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THE game is everywhere, in every town. The place doesn’t have to be special at all; it just has to have willing participants.  Asbury Park was one of those places that welcomed the game—with open arms at that.  Asbury was a small town, not even a five-minute drive from one side of town to the other.  It was full of liquor stores, fast food restaurants, and people that had forgotten how to dream.  The streets were laced with a poisonous aroma of failure and greed.  Yet, even in the darkest of places light still finds a way to shine.  That light that was hidden was about to be released, thanks to the game.  The one thing that truly hindered the town’s progression above all things was its tolerance of hypocrisy. 

            That was until the game chose to come to Asbury Park.

            It was late Thursday evening. By now most people were at home watching television, while those who were about 18 to 25 were storming the clubs.  The streets that used to be filled with life and screams of excitement were now few, because violence had become so rampant in the community.  By now the beach was quiet, Thursday nights used to be hip-hop night down at the Stone Pony.  On hip-hop night it was only five dollars to get in, drinks were only three dollars, and all the men would be on the main stage with the hottest girl they could find dancing real close.  It was located right across the street from the boardwalk on the corner of Second Avenue.  From outside you could tell that the club was dead and that if anybody was in there, they were bored.  Two bouncers were outside passing time by joking around.

            The boardwalk across street was beginning to look like the days of old.  With each passing day the renovations being done on the beach front property was beginning to make the boardwalk look like a profitable place again.  The ocean waves were captivating in their effervescent flow; there was a calming presence in the night’s sky. 

It was a typical Thursday night.  Nothing out of the ordinary was taking place, just two individuals walking along the Asbury Park boardwalk taking in the summer breeze.  One was wearing two chains—two small things, a gold one with a cross for a charm and a silver one with a dog tag that hung over a fitted gray thermal with the word rocky written across it.  The other was wearing a white t-shirt and black basketball shorts.  They were strolling down the boardwalk; no purposeful intention could be gathered by the disposition of their postures.  They were just out there, because they didn’t want to be somewhere else.    

“Hey Trip, you know what, there’s gotta be more to this.” The words came from the young man in the thermal in a frustrated voice.  He was staring off into the ocean view from the boardwalk, sitting on the top of a bench. 

“I know.”  His friend agreed but his tone gave away his difference in a voice of hopelessness. 

Gab replied, “Man, I’m at the point where I hate being here…growing up I thought I’d be successful by now, living in a nice house, with my Mom’s set up in a good situation…no worries, you know?  But I’m still here—I still don’t know my way.”

“I know.” Trip uttered once again.

“It’s like we missing the blue print to life.  I don’t get why people have what they have and others don’t,” Gab continued.

“You know there’s a way out but you just don’t know how to find it.” Trip spoke on despondently.

            Both of them began to walk down the boardwalk reminiscing about the past.  Growing up, these two played football and basketball together in the streets of their neighborhood.  Playing in each other’s backyard laying the foundation to what would become a true friendship conquering the test of time.  But could it survive maybe its greatest test of all.  All would be found out as the game wore on. Gab relied on Trip a lot, because he didn’t value being cool with too many people at any one time.  When he allowed Trip into his circle, it was because he truly trusted him to be loyal.  

“Tell me about it.” Gab replied.

 Gab paused as he searched for his words.

“That’s why I’m a gettin in da game.” Gab replied.  

Both men stopped abruptly.  Gab was looking Trip in the face with a look of disappointment, but yet silent necessity and Trip responded by looking back with a pure disapproval.  

“Nah Gab…you know can’t mess with the game.  It’ll eat you alive man,” Trip said with a sense of urgency. 

But Gab replied saying, “Too late man, Prophet already put me on”.

Trip shook his head looking down and replied with a low voice; “You know there ain’t no coming out the game once you in it”.

With a look that suggested he had no choice, Gab paused and let out a deep sigh, and then he said dejectedly, “Yep, I know”.

“So I guess this means that we go separate ways now, huh?”

“Yep.”

 

Sitting in a rusted blue-parked van on the corner of Second Avenue and Comstock were three men looking on intently at the busyness of the street; these men acted as if they were on a stake in the fashion they observed every move and exchange that took place.  The name of the driver was Deception; he was wearing a black t-shirt, with black jeans and a black bomber jacket.  There was a long scar that was diagonally stretched across his chest.  The scar was left from a scrap that he had with one of the Park Camp soldiers, Demar Bolden, but he was known as Skit.

            “Who’s the new kid?” A raspy voice came from the dark figure sitting in the back of the van. 

Sitting beside Deception in the passenger seat was a tall, dark, and stocky fellow.  His name was Blair.  He didn’t speak much, but with every look of his eyes and movement of his body he spoke loudly.  He carried such an extreme arrogance about him that it made him the perfect right hand man for Santana.  He never dressed as to catch the attention of onlookers; his appearance was that of a poor man, but he never acted like one.

“I guess it’s somebody new that Prophet put on.” Deception replied.

The figure sitting in the back calmly observing the scenery was a vicious man; his face was filled with an aura of revenge and anger.  Yet, he was wise and reserved, patiently waiting for the right moment to act and exact retribution on his sworn enemies.  Behind the black shades that he wore he had dark eyes.  His hair was kept sharp and his smile was always elusive in meaning.  He always wore a black hoody-jacket, with black jeans, and black Air-Force Ones.  The outfit allowed him to blend into the nightly shade. He was only about six feet tall, but was 200 lbs solid.  Make no mistake about it he was an intimidating character. 

“The new kid…that’s who we want.” Ordered the slick figure in the back.

“You got it boss.” Blair replied.

“Let’s be moving out—ain’t nothing else for us to see here.” said the mysterious man, and the three were off.

 

“You see dem cats that just pulled off, those cats is the Renegades.” A young man stated.

He was wearing a fitted white t-shirt, with denim jeans and tan Timberlands.  He was known around the park as ‘Prophet’, he was smart, so smart it seemed like he could see things before they happened.  Though most people didn’t know it, he spent a lot of his time alone reading and exercising his thoughts.  He was a true student of the game at heart.

            “Yo, stay away from them cats.” Prophet ordered the young boy that he was talking too and he nodded his head in agreement. 

            “Those dudes are trying to get at ‘The Unseen’ because they used to roll wit ‘em but they got kicked out of the organization”, Prophet told him. 

            “Why did they get kicked out”, the young kid responded.

            “Don’t ask all them questions”, Prophet responded suggesting with his body language that he was asking a little too much.

            The corner that they were standing on was always hectic.  It was a mixture of ordinary people passing along to get their desired destination, and fiends looking to get their high.  The aroma was like the smell of frankincense and urine, and the streetlights bounced off the eyes of on goers in unison with the rhythmic pace of those walking.  The setting represented the miracle of hope in hopelessness, because for these individuals the corners offered them something that lifted them out of their environment and away from their problems.  What they got was a high not known before, and the high was so misunderstood that it was the source of a societal war.  The corners were the stage for the game, but the game itself was more intricate than just the corners, it was the life of the street, and it started in the offices of ‘The Unseen’.  Prophet often thought to himself what would it be like if the game didn’t exist, if these G-pills didn’t exist, life would probably end in the Park as we knew it.  

 

 

Lieutenant Lake walked into the room with a huge case file in his hand.  He looked up only to notice that Sgt. Briggs was so occupied with his nose that he was messing up the entire office. 

“What are you doing?” asked Lieutenant Lake with a chuckle.

Lake had been a detective for more than 40 years now and was ready to retire.  However, he wanted to close one more case before he left to enjoy a life of relaxation and retirement. Lake was a big, very dark, and a well postured man. He was very dedicated to his work but more importantly his family.

The office wasn’t a big one, it had only two desks, from which Lake and Briggs worked and papers were posted all over the walls concerning essential information to the cases they were involved in. 

            “This freakin nose just keeps on bothering me; I think I’m getting allergies or something”.

             Briggs was a slender man and had a very rough appearance.  He had been apart of the force for about ten years now as a detective.  Yet, unlike Lake he was very clumsy and always messing something up on account of trying to do too much.

            Lieutenant Lake took a huge folder off of his desk and walked over to Briggs; he tossed it on Briggs desk and gave him a smile, one that suggested the folder had something very interesting in it. 

            Lieutenant Lake said, “Have you ever heard of the ‘Unseen’”?

            Briggs replied, “Who the heck are they, and what kind of name is that?  Can’t criminals come up with better names than the ‘Unseen’; someone should call them the unnamed…stupid idiots.  They must’ve just graduated from nursery school or something.”

            Lake gave him a look of annoyance. “Are you done yet”, he replied.

            “Yessir”, replied Briggs.

            “Anyway, the Unseen are the head honchos of the G-pills product that’s being pushed on our streets.  Whoever’s got it, gets it from them.  But nobody has ever managed to get a peak at these guys”.

            “So how do you have a file on them”, Briggs interjected.

            “I really can’t stand you sometimes, you sarcastic moron. Anyway, more than a couple pushers that we got our hands on, gave them up as there source, but have never given any info on whereabouts or description”, Lake said.

            “So-o-o-o-o, basically what your saying is, you’re talking about people that are unseen”, Briggs responded sarcastically.  “Now I see why they’re called that”, Briggs whispered with half a grin.

            “ Sometimes I really wanna kill you” said Lake.

            To which Briggs replied, “but then who would annoy after I’m gone”?

            Lake just stared at him with a look of bafflement. But after the fun and games the two men got serious about the file in front of them and began to strategize about how they were going to pursue this unseen group of Gospel distributors.  This was no easy task before them. In order to get to the top they knew they would have to climb up from the bottom of the mountain and that would mean getting some inside info on the corner pushers if they had any hopes of catching this group. 

 

 

“Yo son…traffic is heavy today kid.  These fiends is coming in like clockwork”, yelled a wired light skinned kid. 

            “Calm down wit all that noise man…you gonna get us knocked out here wit all them words running out of your mouth”, exclaimed Prophet.

            “You always on some you gonna get us knocked crap.  Ain’t nobody trying to mess wit us”, responded the young worker.

            Prophet looked at the kid with a look of bitter remorse, he knew that the kid didn’t understand the potential for risk when being in this type of war.  Prophet was a true student of the game and he had seen the many lives that were lost pushing the Gospel-pills. They took it lightly not understanding that the Gospel had enemies even though it was helping some people out.  So Prophet took it upon himself to mentor these young starters, but all too often they refused the wisdom of a proven vet.   

            Prophet walked with the kid to a near by stoop and sat him down.  He told him, “It’s keep quiet and keep pushing in this game.  If you ain’t heard than you can’t be caught, so follow the rules”. 

            The young kid looked up at Prophet, and nodded his head in agreement.  The kid’s name was Chucky.  He had grown up hard in the Park.  He didn’t really care for much because he was on his own.  He worked for himself, lived for himself, and only listened to himself.  At times he would be the most loyal person you could find, and then at other times you could never depend on him.  He was like night and day.  To him it made sense if he was unreliable.  His family was unreliable and as far as he knew it, life was unreliable too.  So why should he care about anybody else and what they needed.  He did what he did for himself and himself alone.

 

           

Down a dark alley, a slim figure wearing a black thermal was running from two figures dressed in black.  With his heart thumping and sweat pouring down his face, the fear felt by this kid was undeniable.  He made a turn on to Dewittt avenue hoping that his chasers wouldn’t see him cut onto the street, but one of his predators managed to catch a glimpse before he could make a turn out of his sight.

            “He went this way”, yelled out this dark rugged fellow, with a fully loaded 45 tightly held in his hand.

            The yell was heard by this scared youngin running down the street.  His heart bursting with fear, tears starting to stream down his face.  He started to contemplate what could he have done for these two figures to be chasing him, and not to mention with guns.  It’s gotta be this stupid game, he thought.  No one chased me anywhere before I got caught up in this thing. He ducked into a shaded area provided by an abandon building, jumped a depleted gate and then ran across the street into an abandoned warehouse.

            His assailants missed the tiny opening he ducked into and came out at the end of the alley only to wonder where that little kid could have went.

            “That little mug really got away”, said Blair.

            “Satana’s gonna be heated”, added Deception.

            “Well what can we do”, Blair replied.

            “Let’s be out before we get spotted or something”, Deception whispered.  

They looked at each with a look of puzzlement, and then began to run off  toward there boss’s lair hesitantly, because they knew he wasn’t going to pleased with them not bringing the kid back. 

            Meanwhile, the sweaty thermal drenched kid steadily peaked out the window of the abandoned warehouse. He was hoping and praying that he loss these two devilish predators.  Barely able to breathe, he raised his head up to sneak a glance out the window; immediately he ducked down.

            “Oh snap”, he sighed. 

            A shadow walked by the window that he looked out of. He thought for sure that it was his assailants. Petrified with fear, this young soul reckoned that he would stay in the building the whole night if needed. He refused to be caught.  He reasoned that it would be better to starve to death than be left in the hands of those two and whoever so that they could have their way with his life.  He wasn’t beat for it.  He didn’t know where they had come from and what they wanted.  All he could think about was whether or not they were from that Renegades group that Prophet had talked to him about the night before.  

The building was dark on the interior but streaks of light beamed in from the corner streetlights. They allowed him to see enough of the building so that he could walk around without injuring himself.  As he spent time in that building, his curiosity began to get the best of him as looked around at the place.  He decided to investigate the place since he was stuck there for who knows how long.  With all the visibility that the light provided from the outside though, the young child was still unable to see the mysterious figure standing in the corner of the building.

 

 

A chubby character pulled up in a black on black Denali SUV, wearing a white fitted t-shirt, denim jeans, and a pair of timberland boots.  The character sported a charming smile and a magnetic personality.  He walked around the beautiful SUV to look over the corner and then proceeded to walk directly to Prophet and they gave each other the Park Camp handshake.

            After greeting Wazu with the Park Camp shake, Prophet started to survey the corner once more looking for the new acquisition, Gab.  He signaled to Wazu he needed a moment to sort something out.  Then he made his way to the rest of the camp. He was worried about the kid.  He didn’t know whether he was shook or if something awful might’ve happened to him.  He needed to be sure about where he was.

“Yo… where Gab at”, Prophet inquired.

            He looked around at a bunch of puzzled faces that knew nothing of the new addition to their team. 

            “Everyone is always supposed to be accounted for” Prophet exclaimed frustratingly. 

            He started walking around in a circle with his displeasure obviously showing.  He began to think about whether cops picked him up or if the renegades had gotten to him.  He thought of the possibilities that could have sprung on this rookie.  That’s why everyone was always supposed to be accounted for.  That was one of the top rules with being apart of the camp.  The camp always knows where you are, always.  But not this time, this time the camp was at loss for words in regards to the whereabouts of Gab.  

            “Yo Prophet you gotta calm down yo”, Wazu said wryly.

            Wazu was Prophet’s right hand man, and he was accustomed to seeing him go on these tirades, because honestly he just cared too much about people.  One thing that Wazu learned early on is if you allow yourself to care about people too much, the frustration will take years of your life.  It’s no point in thinking like that, because you can’t save everybody.  That’s why he was a good friend for Prophet; he was that calming presence that Prophet actually gave value too. 

            “Stop jumping to conclusions homie, you could be getting all worked up for nothing”, Wazu added.

            “Aight, I’ll try to calm down, but I got a bad feeling about this, I’m not playing around.  I wanna know where Gab is and now,” Prophet said with ferocious authority.

 

“We’ve got one main stay, and that’s on the corner of Second Ave and Langford”, said Briggs.

            “Seems the package runs mainly through a group called the Park Camp.” Lake replied.

Back at the station Lieutenant Lake and Briggs were compiling info on the Park camp organization. Lieutenant Lake liked working late at the office, because most of the officers had left by now and he could really focus on the task at hand.

            “Do we have an address on that building Briggs”, replied Lake.

            “Why do we need an address when we know what the stupid building looks like.  I mean it’s only one building on that corner” Briggs retorted.

            “Because you can’t get a warrant on a description of a building.  Also, you can’t find out who owns a building without an address you stupid moron.  By the way, are you sure you’re a detective”, Lake replied sarcastically.

            “Oh…I didn’t know you were thinking about warrants; guess we do need an address huh”, Briggs said with a voice of embarrassment.

            The two decided that they needed to set up shop at a closer location.  This way they would be able to get a clearer look of what was going on exactly at that corner. Surveillance was going to be a vital means of solving the mystery of the ‘Unseen’ and bringing down the Park Camp organization. 

            “If we’re going to do this then we’re gonna need some help on this one”, Briggs suggested.

            He looked at Lake with a display of being overwhelmed, just by the thought of this caseload.  Lake stood up and decided to stretch, and as he let out a loud yawn he closed his eyes.  He looked over at Briggs and shook his head in agreement. 

            His eyes were beginning to turn bloodshot red from all of the research they were doing on their new suspects.  Lake was so preoccupied with work that he hadn’t even taken time to talk to his wife.  She never called him while he was at work unless it was an emergency.  She respected his career and knew that he needed to be focused on what he was doing if he was going to save lives.  So the unnecessary annoyance of phone calls all day between the two was not a beneficial occurrence to them both and they were fine with that.  As he began to think about the peace and loving comfort of his home though, he started to remind himself that this was the last one and he was done. 

            After thinking about the soft feeling of his bed and the warmth of his wife’s touch, Lake looked at Briggs and said, “Well, time to get home”.

            Briggs smiled and said, “Hope you don’t get lucky tonight”.

            “You wish.” Lake replied.

 

 

Later that night, the Renegades’ lair was abnormally filled with an impression of rage.  The lights were always dim and the atmosphere was always filled with smoke, as Santana would take careful drags from his expensive cigar.

            Santana was sitting in a black office chair, rocking back and forth as he spun around in his seat.  They had no desks or any sort of modern technology.  The walls were dirty and there was so much fungus growing that it starting taking the place of the wallpaper.  The floors were concrete; there were no rugs. The ceiling was broken up and covered in cobwebs.  The scenery was decorated with insects and film instead of pictures.  They used this place as a means to strategize and sleep—and that only. 

Santana finally turned around in his chair to face his henchmen.  “So ain’t none of ya’ll figure out where this little kid could’ve went, huh”, Santana questioned.

            He looked at both of his soldiers with disgust as they came back empty handed without Gab in their possession. Eyeing both men from head to toe, Santana sucked his teeth as to suggest that they were worthless and replaceable to him.

            Blair responded, “Man we did what we could, how was we supposed to…”

            “Shut up”, Santana roared.

            “We ain’t got no room for failures; we gotta be perfect wit ours or we ain’t never gonna lay a hand on the Son or the Father”.

            The mention of those two names caused Deception to become noticeably frightened in his demeanor.  He looked down as soon as Santana spoke of them and his body felt a coldness of fear as he thought about the possibility of having to actually face those two.

            “What’s the matter; you scared”, Santana questioned Deception.

            “Heck nah” Deception replied.

Santana knew he was scared though, but what could he do, seeing how there weren’t too many that were willing to take on the Unseen.  Even though he acted as if he didn’t need them, he needed them as much as possible. 

            He arose from his chair and slowly approached both men until he stood right in front of their faces.  Both men looked down as he approached them.  He knew what he was doing; he had to make sure that he had struck fear in their hearts more than anybody.

            He uttered in a calm sadistic voice, “ya’ll listen up, and listen up good, we got work to do”.

            Both men nodded their heads in agreement to their boss, and then Santana looked up at the ceiling.

            “I don’t want any person alive from the Unseen and Park Camp.  We gonna kill em’ all”, he stated in cold murky voice. 

 

 

Back in the old abandon building, Gab still was snooping around and looking at the dusty dried up scenery.  He quietly paced towards the back of the room where the light had weakened tremendously.  Towards the back of the room was a long dusty counter, and on the counter he saw what seemed to be an old newspaper clipping.  He took it back towards the light so he could get a better look at it. The picture of the clipping resembled that of the place he was in now, only it looked welcoming.

            Meanwhile, the mysterious figure carefully hidden away from Gab’s sight decided to get a closer look of this curious soul.  He slowly inched closer, patiently waiting until he truly wanted to make himself known.  He picked up a rock and threw softly across the room, as not to bring attention to the location of his presence but to give Gab the impression that he wasn’t alone.

Gab was startled when he heard the noise that was made from the rock as it hit the ground.  He was so scared that he almost dropped the newspaper clipping that was in his hand.  He looked around, but saw no one.  He so nervous that he was almost sure that he wasn’t alone; he didn’t know whether or not those two guys who were chasing him were gone or else he would have left, and he assumed that he was only imagining things because he was so scared. 

He started to search his pockets to look for his cell phone, but he found nothing.  He thought to himself, if only I had my phone then I would call Skit or Chucky right now. Believing that if he wasn’t alone then the two guys chasing him wouldn’t take a chance on messing with him, and after pausing for a moment he started to wonder why were these two chasing him again.  I don’t even know those dudes…I don’t got any money, what could they want from me.  I need to find out what the heck is going on.  I’m a let Prophet know about this.   

As he pondered these thoughts the mysterious soul hiding from him in the building, reading his thoughts spoke from deep within his own mind.  Soon enough Gab, soon enough, and you will know the truth

Gab started to read the old newspaper article; it was a story on the building’s unbelievable popularity in the town of Asbury due to the introduction of some mysterious new attraction, called G-pills.  The name G-pills was short for its full name Gospel-pills. After seeing it in the article, Gab thought to himself, what is it about these G-pills thing that everyone wants.  Being fully submerged in the game, Gab never stopped to think about what the game was about.  He wanted to sell something that he had no knowledge of. 

As he devoured the article, reading it intensely, the mysterious figure thought to himself, that’s it Gab, keep going.  Now that Gab’s curiosity had arose about what the Gospel really was and what it really meant, all this mysterious figure needed him to do was simply ask for the truth.  That’s what he had come to do, he came to guide all into truth that truly desired to know what the truth was.  And now the moment had come for this soul to find out what the truth really meant. 

For Gab, this would be a moment that would change the rest of his life, because he would be released from the darkness that he had been so entrenched in.  And now, now was the moment for him to find out the truth.

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