The City of Uranda had issues. As a city contained from sky to earth inside metal plated walls, the entire place was like a self governed life experiment, the difference being that those in charge didn’t particularly care for the subjects. Many silent battles were waged, be it the fight for life, freedom, or fame, and this is where they gathered. Out in the dark streets, scrutinized under the glare of artificial light, they continued purposefully, and sometimes he wanted to tell them. Sometimes he wanted…

He had stopped on the sidewalk, distracted by the sight of two waitresses dragging a body out the door of their restaurant. The girls dropped the body by the side of the road, smoothed their red aprons, and went back inside. Death. That’s what they saw. That’s how it should have been for him too.

A mother pushing a stroller passed him, and he realized he was blocking the sidewalk. He continued walking, shoes crunching over the broken glass of long gone windows. What was with him today? Restaurant shootings were the most common. Maybe he really was spending too much time inside. He felt his stomach knot painfully. Yes, he defiantly needed to do better with himself.

He rounded the corner and saw the one store that still sold natural foods. He was almost there when a girl pushed out thorugh the door, and the handle of her yellow grocery bag snapped. The contents dumped over the ground, and something leaked out across the gritty sidewalk. At the sight of trouble, he instinctively stopped and watched. The girl bent down to pick up her purchased goods, so he waited for her to move out of the way when she dropped a package. She reached for it when something else dropped from the collection in her arms. She considered her next move, and reached out again. It became clear that she wasn’t going to be able to hold onto everything, which meant she wasn’t going to move.

A speeding car rushed by on the road. Forget it he told himself, he moved forward and brushed past her into the store. Inside he browsed for the cheapest loaf of bread he could find. That was all he could afford, but when he found what he wanted and lifted his head all he could see was the clerk. The clerk’s gaze was focused out the window where the girl in her thin white dress still struggled with how she could carry all she had purchased. His first thought was that it was his lucky day. He could have easily left without paying and save his money, but a part of him was tired of seeing her so vulnerable. He approached the clerk and held up the loaf.

“Can I have a bag?”

“Hu,” the clerk said looking up at him.

“A plastic bag.”

“Two dollars,” the clerk said ignoring him again for the girl.

He frowned, but he saw the bags behind the counter.

“Hey!” the clerk yelled as The Stranger escaped with the stolen goods.

Putting that aside, The Stranger packed his bread into the bag and started stuffing the remainder of the fallen goods in after it. He quickly straitened and held the open bag out towards her so she could empty her armful. She stared.

“What?” he said, “Do you think I’m going to steal your dirty food?”

She leaned forward and dumped her armful of packages. He closed the bag and handed it over. She took it, opened it again and rummaged around until she pulled out the loaf of bread.

“You’re not very smart are you,” he said.

She gave a slight smile. Then she tossed the bread and he caught it, so in the end all he was left with was his stolen purchase and the sight of her proud retreat. Back inside, the store the clerk had just managed to wrestle a pistol out of the safe.

The Town of Uranda had issues. Life issues and death issues. Greed issues and love issues. The girl with the groceries had issues, but it wasn’t his problem. For him, there was only one more thing to do.


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