by Stewart Wilson
Midnight in the City of Broken Dreams, where hometown boys will sleep with their high-school sweethearts once they've topped up the embalming fluid. The riot police give the gift of a solid beating to pubgoers too drunk to argue. For ten pounds more, they'll administer an electric shock to the genitals of any consenting adult. All part of the service.
A mere three minutes into a new year, Hercules Smith lights another cigarette. He jams it in between the two currently burning in his mouth. A thick cloud of black smoke follows him. People dive out of the way. Rumour has that the smoke kills plants and small animals, and will make women pregnant with smog-mutants. Nobody's brave enough to test it.
The years are duelling in the sky. It's the first day of the Future Year. Spaceships and laser guns and sex-robots and time machines make up the wavefront of potential, the power and glory of the New and Weird. The old year is a mass of Fox News and tired blowjobs and politics and office jobs. The old year collapses the waveform. It eats the potential of the new in a mess of slime then shits the results onto the world. Nobody in the City cares. They've seen it all before.
Hercules Smith is the craphunter. He searches for undigested nuggets of the New and Weird inside the caked turds of human expectation. It's a dirty job, cracking open the secret desires of humanity to find the brilliance, but someone has to do it. If not for him, there'd be no new year. Just another arbitrary rollover of a number nobody cares about. Removing the cigarettes, he pours the contents of a hip-flask down his throat. Asphalt smokes where stray droplets contact the ground.
The only man looking up in the City of Broken Dreams weeps for the Future. Then he pukes with righteous fury, blood and bile cascading into the gutter.
Happy new year.