Fiction: Afterlife Volume 2 (Chapter 25)

by Mike Monroe on May 16, 2016

in FICTION

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If you’ve never read Afterlife before, click here to go to the first chapter.

Photo by Jay Hood.

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 24

Where:

Warrick Baines kills Mark Strongman.
Paul meets his fellow pilots in a club.
Abby changes her appearance.

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 25

The sun had disappeared behind the dunes to the west and Bobby could hear the howls of some predator off in the distance as he made his way to Maybelle Sampson’s Inn, where he and Shelly were staying until he found a decent house in the area.  The stone building was larger than most of the others in Dead Man’s Bluff, but it was small for an inn, with only two floors and fifty or so rooms.  Bobby walked through an alley between the inn and the coffee shop to the right of it, making his way towards the back of the inn where the pool was.  The alley was dark, but the moonlight peeked through from over the inn’s roof as Bobby walked.  Shelly liked to lounge by the pool when she finished training with Sera, so Bobby was hoping to find her there.

His mind drifted to Alicia, the beautiful waitress who worked at the Crosshairs Saloon.  He couldn’t keep her out of his head.  He pictured her dark beautiful eyes in his mind, her perfect tan face, her long black hair, and her long slender legs.  He shook the thoughts off, angry that he was thinking about Alicia even as he was going to see his girlfriend.  He turned the corner and found himself in the back of the inn where the dark silhouettes of foothills and mountains rose in the distance beyond the pool, and all thoughts of any woman other than Shelly disappeared.

She had the pool to herself, reclining on a comfortable sun chair.  Shelly was dressed in nothing but a skimpy red string bikini which showed off all of her curves and her long, slender legs.  Her olive skin glowed in the pale moonlight and the light of the lamp that lit the pool area.  Her head was turned to the right, and her long, wavy, sandy blonde hair fell down over her shoulders, full of body.  The only blemishes on her face were the scars left there by Warrick Baines, but they seemed to be getting less noticeable with time, or maybe Bobby was learning to overlook them.  Either way, Shelly was a movie star; a one in a million beauty.  And she was Bobby’s.  He also noted that since she’d been training with Sera, she was becoming more toned than ever.

As Bobby approached her, he heard “California Girls” by the Beach Boys playing softly on a tiny portable music player that was on the table next to the sun chair.  Sherry the shih tzu was tied to one of the table legs.  Bobby bent to pet her and she licked his fingers.  Then, he turned his attention back to Shelly and noticed that she was asleep.  Sera’s training had been wearing her out lately, but it seemed to be good for her.  Bobby sat down on the sun chair next to her and nudged her shoulder.  “Hey, baby.”

“Bobby.” She opened her stunning blue eyes and smiled turning her head towards him, revealing the sidecut on the right side of her head.  “You’re back.”

Bobby nodded and smiled back.  He turned off the music and picked up the music player, scrolling through the thousands of songs.  “You like classic rock from the seventies, right?”

Shelly chuckled.  “It’s okay.  Why’d you think that?”

“Your brother was always playing it.”

“That was Horseman,” Shelly said as she grabbed the music player from Bobby.  “I like old world eighties music.  Like Madonna and Prince.  Stuff like that.”  Bobby remembered buying a classic rock chip back in Fort Sampson to impress Shelly before they started dating, and he chuckled at himself.  “What’s so funny?” Shelly asked as she looked through the songs.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Bobby said.  “Eighties music’s kind of cheesy.”

Shelly grinned.  “You sound just like Horseman.  Oh, here.  Here we go.  This is a good one.”  Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You” started playing.  Shelly turned it up and started dancing in the chair.

“That’s not eighties music,” Bobby said.

“No,” Shelly said.  “But it’s sexy.”  She started moving closer to Bobby, moving her shoulders with the music as she pressed her breasts against his chest.  Bobby held her, his hands on her smooth back, and started dancing with her in the chair as she gave him a devilish look and untied her bikini top, tossing it to the ground as she pressed herself against Bobby and kissed his neck.  Her wet lips on his neck were driving Bobby wild.  He started taking his shirt off as the music continued playing and the two of them fell back into the sun chair.

“What if someone sees us?” Bobby asked.

Shelly kissed him passionately.  “Nobody’s coming back here at this hour.  Besides, do you really care?”

Bobby laughed.  “No.”  He kissed her and moved his hands down to her bikini bottom.

<>

“So where are we?” Jane Gonzalez asked as her husband studied the map by the light of the lamp in their tent.

Mark shrugged.  “Hard to say.  We’ve been traveling for what, two hours so far?  Probably going between fifty and a hundred miles an hour depending on the terrain.  So that puts us at the halfway point about.”  He looked at his wife and smiled.  Sometimes he got so caught up in things he forgot how beautiful she was.  She was naked in the sleeping bag with her pale, muscular shoulders and her pretty face poking up out of the top.  Mark still thought her stunning blue eyes were the prettiest he’d ever seen.

She ran her hand through her short blonde hair and propped her chin up in her palm.  “What’s that smile for?”

“I’m happy I’m married to a woman as beautiful as you.”

She smiled back.  “Trying to butter me up?  I see.”

“Butter you up for what?”

Her smiled widened.  “For the kill.”

Mark moved closer to her.  “In a minute, babycakes.  I’ll come to bed in a minute.  I’m still trying to figure some things out.”  He moved back to the map.  He was still dressed in his tan uniform.  “So we’re lucky we haven’t hit any resistance yet, but we should plan on finding some of those extremists soon.  What do they call themselves?”

“The Holy Warriors.”

“Very creative.”  Mark shook his head.  “Anyway, so I’m starting to think, Nat was saying there’s a spy in our group.  Or in the group we had before we hit Dead Man’s Bluff at least.”

Jane nodded.  “It’s getting late, Mark.  Why don’t you come to bed?”

“Well,” Mark continued.  “I doubt the spy is anyone who stayed in Dead Man’s Bluff.  There’s nothing of note for the resistance there.  They probably would have wanted to go with Abby.”

“True,” Jane agreed.

“I doubt it’s Mavery or Big Ed, though I guess it’s possible.  Mavery is from New Atlantis, after all.  Maybe Rennock decided that he wanted to know more about what was going on with Barney Chambers and his blog.”

“That’s possible,” Jane said.

“Unlikely, though.  I still think whoever it is would want to stick close to Abby if possible.  So that cancels out Paul.  He just wants to fly airships.  Now, Alex came to me and said he wanted to keep her from leaving if she tried to, but he couldn’t have foreseen what she ended up doing.”

Jane frowned.  “You think Alex could be the spy?”

“He could be,” Mark said.  “I’ve never fully trusted him.  I can tell when someone’s hiding something, and he most definitely is.  Bringing us down to Las Colinas on some resistance mission he’s being tight-lipped about?  Seems suspicious.”

“It does,” Jane said.

“But General Rodriguez seemed to be on board with it,” Mark said.  “Still, Alex plans on trying to rejoin Abby at some point.  I don’t know though.  All I know is it’s not me, it’s not you, and I’m fairly certain it’s not John or Juanita.”

Jane chuckled.  “They’re too busy trying not to kill one another to be spying on anyone.”

“Yeah.”  Mark rolled his eyes.  “I should have put the kibosh on that as soon as I got suspicious something was happening there.  And now they’re making fools of themselves arguing in front of General Rodriguez’ army?  What an embarrassment.”  He shook his head.

“Well, what’s done is done,” Jane said.  “Besides, we really need both of them.”

Mark nodded.  “And then there’s Della.”

“He’s always stuck close to Abby,” Jane said.  “And he’s with her now.  He’s probably more likely to be the spy than anyone.”

“But he made a promise to Pastor Earl he’d keep her safe,” Mark said.  “He told me.  And he said he intends to keep that promise no matter what.  That’s why he’s sticking by her.”

“Could be a ruse,” Jane said.

Mark shook his head.  “I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  We just need to keep our eyes peeled.  Be on the lookout and don’t trust anyone who isn’t you or me.”  Jane nodded.  “There could be a wolf in our midst,” Mark said.  “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

“Or maybe there’s no spy at all,” Jane said.  “I mean, Nat had his suspicions, but he didn’t have any proof.  And there was that lady back in North Point.  She may have been the only spy.”

Mark shrugged.  “I’ve had my suspicions, too.  And Judith Isreal didn’t know anything about our group or the Jupiter Diamond.  The spy did.  Nat thought that was how Rennock’s people were able to steal it.  Anyway, better to be safe than sorry.”

“Well can you come to bed now?” Jane asked.  “Or are you gonna think of something else to talk about while your naked wife is waiting for you in a sleeping bag?”  She winked at him.

Mark smiled.  “You sure you’re ready for this?”  He started undressing.

Jane grinned.  “I’ve been ready for the past hour.”

<>

Mavery opened her eyes and saw the moon and the stars in a clear night sky.  She winced as pangs of pain shot through her head.  She looked around, trying to figure out what was happening.  The terrain was rocky and Big Ed was sitting nearby, looking over the edge of a cliff.  They were on a wide ledge.  “What happened?” she asked.

Big Ed turned and grinned at her.  “You been out for at least an hour.  You feel like you gonna throw up?”  Mavery shook her head.  “Good,” Big Ed said.  “No concussion, then.”

Mavery put her hand on her throbbing forehead as she sat up.  “I’m not so sure.  That’s not the only symptom.  My head’s killing me.”

Big Ed shrugged.  “Well I’m glad you’re up now.”

“Where’s the ship?” Mavery asked, looking around at the rocks.  “Where are we?”

“The airship exploded,” Big Ed said.  “Lucky for us it was just before I got us safely away.  I carried you on my shoulder up into the foothills.  Otto’s dead.  He was wounded and the crash finished the job.  Barney Chambers was already dead.”

Mavery nodded.  “I know.  Do you have any idea where we are?”  She noticed that Big Ed had carried some of their bags up with them.  Hopefully there was some food and water.

Big Ed shook his head.  “Somewhere between North Point and Black Rock.  In the foothills of the Rockies.  Don’t know any more than that.”

“I wonder who shot us down.”

“Bandits, probably,” Big Ed said.  “They’re probably on their way to search the airship wreckage as we speak.  If they ain’t there already.”

“You don’t think it could have been Rennock’s people?”

Big Ed chuckled.  “Out here?  No way.  Could have been the IAO.  Maybe the Nightstalkers.  Definitely not Rennock, though.  My money’s on bandits.”  He smiled.

“Why does that make you happy?” Mavery asked.

“I wouldn’t mind joinin’ up with some scroungers again,” Big Ed said.  “It was nice fightin’ against Rennock with the resistance and all, but I always kinda felt like I was fightin’ somebody else’s war.”

Mavery winced and held her head in her hands.  “Somebody else’s war?”

“Yeah,” Big Ed said.  “You saw those people in North Point.  The ones in charge, I mean.  Mostly rich white people.  How they any different than Rennock?”

“They’re fighting for the poor,” Mavery said.  “They’re fighting for freedom for all people.”

Big Ed chuckled.  “Keep tellin’ yourself that.  They fightin’ because they want to be in charge.  That’s why.  Ain’t no freedom for us either way.”

“What do you mean?” Mavery asked.  “What do you mean by that?”

“We have to fight for ourselves.  I know that now more than ever.  You really think that crippled old white man was gonna help you?  He was takin’ you back with him because he wanted somethin’ from you.  That’s how they always are.  They’ll work with us as long as they want somethin’ from us.”

“What’s wrong with you?” Mavery asked.  “Why the change of heart?  You were all about the resistance back in Primrose.”

Big Ed nodded.  “And they got their butts handed to them.  I’m just sayin’ maybe we’re better off fendin’ for ourselves.  I looked around that camp in North Point, and that’s when I realized I wasn’t really one of them.  Then I saw that council and the stones in it and I knew they didn’t really care about us.  They try to make us think they do.  But how’s a bunch of stones gonna know what it’s like to be a poor black man?”

“Stones?” Mavery asked.

Big Ed laughed.  “That’s what we call rich white folks who are always tryin’ to champion the poor and downtrodden.”

“Why stones?”

Big Ed shrugged.  “Hell if I know.  That’s just what they call ‘em.”

“Well I think you’re wrong,” Mavery said.  “I think what they’re doing is right.  And they may just be our only hope against Rennock.  And I mean to make it to Rose City one way or another.”

“You still tryin’ to go there?” Big Ed asked.  “Even with Barney dead now?”

Mavery nodded.  “I can pick up where he left off.  I can take over his blog and his radio station and see that they keep operating and bringing people the truth.  Bringing people to the resistance.”

Big Ed shook his head.  “I don’t see the point.”

“Of course there’s a point.”

“Well you’re rich yourself,” Big Ed said.  “Besides, how you gettin’ to Rose City?  You gonna walk?”

Mavery smiled and nodded.  “If I have to.”

“I just don’t see it,” Big Ed said.  “I don’t see the point.  I think I’m through fightin’ for a bunch of rich white people.  I’m gonna fight my own wars from here on out.”

“White, black, what does it matter?” Mavery asked.  “In the resistance, we’re all on the same side.”

Big Ed glared at her.  “We ain’t never gonna be on the same side.”  He leaned closer to Mavery as her head continued throbbing.  “White people ain’t never gonna understand what we go through,” he said.  “They’ll never have to wonder if the white people givin’ ‘em the evil eye on the street are racist.  They’ll never have to worry about some maniac shootin’ ‘em in the head while they’re tyin’ their shoe, just because they’re black.  They won’t have to worry about enforcers targetin’ ‘em for their skin color.  They won’t have to worry about always knowing they ain’t nothin’.  Because my whole life, everything I see and hear tells me I ain’t nothin’.  I ain’t in any of their television shows or movies.  They talk about our dead like we’re animals.  And they treat us that way.  What’s a dead nigger?  Ain’t no worse than a dead sheep or a dead cow in their eyes.”

Mavery frowned.  “They’re not all like that.”

Big Ed ignored her comment.  “And I always hear ‘em sayin’ I’m lazy and won’t ever amount to nothin’.  I just want people to give me everything.  That’s what they say.  And they don’t give our communities no money, so our schools suck and we don’t learn nothin’.  And then they call us stupid ‘cause we don’t talk as good as they do.  We don’t know what they know.  And if I speak out about it, I’m playin’ the race card.  That’s what they say when they want us to leave ‘em alone and let ‘em keep bein’ racist.  They call it race baitin’ when we try to defend ourselves.  They want us to just bend over an’ take it.  They want us to just let ‘em continue to sweep us under the carpet.  And for us, things just keep gettin’ worse.  And it sinks in, you know?  I start tellin’ myself I ain’t nothin’.  That they’re better than me.  And I start believin’ it.  Because it’s what I see.  They make us less than them and we are.  We can be proud as hell.  We can be good at what we do.  We can dress nice and be polite and look and act like a million bucks.  We can be billionaires, but we still ain’t never gonna be as good as them.  And that’s just how it is, sista.  That’s just how it is.”

Mavery looked him in the eye and frowned.  “That’s not how it is.  We can change it.  We can make things better.”

Big Ed laughed.  “They been sayin’ that for thousands of years.  It ain’t better.  If anything, it’s worse.  We just need to find a place for ourselves and tell ‘em they can take their world and shove it.  I ain’t a part of their world.  I ain’t never gonna be a part of their world.  And neither are you.  You need to accept it.”

Mavery shook her head.  “I won’t ever accept it.”

“You’re gonna live a hard life, then.”

She shrugged.  “Who doesn’t live a hard life?”

“Herman Rennock,” Big Ed muttered.  “He don’t live a hard life.”

“Even Herman Rennock has his problems he’s dealing with,” Mavery said.  “We all have to pay our dues.  Doesn’t matter who we are.”

“Yeah,” Big Ed said as he drew a stick figure in the sand.  “It’s just some of us have way more debt to pay off than others.”

There were some rustling noises and Big Ed put his finger to his lips to shush Mavery.  He drew his laser pistol and looked around.  There were more rustling sounds and there was something that sounded like rattling.  Big Ed pulled Mavery behind a large rock near the cliff edge and looked around with his laser pistol drawn.  “What is it?” Mavery whispered.  Big Ed shrugged.  Mavery noticed what looked like a huge insect rise up slowly from the rocks behind Big Ed.  It had a reddish brown shell and huge claws the size of a person.  The creature itself was the size of a small hover car.  “Oh my God!” Mavery shouted.  Big Ed spun and fired several shots with his laser pistol, blasting the eye stalks to pieces.  The massive crab started flailing with its claws and legs until it slipped and dropped down the side of the cliff.  There were four more behind it, though, moving slowly towards them.

Big Ed pulled Mavery up from their hiding place and they ran away from the crabs until the ledge ahead was blocked by three more of the huge creatures.  A cliff rose above them to their right and another dropped down to their left.  Big Ed fired several shots, hitting one of the crabs in the eye.  The laser pistol’s lights went out and Big Ed was clicking the trigger but nothing was happening.  “That’s great,” he said, putting the pistol back into its holster.  “No more charge.  I should have charged it while I was on the airship.  I didn’t think I’d need it.”  He shook his head.  “Stupid.  I wasn’t thinkin’.  Gettin’ lazy since I joined the resistance.  Scroungers can’t be lazy.”

“It’s all right,” Mavery said as the seven giant crabs closed in on them.  “We just have to figure something out.  They’re slow and stupid, right?  We should be able to figure something out.”  She was speaking optimistically but she was shaking while she was doing it.  She figured Big Ed could probably tell she was scared.  He had his arm around her.  Mavery wondered how many great human minds had been torn apart by stupid giant crabs over the years, merely to become food for one of the lowest forms of life.  Her thoughts were interrupted by a humming sound as the crabs closed in.  The hum grew louder and she realized it was the sound of sand bike engines.  She wasn’t sure how many.

There was a buzzing sound as thousands of laser blasts tore through the three giant crabs in front of Mavery and Big Ed, splattering thick gray liquid everywhere.  Big Ed pulled her to the ground as the lasers blasted through the four other sand crabs.  Seven sand bikes hovered over the carcasses of the giant sand crabs and circled Mavery and Big Ed.  The bikes eventually stopped, surrounding Mavery and Big Ed as they picked themselves up from the ground.  The vehicles were battered and the riders were mixed races: white, black and Hispanic.  They were wearing leather and metal garb and were pointing laser rifles at Big Ed and Mavery as she looked around at them.

One large, muscular white man was holding a huge laser rifle which had four barrels.  Mavery recognized it as a repeating laser rifle, or RLR.  Another bandit was holding a long rifle of some sort with several barrels and a scope.  Mavery was no expert, but she figured these were the bandits who’d shot down Barney Chambers’ airship and that was probably the weapon that did it.  The IAO skull and crossbones symbol was painted on each of the bandits’ sand bikes.  Mavery swallowed, remembering when the bandits had attacked her outside of New Atlantis and tried to rape her.  They hadn’t been successful, but the situation still filled her with terror whenever she thought about it.  She’d decided that she’d rather die than ever let that happen.  She looked at the large knife in Big Ed’s belt and decided if it came to it, she’d grab it and slit her own throat.  They’d end up killing her anyway.  She was starting to feel sick to her stomach with fear.

“Big Ed,” the white man with the RLR said with a smile.  “What the hell are you doin’ out here?”

Big Ed grinned.  “Hey, Marv.”

“Why are you wearin’ a resistance uniform?” Marv asked.

“I was captured,” Big Ed lied.  “They made me fight for ‘em.”

“Really?” Marv asked, still grinning.  The grin was more menacing than happy.  He was a bald, ugly man with a hawk-like nose and small, close-set eyes.  His face was covered with scars.  “I didn’t know they did stuff like that.”

Big Ed stepped towards him with an angry expression on his huge face.  “You callin’ me a liar?”  Mavery was very nervous.  Why was he getting aggressive?  These seven bandits could easily kill them both if he pissed them off.

“No,” Marv said.  “I know you ain’t a liar.”  He nodded towards Mavery.  “Who’s the bitch?”  In any other setting Mavery would have reprimanded him for calling her that, or even slapped him.

“She’s mine,” Big Ed said.  “Can we join you?  I’ve been looking for a crew to join for a while now.”

“He can’t join our crew,” a Hispanic man on the sand bike to Marv’s right said.  “We already got enough mouths to feed.”

“Who the hell is he?” another man asked.

“We used to ride together,” Marv said.  “Big Ed’s a great person to have beside you in a fight.  Way better than either of you.  Not such a good person to be facin’ down, though.  Sure, Ed.  You can join us.  We all get to take turns with your woman, though.  That’s the deal.”

Mavery’s stomach dropped.  She eyed Big Ed’s knife.  “We’ll ride with you,” Big Ed said.  “We’ll fight beside you and help you steal.”  He glared at him.  “But if anyone touches her…”  He nodded towards Mavery.  “…I’ll crack their head open like an egg and make ‘em watch their brains squish out.”

Marv chuckled.  “Same old Big Ed.  I was just playin’.  Anyways, we’ll camp here tonight.  It’s as good a spot as any.  Tomorrow we’ll see about stealin’ you a sand bike.”

Big Ed nodded and walked to the spot where he’d left his bags.  Mavery followed.  “Thanks,” she whispered.

“Don’t mention it,” Big Ed said with a grin.  “I did it for you, but I also did it for me.  We need each other.  It’s gonna be hard findin’ anyone we can trust out here.”

<>

Herman Rennock sat in his office, glaring at the round, bespectacled face in front of him.  It was a three-dimensional image of Eileen Traymont, projected by millions of nanobots floating above his desk.  “How can a five foot tall Asian girl be givin’ us so much trouble?” he asked.  “You have one job, Traymont.”

She frowned.  Her brown hair was pulled back so tight it made her pale forehead appear huge.  “Yes, sir.”

“Are you sure the men we sent to abduct her were unsuccessful?” Rennock asked.

Eileen nodded.  “They’re with me now, sir.  I have their full report.  They searched her tent and were unable to find her computer, her diamonds, or anything else of value.”

“That’s unfortunate.”

“Yes, sir,” Eileen agreed.

“And you’re still outside of North Point?” Rennock asked.  “Have the rebels left the town yet?”

“They seem to be preparing to leave, sir,” Eileen said.  “My men aren’t sure where they’re going to be heading.”

“I’m sure one of my other plants will let me know at some point,” Rennock grumbled.

“Yes, sir.”

Rennock shook his head.  “So she escaped.  I’m assumin’ the spy’s information is correct, so Song was talkin’ about robbin’ banks with Ace McCoy and Annabelle Rose.  It appears she’s goin’ through with that plan.”  Rennock chuckled at the idea.  Abigail Song had apparently lost her mind somewhere along the way.  “And Alex Harris is headin’ south to Las Colinas with several soldiers.  I was able to get that much from Judith Isreal before her unfortunate demise.  One of my other spies is headin’ south with Alex Harris.  I should still be able to get good information.”

Eileen nodded.  “So what would you have me do, sir?”

“You’ll set out after Abigail Song and the criminals,” Rennock said.  “Follow any leads you can.  Do we at least know which direction they’re headin’ in?”

“They were heading northwest,” Eileen said.

“So you’ll also head northwest.  Stop at major towns.  Look for clues.  Anything.  And once we get news of a bank bein’ hit, I’ll send you there.”

Eileen nodded.  “It would be nice if we could get them before they’re able to hit any of your banks, sir.”

Rennock frowned.  “It would be, but we don’t have much to go on.  As far as Alex Harris goes, have Devin Hellier take a dozen or so men and head for Las Colinas.  He can intercept Harris there and kill him and everyone who’s with him.”

“And the spy?” Eileen asked.

“Spies are expendable,” Rennock said.

“Very well, sir.”

“That’ll be it, then.”  Rennock flipped a switch under his desk and the nanobots flew back into the ceiling, filling the office with a quiet buzzing sound.  “Kay,” Rennock blurted.

“Yes, Master Rennock,” said the soothing voice of Kay, Rennock’s home computer system.

“Have Ives bring me some coffee.  I’m gonna be up late thinkin’.”

“Yes, Master Rennock.”

Rennock kicked his feet up on his desk and leaned back in his leather chair.  So Abigail Song had sunken to robbing banks with a bunch of criminals.  She was getting desperate.  According to Judith Israel, Song didn’t have the council’s blessings when she brought up the plan.  So maybe Song was going rogue.  Either way, Rennock wanted her and he wanted that computer she had.  He needed to make sure he got ahold of the Song fortune.  If it fell into rebel hands, at best, the war would go on for much longer.  If Rennock got ahold of those diamonds, it would seal the deal.  The resistance would be finished.  He looked down at the dog-eared copy of Atlas Shrugged that lay on his desk, picked it up, and started reading.

<>

Bobby stepped up next to Nat and stopped in his tracks.  The door to Richard Dayton’s house was busted open.  Hanging by the neck from a rusty chain in the doorframe was Richard Dayton’s stiff body, naked except for light blue boxer shorts.  His body was covered with bloody razor cuts and dark bruises.  His bearded face was bruised and misshapen, like it had been bludgeoned to a pulp.  A crow had already pecked out his right eye and now it was busy with the left one.  “Well he was ugly when he was alive,” Nat said, eyeing the body through his black sunglasses.  “This ain’t no improvement.”

“I guess Lazy was right,” Bobby said.  “The IAO did kidnap him early this morning.”

“I wish we’d heard about it sooner,” Nat said.  “Ain’t much we can do about it now.”

“We have to get to work making sure the Dayton’s don’t think the Moores did this,” Bobby said.

“That’s right,” Nat said.  “And just so I can make sure you’ve been payin’ attention, how are we gonna do that?”

“Well, Tommy said his father’s more reasonable than Richard was,” Bobby said.  “So now that Richard’s dead, we should get Tommy to talk to his dad.  Without Richard’s influence, he may be more receptive to working with us.”

“And what about Richard’s sons?” Nat asked.

Bobby thought for a few seconds.  “We’ll take them to jail to make sure they won’t start anything?”

Nat grinned his ugly, scarred grin.  “Except we don’t call it jail in cases like this.  We call it protective custody.  Let’s go get the undertaker.  He’ll have his work cut out for ‘im with this one.”  Bobby nodded and followed Nat as he walked away from the house.  The sun was still rising over the mountains behind them, filling the glen with a reddish glow.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 26
Where:
Shelly makes some real progress in her training.
Paul flies his first mission since joining Hell’s Eagles.
Abby and her companions reach Tequila City.

 

Find the Volume 2 Table of Contents page here.

View the Volume 2 Character Profiles here.

View the Map here.

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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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