ONE

5th of January, 1949

It was the year 1949, and it had begun a few days ago. To the citizens of Gracefield, the start of another year held promise, but they take great care not to rely too much on that promise.

"It'll be another bleak year," said the post-man.

"With the Changes running the system, I don't think we would be having any progress at all," said the saggy, thin-boned geezer drinking his morning tea.

"I hope Mamma will finally buy me those red shoes," the street urchin said, wiggling her toes.

In Gracefield City, everything is in contrast with each other. There are the wealthy partricians living in their lavish, stone-walled estates, and the impoverished plebeians making do with alleys and underneath viaducts. There are men and women, and men who dress like women and women who dress like men. There are saints and sinners, readers and writers, students and teachers. Rid one of the other, and things will never be the same.

The city is also transforming. One moment, there will be lights and sounds at night, and in the morning the ears will be flooded with the putter of engines and machines-courtesy of Allan Quincy and Sons, Co.-as well as the chitter-chatter of the crowd that quickly fill the streets. The soot-coated children running around on the cobblestone roads will soon grow into aimless vagabonds who know nothing but pick pockets and spread legs.

Despite these awesome transformations, one thing stays the same in this city. The aristocratic Changes, who had kept the city in their pocket for three wonderful decades, became the city's poster family as well as its unspoken ruling monarchy.

In 1948, Gendry Change won the election for mayor against Jim Cromwell, a pastor known for his charity towards the colored people. It seemed that the citizens of Gracefield preferred the usual fare instead of trying something new.

Now in 1949, Gendry Change had a nameplate made for him and placed at the door of the mayor's office. He also requested an appointment with a local portrait artist, stating that he wanted his picture to he five feet high and three feet wide. To top off his schedule, he had his list of decrees tucked inside his planner for future announcements.

Crime has been a faithful patron to the city. The Gracefield City Police Department often have their hands full with murders, robberies, and petty thefts. Arson and abductions are occasional, as well as administrative cases that tend to magically close with just the right amount of tokens.

In 1949, Captain Hugh Alan Laney expected nothing good from the GCPD and proceeded to do what he has to do with the paperwork piling up on his desk. He had lost faith in the system and decided to let his moral compass guide him in his work, a decision that made him a survivor of seven assassination attempts. However, this took a toll on his family and his wife took the twins with her to the neighboring city. Laney understood that his line of work puts his family in danger, so he didn't object. But he feared that there was something else to his wife's decision to leave and take the kids away, and he fervently prayed that his fear wouldn't be true.

Laney heard the crackle of the television screen and he saw a broadcast of Gendry Change's gala at 3rd District.

Herb turned on the damn screen again, he thought. Better talk to him about watching screens during work later.

He watched as Gendry waved and smiled at his guests, and Laney thought he might be getting sick.

Laney and Change were not on the best of terms since the time Laney accused Robert, Gendry's father, of graft and corruption. This led to a series of trials that Robert won, despite the overwhelming evidence presented against him. Laney would have lost his badge, if it weren't for Robert's request that Laney be left alone. Laney was instead suspended for two months.

The GCPD's captain stood up from his desk and walked to the window. Outside the office, flocks of people walked here and there while the transit coaches wove through the them. When he looked up, billboards were either advertising Allan Quincy and Sons, Co. or some brand of soap.

For a moment, Laney thought that the view was beautiful. The city was witnessing innovation after innovation. But once he looked closer, he did not miss the sight of homeless mothers huddled on the sidewalks with their crying infants and the hobbling of misers and drunk jobless men.

A part of him wanted to save the city, but he tells himself that he doesn't have the means, let alone the power, to do so. He despaired at that thought, and the little faith he mustered for that day was gone once again.

Laney sat back down at his desk and opened a folder to start working.