Fiction: Afterlife Volume 2 (Chapter 26)

by Mike Monroe on May 30, 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 25

Where:

Mark and Jane Gonzalez find some quiet time on the road.
Mavery and Big Ed are found by a group of IAO members.
Nat and Bobby find Richard Dayton’s dead body.

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 26

Della glanced at Abby as the hover car Ace stole in the last town flew over countless white dunes.  The black sunglasses hid her eyes, but Della could sense the worry and uncertainty emanating from her.  He was sure Ace and Annabelle probably could, also.  There was a  sleek sexiness to her new look, with her platinum blonde buzz cut and her black leather jacket, but Della knew the truth.  She had gone into hiding, and not just from Rennock’s enforcers.  Della remembered promising Pastor Earl that he’d guard Abby with his life, but he wondered if Pastor Earl would have still had him make that promise if he knew the road she’d be going down.  Maybe if Earl had still been alive, Abby would have made different decisions.  Still, there was no turning back now.  Della had done some questionable things in the past.  He wasn’t a stranger to criminal activity.  “So when we get to Tequila City,” Ace said as he drove, “first we’ll need to find Digits.  I know a poker table he frequents so we can probably find him there if we go during the right time.  Then, we need to infiltrate the enforcer office.”

“Why would we do that?” Abby asked.

“We need weapons,” Ace said.  “And that’s the only place we’ll be able to find the right weapons.”

“We already have laser pistols,” Abby said.  “We could probably get two more.”

Annabelle laughed.  “Listen to her.  Laser pistols.”  She turned and grinned a pixie-like grin.  “Do you know how we were able to beat the cops for so long?  Because we had faster cars and bigger guns than they did.  It’s no secret, really.  There’s nothing special about us.”

“We’ll need at least two repeating laser rifles,” Ace said.  “And in Tequila City we should also be able to find a much faster car than this jalopy.”  Abby knew he missed the Veleron 326 he’d stolen from the resistance, but they had to ditch that for the four door sedan they were traveling in.

Abby nodded.  “And how are we going to infiltrate an enforcer office?”

“Leave that to us,” Annabelle said.

“We’ll create a diversion and you and Della can take out the enforcers,” Ace said.

“But you and Annabelle don’t have weapons,” Abby countered.

Ace grinned as he drove.  “We won’t need any.  I have my charm and my good looks.”  He nodded towards Annabelle.  “And she has her.  Well…”

Annabelle laughed.  “I have my lady parts.”

Della was taken aback.  “What exactly are the two of you planning?”

“Nothing too crazy,” Ace said.  “You’ll see.”

Della and Abby glanced at one another and Abby shrugged.  She turned and looked at Ace as he drove.  “So you both know something about me,” Abby said.  “Where did the two of you come from?  Originally, I mean.”

“Smalltalk?” Annabelle asked with a chuckle.  “You can’t be serious.”

“There’s a reason for it,” Abby said.  “It’s only fair that I know who I’m traveling with.”

“Oh, what could it hurt, darlin’?” Ace asked.  “We’re all a part of the same crew now, aren’t we?”

Annabelle shrugged.  “If you say so.”  She grinned at Abby, but there was something mischievous about her smile.  “I was born to very poor parents in a small village outside Rogue Town.  My parents and my sister became very sick when I was ten, and we couldn’t afford treatment, so they died and ended up in body pits outside of town.”  Della was disturbed by the total lack of emotion in her voice.  She was still smiling as she spoke.  “My parents starved because they wanted to feed me and my sister,” she continued.  “And they all died.  And look at me now.  I’m sure they’d be proud.”

“You have way more than they ever could have dreamed of,” Ace reminded her.  “So I found Annabelle wandering the desert picking pockets and stealing from convenience stores.  She was the prettiest little thing I’d ever seen, though.”

“Stop it,” she said, hitting him in the arm as he drove.

Ace smiled.  “No, it’s true.”

“He was a stone,” Annabelle said, nodding towards Ace.

“A stone?” Abby asked.

Annabelle nodded.  “He came from a rich family.  He grew up with rich parents in High Tide, by the ocean.”

“The poisonous, disgusting ocean,” Ace added.

“What the hell’s a stone?” Abby asked.

Annabelle laughed.  “A rich person who’s always pretending they actually care about the poor.  I guess that makes you a stone, too.”

“Why a stone?” Abby asked.

“It’s short for rolling stone,” Annabelle said.

“Like the band?”

Annabelle shook her head.  “Like the Bob Dylan song.”

“It wasn’t all wine and roses for me, though,” Ace said.  “My parents died when I was sixteen and left me their estate and their fortune.”

“Oh, you poor thing,” Annabelle mocked.

“It wasn’t easy losing parents, as both of you know from experience.”  He glanced at Abby.  “I took a liking to gambling.  Not because I needed the money, but because I’ve always been attracted to the thrill of it.  I became an exceptional poker player.”

“Exceptional cheater you mean,” Annabelle said.

“A good gambler finds ways to tip the scales in his favor,” Ace said.

“Anyway,” Annabelle said, “Gambling wasn’t the only thrill he loved.  He started breaking into houses in his spare time.”

“Only rich peoples’ houses,” Ace said as if that made it okay.  “I ended up in prison at eighteen and I was there two years before I escaped.”  Ace’s tone changed.  Della could tell the prison stay had affected him.  “I went back to gambling and robbing banks.  I lived under several aliases.”

“Like Honest Abe Miller,” Abby said.

Ace nodded.  “That’s always been one of my favorites.  I met Annabelle when I was twenty five and she was just a sixteen year old vixen.  And the rest is history.”

“Twenty five and sixteen?” Abby asked.  “Is that legal.”

Ace and Annabelle both started laughing.  “You really think we cared if it was legal?” Annabelle asked.  Her smile quickly turned into a frown.  “Besides, there was no sex.  He’s a weirdo.”  She nodded towards Ace again.  “He won’t touch me.”

“And that, my friends, is enough talk about our personal lives for now,” Ace said as he continued driving.  Della could see in Ace’s eyes that he was hiding something.  He wondered if it was possible that Ace was gay.  He didn’t give off any signs other than what Annabelle said.  Could have been asexual maybe.  Della grinned as he sat in the back seat with his guns holstered at his sides.  He’d grown tired of constantly pointing the weapons at Ace and Annabelle, and since they seemed to be cooperating for the most part, Della kept them holstered now.  He was still ready, though.  He was a fast enough draw he didn’t think he’d have anything to worry about.

<>

Shelly did the last of her seventy-five sit-ups and sat still near the cliff edge, frowning at Sera, who was standing over her.  Sera’s face had healed to the point that she no longer needed bandages, but she now covered the empty sockets where her eyes had once been with a white headband which pictured an orange rising sun.  When Shelly had first seen it early that morning, it had been unnerving because the sun was like a strange single eye glaring at her, but now she was getting used to it.  Sera was wearing a plain, off-white robe-like dress and her muscular arms were folded across her chest.  Her staff was on the ground next to her.  “Now, step out onto the ledge there.”  She nodded towards a two foot wide rock jut that extended about four feet out from the top of the cliff.

Shelly stepped towards it and saw the rocky ground hundreds of feet below.  Boulders looked like pebbles and the road looked like a thin line.  She froze with fear for a second and stepped back.  “Are you insane?”

Sera shook her head.  “Step out onto it.  You’re going to practice your balance exercises on there now.  It’s no different from what you just were just practicing.”

“But I slipped at first.”  Shelly looked down at the rocks below again.  There was nothing to grab onto if she were to fall.  “Do you realize how high up we are?”

“I’m blind,” Sera said.  “I’m not an idiot.”

“Look, Sera.  I’ve done everything you’ve asked me to.  But I’m not going to do that.  There’s no way.”

“If you do,” Sera said, “I’ll start teaching you some blocking techniques.  Once you’ve mastered those, I’ll show you how to punch.  And not just punch.  But punch with the maximum amount of force your body can generate.  But you have to do this one thing.  If you don’t, your training ends here.”

Shelly shook her head.  “I’m not going to do that.  I don’t think anyone would do that.”

Sera stepped past her.  Shelly watched as Sera took several steps until she was at the edge of the jut.  If she were to step in any direction except backwards, she would have fallen to her death, crashing into the rocks hundreds of feet below.  There was a gust of wind, and Sera leapt four feet into the air, spinning and landing on her left foot, now facing Shelly.  Shelly stumbled backwards in disbelief.  Sera took a fighting stance and jumped again, doing a flying roundhouse kick with her left foot, and landing on her right foot now, balanced so well she was hardly moving as her left leg was tucked up close to her body.  Her right heel was at the edge of the jut with only the sky behind her.  She spread her arms like and eagle and dropped backwards off the edge of the jut, catching it with her hands and pulling herself back up onto it with all of her might.  She stood and took several steps forward until she was safely on the cliff top again, then smiled at Shelly.

“How were you able to do any of that without seeing?” Shelly asked.

“I’m blind and I did all that,” Sera said.  “Now all I’m asking you to do is step out onto it.”

Shelly shook her head.  “I may have to end my training, then.”

“Very well,” Sera said.  She started walking away.

Shelly took another look at the jut.  It was solid and very thick underneath.  There was no way it was breaking off.  “This is so insane,” Shelly said as she stepped out onto it, fighting every urge to step backwards back to the safe cliff top.  She could feel the emptiness of the sky to either side of her, but she was smart enough not to look down.  “I’m here.  What now?”

“Turn around,” Sera said.  Shelly timidly turned to face her master.  She was shaking a little, so she closed her eyes and started breathing deeply, almost as if she were meditating.  “Very good,” Sera said.  “Now stand on your left foot only.  Bring the right foot up to your body.”  Shelly opened her eyes and looked straight ahead at Sera as she did what she was told.  “Now switch feet,” Sera said, and Shelly did so.  They went on with this exercise for fifteen minutes or so which seemed like hours to Shelly.  Sera finally told Shelly to step back onto the cliff top.  “Now how do you feel?” Sera asked.

“Feel?” Shelly asked.  “My legs feel like they’re about to fall off.”  She paused.  “But I feel like I could take on anything.  Like I have nothing to fear.”

“Because you haven’t,” Sera said with a smile.  “Fear is in your mind and you can learn to channel it, to control it.  It can become focus, energy, and when you learn to turn your fear into focus, when you learn to control your thoughts to that extent, you will be unstoppable.”

Shelly nodded.  “So how about that blocking technique, then?”

Sera smiled.  “Good.  I like my students eager.  Now remember what I said.  As with all matters in life, good balance is the key to good martial arts.  You never want to overextend yourself in such a way that you leave yourself vulnerable to your opponent’s attack.  Always be prepared to block a counter attack.  Now, I’m going to show you some basic blocking techniques.  First, always know your opponent’s line of attack.  Where it begins and where it will end.  Then and only then will you be able to choose the correct block for the attack.”  Sera began teaching Shelly inside and outside blocks, as well as high and low blocks.  Shelly practiced the blocks against simple punches and kicks, and by the time she was done with the exercises Sera put her through, Shelly was exhausted.  “Now, are you ready to learn the secret behind a good punch?” Sera asked.

Shelly sat on a rock as she tried to regain her strength.  She wasn’t sure how she was going to walk home.  The thought of doing another exercise made her feel a little dizzy.  “I think I’m done for the day.”  Her voice was weak.

Sera chuckled.  “I thought so.  We’ll learn more tomorrow.  For now, let’s head back to my room.  I have some clothes that need to be folded and some dishes that need to be washed.”

Shelly nodded.  “Yes, master.”

<>

The transparent metal dome that covered the cockpit of the saucer-shaped aerial assault vehicle provided a 360 degree view of anything above or surrounding the craft.  The leather seat was surprisingly comfortable and the stick control felt perfect in Paul Jacobs’ gloved hand.  He was where he belonged and it put a smile on his face.  After hours in meeting rooms and simulations, Paul was ready to fly.  He knew what would be expected of him, and while flying wingman to Tom Rivers’ lead wasn’t ideal, Paul was willing to accept his role.  It was to be expected since he was flying with a new squadron.  He couldn’t expect to step in and immediately take the lead on his first mission.

Paul could see Tom’s silver saucer-shaped ship parked ahead of him, among the other dozens of ships on the sandy landing field.  A picture of a naked woman riding a bomb was painted on the curved underbelly, part of which was barely visible from Paul’s perspective.  General Rodriguez’ army had left from Primrose early that morning for the foothills of the Rockies, where several EMPC’s had been spotted.  It was the job of Tom and his squadron to clear the EMPC’s so the army could make its way north to Vulture’s Pass just over the border.  That’s as much as Paul knew for the time being, but it was enough.  “Jacobs and Allen,” Tom’s voice said through the speakers in Paul’s helmet.  “Are you ready?”

“Check,” Roger Allen’s voice said.  He was the man with the glasses and the red buzz cut whom Paul had met in the bar the previous evening.

“Check,” Paul said.

“Alrighty then,” Tom said.  “Lock onto my ship and we’ll get started.”

Paul began typing in the commands into his ship’s motivating computer.  “I’m locked on.”

“I’m locked on,” Roger also said.

Tom’s ship zipped up into the air in a matter of seconds using its electromagnetic propulsion drive, disappearing from Paul’s view.  Paul sat back in his seat and felt his own ship shoot up into the sky.  A smile appeared on his face as the ship reached an altitude of thousands of feet in a matter of seconds.  The adrenaline rush was exhilarating.  Paul was surrounded by azure, with the white sands far below.  There were some cities far in the distance, and the Rocky Mountains spread out to his right like a huge system of raised brown veins in the earth.  His ship stopped behind Tom’s at a slightly lower altitude and to the right.  Paul looked up and saw Tom’s ship ahead of him and to the left.  He looked up further and saw Roger’s ship just behind Tom’s and further to the left.  The three of them were flying in a “V” formation with Tom at the point which was the custom for resistance pilots.  Paul was slightly below Tom to guard the airspace beneath him and Roger would guard the airspace above him.  Paul glanced through the skies around him and saw two other similar resistance formations, making nine ships total.  No EMPC’s in sight yet, though.  He checked the scanner screen in front of him and noticed several small shapes off to the northeast.  “Do you see those ships?” he asked.  “They appear to be headed this way.”

“I see them,” Tom said.  “I estimate ten ships to our nine.  I believe these EMPC’s are unmanned, though, so this should be child’s play.”  Paul felt like saying it was never good to underestimate your opponents, but he refrained.  He was going to be very careful about stepping on Tom’s toes after their conversation in the bar.  “All right,” Tom said.  “Lock onto me again.  I’m taking us to the halfway point.  If I time it properly we should get there just in time to spoil their party.”

Again, Paul typed in the commands to lock onto Tom’s ship.  “Locked on.”

“Locked on,” Roger said again.  Tom zipped off and seconds later, Paul’s airship zipped off, going so fast it almost seemed like it teleported.  Paul immediately saw three unmanned EMPC saucers in his sites and pushed the trigger on the stick control, firing a barrage of red lasers.  Two of the three EMPC’s were riddled with blast marks and began plummeting towards the sand far below.  The third zipped away before Paul could hit it.  He noticed more ships behind Tom, positioning themselves for an attack.  There were four of them.  Paul rotated his ship until they were in his sights and fired, taking two of them out, but the other two zipped away.  Paul checked the skies above him and saw nothing.  He checked the scanners and saw that the three remaining ships were not far from Roger.  There was another resistance formation to Roger’s left and they were now firing at the three EMPC’s.  The ships began plummeting soon after.  “Thanks, Lonnie,” Roger said.  “Saved my ass.”

“No problem,” the voice of a pilot Paul didn’t know said.  In all, there were thirty nine pilots in the squadron.  Paul had only met a handful of them, and of those, only two were flying with him now, the two in his formation.

“Nice shooting, Paul,” Tom said.  “You took out four ships today.  One more and you’re an ace in a day.”

“Does it really count if they’re unmanned?” Paul asked.  If he counted unmanned ships he shot down, his total went from twenty-two to closer to thirty-five.  He wondered if Tom had counted unmanned ships in his total of fifteen.

“Sure, why not?” Tom said.  “Anyway, stay alert.  There should be three more bogeys out there somewhere.”

Paul nodded when he noticed three more EMPC’s just below him and to the right.  They were closing in on the third resistance three ship “V” formation.  “Do you see those ships?” he asked Tom through their formation channel.  The EMPC’s started firing their lasers.  Paul knew he could take them out if he broke away from formation, but his orders were to protect Tom.  “Sir, shouldn’t we head down to assist them?” Paul asked.  Why was Tom hesitating?  Theirs was the only formation in position to come to the other pilots’ aid.

Paul watched as the three EMPC’s fired more lasers, hitting the three resistance ships several times and sending them plummeting.  “Mayday mayday,” a wavering voice said through the all wings resistance channel.  “I’m going down.”  Paul watched as the three resistance ships plummeted thousands of feet towards the sand and then exploded.

“All right,” Tom said.  “Lock onto me.”

Paul did as he said.  “Locked on.”

“Locked on,” Roger said also.

The three ships zipped to a spot behind the three EMPC’s and Tom immediately started firing his lasers.  One of the EMPC’s exploded in a ball of orange flame and the other two fell rapidly towards the white sands below.  “All right, squadron,” Tom said.  “Our mission’s completed.  Let’s head home.”

Paul set his coordinates as the other ships zipped away.  His aerial assault vehicle also shot back to the landing field, where it hovered down into the sand.  Paul removed his helmet and his safety harness and opened the dome which covered the cockpit.  He climbed out of the cockpit and hopped down into the sand when he saw Tom and Roger walk past in their tan flight suits.  “Captain,” Paul said.  Tom turned to face him, an arrogant smirk on his handsome face.  “What happened up there?” Paul asked.

“We completed our mission,” Tom said.  “We took out ten of their ships.  Unfortunately, we suffered three casualties of our own and they’ll be sorely missed.”  Tom and Roger turned away from Paul and continued walking.

Paul frowned.  It didn’t sit right with him.  It definitely seemed like Tom intentionally let those three pilots die.  The worst part was Paul could have done something about it and he didn’t.  He shook his head and started walking back towards the tents where the army was camped.  Three men died today and Paul felt like it was partially his fault.  He felt sick to his stomach.

<>

Tequila City was almost as big as New Atlantis, but not quite.  It was the second largest city west of the Rockies after Orange Beach on the Broken Coast.  It was definitely the largest city Abby had been to in a long time.  She felt at home walking through the crowded streets, having grown up in New Atlantis.  The city was the center of several trade routes and it was located on the Mexican border, so people from all over came there to sell their goods to the many markets and other vendors who’d set up shop there.  It was also a reputed home to thousands of criminals and gamblers, and Abby knew she’d have to watch her back, and not just for enforcers and Panthers.  Herman Rennock owned a lot of the businesses in Tequila City, but it didn’t fall under the jurisdiction of his empire.  The city was run by a corrupt local government whose officials were under the hand of local gangsters.  These gangsters ran the town’s banking operations, so it wasn’t a good candidate for robbing Rennock’s banks.  It was, however, the perfect place to find criminals in hiding like Digits O’Reilly.

The sleek white and silver skyscrapers towered over Abby’s head as she walked past all manner of people dressed in the latest fashions.  This must have been a downtown business center, and she was currently walking through what appeared to be the fashion district, with clothing stores everywhere.  She watched one bald, tan-skinned woman walk by who had nothing on but the skimpiest skin-colored string bikini bottom imaginable, skin-colored pasties over her nipples, and skin-colored sandals, leaving very little to the imagination.  It was the least she could wear without being arrested for public nudity.  One muscular man was wearing nothing but a black speedo and his bare chest was covered with intricate, colorful paint picturing a dragon.  Two women walked by holding hands and wearing see-through, plastic looking dresses with pasties over their nipples and string bikini bottoms much like the other woman was wearing.  There were a lot of women walking past Abby who had foregone clothing altogether for skin paint.  The men were all bald and the women were either bald or had sidecuts or mohawks and there was lots of skin showing everywhere.  It seemed to Abby that fashion was always trending towards less clothing and less hair.  One day everyone was going to be bald and naked.

Abby made her way to a store with a large, flashing neon sign which read “The Purveyor.”  This store was the purpose of her trip; she was looking to purchase some much needed supplies.  She walked through the metal automatic sliding doors and found herself in a cavernous, crowded room with walls covered with circular openings.  There were also thick metal columns all through the center of the store which were also covered with circular openings.  People were standing in front of the openings, speaking, and grabbing plastic bags out of them which were full of things such as clothing, groceries, and various other knickknacks.  Abby made her way to a free opening.  These openings were actually the ends of electromagnetic propulsion tubes which led underground to warehouses throughout the city.  “What can I help you with today?” a sedate female automated voice asked Abby through a speaker as she stood in front of the opening.

“I need a dozen cans of pork and beans,” Abby began, “a dozen bottles of recycled water, a can of shaving cream, three razors, an eight-ounce package of ground coffee, four bars of soap, and a box of thirty six tampons.”

“Please pay $302.74,” the voice said.  Abby reached into her pocket, counted out some gold, silver, and copper coins, and put them one-by-one into a slot next to the opening.  Within seconds, three sturdy plastic bags shot up through the tube and settled into the opening in front of her.  “Thank you,” the voice said.  “Please come again.”  Abby grabbed the bags and started the trek back towards the underground e-mag train station.

She left the store carrying her heavy bags, pushed through the crowded streets, and found her way to the escalator that led down into the station.  She noticed two men in black suits with black ties coming up the other way before she stepped onto the escalator.  She knew they were Herman Rennock’s Panthers.  They stuck out like sore thumbs even though they were supposed to blend in.  Abby was scared at first as they both glared at her, but she remembered that she looked different now with her black leather jacket, her black sunglasses, and her platinum blonde buzz cut.  One of them nodded to her.  “Good afternoon, ma’am.”  She nodded back as they got off the escalator and she stepped onto the one that led down into the station.

Two black men were standing in front of her during the long descent underground.  One of them laughed.  “You know white people can’t cut black people’s hair.”

“I know it,” the other man said, also laughing.  “He should get a lawyer.  They call that malpractice.  Haircut malpractice.”  They both laughed at the joke.

The other man bumped him on the shoulder.  “Look, I mean, that’s a hazard.  Somebody flyin’ past in a hover car might see ‘im and start laughin’ so hard they crash into a buildin’ or run somebody down or somethin’.”  They both laughed some more as they stepped off the escalator at the bottom.  Abby felt her head as she stepped off, running her fingers through her very short hair.  She knew they weren’t talking about her, but she still felt a little self-conscious.

She stood on the ledge next to the large metal tube the electromagnetic train flew through.  There was a system of different sized metal tubes running through every square foot of ground underneath Tequila City, much like other big cities.  There were tubes for trains, store items, mail, and even personal travel.  The tubes used electromagnetic technology to propel objects of various sizes through them.  It didn’t take long for the sleek train to show up.  The sliding doors in the rear car opened and Abby took her bags and got on with several other travelers.  She sat on a comfortable seat and waited as the train shot through the tube into darkness.

While she was waiting for her stop, Abby remembered Annabelle talking in the car about stones as they traveled through the desert earlier.  The first thing she thought of when she remembered that conversation was the Lead Council and the people in it.  There were some things that didn’t sit right with Abby regarding the Lead Council of the Free Society Federation.  Like her, they weren’t poor.  None of them had come up from nothing.  They had money.  They were from wealthy families, just like her.  Abby had a lot of trouble believing in those people when it came to leading the world to real change.  Were they just going to overthrow the current government to set up a new one that wasn’t going to be any better?  There was also something fake about Heather Cylburn.  She seemed to be too concerned about image.  The resistance had a carefully crafted image, with help from both her and Barney Chambers among others.  They were billionaires masquerading as friends of the common people.  But there was a disconnect somewhere.  Abby didn’t feel right working with them for some reason.  Those people had been friends of her father’s, not hers.  She wanted to just throw it all away.  She’d never really wanted to be a leader in the first place.  Perhaps her best bet was to rob banks with Ace an Anabelle and give the money they got directly to the poor people who really needed it.

The train stopped and Abby took her bags and got off into the station near the hotel where Della was waiting with Ace and Annabelle.  She noticed a lot of people gathered around a three dimensional projection near the escalator.  The man in the projection was handsome, with curly blonde hair and blue eyes, and he was wearing a fur coat.  “This guy’s interruptin’ the news feed,” a man standing next to Abby noted as she watched the projection.

“So you’re tired of politicians and billionaires running things?” the man asked with an arrogant half-grin.  “Well we are too!  Join the IAO!  Join the good fight.  Help us take down all of these corrupt institutions that you no longer trust.  There’s no politics here.  No lies.  We’re as straightforward as they come, folks.  You want an alternative to corrupt politicians and businessmen?  Here we are!  Stop complaining and pick up a gun.  Gather some people together and go on down to your local enforcer office.  Then start shooting!  Take out your local library or post office.  Burn down the fire stations and the office buildings.  Make a party out of it.  Why not?  We should celebrate as the illusionary walls of this corrupt society come crashing down once and for all.”

“He’s insane,” someone standing near Abby said.

“He’s got some good points, though,” someone else argued.

Abby watched as the man’s face faded out and a confused-looking reporter’s face appeared.  She was a beautiful woman with long, blonde hair, but Abby thought she looked fake, like a doll or something.  “I’m sorry,” the woman said.  “I don’t know what happened there.  This just in, though.”  There was sadness in her voice.  “I regret to inform you of the deaths of three high profile public figures this morning.  Glen Stratus, the owner of Stratus Financial Services was murdered when a bomb went off in his car just outside of his home in Black Rock.”  Abby remembered that Glen Stratus was the economist in the Lead Council.  “Doctor Elias Long,” the woman continued, “a doctor who lived outside of Silver City, was also murdered, killed by what appear to have been bandits during a robbery in the desert outside of North Point.  And finally, Heather Cylburn was found dead in the bathroom of her mansion in the foothills of the Rockies, shot through the head most likely by a member of her domestic staff.”

Abby frowned as the reporter went on to other news.  So someone was apparently picking off members of the Lead Council.  Could it have been retaliation for Abby’s killing of Judith Israel, or something else?  Abby wasn’t sure if it was Rennock, the IAO, or some other enemy.  Whoever it was knew the secret identities of the Lead Council members.  Abby felt even less safe than she had before, if that was possible.  She wondered how Alex Harris and her other friends were faring as she stepped onto the escalator that led up and out of the station.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 27
Where:
Ace and Annabelle look for Digits O’Reilly during a poker game.
Bobby sees something he shouldn’t have.
Abby and her companions attempt to infiltrate an enforcer office.

 

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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