. Asphyxia, Asphyxia .


by Philip Wallace

Asphyxia, Illinois was once a bustling midwestern town. The city fathers were proud of its commerce, its art museum, and semi-pro sports teams. Most of all, they were proud of their award winning school system filled with bright, milk fed, rosy cheeked children. This prosperity went on for many decades until something happened and life began to be slowly choked out of it.

Industries that once worked around the clock cut production, slowly at first, but soon were producing nothing and their doors began to close. People had no choice but to move away. Fingers began to be pointed at possible reasons for the town's ongoing collapse. The Russians were to blame. It's all NAFTA's fault. It's that piece of old Indian jewelry in the museum. The mayor refuses to wear a tie. The Stranglers football team traded their best player to Dunsany, Illinois. Just look at how prosperous they've suddenly become! The only one's not affected by the dismal downswing was the children.

Closed up storefronts and deserted alleys offered endless delights. Kids that once seemed wholesome and harmless now frolicked through the streets in an everlasting scruffy revel. Hardhearted city elders said the kids had been possessed of a repugnant and twisted innocence that would have drawn the whip in their day. Disrespect slowly spread through the ranks of the young who delighted in busting out windows and trashing abandoned factories. Fear soon spread with lethal contagion.

Children began to disappear. The choked city looked for them, but they were vanishing without a trace. Parents suspected the city leaders of taking extreme measures to eliminate the carefree vandals. However, it wasn't only the children busting out windows who disappeared. No child was safe. The town lost more people as citizens began to leave like refugees. Soon the school closed and the only people left were older folks who had no children. Another strange thing was that once a family that had lost a child left the city had settled somewhere else; they completely forgot their children ever existed.

A new highway was built to Dunsany and Asphyxia did not get an exit. The town was now almost completely forgotten. All that was left was some crumbling warehouses, the town hall, a diner, and the museum, which continued to operate even though its registry had seen no new entries for the last 5 years. One traffic light still did its lonely sentinel duties on what used to be a busy main thoroughfare. Wayward travelers have spoke of hearing strange sounds if they have the misfortune of getting stopped by the traffic light late at night for it's said that the missing children can be heard yelling for their parents as they scamper through the buildings, but that they are never seen. Only the museum remains quiet after the sun goes down and, truth be told, nobody will ever find the children of Asphyxia.

The end.




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