Brickton - What a riot!

The group arrived on a charter flight at the Con City International Airport in North Side Con City. Waiting for them was a luxurious two-level tour bus equipped with beds, a plasma TV, a kitchen, and an on-board toilet.

The flight was of course three hours late, as is regularly the case with Con City Airlines flights, which gave me ample time to make friends with Larry, the bus driver. Larry had been working for Reaper Travels for over four years as a driver and tour guide, and had taken countless groups of tourists on round trips of the county in this time. His experience gave him good insight into what was in store for the tourists. `I guarantee you they will all piss themselves with excitement before this day is through,' he said about the arriving group. He was almost right.

The tourist group consisted of a remarkable variety of people, including a Japanese seafood-enthusiast, an amateur soccer player from Argentina, a pair of stock brokers from Greece, two Australian truck drivers, a German couple, a British film critic, and a French couple one of whom turned out to be a journalist herself. Gabrielle worked for a lifestyle magazine in Paris, while her husband Philippe was an illustrator for the same media outlet. Their enthusiasm for documenting this journey was so strong Larry and I thought it would quickly rub on to the rest of the group and create a highly positive mood for the first leg of our journey.

Yet the three hour drive that followed was marred by the constant bickering of the German couple. Klaus and his wife Helga were in the middle of a crisis in their relationship, and came to Con City in hopes of rekindling the passion they seem to have lost. Instead, they spent their time taking turns insulting one another in creative ways, sometimes in German, but mostly in English, the tamest of which involved the phrase `moldy cunt'. Larry turned on the radio after five minutes and cranked up the volume high enough to quench the bickering, but most of the passengers were not so lucky as to sit in a partially sound-proof driver's booth. Carlos, the Argentinian member of the group, seemed to be the only one who actually enjoyed listening to the constant exchange of verbal abuse. `These are techniques employed by professional players in the big leagues,' he explained regarding his interest in the bickering. `If I can learn enough from these two, maybe I can get into the national soccer team when I get home.'


Con City International is located in the northwest corner of Con City and affords a quick exit from the city. Soon we were on the road leading west, cutting through the expansive oak savanna until we took a sharp right turn after the first hour. Larry drove us towards the mountains, where our first stop awaited: the town of Brickton.

In Con County, law states that in order for a settlement to achieve city status, it must meet three requirements. First, it must have a population over one million people. Second, there must be a river going through it. Third, it must be called Con City. Since Brickton evidently does not meet any of these requirements, albeit its population of eight hundred thousand comes close, it is not officially a city. In spite of this, Brickton officials and residents all refer to their beloved home as the `First City'.

Founded in 1790, Brickton was the very first settlement in Con County, built as a mining town at the foot of the mountain that spans the northwest region of the county. Many old buildings of that era still stand and are in active use by the local government. The Complaints Office in particular is located in one of the oldest buildings in Brickton, supposedly placed there to provide a culturally rich environment for the citizens waiting for their complaints to be processed. Some of the locals believe the Complaints Office was placed there because the building is fit for demolition and could collapse at any moment. The Town Council insists that this is just a slanderous gossip.


By the time we arrived in Brickton it was too late to visit any of the sights and the group was tired after the delayed flight and three hours of witnessing the German couple's marriage disintegrating before their very eyes. As such, the group was eager to settle into their first night accommodation at the excellent Gold Star Hotel in the heart of Brickton.

Ten stories tall and shaped like a letter Y, the Gold Star Hotel offers spacious accommodations for large groups. Its luxurious facilities include a spa and swimming pool, and of course a five star restaurant that boasts raving reviews by star chefs all over the world.

Helga and Klaus had a difficult time at dinner. They spent half an hour arguing over what they should eat, and after their meal they argued over whether they had liked it and whether they should tip the waiter. (As a general rule, you should always leave a generous tip in Con County no matter what service you use; that is, if you ever expect to use the service in question again in the future.)

The one member of the group who knew what to order was Keiko. She had come to Con County all the way from Japan specifically to sample the world famous Black Lake trout. Unfortunately the hotel was out of Black Lake trout so she had to settle for the Brickton Fish Pie, a local specialty. She found the fish pie so good she asked the waiter if she could talk to the cook about it.

The cook came out to her table right away, and was all smiles when she praised his fish pie. The smile melted off his face when she asked him for the recipe. Without a word, the cook went straight back to the kitchen. He came back with a massive meat cleaver and walked up to Keiko's table with it. He swung the cleaver in a wide arc and split Keiko's plate clean in half, lodging the meat cleaver in the table.

For the next two minutes he stood over the terrified Keiko and delivered a loud and angry speech about the sanctity of a chef's private recipes and how no one has any business inquiring about them for any reason.

A few tables away, the Greek stock broker brothers watched the scene with undisguised interest from the moment the meat cleaver came into play. Stavros offered a wager as to whether Keiko would live or die, while Costas took out a camcorder and started filming the red-faced cook's tirade.

When the cook was finished he stormed back into the kitchen and left the dining room in silence. Costas paid a dollar to a widely smiling Stavros. `And here I thought I could finally make a snuff film,' he said as he turned off his camcorder.

In the morning the hotel charged us for the broken plate, the damaged table, and the soiled chair that had to be replaced following the incident. Keiko quietly inquired about a police investigation, but Larry shook his head and explained to her that `Brickton's finest have enough on their plate as it is'.


The tour of Brickton started off near one of the bigger spectacles of the town, Brickton's steel mill. Owned by local industry tycoon Vincent Roarke, the steel mill has been around since 1853. It is presently the largest steel mill in North America, its blast furnace towers reaching to the sky like monuments to the industrial revolution. Roarke Steel relies on locally mined carbon and iron and produces high quality steel used in constructions all over the county. All of Con City's massive skyscrapers were built with steel produced in Brickton and by craftsmen trained in Brickton, which are just two of the many reasons why the locals feel Con City stole Brickton's destiny.

The tourists found the steel mill rather boring and unimpressive. Chris, the film critic from England, specifically called it `a tiny doll house next to the one in Barrow'. Helga and Klaus continued their argument, blaming each other for having paid `unsprechlich amounts of money on this Scheisse'. No one in the group objected when Larry suggested that we move on.

Our next stop was the old train station situated at the edge of the current town center, serving as the west end of the Brickton to Con City line. Barely used due to freight services being handled by trucks these days, Brickton Central has seen better days. Moldy walls house an understaffed train station where boarding a train without a ticket is as easy as crossing the street. In spite of this lack of security, it is not advised to attempt stowing away on these trains, exactly due to the lack of security. A vigilante train enthusiast patrols the grounds and the trains, armed with a baseball bat, and while the likelihood of running into him is low, the likelihood of ending up in hospital if you do is extremely high. To make matters worse, Brickton General Hospital does not have a good reputation.

The only member of the tour group who wanted to go into the train station was Klaus. As a lifelong car mechanic he was possessed of a profound loathing of cars and an equally profound love of all other modes of transport, trains included. Helga, a sculptress of some success in Germany who is used to much nicer and cleaner stone works than the neglected wall carvings of Brickton Central, flat out refused to set foot inside. The ensuing argument prompted the rest of the group to follow Larry towards the town center for lunch. Helga and Klaus followed after realizing that, not counting a pair of nervous-looking pigeons nestled atop the train station, there was no one left to annoy with their tirade but each other.

Our stroll through the streets took us into the modern part of town, where plenty of high-rise buildings stand in evidence of the superior architecture fueled by Brickton's steel mill. While not as tall and certainly not as numerous as the skyscrapers of Con City, they certainly give passing tourists reason enough to look up at every corner.

One of these illustrious modern buildings serves as the Town Hall. Standing at a mere fifteen stories it is modest as a high-rise, but it makes up for the lack of vertical elevation with an expansive ground level which has led many critics of the local government to claim that the building was designed to look like a clenched fist and a vertical middle finger.

When we arrived, the Town Hall was very easy to spot, not because of its appearance, but because of the two massive groups of people arguing with each other in front of the building. The sounds of the argument put Klaus and Helga's constant bickering to shame, which may have been what prompted the estranged couple to go closer, perhaps to get some inspiration. Carlos followed them with a notepad and a pen in hand.


Mayor Stanley Greekhorse is the most famous celebrity in the town of Brickton. The man who invented the internet tax and banned the use of airbags in cars is a born showman with a brilliant talent for riling up the crowd, regardless whether that crowd is with or against him. His reign as Mayor of Brickton has been characterized by weekly, sometimes daily protests at the Town Hall. Countless people seek his removal from power for a multitude of reasons. Yet if anything can be said of Mayor Greekhorse it's that he knows how to build a loyal following.

Just about every other demonstration against Mayor Greekhorse spawns a crowd of Greekhorse supporters who show up to protect their perceived god and savior. Such was the case with the demonstration we stumbled upon. Hundreds of people stood on one side of the street waving signs that said `All hail Greekhorse'. Opposite them stood a slightly bigger crowd of people holding transparencies with the words `Down with Greekhorse' on them. Between the two groups stood a total of four police officers in full riot gear, relying on harsh words to keep the protesters and the Greekhorse supporters ten feet apart.

Costas took out his camcorder as soon as he saw the size of the crowd and started filming. Shouts like `Greekhorse is the Antichrist' competed with chants of `Greekhorse for President'. While Costas found the material worth gold, the rest of the tourist group observed the mounting tension with concern. Except of course for Klaus, Helga, and Carlos who were somewhere in the crowd. And Larry, who was nowhere to be seen.

The verbal war continued for several minutes until an elegantly dressed man exited the Town Hall, flanked by security guards. He walked up to a makeshift podium which had been erected before the Town Hall and ascended it. Chants of `Greekhorse' were mixed with screams of `go back to Hell' as the figure raised his arms and theatrically bowed to the crowd.

`Thank you. Thank you for your kind words,' Mayor Greekhorse said, which prompted a simultaneous chorus of boos and cheers. Once the ruckus died down, he cleared his throat and delivered a short and to-the-point speech.

`Citizens of Brickton, welcome! I thank you all for coming out on this sunny day to congratulate me on my newest accomplishment. I can confirm that the law on breath control has been passed. Effective tomorrow 9 AM everyone in Brickton will be required to consume government sanctioned breath freshener lozenges before leaving their homes, which will of course be provided for you by my private company, Greekhorse Solutions, at a very reasonable price. The days of your foul breath polluting the air are over! Rejoice, my friends! Rejoice!'

The Mayor demonstrated excellent survival skills when he ducked to avoid the first rotten egg that was thrown in his direction at the end of his speech. Security rushed to his aid and escorted him into the building while eggs and tomatoes rained down on them. The Greekhorse faithful wasted little time and charged the anti-Greekhorse protesters after the first volley.

Within a minute a full scale riot was loose in the streets, involving hundreds of very angry people. The four police officers valiantly tried to pacify the crowd but they were quickly swallowed in the thick of the carnage. Costas filmed it all with glee until the fighting started getting dangerously close to us. With a quick judgment call that probably saved his life, he pocketed the camcorder and made a run for it. He was only marginally shocked to see that he was the last member of the group to retreat.

Even Carlos and Helga, who had been in the thick of the fight when it broke out, were ahead of him. Of Klaus there was no sign. Later Helga would recount that they were separated in the riot, and Carlos dragged her to safety, relying on his footwork. On their way out of the crowd they ran into Klaus, laying on the concrete with his head stomped in. Helga was in tears as she recounted this tragedy, though oddly enough her lips curved upwards, and she seemed rather comfortable in Carlos's embrace. Costas on the other hand was rather disappointed that he couldn't find the moment of Klaus's demise anywhere in his footage.

Larry was waiting for us back at the bus, the engine already running. We wasted little time and boarded, then Larry broke the speed limit as we made a quick exit from the town of Brickton, the self-styled First City, the home of lynchings, riots, and angry cooks.