The New Guy got off the bus. He hadn’t arrived at his destination, but the bus driver was not willing to drive him all the way. “That’s a wasteland! Nobody goes in there for anything good. I’ll let you out right here, and if you decide to walk into that place, it’s your own fault!” So the New Guy walked.
When he finally got there, he could see the bus driver hadn’t been lying. The place was in shambles. Broken windows, graffiti, trash blowing in the street. A man whom he recognized as one of his comrades appeared to be passed-out drunk outside of an open door.
The New Guy walked cautiously toward that door, trying to nudge the drunken guy awake with his foot as he passed. No response. He entered, instantly surprised by the oppressive heat indoors, and it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dim light after being out in the bright sun. Ten men were in the narrow room, laying on cots, or sitting on chairs, or stretched out on the floor. Two played a video game at the far end. Four played cards. Two read magazines. Two slept, snoring. The room was full of smoke. He recognized all of them, but hadn’t met any. No one bothered to stop what they were doing when he entered, nor was his presence acknowledged in any way.
“Hey, everybody!” he said, smiling. “Call me Rose. I’m the new guy, I guess.”
One of the magazines was dropped in annoyance. “Hooray, New Guy. You’ve arrived.” The sarcasm was unmistakable.
“Uhh. Yeah.” A few seconds went by, and still no one seemed interested in saying hello or even recognizing that another living being had entered the room. “Listen, guys. I’m really happy to be here. I’m ready to put in the work, and I think we can do some amazing things. I’m looking forward to getting to know all of you better.” No one stirred. “When do we start training?”
Annoyed Magazine Reader kept the page to his face, but from behind it said “Don’t know. Still waiting for the New Boss to get here, New Guy.”
The New Guy didn’t bother putting his bags down. He walked out of the room through the door he entered, passed the unconscious drunk, and back out into the street. Down the road another block, he could see the site of the historic battlefield, and made his way toward it. He found himself alone inside, and looked upward at the flags of champions that had come before. It wasn’t that long ago, and yet so much had changed for these people. A Superhero used to make this his home. The one that they had all looked up to had been here, fought here, won here. Now no one seemed to care. No one who fought for this army seemed to recognize that their colors had been His colors, and that to lose in those colors dishonored Him. He was like a god to all of them, and they didn’t seem to care. “That’s my job. That must be what I’m here for.” He looked back up at those flags and shouted “I’m here to make them care! I’m here to help them remember!” He was young.