Deep in the absence of light, the air seems to bleed moisture as the night sky releases heat through the endless, cracked asphalt. Trash litters the alley, a space well within the wingspan of an average person. Paper scraps tumble and blow like synthetic leaves, hugging the walls, lost within the journey towards pure entropy. Skyward, chemical mists summoned just above the high rise homes of the bourgeoisie flow aimlessly in the turbulent artificial winds of the metropolitan cityscape.
Familiar sounds echo off the brick and masonry of the alley: the footsteps of a shadow, seemingly lost within the perpetual tension of a class-segregated society. Profaning the simplicity the sounds of age, decay, and time pollute the immediate area, forcing its material existence to seem rough and disorganized. Thoughtfully, the ghost fades through the darkness, lit only by ambient city light, a light with no source, that never sleeps. Harshly making turn after turn with a familiarity displaying deep knowledge of the slums a hand is placed upon the crumbling brick. This contact momentarily combining the many singular droplets of water into a shining surface that for an instant reflected the face of a man, weary yet alert, alone in the night.
Lost in concentration, eerily machine-like, and locked in an unwavering pace, the lone traveler continues on… Crushing his consistent stride with a sharp discordant halt, he fuses to the wall, his gaze fixed on the single red light, an Eye, perched above the next corner. One of the red city sensors: surveillance nodes, scanning, calculating, and penetrating the last threads of privacy. The Eyes are just one of the constant reminders that every single aspect of life is being watched; a twisted perversion of Locke’s state of nature culminating in a conflicted existence under complete dominance. No further could he use the safety of the alley; the street, with its many dangers even this late would be his only possible route free from the eyes of Elite soldiers. A deep intake of breath, straining his lungs to maximum capacity, a pause, then explosions ripping though every muscle send him hurtling into the open street out of reach of digital eyes.
Once free of the ominous walls of the alley, the shadows rendered by the classic Gothic archways of an abandoned church offer physical refuge, more than any ethereal god or religion had given him before. Still in flight, he rips through the void of seemingly endless space. Inches feel like miles as he streaks through the street towards the church. Truly vulnerable to watching Eyes, his heart races, redlines, as he slides the second of his battle worn boots into the shadows. The warm darkness engulfing him while whispers of hymns and empty, red eyed renditions of Pascal’s insincere wager drift through the cracked stained glass. Scanning for Elite guards on patrol; the layout of the street leading up to the 1674 checkpoint is committed to memory. The streets lie in disrepair, lined with cars from another age, another time. Some still work, patched with makeshift technology breached from the current and fused to the old; such as when evolution finds a way, bringing old DNA into the next iteration of life.
His eyes, surgical and relentless, absorb the crumbling brick that lines the street and search along homes once proudly defiant of nature. Rusted bars line the windows, leaving blood colored stains streaming down the brick, yet still providing a safety glass never could. Cones of light break the mold of darkness, emanating from the streetlights scattered and bent. No order or unison can be found anywhere. Not the lights, the disarray of the mostly non-working vehicles, not even the street, broken and uneven, provides a much needed sense of linearity. The jagged lines stagger to a final destination: the checkpoint, lined with security, for keeping something out? Or for keeping something in…
Lowly Elite officers make up the guard; “Peace Officers” the locals have sarcastically dubbed them. These grunts are pure scum; deemed too violent or ignorant to climb the ranks, they are sent to patrol the slums. Stories of rape, pillage, and murder seep from the blood stained concrete into weary ears, adding further splendor to a life under oppression. The body count quickly leaps to six on this lonely street, 5 on point and one in the shadows. A single mobile Eradicator unit parked in front of the main gate acts as a makeshift barricade for the death dealers; this is chosen as the objective final point of this episode.
Sliding along the walls and bending around the light as if it would cause physical harm, a single life melts into the street and flows towards the proverbial lower ground. Within 20 meters the element of surprise is invoked. Out into the light he drifts, for all to see but now closer than what anyone would have permitted had they been given the choice. Alarmed, the men draw weapons and begin to show open hostility as the intruder stumbles to the truck and puts a foot up to the wheel. Stooping as if to tie his shoe, the Elite are ignored; the officers surround the vehicle and demand surrender.
Without a fight he gives in, under the guise of being brain-dead and high; mumbling and rolling his eyes as they drag his weak body away. Laughing at the stupidity and disregard for his own life, one officer tosses him into an opening in the street a dozen meters from the rolling iron gate that serves as final barrier to the world beyond. The four others are still standing at the wheel of the truck, boasting their best invasions of the innocent women within the slums. Their eyes alight with evil and mouths wet with perverse desire, they smile through masked faces of malevolence.
The other guard, wishing he was amongst his peers sharing his own sins of debauchery, turns to his no-longer-gurgling captive only to see a flash of movement and suffer a full reversal. A transition signifying not only the loss of his assault rifle but, more importantly, the control of his destiny. His weapon removed, he turns from his assailant to his only source of hope, the demons in a huddle. Before any sound could be freed from his gas-masked face, the Eradicator’s wheel explodes into a blue flash of indescribable violence; the four men are sent flying in broken heaps of simmering flesh. They might live in that condition for a full hour or two, justice surely but still too short for some. In truth it would need to be a lifetime, long enough to justify only a fraction of the pain they caused, but a fair karmic finality nonetheless.
Turning back in disbelief, the last guard was greeted with bullets, one into his left leg, then the right, and finally both arms; quivering in pain, he gasped to the empty sky asking for a savior who would never come. For the first time, the final Peace Officer’s eyes locked into the cold stare of the man holding life in his callused hands, he saw eyes of pain; they spoke of history, for no God, real or imagined, would ever show mercy to a beast of such savage nature.
Out went the lights in the mind of the last guard of the 1674 checkpoint.