☦Allan torments the Changed people of Kansas.☦
The Last Era: 12, August, 2119 AD
Sylvan Grove, Kansas, USA
Historians dubbed the in-between age where humans were still struggling to exist as the Last Era. This was the great decline of humanity, and the-End-Of-The-World. This - pardoning the historians - wasn't entirely true, but only because there was no one around afterwards who cared enough to give their days a fitting name.
The time that followed could probably be called the Age of Rot, or something else gray (or purple) sounding. This was a time when the abnormal was the norm and few humans or native animals walked the Earth. Humans that were still alive and exposed to the world as it was were not very human anymore.
The Changed started manifesting toward the end of the Last Era, and they were capable of strange, uncomfortable things. Every other human you met was Changed, and there was no way of knowing what that meant for you.
I don't want to paint them in a bad light, though. A lot of them were good, rightly folks.
They were just inherently wrong.
Salina was only 20 miles away, but it used to be 60 miles away.
The Great Kansas Crunch of 2099 was a difficult time for people, and an even more difficult time for those that survived it.
A few days after the Crunch, someone saw a tall, thin thing hobbling awkwardly in the pale dust of the Kansas sunset. They were second Changed of Kansas, the Walking Sticks.
The humans decided that their existence was torture for them, and that they had to be put down. So the gangs that ran the twisted pockets of land that now polka-dotted Kansas hunted them, and snapped them like twigs.
But a lot of Walking Sticks escaped the purge, and settled the tight spaces of the Pinched Barrens.
Allen was in their territory now, walking adjacent to the great, twisted spires of roads and cars that used to be K-18, and tried not to look at the tall, gnarly creatures with disgust. They really disturbed him, knowing that they used to be human, and the way that they walked. The great psychology of the time told him to kill them, but something always kept him from walking up to one and bashing its head in.
He hated what he wouldn't be able to describe as the constantly rising and falling Shepard tone that was their voice. He hated that they were pointing at him as he was walking by, and saying things.
He tried to ignore his thoughts. He pretended they were just the dead corn stalks behind them.
But he couldn't help but look.
Crowds of squished, twisted sausages ending in light bulb heads, and impossibly long proboscis arms dragging behind them. They were coming from out of the fields, following a very tall Walking Stick. They waved at him with however many arms that were bound to them, and spoke their horrific language.
"Go away!" He shouted, beginning to walk into a jog, cautiously glancing toward the group of things every few steps.
He tripped on a jagged rock, falling to his hip, and looked at the crowd behind him.
That's when he saw it. Something that infuriated him more than anything yet, more than the magazine that toyed with his mind, or the viruses in his television.
It was small, and being carried by a two-headed, four-armed Walking Stick stalk. They were bringing it toward him, just the same way a beggar walks toward someone when they're about to ask for change.
The Walking Sticks were reproducing.
He got up and began walking at them, flesh boiling and tears beginning to well in his eyes. He pulled out his bat, and everything went white.
When he came to, he felt their eyes on him. He was surrounded by the things, and thick tubes of bloody flesh were sprawled in an indistinguishable mess around his feet.
He roared at the crowd and pushed his way out, his flesh rubbing against the kelpy mass. He ran back towards home until he couldn't run anymore.
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