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Fiction: Slumming It (Adrian)

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Sixty years ago, the neighborhood had been the home of the working class middle class, with shops, nightclubs, and groceries. Forty years ago, space opened up in the suburbs, the middle class had moved out and the working poor had moved in. A generation later, waves of lay-offs and recession had turned the area into a dumping ground for the chronically poor and hopeless. Nothing had happened to change the face of this part of the city since then.

The Predator bundled up against the cold more out of a desire to maintain his image than any real fear of the cold. He would have to be out in the cold most of the night to feel any effects anymore. Such was the dulled sensations of Kindred: they were robbed of so much, unless they bent their wills to it and remembered. Bernard headed out to his car and drove. He drove away from the normal and familiar hunting spots and into the past.

Bernard had been drawn to the area out of a sense of nostalgia. He had spent his neonate years here. The echoes of his first successful hunt, his first frenzy, and his first kill were all here. Bernard hadn’t hunted here in half his lifetime though. When the Rack migrated, so had he and he had never looked back, until tonight. Mind you, he also knew there were be homeless to prey upon if he got peckish. What he failed to appreciate was the desperate violence had become a daily occurrence during his absence.

The gang had started out late today. It was well after noon when Josh chose to stir from his booze and X induced haze. Nothing much could happen unless Josh started it. He was the toughest, meanest one of this particular bunch of losers. Josh’s ‘crew’ was the refuse of real gangs. They were white kids, the product of either welfare homes, or runaways. Mostly they were addicts too unreliable to sell drugs to support their habits. They had to resort to other crimes to support themselves. Mostly that meant mugging the poor and helpless, burglary, and other petty thefts.

Josh was the only kid who had been part of a real gang. He was big and strong, but he had a love of violence that others found unsettling. He could lash out at any time, at any one. Everyone in the gang had felt his fists at some point and time. Josh didn’t allow anyone to do anything without his permission. The one kid who had, Josh had hunted down and beaten the offender to death while the others watched.

If Josh was at the top of this pathetic hierarchy, Adrian – “A” – was at the bottom. He was the weakest, dimmest, and sickliest one in the group. He had a gun, but no one thought he would ever have the balls to use it. He spent half his nights sleeping on the streets, under a box, or in a burned out car because he didn’t have a home. He took X and Meth when he could get it. The rest of the time, he walked through a haze, hungering for any high that would take him away from his deep-seeded sense of disconnect he felt for everyone and everything else.

It had been a hard week for the gang. Some cops had caught Josh doing something and given him a good beat-down. Josh, in turn, had lashed out at his gang. There had been no drugs, not enough booze, and no chance to do anything more than beat up some of homeless. They were angry, hungry, and hurting as they headed out into the frigid, winter night. They knew there were greater predators out there, but they had no idea just how outmatched they would be.

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