New Town. Part 7.

Part 1, Part 6

“It’s been three years now, how can you still believe that people will be changed back?”
“We have faith. Personally I believe that God will not undo any of this until people of the world are allowed free access to us, so they can see the kind of power that God has. You are the first of these people. God wants us to know his power, to see what he can do and how, in his merciful wisdom, he can cure those of the affliction.”
“So you believe this is a disease of sorts?”
“Yes and no. It is a disease, but not as you mean. It obviously isn’t contagious, otherwise anyone who entered would be at risk and there would be some obvious pattern to who changed to what and when. This is a biblical disease. One that does not follow the laws of nature as humans understand them.”
“How many of your members have undergone the change?”
“About an eight to a quarter of those who attend the meetings are changed. We don’t keep track.”
“How many have changed in the three years since the original mass changings?”
“I’m not sure. Maybe sixty or seventy?”
“I was lead to believe it was more.”
“It may have been, as I said, we don’t keep track.”
“Do they still attend the meetings?”
“Some of them do, some of them have refused to return, out of shame for what they have become. They have, unfortunately, become reclusive, refusing to leave their homes. In these cases we visit them, give them food. Their own kind visit them occasionally, though they can’t always get through. The change can be devastating, not just to us, but to people who don’t believe this is Gods doing. Your very being changes, everything you knew about yourself is now wrong, you sometimes can’t recognise the person in the mirror. It is very difficult for some. Even now, three years later, some who changed in the beginning are still hiding. Refusing to come out. Some think that they are a danger to others, and in some cases they’re right, in others they just don’t want to be seen, believing they are hideous freaks. A few don’t even know that the rest of the city changed too. They believe they are singular and alone. They refuse to see anyone and spend their lives in hiding.”
“Do you not think your beliefs contribute to this?”
“No. We believe that God in his love and mercy, will change those he sees fit back into their true, human form. We are not about hate or discrimination, we are about love. We welcome everyone to come to us.”
“So, what is it like living here? Behind the walls?”
“Well, it was bad at first. There was a lot of fighting, a lot of danger, people died, though in retrospect, not as many as could have. Things have been steadily getting better though. We have the council set up, there’s elections once a year, if someone wants to join the council they’re nominated then they can run on whatever platform they want. There have been changes, a lot of changes, that have taken some getting used to, but life is ok here. It isn’t great, not like it was before, but for what we have it’s pretty good.”
“I was surprised to see such large grounds without any kind of farming going on. I had thought from what Max said that most large patches of land were being used for growing fruits and vegetables.”
“We do have a garden in the back, but the front of the grounds are kept clear, we use them in meetings sometimes if the crowds are too large. It seemed prudent to keep the area clear. We use the fruits and vegetables that we grow ourselves, occasionally trading it for something.”
“You said earlier that you were trying to arrange an area for people who hadn’t changed yet, how has that been going?”
“Slowly, we have an area that we are moving into, but it is difficult arranging moving for people.”
“How do those of you who live amongst those that changed feel about it?”
“Well, it isn’t bad, my neighbours are all nice people, they’re kind and welcoming, but they treat me differently, not badly, but differently. I’m not surprised, you can see it with everyone here, they treat their own kind differently, it’s almost like how you’d treat family versus strangers, or even acquaintances. You’ll see it if you look for it. They’re good people, they really are, but it still feels lonely. People who I knew for years have changed, and not just physically, mentally too and because of that we just don’t see each other as often and when we do, it’s like the closeness is gone. I don’t blame them for it, they’ve set up their own communities and there is nothing wrong with that, I just want to feel that same closeness to those around me.”
“Don’t you worry that that kind of segregation could lead to difficulties down the road?”
“Not at all, if anything it will make things easier. There are already groups that can’t stand each other, we just make it simpler. Each community can act as a sort of buffer against those who dislike each other. It seems to be an instinctual response that’s very difficult to overcome. For example, if you were to move into an apartment building, you wouldn’t have to worry about running into someone that you may attack on sight if you know everyone in the building is the same as you.”
“Attack on sight?”
“It sounds much worse than it is. Usually, in fights like those, no one really gets hurt badly. It’s almost like dogs play fighting. It may look dangerous and scary, but neither is really hurting the other. It’s better this way. They can’t help it as I said, it’s an automatic response.”
“Have there been attempts to overcome this?”
“Yes, many have tried to fight their nature, but it hasn’t quite worked. Sometimes they can contain themselves for a short period of time, a few weeks, maybe a month or two, but it always ends badly. The segregation isn’t enforced however, it is by choice and people seemed to just gravitate towards certain areas that are attractive to their kind.”
“How does that work for those with jobs that require interaction with the public? Are certain shops only for certain kinds of people?”
“I haven’t come across that, you’d have to ask someone with that kind of a job.”
“What about this Baron I’ve heard about?”
“Well, there isn’t that much to tell really. He’s just a criminal, trying to start some kind of mob thing, like this was some movie. They council are keeping an eye on him, as are the police. The city is pretty safe, in fact, it may be safer than it was before.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Well, you don’t hear of as many attacks or muggings, and really, would you try and rob someone when you don’t know if they could fight back or not? Who knows what the person you’ve targeted can do.”
“What about you? Do people who haven’t changed face crimes that others may not?”
“I don’t think so, there are those who have changed but are not visibly different, that adds a layer of protection to us. Of course, some of our better known members have been targeted, but it is usually harmless, though annoying things.”
“Like what?”
“Well, Joyce was recently being harassed by telephone, then there were the spate of break ins. Nothing was taken, things were moved around, maybe a few things broken. It was mostly for intimidation, fear. They wanted us to know they could get into places. Those living around them have become vigilant, they understand us. The people who do these things have a skewed view of us, they think we’re some kind of KKK offshoot or something. A man was caught trying to break into Adrian’s apartment recently, the police have arrested him and we expect that most of those responsible for these things will be routed out. In fact, we were planning on releasing a statement soon, clarifying who we are and our goals. There is a lot of rumours and misinformation spread about us.”
“I think that about covers any questions I have at the moment, thank you for speaking to me. I wonder if some of you would be willing to give me some contact information if I think of anything else?”
“Sure, I’ll gather some addresses and numbers for you, though I ask that you be careful with them.”
“Of course.”
Doug stood, as did the others, Angela moved forward and shook his hand again, the other people moved off, clumping together and speaking softly.
“You’ll have to forgive them. You’re a bit of a big deal at the moment. If you do come back again, I’m sure they’ll feel more comfortable being around you.”
“They were all very open, would you please thank them again for me?”
“I’ll let them know.”
Angela started walking towards the front of the room, at the doors she paused, then asked for a piece of paper and a pen, “I almost forgot!” she jotted down a few addresses and numbers, “I’m not going to include names, for added security in case the list is lost or stolen. If you just state who you are they’ll happily talk to you.”
She passed the list to Doug along with the pen.
“Thank you.”
Together they stepped out of the church and into the sunlight. The sky above them was still bright blue, but at the edges we thick storm clouds. Max was wandering along a path nearby and when he spotted them he moved towards them. They all chatted briefly, exchanging pleasantries before Angela excused herself and moved back into the church.
“So, how did it go?”
“Quite well, they were all pretty forthcoming.”
“And what do you think of them?”
“I don’t know to be honest. I think they’re frightened mostly. Though I’m sure I was introduced to the more easy going members. It’s dangerous thinking whether or not they think it.”
“I agree with you, but those you met do seem to be the vast majority, there were one or two more extreme members, but they were ejected from the group.”
Doug looked up at the sky, “What is that?”
“Hmm? Oh. You just get a little used to it. Personally, I think it’s a little disingenuous of the priest. He basically keeps this place in sunshine most days, rain comes as needed. There are a few places around the city like this, where its owner can control the environment to some extent. However I think it reinforces the belief of the group that they are chosen by God or something.”
“So, where to next?”
“Well, it’s about lunch time, I figured you’d need something to eat, so I set up a lunch meeting for you.”
“Oh? With who?”
“Well, I thought you should meet the Baron.”

About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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2 Responses to New Town. Part 7.

  1. Pingback: New Town. Part 6. | Alan James Keogh

  2. Pingback: New Town. Part 8 | Alan James Keogh

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