United We Stood
by Liam Brennan
forum: United We Stood
speculative fiction for the internet generation.

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United We Stood


           "Big Apple: Rotten to the Core”

           The Times was right for once, thought Wayne Newton, a tall man of Middle Eastern descent with eyes that had seen the world from every angle. He grabbed his coffee and tossed the newspaper in an over-stuffed garbage can that bore the anachronistic “Excelsior” logo of old New York. Newton studied the image; some vagrant had transformed the goddesses Liberty and Justice into busty working girls. “As if they needed any help,” Newton muttered as he slipped a backpack over his shoulders.

           A construction worker clad in typical paint-spattered jeans and plaid button-up took a step closer in the turnstiles. As Newton tossed a coin into a box that proceeded to slide forward, the worker quickly slipped through the gate behind him, bumping into Newton’s side to avoid the steel bars from slicing him. “Two for the price of one, hey pal?” the worker joked.

           “Excuse me?” Newton said.

           The worker patted him on the back with a plaster-covered hand. “The gate. I go through four times a day to work for the damn city. Can’t afford it.” They stepped to the platform and awaited the sky-train that was slowly hovering forward.

           “Whatta ya do?” the worker asked.

           “What?” said Newton.

           “Your job, you’ve got one don’t ya?” the worker said sarcastically.

           “Yes,” said Newton, checking his wristwatch while attempting to mentally will the train forward a few yards.

           “Well what is it?” griped the worker.

           “I sell shoes,” said Newton as the train pulled up.

           A standard subway car had been remodeled after the war, now a hollow shell with a force field-like beam that acted as the door. They stepped onto the train and leaned against the wall, grabbing support straps that hung from the roof. As the last passenger made their way onto the train, the beam tightened again and buzzed before the train shot off on a whim, sailing out amidst the burned out skyscrapers and gnarled remains that were once the pristine skyline.

           “It’s a shame, hey pal?” said the worker as he looked out at a collapsed Empire State Building in the distance.

           Newton rolled his eyes and turned back toward the man who was now eating a ham sandwich that he had clearly pulled from his shirt pocket moments earlier. “Why is it a shame?” he said.

           The worker choked down a large bite as he opened his mouth to speak. “What’s happened to this city, hey? Used to be such a special place, greatest city in the world.”

           Newton glanced out the window, picturing the city the way it once was, realizing the harsh reality that had taken control.

           “Sell shoes, do ya?” asked the worker.

           Newton smiled and stared down at the new shoes the worker was wearing, feeling they were slightly out of place given his other attire. “My father owned a shop,” said Newton.

           “No kiddin? Ya I was never one for shoe shoppin’. Not much need for anything new in my line of work,” said the worker.

           Newton glanced at the polished, white sneakers, the plastic tag still attached on one side. “What do you do, sir?” Newton asked.

           “Construction, can’t ya tell? And ya don’t gotta call me sir, I ain’t your old man, pal,” he said as he wolfed down the last bite. “What’s your name, anyways?” the worker asked.

           “Newton,” he replied.

           The worker laughed hysterically and said, “What like the apple or the singer?”

           Newton looked at him with a blank expression. “The singer, actually. My father adored him, or the concept of everything American, I suppose.”

           “So your name is Wayne Newton?” asked the worker.

           “Unfortunately,” Newton responded, staring out the window at a disfigured Statue of Liberty, half restored from the head down.

           The worker burst out laughing as the other passengers looked increasingly uncomfortable in his presence. “That’s funny, pal. Why don’t ya bring him out sometime? They just reopened her halfway. We’re still workin’ on the renovations up top, but you can go on up and have a look,” said the worker as he pointed to the statue.

           “He’s passed away now. Just last week,” said Newton softly, staring out at Liberty with a disheartened look on his face.

           “Sorry to hear that pal,” said the worker as the intercom buzzed and the Liberty Island stop was announced.

           Newton adjusted his backpack and waited for the beam to open.

           “She’s gonna be one beautiful welcome sign when we're finished, don’t worry. That’s what this country’s all about, pal. Lettin’ people of all sorts come in and have their way, right?”

           Newton turned back and stared into the worker’s eyes curiously before the beam parted and they stepped out beneath the Statue.

           As the elevator doors opened, Newton slid his backpack from his shoulders and stared out at the expansive view before him. Tears filled his eyes as he stepped to the edge of the makeshift-viewing gallery and unzipped his backpack. He shakily reached inside and pulled out an urn. He held it up and opened the top, reaching out into the cool October sky and emptying its contents into the waters not far below. He glanced down below where he could see the worker frantically sprinting away from the base of the statue in his new running shoes. Newton frowned and stared down at the top of his backpack where a small black device was flashing a tiny red light. The plastered hand tapping his shoulder ran through his mind as the bag exploded, sending flames straight up through the statue and bringing down the last remaining landmark before the second civil war had broken out.




copyright 2007 Liam Brennan.

Liam Brennan is a 22 year old student at the University of Manitoba, soon to be graduating with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and minor in religion. He writes screenplays, short stories, poetry, and more recently, flash fiction.

link to silverthought.com