“The neighborhood you and your friends so desperately cling to is a lie,” said Cray, his delicate Southern inflection ripping with disdain, “a fabrication.”

“That’s a lie,” said Elliot, defiantly standing his ground as much as a boy his age could.

“Is it?” sneered Cray. “Answer me this: why do half of your streets terminate in dead ends? Why is there no connection to an outside road other than the main gate? Why must you travel outside the neighborhood for essentials? Is that what your parents remember, what they experienced?”

Elliot hesitated. He’d heard his parents talk about walking to the corner grocery, biking downtown to rent movies, having picnics in parks that were no more than a few minutes away by car. Nothing about the 20-minute drive between Oak Hills and the rest of Cascadia.

“As I thought. This neighborhood is an attempt by your parents to reproduce the milieu in which they grew up. They have mindlessly bought into a hollow mockery of the streets on which they once lived because things that are familiar are comforting. But while those long-gone streets were part of a city grid, and an organic part of the community of which they were a part, your neighborhood is a thing separate, betwixt and between a real community and the sterile apartments your parents so disdain.”

“Even if it is, don’t you care what’ll happen to us if you get rid of it?” Elliot said.

“By wiping this area off the face of the earth, I am doing you a favor,” said Cray. “By sweeping away this artifice, I am teaching you a valuable lesson about the nature of the world. Truth and safety and community are illusions, commodities to be traded and bought and sold. The only real dividend is power, and its exercise. The sooner you children grow up and leave behind the foolish, quaint, and romantic notions your parents have imparted, the sooner you can carve a place for yourself in a world that neither knows nor cares of such things.”

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