Within the pages of, WALK INTO THE SUN, it is 2009 and the unthinkable has happened to New York City. That city is in default. However, this is not a story of the saving of the city. Rather, it is a tale of the people who make up its body. From the garbage man to the Bowery cop to the sewer-dwelling orphan. From the advertising executive and his dying son to the widow killer and his prey. From the Mayor’s aide to the Governor’s wife to the last remaining doctor in New York City.
The story shows the effects of the default; the walkouts by police, firefighters and sanitation workers. Looters and snipers taking over the streets. Uncollected garbage bringing rats. And rats bringing the worst form of disease. How such varied characters deal with this horror and ultimately come together -- not to save the city, but themselves -- is the basis of WALK INTO THE SUN.
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The first shots of the new day rang out at 12:03.
Shards of glass littered every street. No windows remained, except well outside the city limits. There were no working street lamps since mid-June. Even if there were, there was no energy to power them. The air pollutants of the power days were replaced by the continual smoke and soot of the many deliberate and accidental fires razing more homes and businesses throughout the city.
Yet there was no expectation of sirens, ladders and hoses. Those were the first things to go, as were most city positions. For a brief time, urban citizens’ groups attempted fire fighting. But their amateurism, coupled with the ever-increasing number of looters and snipers made it impossible. Now, when something caught fire, it burned. It didn’t really matter. Most stores were already picked clean; most homes were already empty. The additional lives lost each day meant there would be more food for the others.
Most citizens were grateful for the fires. Without them, the streets would be in total darkness all night. Their light, their heat, was all many had for protection and comfort throughout each night.
It was easier for the rats. They could see in the dark. Their food – the garbage, the sick, the children – was all around them. It was the citizens, those who refused to leave, who had the trouble.
James Lethe ran through the glass, the garbage and the sporadic sniper fire, carrying his final child in his arms. The refuse, piled higher and higher on each street corner, created a bunker against the shooting. But its smell assaulted in a manner all its own.
He felt the child shudder beneath his coat. This was the child he was certain would make it. He was the strongest of the three and, in truth, outlasted the others. But now he could feel the heat of the boy's fever as he ran with him through the chill night air.
This was the second decade of the twenty-first century, not the Middle Ages. Yet amid the debris, the rats and the decaying shells of those who didn’t survive, lay an even more gruesome form of death.
The black boils. Swollen tongues and running sores. Death via garbage and despair. James Lethe saw the first two of his children swallowed up so quickly by this awesome specter. He refused to lose his final child.
The boy began to choke and James stopped in an alleyway, clutching the boy to his chest. He had to muffle their sounds. There were always so many citizens who would kill them where they stood for their clothes alone. They could not be seen; should not be heard. At least not until after they reached The Doctor. Perhaps not even then.
He looked at the address scribbled across what was once a denim shirt cuff. Lower East Side. Things were pretty bad on the Lower East Side and there was no guarantee that The Doctor would still be there.
The boy stopped choking. James tilted the child's head back, to make certain he was still breathing. His son's eyes swam behind a filmy glaze. He shifted the boy's weight in his arms, keeping him hidden beneath his coat all the while. He again set out.
He wasn’t allowed to bury the first two. They had to be burned. You bury plague victims and you poison the earth, the citizens proclaimed. He and his wife each carried a child to the appointed station and tossed the stiffened bodies through the shattered windows of a burning liquor store. It was their personal funeral pyre. James and his wife remained there until the building collapsed into itself. He couldn’t help but think of it as a religious ceremony. Cremation among the Mogen David and the Christian Brothers.
Now he was carrying another body. Only, he prayed, this one wouldn’t stiffen up on him. He ran through the glass and the garbage, dodging the snipers and the rats and praying to the gods of Chaos. For they were the only gods left.