept her pace with the girl beside her.
“Earth code 72919.”
“What’s that?” Justice was not stupid, but she simply had no knowledge of the world beyond the capsule. She knew a few Earth Codes. Murder was 72187. Rape was 72346. Speaking falsely was 72666. But this one she knew not of.
“Uh, fornication.” Helen spoke at last. Obvious embarrassment in her voice.
“They send you away for that?”
“Well, of course. It’s just not right to be doing that with someone you haven’t been bonded to.”
“Why it’s the law.”
“Oh.” She’d never heard of anyone being sent away for that, but then again she certainly had not met everyone who had been sent. If Helen was any indication, they were probably killed before they had the pleasure.
“Well, did you?”
“Did I what?”
Helen became enraged at the accusation. “I happen to be a virgin, thank you very much.”
“Oh.” Justice spoke simply. She would not have been the first blameless one to be sent away. It was common practice, when someone needed you to be disposed of for one reason or another, for them to make something up. It was not hard to get a conviction. The severity of the crime always outweighed the credibility of the evidence. “Well, I’ll take you to my place tonight, but at first morning buzz, you’ve got to find a safer place to sleep.”
“Oh, thank you.” She could not express the sincerity of her gratitude. She owed this person her life, though of what value that held any longer she could not say. Helen looked up to where the sky should have been. Only darkness. Would she ever see the sun again?
Justice’s place was a one bedroom apartment high on the sixty-fifth floor. The elevators didn’t work any more so she for the most part was safe at those heights. Few would make it up that many steps and still have energy to attack her.
Helen looked as if she might collapse when they finally reached the door as Justice sprinted up, calling back to her.
Justice pulled out a key to unlock the heavy iron lock.
Once inside she went about fastening each dead bolts in sequence and placing the seven steel bars across the door. Helen watched for a while but grew bored as the ritual seemed to go on and on and on.
She turned. Looked around a bit. A sink. A stove. A massive bed with a crimson comforter. A rickety table with a glass and half of a plate upon it. And a view screen upon the wall.
“What kinds of stations you get in here?”
Justice had just finished her chore and turned to Helen’s question.
Helen pointed to the screen with five perfect fingers laid out in its direction.
“That, I don’t know what that is. Not sure why you can’t see through that window. Was like that when I got here.”
Helen said nothing more as Justice outstretched one of the six fingers on her left hand in the direction for the girl to see where she would sleep. “You can have the bed.”
Helen fell down on it with the gesture. At last, maybe sleep would find her. She turned, propping herself up on her elbows. “I don’t know your name. And don’t give me some damn code.” Helen looked as if she might go crazy if she heard another code.
“It’s just a name.” Justice pulled a blanket from the refrigerator where she stored it for very cold nights. She laid herself a pallet upon the floor beside the kitchen table.
“I guess it is.” Helen said simply. “I guess it is.”
Helen couldn’t sleep. With all of the warmth that now surrounded her, she could only think of the chill of the dumpster. She was so glad she was there. In that place. A safe place, but the thought that she would have to leave the next day chilled her soul. She sat up with a start to see Justice sleeping there so peacefully, kitana at her side. Helen rose. Setting her bare feet upon the cold wooden floor. Justice heard the creak, but she did not stir. She knew who it was.
Helen pulled the comforter from the bed in a quick tug and found a place there on the floor next to her protector. Sleep found her at last as she lay there in her breath. High above the screams and shots of the night. With only the electric lights to invade her dreams.
|When the Shadow Speaks Part1/ Chap 2-3||When the Shadow Speaks Part1/ Chap 5|
|Dark Justice: Chapters 4-6||When the Shadow Speaks Part 1/Chapter 6|
|When the Shadow Speaks Part 1/ Chap 4|