Switchville, Part 1

June 10, 2009

A work-in-progress story I’m working on. Here’s the first part. Not sure if I’m going to put the whole thing up here or not yet.

Switchville, Part 1

“Talk to me, kid.”

Nothing. I slapped him across the cheek.

“I said, talk to me!”

But the kid wasn’t talking. Or moving, either, apparently. Just sitting there, fast asleep in his weird getup. He had on a bunch of weird purple clothes all over, and some kinda weird purple thing on his head, too, with spikes juttin’ out of the sides. What kind of a little nutcase would fall asleep late at night on the Switchville harbor docks, I didn’t know, but the damn kid should have been dead by then. The docks ain’t right. I mean—as a general rule Switchville ain’t right, neither; not by any sane man’s knock. But there are better places a kid could try and fall asleep around town if he had any kind of livin’ sense in his head, even in a town like this. Little grunt was right next to the water, too, barely propped up against a crate, practically about to fall right in. If I left him there, betcha he’d be drowned by morning. Lucky for him, I’m a good guy. So I picked him up, heavy little grunt, and threw him back over my shoulder. His head thumped against my backsack and smashed some of the bread in there.

Kid was still asleep, somehow. I thought he was maybe fakin’ it, but I decided to be nice about it anyway and carry him on somewhere else. Wasn’t really sure where—I mean, I didn’t have a place of my own, really, so I didn’t really wanna take responsibility for the kid, but I figured I could at least leave him off in Uptown, maybe. He could join one of the gangs that dealt around there; they usually were a bit better about recruiting younger guys than others around Switchville. Any case, kid didn’t need to be here, so I started to walk back up towards the city.

He was real lucky I was scavenging around there. Now that I think about it, I didn’t even get anything from the docks that night, which is too bad, since you can find some great stuff in crates that never got picked up by the ships. I even found some fruit in one, once, down near the Rackers’ grounds. Stuff was rotten, though. Tasted horrible and sweet at the same time. I wanted to keep looking and try to find more, then, but the Rackers have a damn tight lid on the place, and I was real lucky just to get a little into the edge of their territory. Makes me wonder, actually. Hadn’t thought about this before, but how did the kid get to the very edge of the docks? I’m pretty knowin’ about gangs and where their grounds meet, so I can figure my safe passage through the docks, but the kid would have to be real smart to get down there. Hell, if that were the case he’d have to be smart enough not to fall asleep dead center of them in the middle of the night, too. But he couldn’t have just popped up there, either—I mean, what, did he fall outta the sky? Or hell, did he come in on a boat? Hah. Like any boats been anywhere near Switchville for years. Well, besides the one the Grunges live on, and that’s been sitting still in the harbor for as long as I can remember. And any of them sure as hell wouldn’t be wearing some purple shmuck.

But I don’t really care. Didn’t then, either. So I walked up through the docks in silence, watchin’ the big metal carriers on either side of me for sight of any other scavengers or other trouble. Up a ways, maybe an hour or later, I realized the kid might be dead. I held his neck up real close to my ear for a minute, heard a beat, and let go of his head. It sagged back down, rolled back and forth across the left side of my chest for a second, and then kept bouncing a little with each of my steps as it had for an hour before. I started up a flight of stairs between two red carriers, figuring I’d have good cover. I bet he’s got a funny accent, I thought to myself.

One Response to “Switchville, Part 1”

  1. […] for this world I’ve been thinking about, “Switchville”, as seen before here and here. I’ve realized that, after doing these two stories and experimenting a bit otherwise, I kinda […]

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