Friendship in Dystopia
For Madison’s thirty-first birthday, Wesley had to think of something really cool, because last year his best friend spent it in the detention center for violating the ‘Upstanding Decency Act’. So, Wesley snuck him through a glitch in the Echo Park containment perimeter to practice their pitching, like they used to do before the fall of 2034.
Only, you couldn’t find baseballs, or really any kind of balls anymore so they made due with whatever they found on the ground, usually rocks.
It was when he saw a half melted kid’s ikea chair that a blip of a memory, as ancient and degraded as cassette tape, reeled through his mind.
“Do you remember Casey Thorne's birthday party when we were little? He had a house like this, but in Santa Monica.” Wesley asked as he threw another stone at the side of the shell-shocked abandoned house.
It had once been some D-list celebrity's mansion before the takeover. The blown out windows, soot stained stucco, and palm trees reduced to charcoal had plunged its splendor into ruins where the rich really belonged.
The stone, rather crumbling piece of sidewalk zipped through the empty bay window. Two points.
“Casey from baseball camp? The one who almost went pro for the Angels?” Madison asked, picking up his own rock, a chunk of asphalt, and closing one eye to aim.
Wesley snapped his nicotine gum.
“Yeah. Him. And yeah, he had skills. He wasn't like us who topped out at triple A ball.” Wesley said, licking his lips, trading in his daily water voucher for ten bars of xanax and nicotine gum to celebrate Madison’s birthday was well worth it.
Even if they’d probably end up paying for it later.
He scanned down the cul-de-sac to his right, ensuring that no Starlink drones lurked beyond the other skeletal houses.
“Was his the party with the pinata? Do you even remember what a kit kat tastes like? Those were like, your favorite man.” Mads threw his chunk of asphalt and just like Wesley's it soared through the empty window pane unimpeded until it resulted in a muffled, echoing thud.
“Yea, Mads I remember what chocolate tastes like,” Wesley rolled his eyes, Mads had always had more of a sweet-tooth than him but would never admit it. “but what I mean is that game musical chairs.” Wesley said, his turn to pick up a rock.
He bent down to pick one up, avoiding bones, one clearly a human vertebrae, to get a large smooth one. Probably one that used to decorate some zen garden.
It just showed you can't buy class, or survival skills for that matter.
“Oh yeah, musical chairs, do kids even still play that game? I guess it’d be hard with the music ban now, but everyone would always cheat anyway. Or the game would be rigged by whoever played the music.” Mads said, taking his turn to keep watch, rubbing his buzzcut out of a nervous habit.
The orange lights from the Starlink perimeter fence around Echo Park had the privilege of winking in a languid tempo, because the overtaker's proximity sensors didn't ever need to scramble, rush, flee, scatter or run.
See, the United Republic of Enterprise controlled the music.
“When you’re right, you’re right Mads.” Wesley hadn’t expected Mads to hit the target so quickly. “As a kid it was just a game, now--” Wesley heard a clang of something metal down the cul-de-sac and both Mads and Wesley's necks snapped to attention.
A sleek, gunmetal gray drone snapped its identification beam towards them both, blinding them before blaring the arrest siren.
Wesley did the only thing he could do, he threw a rock to start the music.
Power in Numbers