“Is it really so hard to believe?” Myers said. He’d come up slowly, like a ghost, wreathed in the neon light from the city above and the water vapor streaming from his vape. “A city built on a lie?”

Ty pointed the pistol at him. “Don’t move! I’ll shoot!”

Myers scrunched up his nose and waved dismissively. “I know you will,” he said. “But I’m just going to keep talking until you do, all right? Let me ask you something, kid. Can you name a city that wasn’t built on a lie? Even one?”

Shaking and all but blinded by the lights, Ty didn’t answer.

“Is that because you can’t think of any, or because you just don’t know that many cities?” Myers took a healthy drag from his vape and exhaled sharply. “I came here from a town of 1500. 1500 if you counted the dogs. Grew up because it was a nice place to stay when you had to change railroad lines. then when the railroads went away, there wasn’t much left for it. But here’s the thing: the east-west railroad? It looped ten miles north to pass through. The old man who’d owned the property paid a bribe to make sure the thing came through. A lie that built a town.”

“And eventually destroyed it,” Ty said. “In case you weren’t listening to your own story.”

Myers made another dismissive flutter of his hand. “Every city dies eventually, when the lie runs out of steam. But do you think people would have wanted that bribe out and about beforehand? It meant the difference between my city having a century of life or maybe ten years. This lie, though? It’ll sustain this place for a millennia. If you don’t screw it up, of course.”

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