Golden Gate Park is where the kids hang out. I don’t mean children, though some of them seem pretty damn young. I mean the ones celebrating their new status as registered metas in the city. They strut around, appropriately, in Peacock Meadow, where they pose in their costumes like jocks trying to impress cheerleaders. New arrivals to the city meet there, too, knowing this is the place to be. Recruiters for government teams swoop in on them like pimps on runaways at a bus station.
I go there to look for those who aren’t so puffed up with pride. I look for the meek, rather than the arrogant. I look for the ones who are there just to meet other metas, not to show off.
But I watch all of them, the timid and the bold, with mixed emotions. I look at them with fond nostalgia, for I remember being one of those neophytes, not so very long ago. I look at them with hope, for that’s what they are – the hope for the city’s future. But mostly, I look at them with pity, for I know some of them will become part of another group – a group I call “The Disappeared.”
We metas never talk about them. We never admit that so many of us don’t last. And we never wonder aloud whether those faces we haven’t seen in weeks or months are gone because they moved, they quit, or they’re dead. We just pretend none of that ever happens in our bright, costume-clad worlds.
But it does. All the time.
In the past six months, I’ve counted no fewer than ten new faces in the Park that I’ve never seen before. The names attached to those faces are logged into the computer in City Hall, and their deeds will be recorded as the days roll on. But a year from now, how many of those names will still be active in the system? Six? Three?
City Hall might keep track. But we don’t. It’s too much like reading the obituaries every day. It’s too morbid, reminding us of our own mortality.
But I can’t stop thinking about The Disappeared.
Faces haunt my dreams, of friends not seen in too long, like Rachel and Esteban. And others never to be seen again, like Valora and Transcendant.
And of course, there is always the very real possibility that one day, when I’m off my game just a touch, when my attention is broken, my mind distracted…
I’ll disappear, too.