“THE CRUMBLING WORLD”
In the middle of New York City, in an alley near a crowded street, behind a dumpster there is more than just garbage overflowing. Draped over a curb, someone strategically placed a lifeless body to hide the horrors performed in the dead of night. The woman who lost her life belonged to the underground trans community, she was what the world these days refers to as a “doper.”
This poor victim wasn‘t addicted to drugs or alcohol. They called this woman a “doper” because she secretly took estrogen and lived her life in the shadows, until she could reemerge appearing as the gender of which she identified. If one couldn’t pass, they couldn’t walk in the light of amongst the civilized or uncivilized, rather. It is against the law, but the penalty is not death. Those who deal death do so in the shadows with no fear of repercussions or consequences.
In these times it’s a bad
idea for anyone to walk the streets alone at night, especially those within the
LGBTQ community, period. An alt right religious organization rose from the
ashes of a failed democracy many years ago. It began with the replacements of
Supreme Court Justices as they retired one by one. With conservatives in power,
they replaced liberal judges with religious republicans whose only interest
were enacting the “word of God.” First Rowe vs. Wade was reversed, then
marriage equality fell next-like dominoes human rights toppled over one by
The year 2042 belongs to the Zealots and their radical beliefs. They have operatives in all branches of government. Spies who will go to any lengths to expose “dopers” and “gays” and bring them to a new form of justice. The goal was to purge the world of what they perceive to be an abomination. When they find you, they take you, and no one ever sees or hears from you again. Ever.
“Trust no one.” Those were Skylar’s famous words. If she didn’t say it sixty times a day something was wrong. This time, however, she speaks to her best friend Jagger.
He nods and rolls his eyes, “I know, I know. But I know he can be trusted, he‘s family! Why do you trust me?”
“I don’t,” she quips, “Anyone can be compromised. At any time. Just make sure this special man is good before you tell him anything. Stop wasting my time and give me what’s in your pocket, quickly before this customer comes in.”
Jagger pulls a tiny bottle of pills from his pocket, cupped his hands, sneaking them to Skylar. “You’re such a doper.”
“Get the hell out of here!”
Jagger grins, “Love you too, boo.”
“I love you with my heart, darling.”
A clean shaved man wearing a black fedora with a white leather hat band, business suit, and white and blue striped tie walks by Jagger and gives him a nod on the way in the door. Jagger nods back and doesn’t say a word—although he wants to shower the gentlemen with compliments on his attire. Besides, the man is so attractive, but he knows the motto, ‘don’t trust anyone.’ Jagger keeps his fantasies to himself and walks away, wanting desperately to turn his head and check out the stranger’s assets.
“What can I get for you?”
The stranger looks her up and down, “I’m looking for a girl named, Skylar Rose. I was told she was beautiful, long flowing auburn hair, looks like I found her.”
“Indeed, you have. Do I know you?” Skylar’s heart skips a few beats, but she remains calm on the outside. She can’t help but wonder if the Zealots tracked her down. She’d been living out in the open for five long years without incident.
She perfected her walk,
talk, look, speech—saw no official doctors, spoke to no one except Jagger
before she went underground eight years ago. It wasn’t an easy choice, but some
people had to be themselves regardless of what the consequences. Choosing a
happy life and leaving everyone you‘ve ever cared for was part of the deal.
Lucky for Skylar, she always had Jagger since they were children.
Underground is a term trans people use when they leave society to transition. There are treatment houses all over the world. It was there, one could get all the surgeries required to move forward. Once enrolled, no one dares leave until they are fully passable. They receive a new identity, ID chip implant, and a job afterwards.
“No, you don’t know me. But Mrs. Cropsey is a close friend of mine. And she told me to come find you.”
Skylar’s exterior processes the information the man spews, but inside anxiety is a tidal wave, rolling out of control as the moments pass. Mrs. Cropsey is not a person, it’s the name of the house Skylar spent years within becoming herself. She heard the house was taken down by the Zealots recently—now the proof stands in front of her. Endless possibilities enter her wearied mind.
They kept no records she thought. Perhaps a person she lived with was discovered, and tortured into revealing others. She casts these horrid thoughts aside for the moment and musters a response.
“I don’t know who that is? Sorry. Can I get you something? Some coffee perhaps?” She fakes a smile and folds her arms. The tone of her voice is soft and steady.
“Skylar, I’m not a Zealot. I’m a scientist. There is research I want to share with you. I think this is something you’re gonna want to hear.” Sincerity surrounds his voice but her golden rule is unwavering. It always is.
“Yeah—I mean I don’t know any Zealots per se but I’m not against them, “she lies, “I mean everyone holds on to their beliefs. I respect that.” Her soul is set ablaze, her words make her stomach churn.
“Really? You’re not against a hate group that kills people like you? I find that hard to believe,” the man folds his arms as they both engage in a standoff. Who would break first?
“Yeah. Can I get you something? You know the cherry pie is delightful, truly,” she callously utters, her eyes never leaving his.
“Pie it is, then. I would love some cherry pie. Do you mind if I sit there?” He points out one stool at the counter, a foot away from where she stands.
“Sure. I don’t care where you sit.” Skylar opens the door to the pie case and shuffles a piece onto a plate, places it in front of the man. “Enjoy, hun.”
He sits at the counter, unravels the napkin from his silverware, digs his fork into the pie and shoves it into his mouth. After he gobbles the first bite, he raises his chin, “This is delightful. You make this?”
“Hiding in the shadows is no way to live. I can help you stand against those who will not allow people to be themselves.”
“I’m not in the shadows, sir. I’m just an ordinary girl working at a tiny diner in New York City. Why would I want to do something like that? The world is a perfect place. Who would I stand up against?”
“The Zealots,” he whispers as another customer walks through the door.
“What can I get for you Miss Blanche?” Skylar focuses her attention on one of her regulars. The stranger leaves his half-eaten pie and dashes out the door.
“The usual dear. Who was that young man? A love interest of yours? He was quite handsome?” Inquires the woman.
“No. Just a nobody wandering through.”
As Skylar slides over to wipe the counter and clean off the man’s refuse, she notices writing on a crumbled napkin. She smiles at Miss Blanche while she walks over to the trash concealing the man‘s message. The woman‘s cell phone rings, she turns around, walks away from the counter, and Skylar opens the napkin.
It reads, I’LL BE BACK TOMORROW. YOU CAN TRUST ME.
“No, I can’t,” she worries to herself. She tosses the napkin in the trash.