The Residents’ Association had more posters up, this time for a visit to a hospice in North Wales. It might have been Wrexham that they intended, but it had quickly been graffitied into Wrecked’em, and a black felt-pen drawing added in case anyone was unsure what was intended. There were fresh blood stains below the poster outside the Tennant’s Hall – not a social space for the tenants of the estate, in case you were thinking such, but rather the hall once owned by a brewery and now used by the Residents’ Association as a processing hall for all of their business and trips. I’d heard tell that back in the day when aeroplanes were still available to the public and people went on holidays to other countries, there was a similar set up for entry into America, only it was less invasive and humiliating there. I honestly found that hard to believe based on the description of the Americas in the history books, and ever since Canada had gone Imperial and started marching south that side of the world was pretty much off limits anyway. I looked at the blood stains, which were largely still liquid, and decided that it looked like the work of the douchebag scrimshavian, the kid who was currently doing all the douchebag scrimshaw on the estate. There’d be a stray cat or pack of rats along soon enough to clean it up, so I wandered off before I was spotted as a tasty side-dish. I hated the estate cats.
I passed by the Tennant’s Hall on the car-park side, though there were never any cars there now unless the Authorities – by which I mean those people who claimed to be looking after our welfare while trying to make sure that we never left the estate – had driven in in some armoured vehicle that could survive having bricks thrown at it and concrete blocks dropped on it from overpasses. Beyond the car-park, to the left, was a playing field where the summer cricket was held, and in the autumn and winter the football and rugby teams vied for supremacy. Sometimes at the same time on the same pitch, but not very often. The rugby players always came off better in those games, and the footballers would retreat for another year to lick their wounds and plan their next offensive. It was quiet at the moment, with just the rooks pecking at a corpse. I’d already been over earlier that day to look at that one; it was a woman in her late twenties, no-one I recognised. I did recognise the marks of the Wild Angels though, and I’d backed away quickly. I’d survived an encounter with them once and they called me Eloi still when they saw me, but I knew better that to push my luck. Anywhere on this estate.
As I skirted the field, feeling that it was too risky to walk across it until the corpse was gone, or at least pecked clean, I heard a rustle in the shadows of the undercroft from the building across the way. It was Building 41. In the dim and distant past the buildings had all had names, usually those of local politicians who’d either done something to improve the amenities, or whose corruption had resulted in them being embedded in the foundations. Thirty years back the buildings had all been rechristened with numbers instead, which were considered inoffensive and purely functional, and not drawing attention at all to the insalubrious history of the estate.
The people in Block 69 disagreed that the names were inoffensive, and thirteen weeks after the numbering was made official there wasn’t a living soul in Edifice 13. No-one’s moved in since either, and even the Wild Angels and the douchebag scrimshavians don’t go there and hang out, or hang around, or even hang people (that’d be mostly the Angels’s doing of course). Building 41 was one of the rotten ones, though there were more of them than healthy ones. Damp climbed the walls acrobatically, mould recarpetted rooms overnight, and if you spent the night in there you could listen to the cries of a building that has concrete cancer, and it’s every bit as mortifying as you might think. The people who lived there were those that had been pushed out from the other buildings, the weak and the ineffectual, the feeble and the feeble-minded. You might be tempted to feel sorry for them, but that was the first step on the slippery slope to joining them.
The shadows rustled again, and something moved. My hand went to the scabbard at my hip instantly, and the knife was in my hand, waiting to be drawn a second later. I carried on walking as though nothing as happened, as nonchalantly as a nightwalker (according the nursery-rhyme; I’ve not found a reference to explain nightwalker to know what one is or was, and why they were nonchalant). The rustling quieted a little, and I guessed that it was probably the Scavengers.