“It’s been a long time,” said Erik to the audience in front of him.

“So happy to be in this grand theater. Certainly, a privilege to be invited to tell my story here. It all started a few hours south of here.”

“I’ve been working on this memoir, so long. Fifty years of anarchy, authoritarianism and finally peace. Is the peace going to last?”

“I don’t know… I’ll be dead by then.”

Erik waited for the laugh, it always came.

“So let’s work this out. Sometime mid-2020s a discovery was made that changed the world. Explorers found two stones. Each with god-like powers to create life. Us, as humans, were extremely responsible and only used those powers for good…” he paused.

“That’s a lie and we all know it,” he waited for the chuckles. “Human ethics has always ebbed and flowed but we are not all human anymore. Human on the inside, of course, at least it started that way. Now we have how many different sub-species?”

Some in the audience murmured.

“Wars and battles drug on for years in an attempt to establish a dominant species. Can we all agree we are now in a good place? Mostly? The Taurs, the Magicians, and even the Vampire… but … I am not here to cause grief.. make assumptions or upset anyone. You want the story.”

“So let me begin when it started for me.”

“I was an alcoholic at the time. I had lost my family in the chaos, when some smart guy tried to resurrect his daughter and started a deadly epidemic that took the lives of 3 million people. I was angry, so angry. I drank, a lot. That was only one of dozens of things that has tried to kill me. It is 50 years later but I’ve been sober 49 years.”

He waited as the audience applauded. “Thanks, but applaud our brothers and sisters that continue to fight this battle with substance abuse, it’s a toxic coping mechanism but… I’m not here to lecture.”

“I’m just a dumb old man with a story to tell.”

There was no drunk tank back then. All the “undesirables” were sent to the zoo. I’m sure you all have heard of the zoos. Large walled cities they dumped the undead into, then criminals and finally drunks and others.

It was a litany of pleasure in the zoo and I was itching for trouble. At the time I lived under bridges. I had no money so I stole to survive and drink. Every time I went out I risked exposure and local enforcement.

Nothing like a baseball bat in the gut to sober a man up.

After the guards bloodied me up, to sober me up, they claimed. I was shackled. I stood with a group of others against a huge wall. Every sixth foot sat an automatic machine gun pointed inside the wall.

The guns would go off every few minutes, in an attempt to clear the area around the Jurassic-sized wall gate. The noise sparking the muscles in the body to freeze.

We all knew what was inside. We knew the guards didn’t have to care what happened to us. There wouldn’t be any evidence of harsh and cruelty. The infected would dispatch us within moments. The kindest words telling us the automatic guns gave us 500 feet before we all died.”

Erik silently polled his audience.

The centaurs milled uncomfortably near the rear of the theater. They had built a reputation of trouble, years ago. Many others still judged them harshly warranted or not.

The vampire, forced to stand in groups with a ring of space around them and suspicious eyes upon them at all times stood talking amongst themselves.

The rest of the audience, human and human-like were a mixture of Magicians and non-magical residents they were Erik’s target audience. The most attentive of the three major human-isk species sat and waited for Erik to continue.

“Anyways, those wall gates opened slowly. The guards began yelling, pushing us toward the opening. I was near center of the group, thankfully because a pair of infected slipped out from the gates and violently assaulted the first two prisoners. The guards shot both within moments but the damage had already been done to the two unlucky men.

Scratched, pummeled and bloody the guards pulled them from the line. Not to help them, of course, but to get them out of the way. Half the front of the group began to retreat. Fighting with the guards, only to be beaten into submission and put back in line.

The guards pushed us through the gap and into the walled prison we will now call home for the foreseeable future.”

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