We come here long after the sun sinks below the horizon. The meeting spot is an abandoned, five-story, brick building inside of a demolished industrial park. This time there is only three of us, and we all know what we are here for. After entering through the main doors, the chain lock was cut long ago, we went to a corner and set our flashlights on the ground facing the wall. I took off my backpack while the others sat down and rolled up their sleeves.
“That’ll be twenty bucks each.” I commanded, with my hand still on the zipper.
“Last time it was fifteen!” Moaned one.
“The city is dry, where else can you go, fiend?”
“Damn you… give me my hit already! I have a bill.”
I took the money from them both, and the quiet one was shaking a little. New users tend to be too meek to haggle or even complain, and the old ones give up if they are treated like animals. I unzipped the pack and handed each a small pinch of smack.
They dozed now for about two hours, and it was my job to watch them so they weren’t robbed by thugs or each other. There was also the possibility of an overdose and that is a dealer’s worst nightmare with regards to the police. Selling is a small-fish enterprise, but when murder is mixed in, then everyone who is involved gets caught and thrown in the clink. But the dose was small enough, and pure enough, to keep them snoozing peacefully like small children.
I took the liberty during this time to investigate the building, so I grabbed a flashlight and my stash and walked up the stairs. The most striking feature within the building was the sheer amount of graffiti on the walls, ground, and ceiling. How many years did it take to get so much? Thirty? Forty? Maybe half a century had gone by with vandals religiously spraying layers of paint, and perhaps with the intent of forgetting what came before. Nothing else remarkable was found on the second floor.
Going up again, I felt a sudden gust of wind come from the first window next to the stairs. It frightened me, but I came to my senses and began poking around. This floor had less graffiti and more rusted equipment lying around. I looked at a half-gutted machine next to what would be the assembly line, and on the side, it read, DAWSON & SONS CO. 1921.
“1921? That’s ancient history.” I thought apathetically. I didn’t care for these old places with old names and dates. What sucker would work ten hours a day, six days a week for pennies? Besides, the Chinese do all of that now and things need to be cheap in these hard times. Americans are so spoiled and lazy that nobody would do the work to maintain a factory.
I was, by this time, quite annoyed and wanted to leave, but I knew my responsibility to my customers, who would eventually buy again, and I was still curious about what was on the next floor. I slowly moved up and peered on the floor just a few steps before the landing. I saw nothing, not graffiti or machines. The windows were all broken, but the inside was spotless. I went up and walked around. The barrenness of this room was so shocking compared to the other floors, that I almost sprinted down the stairs. But something stopped me, right there in the middle of the room. I couldn’t move and the air got colder. After a few minutes, all I could do was breathe and stare forward unblinking. Then, the light changed, and my flashlight was gone. Everything became illuminated as if by the midday sun, and then a man appeared before me, dirty and dressed in denim overalls over a tan button-up shirt with a flat cap. He was sitting on the ground, crying to himself with hands covering his face.
“Who are you? A-and… why are you here?!” I shouted in an exasperated voice. But he continued to sob unaware of my presence. Then he stood up, ran to me and affixed me with his red, wet face and bloodshot eyes.
He screamed, “I am Hephaestus! This is my temple, fool, and your kind have desecrated it for far too long! The men who worshiped me here were masters of the world. They conquered nature to prove that Prometheus’ deeds were justified. It was I who gave them the tools to craft a civilization so great and unrivaled by previous ages! But what of their posterity? You the Child of Decay, corrupter of youth, and destroyer. I condemn you to ashes like the coals of my forge when the fuel is spent and in need of replacement. I will train new priests and revive my cult following your fiery doom.”
OFFICER JAMES CARTWRIGHT
October 26th, 2016. An anonymous phone call reported a person had gone missing at the defunct Dawson hammer factory. Two officers arrived at 8 A.M. and searched the entire premises, but found no recent sign of activity except for a pair of used needles and on the fifth floor there was a small mound of ashes that were still warm. The phone call was likely a prank and this case is now closed.