As the sun rose on the city of Callahan, so did its terrified inhabitants. Another night of misery and murder had warmed up the city for another day of savagery.
The protestors, hundreds deep, pounded main street in defiance against the National Guard takeover. People chanted, screamed and fought amongst one another. Large signs and effigies of the Wretched Man bobbed in and out of the crowd. Someone tossed a Molotov cocktail through a recruitment office, sending a terrified soldier onto the street, ripping his burning camouflage jacket off in a panic. Windows were shattered and a police car was set ablaze. A line of riot police arrived, National Guard reinforcements, and they beat back the protestors.
Outsiders from all over the country streamed down Interstate 77 and 26 to enter the city. Callahan National Airport flooded with arrivals, eager to sightsee in the Cursed City of Callahan. Nihilistic anarchists, clad in all black with facemasks, slipped into the protests, eager to join the violence.
Meanwhile, Callahan natives were desperate to escape before they wound up on the chopping block. Every house, every family, every parent or sibling had a friend who was dead, a father who committed suicide, or a niece who had been butchered.
A moving truck, packed to the brim, drove along a neighborhood street; every house it passed had a “For Sale” sign planted in the front yard. Their prices had been slashed once, slashed twice and even three times. It didn’t matter. Those houses could be free and not a soul would take them. Tears were shed as families left the city with nowhere to go, mortgages to pay and bankruptcy all but guaranteed.
Transients, once a rare sight in Callahan, now swamped the streets, begging for food or money. They blamed their misfortune on the Wretched Man.
A teenager twirled in little circles underneath a low-hanging lamp post. Pedestrians walked by, indifferent to the belt around his neck, either too depressed or too terrified to care.
A librarian, her throat slashed from chin to collarbone, slumped at the front desk of the city library. Somebody had walked right up and stabbed her with a fish knife in broad daylight. Isaac and David looked at her corpse with desensitized eyes. Grace wiped her eyes and moved on with her duties. Isaac just shook his head. David hadn’t slept in days and was in a downward spiral.
The city morgue was overflowing with a long wait time for new autopsies. Callahan Cemetery filled its last plot and conducted its final burial. Tears fell and the color black was everywhere.
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