In the Altered States of America, warped perceptions are king and melodrama runs high. In this original series from Brooklyn-based illustrator Mike Reddy and writer Matthew Newton, a new short story is published each day throughout the month of July.
What worried Hank most about his trip to Choke City Park had nothing to do with the elderly streakers in trench coats or feral dogs that the park had become known for in recent years. No, it was the derelict children roaming in sugar-shocked herds, glazed expressions slapped across their faces. The media referred to them as “The Candy Kids,” and Hank’s growing fascination had led him to investigate. “Where did they come from?” he thought, watching from behind a row of rusted vending machines as a large pack slowly shuffled past. When Hank was a child, the park used to be called Discovery Gardens, until Governor Swinecock cut the funding and sold naming rights to the highest bidder. Thousands of junk food companies clamored to get their brands in front of impressionable youth, but in the end Choke City Candy Company was victorious.
It didn’t take long for the park to deteriorate. When Choke City executives discovered how ineffective the playground advertisements were, they stopped maintaining the park. Instead they turned it into a landfill for bad batches of candy, dumping Yellow Yummies, Cocoa Chewies, and Bad Bananas by the ton. In time, the beautiful ponds were replaced by mud pits filled with car tires and smashed ATM machines; the once-immaculate hiking trails were now a snakelike strand of dangerous shantytowns where knife fights and venereal diseases were more common than bird watching and plant spotting. Candy became currency, and the Candy Kids had final say in all affairs. When a young kid on night patrol found Hank hiding behind a mound of Taffy Bombs, an alarm was sounded and a skirmish ensued. That was the last time he was seen.