As you move towards the edge of the Saskatoon city limits, the rumble of distant trains grows louder and louder. Soon it becomes a cacophony of diesel engines and screeching metal as all 12 of Saskatoon’s train lines converge on a single tremendous junction. The tracks parallel and cross the streets in so many places that some roads are simply never used for how often the traffic stops. Past the hills of Lilliput and after the last block of Croesus Quarter, the skyscrapers of the city dither away: first into crumbling tenements, and then into ragged bungalows, and then into shacks made of plunder and mud, and then at last into fields of scraggly weeds.
Every morning the streets are stuffed with Lilliputians on their way out of the city; and all throughout the day the sky is painted black with the smog from Factory Row. At night the people bundle themselves together and keep their heads low to the ground, for that is when the chaos reigns: the police leave at 9 PM and do not come back until morning. For 8 horrible hours the city is painted orange with fire; and you can measure the time by the gunshots just as easily as you can by the clock. Then at the crack of dawn before the commuters arrive, those who have survived the previous night will count their dead, re-board their windows, and begin again. They soon run out of tears to cry. This is the Spaghetti.
Officially designated the Saskatoon Outlying Low-Protection Zone, people seldom refer to the Spaghetti by its proper title. To those who only visit, a cutesy name helps to disguise its true nature; but for those who live there, it is a grim reminder of how little the rest of the world cares for them—not that they need any such thing. The city has knowingly turned a blind eye towards the Spaghetti for the past century: the tenements at the very edge of the district were built in 2247, and they were the last municipal building projects in the area.
More important than this, though, is the “low protection” mentioned in its name: in 2298, the Saskatoon Municipal Council voted to save money by no longer purchasing nighttime defense contracts for the city’s outlying areas. While this saved about 200 million hands a day, it caused the nighttime crime rate to rocket to a monumental 16%—the highest in the developed world. The average resident of the Spaghetti is unable to afford private contracts, which means that from 7 AM to 7 PM there is virtually no police presence in the Saskatoon outlying areas. Historically, political analysts have been divided on whether or not this side effect was unintentional: critics of the Levitt administration often maintain that this was a calculated gambit designed to kill as many of Saskatoon’s poor residents as possible, though there has never been any credible motive or evidence mounted to support this theory.
Life in the Spaghetti is life as one of society’s forgotten members. The people there have fallen through the cracks with no real hope of climbing back out again. It’s a constant scrabble just to survive. The people either grow their own food, steal from the city dump, or starve. Many of them have banded together in tenuous alliances of convenience, building makeshift fortresses which can be seen throughout the district: walls of rusted tin and chicken wire encircling bungalows, or the boarded-up remains of what was once a proper home. During the day a few lucky people will travel to work. The daring among them will perhaps travel into the city and try their hand at crime. Most of them, however, will just repair their homes and gather their strength for the coming storm.
Come nightfall they will wait with bated breath and perked ears, weapons at the ready. The fortunate among them have stolen or homemade guns, but most are left with improvised clubs and knives. Their food is piled in the center of their homes, and those among them who have made use of generators will douse their lights: their best defense is to blend into the miles of disused slum and pray they go unnoticed. For 12 whole hours they will wait, scarcely daring to move. Any sound may foretell coming doom: most commonly it is someone like them, come to loot what they will or settle a score for some past abuse…But with disturbing regularity it will be the worst sort of pervert, come from the city to rape, rob, and kill for the simple thrill of it.
An estimated 90 persons are killed in the Spaghetti every night while several hundred are injured. Despite this incredible murder rate, the population level has largely remained consistent for the past few decades: many people arrive in the Spaghetti every day. Most of these are unemployed Lilliputians who finally ran out of rent money. Others are emigrants from cob country who have come to the city in the hopes of clawing their way up from the very bottom. Nobody lasts long.