“Oh, what’s this? What’s this?” he questioned, peering out of his prison.
The city was at war with itself.
Buildings had fallen to ruin. Streets were lined with deep cracks and gaping crevices. Some blocks had been flooded to where you couldn’t make out the black asphalt at all, murky water now lining shattered storefronts to decrepit diners. The entire metropolis was absolutely littered with cars, buses, semi trucks and other miscellaneous modes of transportation, all of them sitting on their metal frames, their rubber tires long gone or flattened to uselessness.
And yet, amidst the crumbling city’s infrastructure, the soft unyielding hand of Mother Nature had started to creep in. Vines had crawled up buildings and lampposts; some facades completely covered, the leaves now outlining the architecture of what was once a bustling office plaza. The streets that sat underwater had been transformed into marshes, moss and algae floating on the surface. Grasses of all variations had sprouted from the industrial fractures, the foliage consuming everything that had been constructed on top of it from the inside out.
The takeover was beautiful. And agonizingly slow. The city would be tortured for years until it was finally defeated, trees and grass and flowers and plants the victors. Some decomposed metal and marble would be the only witnesses to the hostile takeover that had occurred here.
“Oh, yes, yes,” he gushed as he opened his door and seeped out into the pavement-turned-grassland. “This will do nicely.”
No one was witness to his release back into the world. They didn’t try to stop or welcome him. Which was just what he needed. It was always preferable to slip in somewhere unnoticed and only later have others realize it was too late for them to do anything about it.
How long had it been since his last meal? He couldn’t recall. Time was not a concept when he was trapped in his box; with no sunlight to give indicators of days passing by, weeks and months could have come and gone before he washed up here.
But where was here? This delightful little wasteland had to have some sort of name.
A soft clanging echoed around the surrounding crumbles of the dying city, drawing his attention outside of himself. Glancing around, he tried to pinpoint where, exactly, the sound had come from. The next street over, he was sure of it. Slithering towards where he imagined the noise had originated, he rounded a corner to see a young man spray painting a crumbling brick wall.
No. Not spray painting.
Graffiti. This youth was graffitiing the alleyway.
Well. If this was a sign of the type of people who inhabited this apocalyptic world, it was no wonder he had awoken from his slumber.
“I say…” he said, drifting forward. His voice, however, startled the young man, who kicked his bag of spray cans away and bolted down the street, glancing back only once before rounding a corner and disappearing.
He didn’t bother to follow the lad. He didn’t have the strength and, really, he was more interested in the artwork than the artist.
Slinking in front of the makeshift canvas, he observed the abandoned portrait.
Immediately, he was able to recognize the face that had been depicted. He would recognize that scarlet fedora, hornet yellow jacket, and ebony cape anywhere. Negaduck. The villainous mallard was snarling furiously within the painting, peering down with such malice it would strike fear into the hearts of even the more daring of ne’er-do-wells.
Large letters curved around the duck’s head, spelling out, “Lord Negaduck. King of the Negaverse.”
The Negaverse. Was that what this charming mechanized wilderness was called? He hoped so; it was a name that befitted the decaying municipality he’d found himself in.
And there was negativity here, as the name suggested. Hatred. Anger. Frustration. He could feel it.
Plenty to subdue his gnawing hunger. He could gorge himself and still have enough to feast on for years to come.
It was just the sort of place that Paddywhack had been looking for. Maybe, one day, he could even call it “home”.