I woke up as usual with a terrible feeling of disorientation in my mind, and a foul taste in my mouth. One eye painfully and slowly cracked open to be met with a sea of brown. My sense of smell bombarded with a strangely familiar smell.
With great effort I lifted my head, once my stomach had settled back down and the shooting pain in my head had faded I finally began to have some comprehension as to where I was.
Realisation crept in to the replace the fog which was slowly beginning to fade. A skip filled with cardboard, hence the smell and considering my sleeping arrangements the fact I was relatively warm.
With an effort of will and a battle of mind over stomach I dragged myself over the side landing pretty much head first onto the pavement. Whilst the new pain was still awash in my synapses I managed to tilt my head slightly towards the gutter just before a stream of liquid vomit fired itself from my mouth.
My other eye was just about focused by now and was filled with a pair of highly polished shoes. They could only belong to a policeman, a sharp pain shot through my neck, like being electrocuted shit I had been tagged, this system had been around for the last year it was relatively simple, three tags and your out, two choices prison for six months or banishment from the city for a year. The tags slowly dissolved over about six weeks. Gingerly I felt my neck sending another wave of nausea coursing through my body. I still had one other previous tag from around three weeks ago, meaning for the next three weeks I had to good or not get caught or be very lucky. None seemed very likely. Oh well I pulled myself up using my bed from the previous night as an aid and rubbed the vomit from my chin with a well used sleeve.
I rummaged in my pockets for any hidden treasure and blessed be found a very crumpled but useable cigarette.
My mood slightly lifted by this good fortune I decided to head off to work. I say work, the city is divided into two half’s, the centre where the normal, employed, housed members of our grand society live and pretty much everywhere else, slums, mass unemployment, violence, drugs and hunger. For those on the outside employment took many forms none of them pleasant. Like many I was a beggar, although recently I had dreamed up a rather successful alternative.
The city has several different areas, and almost all of them contain a selection of cafes and restaurants. I had simply started picking an area and hanging around them. Usually at the very least I got free food in return for leaving.
A stroke of genius even if I do say so myself, however step one as always is to enter the city. Now its not actually illegal for us, well scum shall we say to enter, but the few entrances from our world into theirs are lets say guarded by the police. Tags are checked, people are searched and on the whole it’s a rather unpleasant and risky business.
But we are if nothing resourceful a trait necessary to our survival, so we dig, climb, make and find our own ways into the oasis. My journey to the closest of these is quick and straight forward. Upon arrival I join the queue, ready to hand my fare to the keeper. Whose job it is to not only create and maintain the entrance but who also leads the way. A rather dangerous position due to the occasional ambush by either police or gangs of youths who enjoy dishing out violent retribution for our trespass.
This time proves uneventful if costly, due to an apparent increase in police watchfulness. So with a quick sprint across the threshold followed by a much longer coughing fit I am in.
Step two involves me desperately searching my less than perfect memory for the last location I visited in order to avoid it. Sadly once I made the mistake of revisiting the eating establishments in to quick a succession resulting in a severe beating. Not a mistake I wish to make twice.
Armed with the fairly certain knowledge of where I was going and my suitably offensive outfit I trudged steadily if not merrily off. My first customer or should that be victim was a very charming café. The pavement outside brimming over with tables, filled with people enjoying the cuisine and sunshine. I took my place just by them and in good view of the owner and allowed my natural charm and offensive smell to do its work.
It did not take long but the results were more spectacular then I had imagined, this did not prove to be a good thing. Almost immediately the dinners uprooted on mass and marched inside, closely followed by several rather large men rushing outside. They did not appear friendly towards me and I became quickly surrounded.
Things did not bode well but as I mentally and physically braced myself for the kicking I was about to receive I was unexpectedly rescued. The man nearest to me shouted in pain and clutched his elbow, the man on the other side had his hands pressed up to his face.
Across the street stood my rescuer, armed with her trusty catapult and a large supply of ball bearings stood Pixie, now Pixie is a short lady slim with wonderful brown eyes, a cute little nose and short almost boy like hair. Sadly this did not account for her name Pixie being so called because of the amount of “dust” a rather powerful mixture of illegal stimulants and generally the most favoured of all the narcotics to be found that made its way up that cute little nose. I have always had a soft spot for her which sadly has never been reciprocated which led to my surprise at the rescue.
“over her you idiot” she shouted and without thought I crossed to be by her side.
“thank you” I wheezed whilst giving her my most winning smile.
“twat” came her less then welcoming reply. She followed this with her most intense glare.
I felt this was not going well and decided to increase the distance from my attackers and so began to head off. Pixie’s hand shot out and grabbed my arm “not so fast” she spat “The boss would like a word with you” this would explain my rescue and also why my face had lost all colour.
“that’s very nice” I replied “but I have to be somewhere else” she did not even bother answering and so hand on arm we headed to her employer.
At least I knew where we were heading, I may have given the impression the city is huge and I guess it is, but the little oasis in the centre, that’s only about ten square miles. Normally I walk everywhere my shoes as well worn as the rest of me nut today Pixie decided speed was of the essence, partly I guess to prevent me doing a disappearing act. So for the first time in quite a while I was chauffer driven in a taxi.
I would like to say the journey was pleasant but with Pixie constantly glaring at me, seemingly immune to my best smile and the looks of disgust I received from the taxi driver it proved to be somewhat arduous.
We arrived at the boss man’s house a very pretty and pleasant place it is to. All lovely garden and freshly painted. I bent down to sniff a rose bush but Pixie continued to drag me like a naughty schoolboy and with my heart weary we entered.
The boss greeted me like a long lost son arms outstretched for a hug “fallen, long time no see, welcome welcome, please sit” he pointed to a comfy looking chair as he smoothly recovered from my snub at his outstretched arms. “Patric” I replied trying to keep the venom from my voice. “I hear that Pixie got to you just in time” at this Pixie almost glows with pride and my hatred for Patric grows.
Patric what can I tell you about this man? Boss of Pixie, many others and recently the number one controller of all things bad in this supposed haven of respectability. My name Fallen? Well pretty much everyone calls me that on account of the fact I used to be a respectable member of our society. I did in fact used to live just down the street and Patric used to be my boss. By the way he is a policeman and therefore I was to.
Patric still has that smug look on his face that’s been a permanent fixture since I first met him “Fallen my friend” he incorrectly states “I asked you here because I need your help” I keep the look of anger of my face as I reply “well your invite was simply to kind to turn down, and its been such a long time” “indeed it has” he replies.
We sit there in a silence so uncomfortable I find it hard to suppress the urge to scream “what do you want you bastard!” even Pixie has disappeared and it’s a safe bet so has some dust up her nostrils. I wonder what the hell we are waiting for when I sense a looming presence behind me. “ hello Tank” I mutter under my breath as a huge hand appears on my shoulder. The hand squeezes me and my teeth mash in pain.
“fallen” grumbles Tank “I have missed you mate” the hand squeezes even more as if to emphasise just how much he has missed me then its gone.
Tank eases his massive muscle bound body into a chair whilst Pixie returns blinking her perfect brown eyes franticly.
“ at last we are all here together” Patric beams at us “just like old times eh?” he asks me “sure” Patric I mutter my heart sinking lower and lower “just like old times, how exactly are you going to destroy my life this time?” I ask.
“please, Fallen don’t be like that” Patric replies with a grin, “I just need a small favour” he continues “ a job done, good pay and that will clear up any shall we say outstanding debt you owe me” he announces.
For the first time I look him in the eyes and see the cold hard glint in them underneath his jovial exterior. “fuck you” I say “tell me”
“at last a hint of the man I used to know” he turns and winks at Pixie, whose face has a look of bewilderment on it. I look at her and sink back lower in my chair resigned to my fate. “like I say” Patric continues “one last job, then your free, but first do you have any tags?”” Two” I reply embarrassed like a kid having been caught “really” Patric answers an eyebrow lifted in surprise “slipping in your old age” he laughs. He turns to Tank and nods who lumbers of, returning with what looks like a child’s water pistol. “with this” Patric indicates the water pistol “your tags will be gone, and this” he passes me a small box “contains the blue print to make more”
I look him in the face “and what exactly will I do with this?” I ask taking the box in my hand. “I need you to take it through the dead zone to no mans land” Patric replies as if it’s a stroll down the road.
Many people who have three tags just disappear further and further away from the centre of the city, where even the police fear to go. The further away from the centre the more dangerous and violent a place the city becomes.
I look at Patric “why?” I ask. “the government in its wisdom has decided to clean up the city” he replies “all of the city, including no mans land and the dead zone. Some of my shall we say business associates are naturally concerned” he ignores my look of amusement at the phrase business associates and continues “squads of elite police forces will engage in hit and run missions, armed with trackers anyone one with a tag yet alone three will be taken, and returned to the city. Several new shall prisons have already been built” I light a cigarette stolen from Tank’s packet and blow smoke towards him “ you know I have never been that far from the city” I state “of course not being the model citizen that you are he laughs” you shall have a guide to no mans land, and my associates have arranged for a guide through there into the dead zone” he turns to face Pixie “you my dear will be so kind as to guide our friend for the first part of his journey and accompany him the rest of the way”. Pixie tries to protest which hurts my feelings a bit, but a motion from one of Patric’s hands stops her dead.
“now fallen” he turns back to look at me “you will be given of course provisions and cash, and one final gift” he nods at tank who produces a gun, my old gun from when I was in the police. “ oh no fuck you Patric” I shout “how the hell did you get that?” I ask “he smiles at my obvious discomfort “from the evidence in your prosecution of course” he replies “now take the fucking thing or it will be left somewhere in that shit hole of a place you call home, its still registered to you so as soon as someone uses it guess who will get the blame?” he spits back at me his anger causing Tank to stir.
“ok, ok” I reluctantly reply “when do we leave?” I ask terror racing through my heart.
“no time like the present” Patric answers a grin across his face, sensing my fear. “I have kindly arranged a lift for the both of you, “as far as the beginning of the slums anyway, saves a bit of a walk” he continues.
I shrug and collect my things, the box I slip into the pocket of my jeans. I turn to face Pixie who seems frozen “well my dear, our carriage awaits, shall we?” without saying a word she follows me as I leave. “goodbye and good luck” he says giving us a wave goodbye. Tank says nothing only rumbling when I give Patric the finger.
Outside a police car is waiting, “this must be our lift” I say to pixie. The drivers side door opens and the driver slowly unfolds himself. I smile for the first time in what seems to be an eternity “hey A” I shout to the driver. Now A is one of the few good policeman left. He towers over most people being at least 6ft 3, the only reason he does anything for Patric is because, when we were all fresh faced policeman together Patric saved his life.
I am pleased to see my smile is returned as he opens up the back doors for us. “shit mate “ he exclaims its been to long, you do realise you look like shit?” he asks.
“yeah, yeah” I reply as I slide onto the surprisingly comfortable back seat.
A’s eyes meet mine in the rear view mirror and he gives me a big wink. I am still smiling, Pixie however looks like she is either going to cry, or punch someone, probably me.
“sorry about everything” A says to me “well shit happens” I mumble under my breath “true” he replies “but not everyone drowns in it”.
To change the subject I ask if he is still playing in his band “no, the bastard lead guitar left” he shrugs “still my little girl keeps me busy”.
As good as it is to see the big fellow, my mood plummets, he just reminds me to much of the life I had. For something to do I investigate Patric’s previsions, and to my delight I find a bottle of actual real vodka. My hand is shacking as I undo the bottle and inhale its pure smell. I can see the look of pity in A’s eyes and Pixie stares at me with disgust. Fuck them, I take a big drink, it numbs my mouth and throat, but most importantly my brain. It helps me to switch back to my old façade, I turn to Pixie “well my fellow travelling companion, how is your pretty little nose?. I am truly amazed to see you have two nostrils instead of one large hole, have you cut down on the dust?” her cheeks go red either through embarrassment or anger, I don’t care. We all have our problems, I’m just old fashioned in that mine is alcohol.
Tank turns to face Patric “I hate that smart shit” he growls. Patric nods his head, “I understand my friend, he was a good policeman once, then a good bad policeman” he laughs. “has the word got out yet about our friends adventure?” he asks. Tank nods a yes, “and the real package is safely on its way?” Tank grins “oh yes, with a full police escort, glad fallen‘s going to die, shame about Pixie“ Patric looks sad briefly “true, but she is no longer of much use, dust has sadly seen to that. We would have had to get rid of her soon anyway, and Fallen is like a love sick puppy when she is around” Tank looks at his boss “how far do you think they will get?” he asks “well who knows, but there is a lot of very bad people out there my friend. And now they have been told about Fallen’s priceless package, they will all be heading their way”.
Switch to our mobile site