Updated: Mar 9
Frank was trapped and he knew it. The sirens blared their ominous warning throughout the slums. Another curfew had begun, this time without notice.
In the past months, the pandemic circumnavigating Droda has wreaked havoc on her fragile inhabitants. Millions have died. Economies throughout the world have collapsed in the wake of an insidious disease. But it was here, in the slums of Mardu, that the virus was first discovered. And it was Mardu, the once fabled 'City in the Stars,' that would receive the brunt of the government's response.
Anyone remaining outdoors after curfew would be subjected to interrogation.
"Put your hands behind your head,” shouted the officer.
Two more armed guards stood outside the entry way of the liquor store, blocking all hope of escape. The cashier threw his hands in the air, dropping Frank's cigarettes on the counter in front of him.
Frank knew the risks before he descended through the atmosphere of this shit-hole planet. He eyed the pack of Lucky Strikes laying just out of reach. It was getting dark. The fluorescent lights hanging from the ceiling flickered an unnatural yellow light on the faces of the alien guards.
“Now,” shouted the officer again, this time reaching for his weapon.
Frank did as he was told, interlocking his fingers on the back of his head. He had his papers, he thought to himself. He could talk his way out of this.
Frank entered Droda's atmosphere directly above Mardu City on the 12th of April, 2052 in a gas guzzling, portal hopping beast of inter-dimensional sex-appeal, known colloquially back home as a Coupé de Ville.
The city manifest itself like a slow loading computer program as Frank's Cadillac tore through the fabric of space. Roadways and street signs, pixilated and incomplete, refracted through the glass as he descended into real-time. Theaters and cafes, markets bustling with activity, all grew from a visible matrix as he slowed his vessel.
The setting sun reflected from the windows of the city's tallest buildings, burning Frank's eyes as he brought his ship full-stop. He reached for his sunglasses resting in the center console. A near empty pack of Lucky Strikes lay open on the long bench-seat beside him.
Frank hollered through the window at the driver of a blue-gray sedan who hadn’t noticed the light turn green.
“Move it buddy!”
Frank spun his tires, testing the positraction on his custom rear differential. He revved his engine in frustration as he made his way around the sedan.
The butt of his last cigarette sent sparks flying from the cracked window of his timeless space-classic. Pulling on the over-sized steering wheel, Frank guided the nose of his Cadillac into the parking lot of a liquor store off the main road.
The asphalt making up the lot lay broken and jagged like beggar's teeth and the edges of the cracks running through the blacktop gnawed at the souls of Frank's boots as he walked purposefully toward the beleaguered storefront. The store itself, a prominent eyesore sitting just off the main road, suffered from years of neglect. From this particular lot, Frank could see all of Mardu falling into disrepair.
A siren blared in the distance.
Frank opened the door to the shop and approached the counter somewhat cautiously.
"Let me get a pack of Lucky Strikes," Frank said, reaching for his wallet.