Hell Beneath Clear Skies

A fallen world. Corrupt men staying in power. Never-ending wars. Circulating wealth and power amongst the uneven masses. Society has never been so blind. For some, paradise has been found. For most, Hell has been unleashed.
For two of the world's finest, Paradise is meeting again after annihilating Hell to rubble.

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1. A Day in the World of Tomorrow.

     The blaring drone of the alarm clock echoed in the derelict room. It's got the freedom to sing its morning song; no human hand silences it. There hasn't been an object disturbed in that dark room for 3 weeks now.

     The apartment has been an abandoned cesspool of decay, since the absence of its owner. From the kitchen, a crimson trail crept upon the carpet and under the front door, the buzzing flies marking its location. A yellow tag with an "A" is placed near it. Above its starting splatter in the kitchen, a shattered cupboard with a yellow tag marked "B" resides, a lone rat picking at the debris. There are signs of a struggle present; a footprint here, a shell casing there. But, something is missing. A tape to prohibit access to the crime scene, perhaps?

     Ah, there it is. Crumpled up in the corner, twisted and shredded. The bright yellow of its significance, now stained with muck and eviscerated of its glory. And where is the man who was to investigate, the officer who took on such a case?

     Ah, there is the evidence paper, crumpled and abandoned beneath the sofa. A trail of muddy bootprints lead out from the apartment, a scraped cigarette darkening a patch of carpet. And there, outside the shattered window. A burly officer stands outside his automobile, chatting with a gritty businessman. Arrested for murder of a common bystander, in apartment E3. The apartment with the forgotten evidence. They laugh about how the body may have flown. How the neighbors screamed for more shots, to insure the victim's demise. A used cigarette is discarded, a new one unsheathed from its packet. From the pockets of the businessman, from his silver-lined pocket, a wad of bundled cash was unveiled.

     A wad of Benjamins, his cheeks smudged with soot. The officer takes a quick puff on his cigarette, glances about his environment. Coast seems clear enough. His gloved hand grabs the money, hides it within his coat. His salute breaks the businessman into hysteria. They wave their hands goodbye, and the murderer walked away into the bustling crowd. The officer adjusts his cap, slips into his vehicle, and away it goes in a cloak of smoke.

     And what of the victim? Where was he taken, and for what was the purpose of his death?

     Nobody knows, and nobody ever will. Nobody would really care, either. He wasn't a well-known individual: hung around the park, an occasional volunteer at the local pet hospital. Nobody really knew his name. But, who was anyone to care? This is City Block codenamed "Chicago" you're speaking about; murders happen like the mosquitoes plaguing City Block codenamed "Washington" in the summer. Many unsolved crimes occur in this city block, and the next. It's only natural to keep walking, one less mouth to feed in the city.

     The faint drone of that alarm clock rang out into the bustling streets, adding to the drone of city life: the cars honking, the people clamoring, the music blaring. Other alarm clocks.

     Across the apartment complex is a giant board marked MISSING. Every now and then, an aspiring artist demonstrates their talent on this board. It was placed here twenty years ago. Anybody went missing, you knew their face showed up on the board.  Five heavily vandalized photos are crudely taped onto its chipped surface: two middle-aged men, a teenage woman, a one-eyed terrier. Ten phone number tags were stamped beneath each photo, to call the family if any information surfaced on their whereabouts. Only one tag was taken, for the terrier. A date stamp on each photo reads that they were taken twenty years ago.

     Twenty years ago, the world ended.

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