Sin City: Canto V – Back Alley Blues

There are some things that evade description. Sights so horrid no amount of words could possibly convey the experience of witnessing them. Sounds so anguished even the most talented musician would fear to replicate them. Thoughts so overwhelming they trap a mind in stasis at the slightest consideration of them.

Verge had been leading Dan through the oppressive darkness now for nearly half an hour. As Dan’s eyes adapted to the starless night he began to make out the structures around him. They passed abandoned construction sites, the rusted remains of machinery a monument to decadence; Empty office blocks devoid of furnishings, and tents. Dozens and dozens of tents. Even the most decrepit, crumbling buildings had the telltale signs of life drifting around inside, wretched shadows converging on dim flickering fires. Dan’s eyes lingered at each and everyone, but Verge pulled him onward always muttering: “Not here, not yet.”

“Who are they?” Dan eventually mustered the courage to ask.

“Them?”, Virgil said with a quizzical tone, “why they’re the freest souls in the whole city.” Dan didn’t understand, but it didn’t feel right to question Verge so he just fell back into silence.

As they continued their solemn procession, Dan began to make out the distant sound of rushing water. His body ached, and his stomach was growling in rebellion, but yet he found no energy for resistance in him. Verge led. He followed. The thought that this tramp may be dangerous and that he may be about to be robbed… or worse, never crossed his mind. From that very first smile outside Paradiso Heights Dan trusted him. He couldn’t explain why. He hadn’t even thought about it. It felt entirely instinctual, and so, he followed.

As Dan watched the shadows milling about in their ramshackle palaces, he couldn’t help wondering what kind of person decided to live there. Or, perhaps that was the point. This was where you lived when you didn’t get to decide anymore. When all the options were stripped away by this grief-wracked city. When you’d abandoned the last ounce of hope in the American dream. That’s when you were ready for this place. That’s when it chose you. Dan shuddered at the thought, and a far worse one scratching away at the back of his mind: That could be you.

“Here” Verge said, suddenly stopping and looking up, gesturing at Dan to do the same. “This is what you need to see.”

Dan gasped. He knew where they were now. He knew this place. Everyone did. His mind ordered his feet to run, limp, crawl. Anything to get away. But they wouldn’t listen. They only listened to Verge now, damn traitors the both of them! The WEXCORP logo still hung from the old factory in gunmetal grey. Despite everything else around rusting away, it had still kept it’s shine.

“This is it Dan. The point of no return.” Verge’s normally jovial face took a serious turn, his eyes squinting as if he was looking into the back of Dan’s mind.

“You’ve got to make a choice, come with me, and make a change in your life. Or turn around, and fade away in The Block, the City, the noise…”

“Which will it be?”

Thank you for reading this canto of Sin City.
Go to the series page to see all currently available cantos and follow Dan and Verge’s journey.

If you’re enjoying the series, or have ideas for future installments, please let me know in the comments below!

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