The van was waiting outside. It was a nondescript white van with no windows. Laura said, “So, the van should probably say free candy on the sides from what the Internet has told me.”
“Well, I guess that would be appropriate, after all, we are here to take children.”
“Tell me that doesn’t make you feel a bit weird?”
“Of course it does, but these kids don’t have anyone, it’s just us.”
Night was starting to fall, the sky going from a bright grey smog to a bright purple smog. Time to get the hell out of the gated community. At least they had white skin going for them.
They punched in their co-ordinates and the van took off at a careful pace.
Going into the gated community had been a mild shock, the chaos and decay of the urban environment giving way to carefully manicured lawns, all green, and identical houses. Going out was even more of a shock. The gates kept out the reality. There was a homeless man sitting against the gate, drinking out of a paper bag, his skin grey from dirt. It was clear that his skin had been white once upon a time, before the dirt covered it, and Laura could still see faint patches of pale. His left eye was gone, a gaping, festering hole in his face.
This drive took them through far, far worse areas than their previous one had. Tenements made up of empty towers, the glass smashed out of them. Stately homes that were gradually decaying into the ground. Laura said, “There are no people. It’s like watching a movie about the end of the world. Where are all the people?”
“They got out if they could. These areas are poison, nobody can make a go of it. Not enough money, not enough people. Notice everyone we see has dark skin?”
“I knew the states was bad, but I didn’t realize… I’ve only gone to places like Florida. I thought it was bad. How the hell did Texas end up like this?”
“The oil market dried up, globally. Most of the money here is oil money. Texas built on black gold, once they didn’t have that they didn’t have a damned thing. It took a while, there was so much money, but in the end it all caught up to them.”
“Damn, we are really, really stupid monkeys.”
They kept going, and the decay got worse. Laura realized she hadn’t seen another human being in ten minutes. The gas station was looming ahead, decayed like everything else. No wonder the kids had been able to hide here, there was nobody to find them.