Every day, I watch the slow, steady decay of the crumbling metropolis. Notices of condemnation appear on a daily basis all over town. Entire streets disappear into demolished oblivion. The homeless take refuge in the dying shells of these unwanted buildings, and most of down town is a haven for the dispossessed. The apartment blocks stand empty, hunkered over abandoned stores advertising long gone wares in broken windows. No one ventures onto the streets in this neighbourhood. The eerie silence is only broken by gunshots or the squalling cries of hungry babies.
A man shuffles towards me, one shaking hand held out while the other clutches his oily rags at his throat. He stinks of cold, clammy death. At first I think he is one of the Risen, but I see his bloodshot eyes and realise he's just a down-and-out. I bury my face in my collar to avoid the stench. He sighs when I walk past. I have no intention of stopping. I refuse to give his kind money. You just have to take one look at those scrawny arms poking out from beneath his rags, punctuated with needle marks, to know how he'll spend it. I want to help but he's beyond my reach.
I head into an alley between the remains of a retro café and a hardware store. Bodies, swollen with rain yet frozen by the cold, lie under disintegrating cardboard shelters. Hungry eyes watch my progress as I cross from 34th Street out into Mayhew Square. I could bring them food, or help them build shelters, but it won't help. Not in the long run. I'd just need to come back the next day and do it all over again. The City Fathers sit back and do nothing. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer, and all the while the city rots.
Sometimes I hate who I am. They call me The Hero, and yet there is only so much I can do.
9 months ago