The way the gangs run this town is disgusting. They take what they need and force everyone else to scavenge. Money has no meaning in Poukines. If you want something, you have to fight for it, or work out a deal. I've seen good men do terrible things for a couple cans of food. For women, the only way they can be sure of a meal is by working in the brothels. No days off, beatings, a flea infested bed, but there's always food for a whore, because a whore isn't any good if she's dead.
After supply drops, you can sometimes find food in the market. The gangs take advantage of the fact that the rest of us are starving and the merchants in the stalls drive a hard bargain. Luckily for me I was able to kill a thug earlier. Took his gun and knives. Hopefully it's enough to pay for a meal.
I can always tell when I'm close to the market. The stench of hundreds of unwashed bodies and human filth fills the streets around the market. Girls call out from the surrounding buildings, trying desperately to earn their keep. A drunk staggers by, smelling of booze and piss. I turn the collar up on my coat, hoping to conceal most of my face. Lately the Skrays have been on the lookout for me more than usual, and the last thing I need is some merchant trying to gain favor by turning me in.
I stop at one of the smaller stalls and put the scavenged weapons on the table.
"What can you get me for these?"
The greasy merchant picks up one of the knives and examines it. He turns and spits over his shoulder, a gob of saliva trailing from his lips.
"Well I might be able to give ya a jug of liquor, but if ya want anything more potent, ya might need to throw in a bit more."
"How about some food? You don't advertise it, but you always have food."
The merchant glances around and nods. I knew him from before Poukine went to shit. Even when there's no food for anyone else, Jack always has something saved for me. He takes the weapons off the table and tucks them away in his coat. He pulls a sack out from under a pile of boxes and hands it to me. I grab it, but he doesn't let go.
"You can't buy from me anymore. The Skrays know ya come here. They've been threatening me for weeks. In ten minutes, I'm gonna make the call, and ya better be the hell away from here by the time I do. I been protecting ya for too long as it is."
I tear the bag from his fist. I run, but not out fear. I have to survive, wait out the time until I'm stronger, until I can finally throw Leonard back into the pit he came from. To die at the hands of his goons would be failure, and I only have one chance to succeed.