This an unfinished story of mine I decided to polish up and release over here. I was trying to go for a dystopian aesthetic, and I thought that I’d be enthralled by the prospect of writing something other than fantasy. However, the Muse being the cruel thing that it is, I was unable to be invested in this for too long.  I still think another writer would be capable of doing something with it–but that writer is not myself.

“Ja—Jason? Can you re—read me?” Tim’s voice came sputtering from the walkie-talkie that Jason had strapped to his waist. This had been the sixth time on that day that his friend had bugged him over the old contraption.

Tim came on again, and again, and again. Jason rolled his eyes, and decided to give in to the protests of that annoying friend of his. It was in days like this that Jason often pondered cutting ties with the people he considered closest to himself, but he knew he’d regret it later. It was still good the toy with the thought on occasion, at least it provided a form of entertainment. With the static from the walkie-talkie still present, Jason reached his hands around the back of his waist.

For a few moments his hands had caught on to nothing, save for the chill that came with early morning around the suburbs. He grinded his teeth when it proved difficult to get a hold of the talking box. In truth, it was not speaking to Tim that really bothered him, any conversation was better than wandering the streets alone, it was just that he had the habit of placing the walkie-talkie in areas that cost him effort to reach. This had been one of the good days, where he’d been smart enough to strap the leather belts across his waist rather than around his shoulder. He could only shudder at how stupid he appeared on those times that he’d strapped the walkie-talkie to his back, where it would take him a good five minutes to reach. Five minutes of his free time.

His palm caught hold of a sharp angle on the device, and Jason maneuvered it around the tight fit that came with the two black belts he carried. He needed to jiggle it out of the knot he’d formed, unless he also wanted his knife to come clattering to the crooked pavement when he just wanted to take it out. They were not belts made to house utilities, rather they were the kind that one could spot on the waists of the pudgy businessmen of the past. With the suburbs being abandoned as they were, belts came as a useful commodity for holding on to one’s tools.

With one final grunt, Jason freed the walkie-talkie from his belts and held it up to his ear. He expected to be disappointed, it was probably just another one of Tim’s status updates “Loud and clear, Tim.” Jason drew out the sentence, so Tim would know to make it brief.

“Good God, Jason, would it kill you to get in a better mood anytime soon? I don’t like calling you a lot either, but it’s not like I’m doing it on purpose. You know how Jin can act when—“

“I get it, I get it, Jin’s going to throw a fit if you don’t call for an update every five minutes. Why can’t you just tell Jin to fuck off? The hell does he think he is? Our leader?”

Tim said something but faint static overtook the walkie-talkie for a bit. Covering one ear with his finger, Jason held out the walkie-talkie away from him. If it wasn’t so valuable, he would have wasted no time in slamming on the ground in those few moments “Ja—Jason? Damn it all, did you break yours again? Jin’s going to kill both of us once he finds out.” Jason sighed just loud enough for Tim to hear “Fine. If you’re going to act like that then fine. I just came to see how you were doing.”

“Just get to the point already.” There was a breeze that howled through the crackled tiles of sidewalk in the suburbs. Chill grazed Jason’s arms, making him wish he’d brought his jacket with him.

“Have you seen anything interesting yet? Anything worth noting? Anything you could bring back to the hideout? It doesn’t even have to be food, we should be covered on that for the next week. Stuff like board-games, dice, notebooks, you get the deal. They say there’s going to be another Sweep by next week, we need to make sure we’re all entertained while we hole up inside.”


Tim sounded like he stifled a swear from the walkie-talkie but Jason didn’t give it too much attention “I don’t even know how you can live like that, Jason. Always the same damn thing with you isn’t it? If you haven’t found anything within an hour, come back to base. I don’t know how safe it is out there.”

“Got it.” Not bothering to hear what Tim had to say in response, Jason pressed the button that turned off the walkie-talkie. He strapped it to his belts again and got a good look around himself. He had to come back with something, or else they’d skin him alive back at home.

The suburbs were that same depressed shadow of their former selves that Jason had so often visited in his spare time. Houses with faded paint that gave way to the grey colors of their actual materials, dilapidated inboxes that were crooked this way and that. The place was like a war zone for all intents and purposes, but Jason liked it that way. He found a strange kind of freedom when he strolled through the abandoned streets, when he peered into houses whose doors were almost torn from their hinges. There was peace. He didn’t have to force himself into the company of all those idiots at home and if he wanted to he could settle down in one of the houses. But the Sweep would never allow him to accomplish that dream.

But while he could be out there, he relished his time.

There where houses with shards of glass still latching to broken window sills, the manner of places in which suspicious homeowners would peer past the blinds to inspect strangers that came into their neighborhoods. Cracked lines formed on the sidewalks like a spider’s cobwebs, where children would no doubt compete on who could walk without stepping on them. There were some slender trees whose branches pierced into the gaping holes of broken construction. Nobody had ever cared about what happened inside of the suburbs. Or at least, all the people who had actually cared decided to leave. Jason didn’t know when and not even why, but he couldn’t care less. When he was alone in the suburbs, he, and only he, was king around those parts. He could run around and steal from whatever house that he wanted, but he had to save that for later. Maybe if he got lucky he could find a trinket inside one of the houses.

He scoured through any houses he hadn’t been through before, dismissing at least five until he found one that was interesting. It was a decrepit old building […]