This is a tale about the birth of a new kind of city, the birth of Kingston.
The setting for my dark dystopian novel set in northern Britain. Kingston is a rotting scrap yard of misery, a river city in a country plagued by floods. The story is told by my main character Onion, watch out, she has a wicked gob on her.
A couple of keywords
People the government has declared non-citizens and are forced to live in these uninhabitable cities, called hubs.
The company who won the government contract to run the VOID hubs.
"I thought a day into Kingston I’d be cage fighting rats for scraps or dead. But I wasn’t, not yet anyway. You forget, don’t you? It was so cancerous, the idea of Kingston. The rumours, the speculations; it was a lurking shadow for every Citizen. I’d heard so many stories about how Kingston turned from shining city into a slurry of shit.
The Modern Luddites did it. The irony of their name completely lost on them. Others say that it was Synergy Limited spilling chemicals into the river. Folk started breeding mutant babies–you know, with eyes on their nipples and what not–so they had to evacuate. And then there is the story that Jesus rocked up and did his own Red Sea moment. That’s the one VOIDs tell their children; the one about Zombie Jesus.
Well, at least it was someone thinking he was Jesus. Jeff P. Gregory loved jigsaw puzzles, bike rides and collecting spoons. In every way this man was a non-event, until one spring day everything changed. He fell off his bike and cracked the boring right out of his skull. Took to believing he was the Messiah; grew a beard and an aversion to washing. Borrowed his sister’s bed sheets to fashion a robe, and for years he’d stand outside clubs and gastropubs, flailing his arms. In the town of Hull. Condemning and condemning and condemning.
He became a story told at dinner parties over wine-stained linen and stinking cheese, until the day he grew empty of shouting at bemused pedestrians. He needed to force real change, to make the world unpolluted by vice again. Was he not the Chosen One? So, after days of praying and fasting, he heard a voice: ‘Do in the flood defences, Petal, make the earth pure again.’ And he was filled with joy that he’d been given a purpose.
Daft git never thought to wonder why God had a Yorkshire accent, or why He would be concerned about the flood defences in a mid-sized city on a small island in the corner of the North Atlantic; he just got on with it and made himself a bomb. A big one.
He wrote a single letter to his sister to tell her of his plan and to thank her for her sheets. Then strapped the thing to his purple bicycle and set off for history. The wind in his beard as he pedalled, waving to folk as he passed, all the way down to the Hull Flood Defence System, and without a second of doubt he blew it, and himself, sky high.
If the man’s mind was broken, his sense of timing wasn’t. Before the flood defence could be repaired the biggest storm in sixty years hit; most of the low-lying areas were flooded and destroyed. Hundreds of homes rotten and mouldy and not fit for dogs, but as chance had it some bright spark in central government realised it was fit for VOIDs. So a city of rejects spewed up from the sodden ground.
I hope you liked my strange short story, and if you'd like to find out more about my strange city and the folk forced to live there then check out my debut novel, Sour Fruit. Out of the 16th of Aug.