The Denizens run this area. I heard that they used to be like a biker gang, but just like everything else, they evolved. Now, they’re our district representatives, they’re our congressmen, they’re our shop owners and our supervisors. They are not a gang anymore, but they still act like it. They shake everyone down for “protection donations” and “insurance.” But, they take care of everyone, too. If someone breaks into your house and steals your TV The Denizens will handle it – as long as you’re up on your insurance. Some drunk sod laid his hands on his lady? The Denizens will handle that – or rather, him… As long as he wasn’t a Denizen. If he was, then it all depends on his standing, his ranking. The ones that you see walking around most days, some of them are at the top of the food-chain, some are at the bottom. It can be hard to tell.
I’m not from here. Well, I am – I was born and raised here, but I left years ago. I came back because I had to. I mean, Shit why else would anyone come back here? It’s not like the places that they show on postcards or dream scenes in movies. It’s not even one of those places that they show in movies to look like a rundown hellhole. Mostly because it’s not a rundown hellhole. To anyone driving through it looks like any large town, or small city. But, to us, this is home. Like it or not, this is home.
The history of this place is just like anywhere else. This is where the wagons broke down and this is where people settled. The history of The Denizens is a series of myths and urban folklore that contradict each other left and right. Some say that a man named Erigent started them as an ex-con thug right before the turn of the century. Others say that it was a group of folks, a few families, that were running a good old fashioned protection service, but the family got bigger and bigger as they had kids – and the rest is kind of like history. If I could give you any clue as to how they got their start I would tell you – but if I had any clue, I would probably be a dead man. Not that it matters anymore.
I came back here after being gone for more than twenty years. Not much changed here aside from the basic technologies that change everywhere. Phones, TVs, and so on. When I left I got as far away from here as I could. I ended up in a different middle of nowhere. Instead of Denizens there were a bunch of rowdy “righteous” folks that would run around the area and punish anyone who wasn’t “doing the right thing” by their belief system. Funny enough, their system – and the history of it – was also full of contradictions and myths. I lasted barely more than a fortnight before I caught a bus out of there. I left there with the same bags I arrived with, a black eye, and I’m guessing a lynch mob with my name on it. Somehow or another I made it out to the coast. Isn’t that where everyone goes? The coast – it’s sunny and warm, it’s easygoing, it’s paradise. Right.
Long story short, out in the coast I got hooked on some of those shiny designer drugs, and then went broke on them. I moved on to the lower end drugs to try and keep the chemicals in my brain from realizing that reality was closing in. Eventually reality became the norm again. It was an ugly ordeal – but at least it’s over. Kicking my addiction to Dragon Dust while in a cell wasn’t fun, but they had a nurse check in on me now and then. At least, I think he was a nurse. Maybe he just came in to make sure I hadn’t swallowed my tongue or gnawed my arm off, I don’t know really. I was in that cell for a long time. I didn’t do what they said I had, but I still deserved to be there.
Getting out of the cell was how all of this came to be. Someone heard about me being a prisoner and they talked to whomever they knew, somewhere along the grapevine The Denizens heard about it. I don’t know why they got me out, or how – but I know I have a pardon that is signed and allows me to walk these streets freely. Maybe not freely. I don’t have to worry about law enforcement, but I do have to worry about those who enforce their laws here; The Denizens. All I’m sure of is that they got me out. I don’t see what good I am to them – I’m a nobody. I don’t know how to manipulate people or technology, I don’t know pyrotechnics or weapons. I can barely put oil into an automobile. Who would want me here? I suppose I shouldn’t nitpick and just be thankful that they saw fit to get me out from behind bars, but why bring me back here? Just getting me back here had to cost them a pretty penny in gasoline alone.
The guy who picked me up from my prison just asked if I was who I am, and told me to let him know when and what I wanted to eat and when I had to hit the can. He didn’t talk much aside from a question here or there.
“How long ya in the hoosegow?”
“Want to see a man about a horse?”
And so on…
I wanted to ask him if he was writing a book. He didn’t answer any questions for me, though. I’d ask him why he was sent, who wanted me out, why – He’d just hum along with his music and smoke his nasty snipes. After the first night I stopped trying. He just drove and drove until the wee hours of the night; I was already sacked out in the back seat when he pulled over to snooze for a few hours. We’d stop at some red onion or another for greasy food and watered-down beers before getting back to the road. He dropped me off at the place that became my apartment, and I haven’t seen him since.
I wonder what they want from me. I’m no Denizen, and I’m nothing special.