Fiction: Afterlife Volume 2 (Chapter 17)

by Mike Monroe on January 25, 2016

in FICTION

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Afterlife is a sci fi/western action serial published every other week. Join us in a post-apocalyptic journey through a future where life has become little more than a struggle for survival. However, where there’s life, there’s always hope.


Read the previous chapter here:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 16

Where:

Nat and his posse shoot it out with the Daytons.
Nat confronts Honest Abe and Arlene Miller and reveals their true identities.
Eileen Traymont arrives in Carpenter City and isn’t happy with what she finds.

Find the Volume 2 Table of Contents page here.

View the Volume 2 Character Profiles here.

View the Map here.

Check out Afterlife on Goodreads and don’t forget to rate it.

 

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 17

Bobby was getting his last few minutes of rest in the comfortable bed in Doctor Dayton’s office.  The doctor had said he was free to go whenever he wanted since the venom had mostly left his system and his wounded leg was healing nicely, but it wasn’t often lately that Bobby had the chance to rest by himself.  He was lost in his thoughts, thinking about Michelle and Abby and the road ahead, when there was a knock at the door.  “It’s Nat,” said the raspy voice on the other side.

“Come in,” Bobby said.

The door opened and Nat slowly walked into the room, an awkward smile on his scarred face.  “Nice to see you lookin’ so good,” he said as he took a seat next to Bobby’s bed.

“Thanks for coming to see me,” Bobby said.  “I was just catching up on a little rest.  The doc said I can leave whenever I’m ready.”

“That’s good,” Nat said.  “It’s nice around here.  You outta go out and check out the town a little.  There’s some good stores and a waterfall.  And the people’s nice.”  He spoke like someone who wanted to ask Bobby something but was waiting for the right opportunity.

“Okay,” Bobby said.  “I’ll do that.  Is there something on your mind?”

“Well,” Nat said, “you know, I’m getting’ up there in years, kid.  And I haven’t said nothin’ to nobody about it, but I’ve been thinkin’ a lot lately about settlin’ somewhere.  All this travelin’s startin’ to wear on me, you know?”  Bobby nodded.  “So the people here…  There’s a mayor.”  He chuckled.  “It’s a small town, you know.  But they got themselves a mayor.  And he saw how I handled the situation last night, and well, you know, now everyone knows who I am and I got a reputation and all that.”

“What are you trying to say?” Bobby asked.

“Well the mayor asked me if I’d stick around, seein’ as they need a sheriff and all.  And, well, I told ‘im I’d think about it.  But I’m gonna say yes.  This town needs me.  I’ll sort out this feud and get things peaceful again.  Then, well, I think this would be a nice town to retire to.  It’s off the beaten path and all, you know?”  Bobby nodded.  This had caught him by surprise.  “I know Abby needs me too and all, but, well, she’s got a lot of people helpin’ her now.  What’s one more old man?”

“You’re the toughest son of a bitch of the bunch,” Bobby said with a chuckle.

“Maybe I used to be,” Nat said.  “But I was meant to be a sheriff, not a rebel ridin’ around tryin’ to fight some guerilla war and all that.  Goin’ from town to town hidin’ from enforcers.  Here, I’d be the law.  It’s what I was meant for.  It’s what I done most of my life.”

Bobby nodded.  “Well, we’ll definitely miss you.”

Nat frowned.  “That brings me to the other thing.  I’ll need deputies.  And, well, seein’ as your arm’s still gonna be in a sling for a while and I was teachin’ you to shoot left handed and all.  Well, wouldn’t you like to rest somewhere for a while?  You know, to recuperate and finish learin’ to shoot left handed and all?”

“What are you asking me?” Bobby asked.

“Well, I was wonderin’ if you’d stick around and be my deputy.”  The suggestion took Bobby completely by surprise.  “At least for a little while,” Nat said.  “’Til we get this feud straightened out and all.  By then maybe you’ll be back to a hundred percent and you’ll be able to rejoin Abby.”

“But I work for Abby,” Bobby said.

“You didn’t sign no contract or anything like that, did you?”  Bobby shook his head.  “Well you can work for me now” Nat said.  “I’ll pay well.  Maybe not as much as Abby, but it’ll be enough to live comfortably.  I’m sure Abby’ll understand.”

Bobby frowned.  “What about Shelly?”

Nat shrugged.  “You can talk to her.”

Bobby nodded.  Shelly had mentioned in passing the other day that she was getting tired of always being on the run.  She’d also mentioned that she really liked this town.  The views were spectacular and there was a really nice saloon where there was live music.  “I’ll have to think about it.”

“I figured you would,” Nat said.  “It’s all right.  Abby won’t be ready to leave for a few more days.”

“Have you told her yet?” Bobby asked.

Nat shook his head.  “Not yet.”  Bobby wondered how she’d take it.  She’d been through so much.  “Well that’s what I wanted to talk to ya about,” Nat said.  “I’ve grown to like ya, kid.  You’d make a really good deputy.”

“Thanks,” Bobby said.  Nat wasn’t the type of person who dished out compliments very often.

“Well, that’s it,” Nat said as he stood.  “It’s good to see ya doin’ so well.”

“Thanks,” Bobby said as Nat left the room.  Bobby had a lot to think about.  He’d mention it to Shelly as soon as he could.  Her thoughts would weigh heavily in determining what decision he made.

<>

The dunes spread out as far as the eye could see, but there was the occasional interruption of a small town or sandblasted homestead.  Abby remembered when she’d walked through miles and miles of sand at a time with the blazing sun attacking her.  She was grateful to have found Bobby and the others when she did.  It seemed so long ago now but it had only been about a month or so.  She took a deep breath and gazed out at the breathtaking view.  It was important to stop every once in a while to enjoy life.  She had to remind herself of that simple fact from time to time.  She was standing on the stone bridge that stretched across the trickle of water that ran through the center of town.  The waterfalls above and below her were each about three hundred feet high, and the rocky foothills spread out to her left and right past the outskirts of the small town.  Behind her were mountains and in front of her were miles of white sand.

Abby remembered standing with her father on a similar bridge once, years ago when her family was on vacation in the Appalachian Mountains.  It was one of the few times she’d had the chance to travel.  Though her parents had been wealthy, her father had traveled mostly for business and their family had gone on very few vacations over the years.  Her father had always said that one day he’d take them to all of the places he’d seen; one day when he had more time.  One day never came.  Abby was finally getting to see the world, regardless of the circumstances.  She grinned sardonically at the irony of it all.  Still, Abby remembered standing on that bridge with her father, his arm around her as the two of them looked out at desert dunes much like the ones she was looking at now.  She tried hard not to let Warrick Baines or her family’s murders sneak into her mind.

At that moment she felt very alone as she listened to the trickling water of the thin waterfall.  It wasn’t much, but water was scarce and this spring had been enough to start a feud that had lasted centuries.  The feud had grown over the years as gold was discovered in the nearby hills, and the Moore and Dayton families fought over everything from water to land to gold to women.  They seemed to always be looking for any excuse to break out their guns.  From what Abby could tell talking to the locals, nobody even remembered what this latest dispute was being fought over.  Both families claimed to be seeking vengeance for various murders that both families claimed to have nothing to do with.  And in the center of it all was the IAO.  Abby couldn’t help but think that somehow the International Anarchy Organization was behind all of the most recent skirmishes.  But why?  What did they have to gain?

She turned to see Bobby approaching her.  He looked a little different now from how he’d looked when she’d first met him.  He was the same black man of medium height and build, but his hair was shorter and he looked cleaner.  It was Michelle’s influence, definitely.  Plus, his right arm was still in the sling from his wound in South Edge. Bobby was wearing jeans and a leather jacket and he had a sad, avoidant look on his face as he approached, like he was the bearer of bad news.  Abby noticed he was holding a book.  “Who died?” she asked.

Bobby looked at her with confusion.  “Huh?  Somebody else died?”

She quickly realized the joke had been in bad taste with all of their recent circumstances.  “Sorry.  Bad joke.  You look sad, though.  What’s wrong?”

Bobby stood beside her, looking out at the dunes.  “It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”

Abby nodded.  “I know you didn’t come here to talk about the view, though.”

“Well you know how Nat’s staying here?” Bobby asked.

“Yeah,” Abby said.  She wasn’t particularly happy about it but she understood.  He was older and wanted to stop roaming the desert.  It was time for him to pick a place to settle down.

“Well he asked me to be his deputy,” Bobby said.  “And I’ve decided to say yes.  And Shelly’s staying, too.”

“I’ll miss you,” Abby said with a smile.

“You aren’t mad?”

“Of course not.  You’re your own person, Bobby.”

“What about all of the money you paid me?” he asked.

“I’ll need that back immediately,” Abby said.  She chuckled.  “Keep it, of course.  You’ve more than earned it.”

Bobby nodded.  “Thanks.”  He held the book out towards her.  On the Road by Jack Kerouac.  “Here, Abby.  I wanted to give you this book.”

“Really?” Abby was astonished.  “That’s your favorite book.”

“I’ve read it so many times now I’ve practically memorized it,” Bobby said.  “Take it.  Shelly’s read it, too.  I wanted you to have it.  As a sort of going away present.”

Abby reached out and took the book.  “Thanks, Bobby.”

“I’m not staying forever,” Bobby said.  “Just for a while.  To help Nat get things in order here.  I’ll join back up with you some day.  We’ll see each other again.”

“I know we will,” Abby said with a smile.  “Thanks again for saving my life, Bobby.  I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for you.”

“You’ve more than paid me back,” Bobby said.  “Well, we’ve still got a couple of days before you all leave.  We need to make sure we can hang out a little before then.”

Abby nodded.  “They’re having a big going away party at the Crosshairs Saloon tomorrow night.  Everyone’s gonna be there.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said.  “I’ll be there. Sounds like a good time.”  He smiled at Abby.  “Well, I need to go talk to Nat.”

She smiled back.  “See you on the flip side.”

“You too.”  He turned and walked back across the bridge in the direction of the wine cellar that was now doubling as a jail and sheriff’s office.  Abby turned and looked out at the dunes again.  If only she could stay.  She had to continue on her mission, though.  So many people were counting on her.  She was finally starting to get used to that fact.

<>

The Crosshairs Saloon was bustling.  It was a Friday night and the barstools were full and there were people standing almost everywhere.  The nightly poker game was even more rowdy than usual and the place was so noisy Alex could barely hear the piano player, a tall Mexican who played as good as anyone Alex had ever heard.  He wondered if the saloon had been a good choice for a meeting place for him and Abby, though.  He was starting to think maybe they should have met for dinner in the small restaurant in Maybelle Sampson’s Inn.  Perhaps the crowded saloon was better, though.  The inn would have been quieter and people may have been able to hear their conversation.  In the crowded saloon, eavesdropping was impossible.  Alex watched as the pretty Latina woman who’d taken their orders walked away.  She was an absolute stunner, with long legs she was showing off with her black miniskirt and long, straight black hair that went down to her waste.  “So are you ready?” he asked Abby as he sipped his Scotch on the rocks.

Abby nodded.  “Ready as I can be, Karl.”  She was a pretty Asian girl who always wore a white cowboy hat and a white sleeveless jacket.  She had the same piercing eyes Alex remembered her father having.

He glanced at her.  “Don’t use that name, Abby.  Not until I say you can.  I’m not ready for it yet.  Even when we’re alone.”  Or as alone as they could be in a crowded bar.  Alex had left the identity of Karl Bergson behind in Las Colinas long ago when he’d left to join the resistance.  He’d be picking it back up soon when he went back for the money, but for now, he preferred to stay in character.  He’d done so for the past twenty years, after all.  A philosophy professor was far less conspicuous than the leader of a multibillion dollar company, even if he was a fairly well known philosophy professor with several published books.

“I’m sorry,” Abby said.  “Now that I know who you really are, sometimes I forget.”  It was hard to hear her over the noise, so Alex moved a little closer.

“Well don’t forget,” he said.  “It’s very important.  Anyway, I should fill you in a little on who you’re going to be seeing in North Point.  Do you know any of the other members of the Lead Council?”

“I met Doctor Long as you know,” Abby said.  “I probably met some when I was younger through my dad, but I don’t remember them all.”  She swigged her cola through a plastic straw.

Alex nodded.  “Well, you met General Crenshaw in Primrose.  He was a member.  Now that he’s dead we’ll be looking for someone else to head the Eastern Militia.  That will be part of our business at the meeting.”  Abby nodded.  “There’s Heather Cylburn,” Alex continued.  “She’s our leader.”

Abby nodded.  “I met her.  She came to visit often.  I didn’t realize she was the leader of the resistance.”

Alex chuckled.  “Of course you didn’t.  Very few people do know.  Our military leader is General Javier Rodriguez, the Hammer of the West.  He’s the leader of the Western Militia.”

Abby smiled.  “Of course I’ve heard of him.  Who hasn’t?  He’s a legend.”

“Winston Cooper’s our historian, but he’s not going to be able to make it to the meeting.  Bernard Parks won’t be there either.  He’s the technology chief.”

“Can we stick to the people who will be there?” Abby asked.

“Sure.  Barney Chambers is our public relations guy and the chief recruiter.  He runs a blog I’m sure you’ve heard about.  He disseminates any information we actually want people to know about us.  It’s tricky, since we’re a clandestine operation.”

“I know who Barney Chambers is,” Abby said.  “He was a friend of dad’s, and everyone knows about his blog.”

“Averil Jones is our programmer and hacker.  She’s a computer genius.  Smart as they come.  Glen Stratus is our economist.  And then there’s Judith Israel, the treasurer.”

“I’ve never met or heard of those last three,” Abby said.

“It’s all right,” Alex said.  “You will meet them.”  The beautiful waitress came back with their food.  She smiled at Alex, and he took note of how pretty her face was.  She could have been a model.  Her tan skin and black hair gave her an exotic look, and she had big, stunning brown eyes.  She placed a plate of roasted vegetables in front of Alex and a steak in front of Abby.

“Do you have any idea who could be the spy?” Abby asked as she sawed into the steak.

Alex shrugged.  “I can tell you some people who definitely aren’t.  General Rodriguez has been way too much of a thorn in Rennock’s side to be anything but a rebel through and through.  It’s probably not either of the two members who aren’t going to be there.  I guarantee you Rennock’s going to want ears in the first of our meetings you’re going to be attending.  We’ve upped security big time because of you.  General Rodriguez is going to be taking care of that.”  He started eating a piece of broccoli.  It was seasoned well.

Abby nodded.  “So what about the others?  The spy could be any of them.  I doubt its Barney Chambers, though.  He’s the reason many people have joined the resistance in the first place.  They find out about all of the awful things Rennock and his men do through his blog a lot of the time.”

Alex shrugged.  “You’re probably right, but it could all be a front.  Who knows?  And I also doubt its Heather Cylburn.  I’ve known her since we were kids.”  He didn’t mention he used to have a crush on her, and still did a little.  Who wouldn’t?  She was pretty, smart, and she had enough charisma to make a grizzly bear want to be her friend.  And she’d only gotten prettier with age, it seemed.

“But it could be her,” Abby said.  “So anyway, I guess that leaves Doctor Long, the hacker, the economist, and the treasurer.”

Alex thought about each of them.  Judith Israel was a sweet motherly type.  Glen Stratus was a strong proponent of sensible economic regulation, but that could have been a front.  Alex wasn’t really sure about Averil Jones.  She seemed like someone that loved a challenge, regardless of where it came from.  It could have been her.  And then there was Doctor Long.  He’d been playing both sides for decades.  He was a definite possibility.  “Who knows?  Maybe we can think of a way to flush them out and trap them.”

“I’ve been thinking of a plan.  It’s not much yet.  I’ll fill you in more when I’ve figured it out.”  She chewed a piece of steak.

“What are the basics?” Alex asked.

“Well,” Abby said, “I’m not at liberty to say yet.”

Alex nodded.  She still didn’t fully trust him.  That was understandable.  He’d been lying to her about his true identity, after all.  “So once we leave North Point after the meeting, I’m taking Mark, Jane, John, Juanita, and Paul with me to Las Colinas to sell my company and get the money to help make up for the loss of the Jupiter Diamond.  You can either come along or continue on your way to get the rest of the diamonds and I’ll meet up with you later.  It’s up to you.”

“I’ll have to think about it,” Abby said.  “How much money will it be?”

“I’m hoping to get close to one hundred and fifty billion,” Alex said.

Abby nodded.  “It won’t be enough.  I’m still trying to think of other ways to get the rest of the money we’ll need.”

“Like what?” Alex asked.

Abby eyed him.  “I may have an idea, but it’s kind of crazy.”

“What is it?” Alex asked.

“Well it will get money for the resistance while taking it away from Rennock at the same time,” Abby said.  “But it’s risky.”

“Do you want to tell me?” Alex asked.  “You know you can trust me, Abby.”

Abby looked around.  The crowd was loud and there didn’t seem to be anyone close enough to hear what they were saying.  “Well, you’ll find out soon enough anyway.”  She sipped her cola.  “I was thinking we could rob banks that belong to Rennock and his allies.”

Alex nodded.  “Rob banks?  We aren’t criminals.”

“Ace McCoy and Annabelle Rose are,” Abby said.

“What do you mean?”

Abby grinned.  “Well, I know it sounds crazy, but I was thinking maybe I could get them to help us.  Rob banks, I mean.  They’ve been doing it for so long and they’ve been so successful.  And here they are, practically dropped in our laps.”

Alex was stunned.  “Are you kidding?  They’re notorious killers.  Do you think you can trust them?”

“I don’t know,” Abby said.  “And I don’t know if Nat’s gonna go for it.”

“Nat’s definitely not gonna go for it.”  Alex shook his head.  “That’s insane, Abby.”

“Well we need to do something,” she said.  “Like I said, I’m still thinking about it.”

“I don’t know,” Alex said.  “I don’t think I like that idea.  Not one bit, really.”

“Well, we can bring it up with the Lead Council, too,” Abby said.  “Maybe one of them can think of something better.”

Alex rolled his eyes.  “I sure hope so.  Because that may be the craziest idea I’ve ever heard.”

Abby grinned.  “Which may be why it could actually work.”

Alex was still shaking his head.  He knew Abby was headstrong enough that if she thought it was a good idea, she’d probably go ahead with it regardless what anyone said.  Pastor Earl seemed like he’d been able to talk sense to her, though.  Alex still had several days to try to sway her.  Maybe she’d listen to Nat.  He continued eating the vegetables from the plate in front of him.  “That piano player’s amazing,” he said, trying to change the subject and lighten the mood.  Abby’s mind seemed to be elsewhere as she ate her steak.  She seemed not to have heard his comment.  Alex shrugged and continued eating, trying his best to enjoy his dinner in the boisterous setting.

<>

“Are you insane?” Nat shouted.  “They’re hardened criminals, Abby, not travelin’ companions.”

“They’ll hear you,” Abby said.  She was in the front of the wine cellar with Nat sitting in a metal chair at the folding table he was using as a makeshift desk.  Behind Nat was a locked metal door in a stone wall.  Ace and Annabelle were on the other side.

Nat glared at her.  “You’ve done some stupid things, but this thing you’re proposin’ now.  It’s really dumb, Abby.  They’ll kill ya in your sleep the first night and take your bag.  It won’t take ‘em long to figure out there’s diamonds in there, either.”

“They’re retired,” Abby said.  “Isn’t that what they told you?”

“You don’t ever retire from bein’ a criminal,” Nat said.  “They killed children.  I’ve seen it.  Women and children, Abby.  They’re gonna hang.”

“Why waste good guns during a war?” Abby asked.  “I’ll offer them freedom if they help me hit Rennock where it really counts.  We’ll take his money and give it to the resistance.  Lots of people view Ace and Annabelle as modern day Robin Hoods already.  They say they stole from the rich to give to the poor.”

“They’re criminals,” Nat said.  “They stole from anyone they could find to give money to themselves.  Sure, maybe they threw some cash to people along the way.  It was just a show, though.  Everything was a show with them.  They sent pictures to web sites of them posin’ with poor people because they wanted the people to help ‘em evade authorities.”  He frowned at her.  “Don’t let the show fool ya, though.  I know ‘em for what they really are.  Murderers.  Murderers and thieves who’d kill their own mama if they had somethin’ to gain from it.”

“Della and Big Ed will be with us,” Abby said.  “It won’t just be me and Mavery.  Plus Mark and Alex and the others will join back up with us later down the road.  And I’ve become a better shot.  I’ll still improve, too.  I’ll practice a lot.  Della can help me.  We’ll sleep in shifts so we can keep an eye on them.  Somebody will be watching them at all times, and if they try anything, they can wake everyone else up.”

Nat frowned.  “Della is maybe the best shot I’ve ever seen.  There’s no way they’ll get the jump on him.  And Big Ed’s intimidatin’ enough.”

“You owe me a favor,” Abby said.  “I paid you a lot of money.  I’ll pay you even more if it’ll let me take them with me.”

“You don’t know what you’re getting’ into here, Abby,” Nat said.  “I suppose I can’t keep ya from takin’ ‘em though, if it’s what you really want to do.  I better not see any news stories about you turnin’ up dead in a hole somewhere, though.”

Abby smiled.  “You won’t.  Trust me.  I know what I’m doing.  This could end up bringing Rennock’s empire crashing down if we play our cards right.”

“Remember,” Nat said, “Rennock ain’t the only enemy you got out here.”

“All the more reason why they’ll want to stick with me,” Abby said.  “We’ll be stronger together than apart.”

“Don’t tell ‘em until they’re ready to go, though,” Nat said.  “And if you’re smart, you’ll keep their hands cuffed when you’re asleep.”

Abby nodded.  “I know it’s a crazy idea, but I think it’s gonna work.”

“What if they say no, though?” Nat asked.

“What’s the alternative?” Abby asked.  “Getting hanged?”

Nat chuckled.  “You got a good point.”

“Thanks, Nat,” Abby said.

“Get outta here,” Nat muttered.  “Before I change my mind and decide to go with reason.”  Abby grinned and stood from the metal chair.  She slowly walked up the stone stairway that led out of the wine cellar.  Nat was right.  She probably was crazy.  But they needed all the help they could get.  And if the stories about Ace and Annabelle were true, when it came to gunfighters, there wasn’t better help to be had.

<>

Bobby was at the bar with Shelly and Abby.  He swigged his beer and placed the mug on the bar as he watched Della strut over to the microphone.  Della was completely in character, in her slinky silver dress and with her aphro and full makeup.  “This is for Nat and all my good friends out there,” she said with a wink as the piano player starting with the opening notes to “This is My Life” by Shirley Bassey.  Bobby had forgotten how great her voice was as she belted out the lyrics.  Nat was standing by the large front window by himself, smiling his awkward smile as he watched Della sing.  Bobby noticed John and Juanita were arguing as usual as Paul stood nearby looking uncomfortable.  Mark was standing nearby with his arm around Jane and Alex was sitting with Grace and Sera at a table near the piano.  Sera’s face was bandaged up but she seemed to be enjoying herself as much as she could.  She’d taken losing her eyes as well as anyone could imagine.  Shelly had grown close to her over the past few days after visiting her in the hospital several times.  Bobby also noticed Mavery and Big Ed standing by the bar.  They seemed to be getting a lot closer over the past couple of days.  Shelly and Abby were speculating that they were a couple.

When Della was done with her song, she smiled out at the audience.  “Now I’m not the only woman here tonight who can sing,” she said.  “We’ve got a real treat for all of you.”  She gazed at Shelly and winked.

Shelly frowned and shook her head.  “Oh, no.  Not me.”

Della nodded.  “Come on, now, girl.  You were just telling me the other day how much you missed singing.”

The piano player smiled at Shelly and motioned for her to come forward.  She shrugged.  “All right, but just one.”  She slowly walked over and whispered something to the piano player.  Then, she walked to the microphone and smiled out at the audience.  Even with the scars, the charm was still there.  To Bobby she was as beautiful as ever, with her freshly shaved sidecut on the right side and her long, wavy, sandy blonde hair.  She was wearing a tight red dress that accentuated her perfect figure.  She sang the first words of the jazz standard “I’ll Be Seeing You” and the audience was mesmerized.  Della had a great voice, but Shelly’s was what they called a once in a generation talent.  It was easy for Bobby to forget that she’d been one of the most famous performers in the world.  He remembered it now though as her voice captivated the audience.

Shelly and Della continued singing through the night, sometimes doing duets.  Bobby talked with Abby about their lives, their pasts and their futures.  As Shelly sang another song Bobby didn’t recognize, his eyes were distracted by the beautiful waitress who was working the room.  She was a sexy Latina with long, black hair and big, entrancing eyes.  Her eyes met Bobby’s and she smiled a seductive smile.  He awkwardly looked away, but quickly looked back when he knew she wasn’t looking at him any longer.  He watched her long, tan legs as she walked to the next table.  She was wearing a black miniskirt with a red blouse that showed a lot of cleavage.  Bobby found himself looking at her often, but he kept reminding himself that he was with Michelle and he’d look away.  The Latina’s perfect face didn’t have any scars, though.  Bobby was angry that he had that thought.  He reminded himself again that he was with Shelly and listened as his girlfriend continued singing, her voice effortlessly belting out the words of another classic, “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac.

<>

The next morning, Bobby said goodbye to Abby once again.  He hugged her, then said goodbye to all the others who were leaving as the sun rose from behind the mountains, casting dawn’s shadows over the small town of Dead Man’s Bluff.  Of the fourteen who’d left Primrose, Bobby, Nat, Shelly, and Sera were remaining behind.  The rest were going on to the meeting at North Point.  Grace and her son James were also staying in Dead Man’s Bluff, and there were two additions to the group heading to North Point.  The last people to board the truck were Ace McCoy, Annabelle Rose, and Della Luscious, who walked behind them with two guns aimed at their backs.  Ace and Annabelle were handcuffed, and they looked very different without the disguises they’d been wearing when Bobby had first seen them.  Ace was bald with a brown goatee and green eyes that seemed to be summing up and analyzing everything they looked at.  Annabelle had short red hair and fiery green eyes.  She’d been wearing colored contacts to go with the wig she’d been wearing when Bobby had first seen her.  Both were wearing jeans and white tee-shirts.  Della marched them into the truck as Nat stood next to Bobby, watching with wary eyes.  “I don’t like them goin’ along one bit.”

Bobby nodded and put his arm around Michelle.  “I know.  It’ll be fine, though.  I’m sure Abby and the others will be careful.”

“They’d better be,” Nat said.  Once everyone was in the truck, the engine started and it took off down the road that ran through town.  Abby waved through the back of the truck and Bobby waved back as the truck zoomed past the last buildings of town and turned to go down the windy road that led down the cliff side and out into the desert.  When the truck was gone, Bobby, Shelly, Nat, and Sera all turned and walked back towards the inn and the sheriff’s office.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 18
Where:
Warrick Baines talks with the Duke of Weston.
Sheriff Nat Bigum pays Richard Dayton a visit.
Abby and her companions travel to North Point.

 

Find the Volume 2 Table of Contents page here.

View the Volume 2 Character Profiles here.

View the Map here.

Check out Afterlife on Goodreads and don’t forget to rate it.

Check out Michael Monroe’s page on Amazon to find other stuff he’s written.
Like Afterlife on Facebook to find out when the next chapter is posted.
Follow Afterlife on Twitter to get updates on new postings and other news.
Follow Afterlife on Tumblr for access to supplemental material.

Mike Monroe

Michael Monroe was born in Baltimore, MD and has lived there most of his life. He’s a poet and fiction writer whose preferred genres are Science Fiction and Fantasy, and he’s always had a thing for Allen Ginsberg and the Beats. His poetry has been published in Gargoyle Magazine, nthposition, the Lyric, Scribble, the Loch Raven Review, Foliate Oak, Primalzine, and various other publications.

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