Fiction: Afterlife Volume 2 (Chapter 32)

by Mike Monroe on August 22, 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 31

Where:

Ace and Annabelle kill some people and Abby isn’t happy about it.
Paul leaves his wingman to attack an enemy ship.
Mavery is upset when Big Ed helps the IAO attack a resistance outpost.

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 32

Bobby was having a lot of trouble keeping his racing mind on the task at hand.  If he’d been sightseeing, the setting would have been beautiful, with the river far below him as he sat perched above the canyon.  The waters spilled over a nearby cliff creating a waterfall, but the thing that he was keeping an eye on was the unfinished dam just beneath him.  Part of what was making his mind race was Chuck Moore, who was seated next to him.  “How many you think there are down there?” Chuck asked.

Bobby squinted down at the two men hiding behind the rocks near the river.  “Looks like three.”

Chuck nodded.  “Three shouldn’t be too hard.”

“I’m sure there are more,” Bobby said.  “Nat wouldn’t have had all of us come here for nothing.”  There were fourteen of Nat’s men hiding in the cliffs all together, including Nat, his deputies, and members of the Dayton and Moore families.  After Tommy’s death, John Bracken had scouted the area around the dam and he told Nat there was a significant IAO presence there.  Nat decided it would be a good place to hit them hard, so he’d brought a strong posse up with him.

“You’ll never believe what happened a couple of nights ago,” Chuck said as he looked down at the men behind the rocks.

“What?” Bobby asked.  He was feeling a little nervous.  That was the night he’d slept with Alicia.  Bobby was still kicking himself about that.  How could he have let that happen?  Drunk or not, it was definitely not his finest hour.  He’d betrayed both Chuck and Shelly, even if Chuck did beat his wife and Bobby hadn’t seen Shelly in days.  She was probably with Juan, anyway.  Bobby tried his best to ignore the thoughts and concentrate on what he was doing.

“Some asshole slept with my wife,” Chuck said with a frown.

“What makes you think that?” Bobby asked.

“Used condom in the bathroom trash and it wasn’t mine.  I dug in there and found it.  Had my suspicions before that, though.”

Bobby frowned.  He thought Alicia would have found a better place for it.  “You’re sure it wasn’t yours?”

Chuck laughed.  “Yeah, I’m sure.  She hasn’t touched me in months.”

“Well that sucks,” Bobby said.  “Sorry, man.”

“I mean,” Chuck said, “it ain’t the first time.  Alicia’s real flirty, you know, but still.  I’m tellin’ ya right now, I find out who it is, I’m gonna kill ‘im.  You and Nat can arrest me, do whatever you want to, but I’m gonna kill the son of a bitch.”

“Don’t do anything drastic,” Bobby said.  “You know how Nat can be.”

“I don’t care,” Chuck said.  “I’m sure he’ll understand on some level.  You just don’t mess with another man’s wife.  That’s crossin’ a line, and I think most people, includin’ Nat, would think I was justified in killin’ the bastard.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said as he continued watching the rocks.

Chuck shook his head.  “And in my own bed?  And then he leaves his condom in my trash can?  He may as well have waited for me to come home and then pissed on my leg.  Talk about disrespect.”

“I know,” Bobby said.  He couldn’t believe Alicia had been so sloppy.  Maybe she’d wanted him to find it.

“I’m getting’ antsy,” Chuck said, shifting his position behind the rocks.  “When we gonna take them bastards out?”

“Wait for Nat,” Bobby said.  “I’m sure he has his reasons for waiting.”  He looked across the canyon at the rocks Nat, Lazy Fillman, and John Bracken were supposed to be hiding behind.  No sign of movement whatsoever.  He looked further down at the ledge where Barry and Angus Dayton were crouched.  There was a sudden hail of laser fire as blasts reduced the area around the ledge to rubble.  Rocks were torn to pieces and several lasers hit Angus Dayton, tearing through his chest and neck and his head rolled down into the canyon, leaving his body behind.  Barry was crouching as far behind the remaining rocks as he could get, but Bobby could see his right side was torn up pretty bad.

“Holy crap,” Chuck said.  Bobby quickly looked around for the source of the lasers as several lasers shot across the canyon from both sides.  He heard the loud crack of Nat’s revolver and looked across the canyon to see Nat leaning out from his cover, firing shots at a spot not far from where Bobby and Chuck were.  Chuck fired his laser rifle down at the three men who’d been crouching behind the rock.  He hit one in the head and they started firing back.  Bobby ducked as low as he could as lasers flew up at their spot, one barely missing his head.

“They have RLR’s apparently,” Bobby said.  “Or one at least.”

Chuck ducked down beside him.  “Where’d they get firepower like that?”

“Who knows?” Bobby asked.  He noticed an IAO man hiding behind some rocks in the cliffs across the canyon, trying to make his way towards Nat’s position, and he aimed his laser rifle and fired several shots, hitting the man in the chest.  Bobby was improving with a rifle.  He still wasn’t as good a shot as Nat or Della, but he’d improved immensely.  Losing the sling had definitely helped once his shoulder and chest had healed.  He watched the man fall down into the canyon, disappearing into the waters of the river.

“Bobby!” he heard a voice shout.  “Bobby!  Chuck!”  Bobby turned to see Billy Dayton, Spencer’s youngest son.  Billy was a baby-faced blonde teenager, and Bobby didn’t think he belonged in a battle like this, but Spencer had brought him along anyway, along with his other remaining sons.  Billy was standing near a rock, holding a laser pistol as he shouted.  “Pa says there’s more men behind the dam waitin’ to ambush us.  He says we should go get ‘em before they can.”

Bobby frowned.  “What did Nat say?”  Lasers were still flying all around.  One hit a nearby rock, spraying pebbles across the rocky ground.  “Take cover, Billy!” Bobby shouted.  It was too late.  Three lasers blasted through his chest and another shot through his forehead, jerking his head back as his body thumped to the ground.

Bobby looked across the canyon to see four more IAO members moving towards Nat.  He aimed his laser rifle and fired, but missed, and the four men turned and fired back at him.  Bobby ducked as far down behind the rock as he could.  “It’s not lookin’ good,” Chuck said.  “I’m startin’ to think this was a trap.”

“Ya think?” Bobby asked as lasers pummeled the rocks around them.

“We’ve already lost two Daytons,” Chuck said.  “Maybe we oughta find a way outta here.”

“I’m sure Nat’s working on it,” Bobby said.  He peeked over the rocks and ducked back down, having noticed four more men creeping towards Nat from the other direction.  Nat was surrounded and Bobby felt helpless to do anything about it.  Bobby heard shouting and the lasers hitting the rocks around him stopped.  “What’s that?” he asked.

“Have a look,” Chuck said as he watched the cliffs across the canyon.  Bobby glanced in the same direction to see a figure with two swords whirling, a glowing blue belt around her waist.  “Ain’t that your girlfriend?” Chuck asked.

Bobby nodded, dumbfounded.  “Yeah, it is.”  She was in a white tank top and jeans, and Bobby thought he could see new tattoos covering her arms, though he couldn’t make out what they depicted.  The four IAO men near her were helpless, as they aimed their guns at her but were unable to fire.  She sliced through two of them, chopping one in half and decapitating the other.  Then, she stabbed one and sliced the fourth across his chest.  IAO fighters also took notice, as several lasers whose owners were out of range of Shelly’s EMD belt blasted the cliff around her, and she ducked and leapt behind some rocks for cover.  Bobby noticed two men behind the rocks near the river were firing at Shelly, so he aimed his laser rifle and fired, hitting one in the head.  Chuck shot the other man in the chest.  Bobby noticed that Nat, Lazy, and John were on the move.  They were running across the clifftop near where four more IAO bodies were lying, bloody and sliced up by Shelly’s swords.  Bobby looked around for her, but there was no sign of her.

“Well that changes things,” Chuck said.  “We should head towards the dam now.”

“What about the ambush Billy was talking about?” Bobby asked, looking at the Dayton boy’s body.

“I think we’ll be the ones surprisin’ them now,” Chuck said.  “Besides, that seems to be where Nat’s headin’.”  Bobby nodded, got up, and started running along the top of the cliff, with Chuck following close behind.  Bobby was starting to get tired when he heard lasers firing behind him and saw a pink blast shatter a nearby rock.

Three men in leather and metal armor emerged from around a bend in the cliff ahead, all pointing lasers at Bobby and Chuck.  Bobby knew he was probably dead, but he aimed his laser rifle anyway and pulled the trigger.  Nothing happened.  The three men seemed confused.  They were trying to fire also.  Bobby watched a sword flash out from behind the rocks and slice through all of their backs.  Shelly emerged and kicked the man closest to her, knocking him into the other two and all three fell into the canyon like human dominoes, trailing blood behind them as they fell.  Bobby looked behind him to see two more IAO men running away from them now.  Those must have been the ones firing at him and Chuck from behind.  He turned back around and smiled at Shelly.  “Thanks.”

“Don’t mention it,” she said as she ran past him and Chuck and went after the two men who were escaping.  As she ran past, Bobby noticed that the tattoo on her right arm pictured a dragon and the one on her left arm was a tiger.  The black tattoos were large enough to cover most of her arms.

Chuck shrugged and smiled at Bobby.  “Well I feel pretty useless right about now.”

“Yeah,” Bobby said.  “Tell me about it.”

The two of them made their way to the dam and scrambled down the side of the canyon until they were on the shore of the small lake that had been formed behind the partially completed dam.  A wooden bridge went across the lake, linking one side of the canyon to the other.  Nat was standing near the bridge, as were Lazy and John.  There was a handcuffed IAO guy sitting on the ground with duct tape across his mouth.  Barry, Spencer, and Frank Dayton were there, as was Jud Moore, one of Chuck’s cousins.  Spencer Dayton looked distraught.  His eyes were teary and he was shaking his head.  Bobby dreaded telling him that Billy was dead.  He suspected Lou, Spencer’s oldest son, must have been killed also since he wasn’t there and that would explain why Spencer was so shattered.  Barry Dayton was sitting on a rock, holding his bleeding right side as his cousin Frank, Spencer’s only remaining son, prepared a bandage for him.  “And for what?” Spencer asked as he shook his head.  “And for what?”  He glanced at Bobby.  His jaw dropped and his eyes widened.  “No.  No, don’t tell me.  Please, not Billy, too.”

Bobby nodded and swallowed.  “I’m sorry.”

Spencer shook his head.  “They took my youngest, too?”

Barry Dayton glared at Jud Moore as his cousin finished putting his bandage on.  “You was supposed to be coverin’ us.  My brother died because of you.”

“Where’s Len?” Chuck asked, referring to his own brother who’d been with Jud during the fighting.

“He’s in the river,” Jud said sadly.  “I’m sorry, Chuck.  He was a good guy.”

Chuck started breathing heavily.  He walked over to the dam and punched it.  “Son of a bitch!”

Barry was still glaring at Jud.  “You gonna answer me?  I said you got my brother killed.”

“That’s enough of this crap!” Nat shouted.  “Nobody got anyone killed.  We all did the best we could.”  Bobby was looking around to see if Shelly was there.

“We killed all those bastards,” Lazy said.  “Sure, they took out some of our men, but we killed all of theirs.”

John Bracken nodded.  “He’s right.  Think of it in those terms.”

Barry snarled.  His eyes never left Jud Moore.  “Easy for you to say.  Your brother’s not dead because of someone’s incompetence.”

Chuck took a few steps towards him.  “My brother’s dead!  Your brother’s dead.  We’re lucky we ain’t all dead.  Don’t go blamin’ nothin’ on Jud here.”  He nodded towards his cousin.

“Why not?” Barry asked.  “It was his job to cover us and he didn’t.  Now my brother’s dead because of it.  And those sons of bitches already killed my father.  They almost killed me, too.  Probably would have if you Moores had your way.  Why is it four Daytons died today while only one Moore died?”

“And for what?” Spencer asked again, shaking his head with tears in his eyes.  Frank Dayton got up from Barry’s side and walked over to try to console his dad.

“Enough of this,” Nat said, glaring at Barry through his sunglasses.  “We’re all workin’ together now.”

“Are we?” Barry asked.  “You had me and my brother thrown in jail after our father died, and now this.  You ain’t on my side, sheriff.”

“You’re right,” Nat said.  “I’m on the town’s side.  You were in jail for your own protection.  And ain’t nobody’s fault your brother’s dead except the man who killed ‘im.  And I took him out myself.”

Barry stood and drew his laser pistol, looking at it as he held it in front of him.  “Four Daytons died today and only one Moore died.  Maybe I should even the odds a bit.”

“You ain’t doin’ nothin’,” Nat said, his hand hovering over his revolver.

“You got my brother killed!” Barry shouted.  He aimed his laser pistol at Len Moore and shot him through the head, splattering blood onto the side of the dam as Len fell into the mud near the lake.

There was a loud crack and Barry’s head jerked back as he fell to the ground, blood pooling out of his head as Nat held his smoking revolver.  Everyone was silent, even Spencer as they stood looking at Nat.  The sheriff put his revolver back into its holster.  “We’re on the same team now, folks,” Nat said as he looked around at everyone through his sunglasses.  “You kill a team member, I kill you.  That’s how this works.”

“I’m done,” Spencer said, still shaking his head.  He seemed to be in a daze.  “I’m done.  I’ve had enough.”

Frank Dayton was looking at Barry’s body.  “I can’t believe that just happened.  I’ll be the first to admit he was an asshole.  He was my cousin, but he was an asshole.”

“I’m never fightin’ again,” Spencer muttered.  “I’m through.  I’m through with all of it.”

“That’s fine,” Nat said.  He nodded down at the captured IAO man.  “I’m gonna see if I can get this scum to tell us where their main base in these parts is.  We’ll find it and take it out, and kill Beretta.  We’ll exterminate these pests once and for all.  It was them who killed your family members today.  Let’s end this once and for all.  Who’s with us?”  John and Lazy stood beside him as he spoke.

“I am,” Chuck Moore said.

“Me, too,” Frank Dayton said.  “I mean to avenge my brothers.”

“Of course I’m with you,” Bobby said.  That accounted for everyone there who was still alive, other than Spencer.

“And me,” a voice said behind Bobby.  It was Shelly. Her long, sandy blonde hair was blowing in the breeze and Bobby noticed that the sidecut on the right side of her head was freshly shaved.   “I’d like to become one of your deputies.”

Nat glanced at Bobby, who shrugged.  “Well, all right, then,” Nat said, “seein’ as we’d all be dead if it wasn’t for you.  I’ll see about gettin’ you a badge.”

Bobby smiled at Shelly, but she didn’t look at him.  She seemed to be giving him the silent treatment.  He wondered if she knew about him and Alicia, or if she was still just mad from before.  “I’m sorry,” he said as she walked past him.  She didn’t acknowledge what he said.  Bobby watched as the group began to disperse.

“Hey, kid.”  Bobby turned to see Nat standing beside him.  “You better get things straight with your woman.  I don’t want no more drama than we already got, understand?”

“Yeah,” Bobby muttered.  “I’ll do what I can.”  He followed Nat as they made their way towards the trail that led up the side of the cliff and along the canyon towards where their sand bikes were parked.  Lazy stayed behind to plant the bomb to blow up the dam.

<>

Jim Brantley opened the door to Warrick’s office and stepped inside, finding his boss sitting behind his desk, reading as usual.  The book this time was John Milton’s Paradise Lost.  Warrick looked up as Jim approached him with a smile on his face.  “I have good news for you,” Jim said.

“Good news is always welcome,” Warrick said.

“We found Anna Ballin.  And she’s heading towards Dead Man’s Bluff.”

Warrick nodded.  “That is fortuitous.  I wonder if word that Nat Bigum’s there is spreading, then.”

“The guy who spotted her wasn’t sure if she was actually going to Dead Man’s Bluff,” Jim clarified.  “She was just heading in that direction.  Travelling with a small group of merchants, apparently.”

“Well that is good news,” Warrick said.

Jim nodded.  “I also have some not so good news.”  He swallowed.  “It seems Nat Bigum has united the Moores and the Daytons against us.  They hit some of our guys today.  Killed twenty or so men.”

Warrick looked down at the book on the desk and closed it.  “He’s not famous for nothing.  Nobody ever said taking Nat Bigum out would be easy.”  He put his hand over his forehead.

“Are you all right?” Jim asked.

“The headaches are getting worse,” Warrick replied.  “What was it we were talking about?  Oh, yes.  Nat Bigum.  Anna Balin.  Dead Man’s Bluff.”  The red lights that functioned as Warrick’s eyes shut off.

“Are you okay?” Jim asked, stepping towards the cyborg.

The lights turned back on.  “I don’t know,” Warrick said.  “Maybe not.”  Jim was a little nervous.  Warrick didn’t seem right.  And he got scary when he didn’t seem right.  The cyborg shook his head, like he was trying to shake something off.  “Sorry.  I’m all right.”

Jim nodded.  “Can we talk for a minute?” he asked timidly.

“Of course,” Warrick said.

“Well, I was wondering what our goal is.”

“Goal?” Warrick asked, his red eyes shining at Jim’s face.

Jim nodded.  “I mean, as the International Anarchy Organization.  We’re destroying society’s institutions.  I get that.  So we take out everything that exists now.  What do we put in its place?  I mean, what’s our purpose.”

“Sometimes the act itself is the purpose,” Warrick said.

“Well,” Jim continued, “I mean, with our power, I was thinking maybe we could help the poor, you know?  Those in need.  Or maybe not even the poor.  Maybe some other people who’ve been oppressed, you know?  I’ve always been the type who sides with the underdog.”

“Are you feeling guilty, Jim?”

Jim frowned.  “No.  It’s just…”

Warrick nodded.  “You mentioned oppression.”  He leaned back in his chair.  “Humans are vicious, vile creatures, Jim.  Let me fill you in on a little secret.  Oppression doesn’t exist because there are some groups who are vicious and vile and others who are victims.  We all have the capability of being either the aggressor or the victim.  In some circumstances, Africans tortured, mutilated, and murdered Europeans.  They also practiced slavery.  Native Americans scalped and murdered innocent women and children.  They also practiced slavery.  And they tortured and murdered blacks.  Europeans just did it in greater numbers and are remembered more for it because they were the most successful.  And the rich often mistreat the poor, but there have also been uprisings throughout history where rich people were executed by the poor in vile ways merely because they had money.  So don’t try to say human history is a history of some people being oppressors and others being victims.  We are all both oppressors and victims.”  He leaned forward again and picked up the book in front of him.  “You said you don’t read much, right Jim?”

“I’ve read a little,” Jim said, confusion on his face.

“Have you ever read Paradise Lost?”

“No,” Jim said.  “I can’t say that I have.”

“The interesting thing about this book, which is really an epic poem, is who the hero is,” Warrick said.  “It’s a topic which has been up for much debate over the centuries.  Many, including myself and William Blake, believe that whether it was intentional or unintentional on the part of the author, Satan was actually the hero of the poem.  He’s a well-developed character who is fighting against a tyrannical foe, that foe being God.  Satan goes on a quest and overcomes obstacles like any hero.  Now, in the poem, Satan didn’t think it was fair that God gave Jesus power over him, so he rebelled, and he took other angels with him.”  He leaned forward.  “Seems fair, right?  Don’t we all want to be the sculptors of our own destinies, after all?”

“Sure,” Jim said.

Warrick nodded.  “So Jesus expelled Satan from Heaven after an epic battle, and Satan ended up in a fiery lake in Hell.  So, from there, Satan and the other fallen angels hatched a plot to get revenge against God.  Satan would destroy the very thing which God loved the most, which was mankind.  And in many ways, his actions are justified.  So the one character who everyone sees as the greatest evil the world has ever known, may not be as evil as people make him out to be.  Do you understand where I’m going with this, Jim?”

“I suppose I do,” Jim said.  “But we all have to look after our own.  I mean, we’re humans after all.  And if Satan’s trying to destroy humanity, well, then…”

“Very good point,” Warrick said.

“So what do we do once we’ve taken over?” Jim asked.

“We quit,” Warrick said.  “We’re going to take over the world.  Then, we’re just going to quit.  Give it up to chaos and disorder.”

Jim nodded.  “And what good is that going to do anyone?”

“It will be our way of getting back at all of the institutions which have failed us,” Warrick said.  “It will be our way of getting back at God.”

Jim nodded.  “I see.”  He was in it for the long haul now, but he was afraid to learn any more about the inner workings of Warrick’s mind.

“Is there a problem?” Warrick asked.

“Not at all?”  Jim said.  “Whatever you do, wherever you go, I’ll be there.”  At this point, it was too late for him to turn back.

Warrick nodded.  “You’re a good friend, Jim.  I enjoy our little talks.  We should have them more frequently, don’t you think?”

Jim nodded.  “Yeah.”

“Was there anything else?” Warrick asked.  Jim shook his head.  “All right, then,” Warrick said.  “Leave me to my reading.  I want to see if I can finish rereading this book before dawn.”  Jim nodded.  “Oh, and Jim?”

“Yeah?” Jim said.

“Pack your bags for Dead Man’s Bluff,” Warrick said.  “I think it’s time for me to pay an old friend a visit.”

<>

The sands were starting to blow in the winds a little, swirling up past the tents and settling again in the valleys between dunes.  Juanita and John were busy bringing their tent down, as were Alex and Ayman, the Muslim man they picked up after they were ambushed by the Holy Warriors.  Jane was nowhere to be seen.  Mark Gonzalez worried about his wife as he looked at the wall of sand in the sky on the horizon, a dark tan blur as ominous as any advancing army.  “I’m gonna go out looking for her!” Mark shouted as he made his way to the truck where the sand bikes were docked.

“You’re taking a sand bike?” John shouted over the wind.  Mark nodded as he got up onto the sand bike and started its engine.

“Be careful out there!” Juanita shouted.  Mark nodded as he flew the sand bike off the side of the truck and started riding through the windy dunes, looking for any sign of Jane.

After he’d been riding a short while, Mark saw her standing on top of a dune, holding her communicator.  He wondered who she could be talking to as he rode his sand bike up behind her and let it settle onto the dune.  “Jane!” he shouted.  She couldn’t hear him over the advancing winds.  Apparently, she hadn’t heard his sand bike, either.

Mark walked up closer to her and noticed the message she was typing onto her communicator.  He walked a little closer so he could read some of it over her shoulder.  “Should be in Las Colinas tomorrow morning.  Sandstorm coming.  May not be able to send you another message soon.  Please remind them not to kill my husband.  Capture only.  Only kill the others.”  She finished typing and sent the message, then turned to see her husband standing behind her.  She opened her mouth to speak but no words came out.

Mark’s face was contorted in utter rage.  “So it’s you, then?” he shouted over the wind.  “You’ve betrayed all of us.  Most of all me.”

“I’m sorry,” Jane shouted back.  Her face showed both worry and surprise.  “Please, Mark.  He’ll agree to keep you safe with me.  He only wants to kill the others.”  Mark was so angry he was shaking.  He couldn’t think.  “Mark, he threatened to kill my family,” Jane said.  “My mother, my father, my sister.  All of them.  Rennock found them in Karmica.  Believe me, I’ve only been telling him what I have to.  Not everything.  I love you, Mark!”

“Really?” Mark growled.  “You just told him to kill my men.  How do you expect me to take that?”

“I’m sorry,” Jane said as the wind howled, fear in her blue eyes.  “He was gonna spare you.  I swear.”  Mark turned around and started walking away.  “Mark!” Jane shouted from behind him.  He turned, still full of rage.  “Mark, please!” Jane shouted, tears streaming down her cheeks as the wind picked up.  “I love you.  I’d never let him do anything to you.  You’re the most important thing in the world to me.  Rennock’s going to let us both live.”  She smiled.  “We can still be happy together.  Just you and me.  You don’t have to tell anyone else.  They’ll never know.”

Mark turned, walked a little further away from her, and stopped.  He turned around to see his wife sitting on the dune, her back to him as she sobbed.  Mark slowly walked towards her, stopping just behind her as the winds screeched.  He drew his laser pistol and aimed it at the at the back of her head.  He fired twice.  Blood spurted out from her face as she fell forwards.  Mark flipped her body over with his foot and looked down at her angrily for a few seconds as her dead blue eyes stared blankly at the sky, her mouth open as if to plead some more.  He kicked her body towards the side of the dune.  He kicked it again and it fell into the valley between dunes, tumbling down through the sand as the wall of sand on the horizon came closer and the winds howled and moaned.  Mark got on his sand bike and rode it quickly back towards the truck.

Mark arrived at the truck to see all of the tents were packed and everyone was ready to leave.  John had the driver’s side door open and was getting ready to step inside as Mark docked his bike on the side of the hover truck.  His movements were very robotic.  He didn’t feel like what was happening was real.  He felt trapped in a dream or a nightmare.  “Where’s Jane?” John asked.

Mark shook his head.  “I couldn’t find her.  But we have to leave if we’re going to survive this storm.”

“You’re just going to leave her?” John asked.  “We could look for her a little longer.”

Mark nodded.  “All right.”  He got down off the sand bike, breathing heavily, and walked to the back of the truck, where he got in.  He sat down next to Ayman.

“Where’s Jane?” Alex asked.

Mark shook his head.  “I don’t know.”  He was shaking as John started the engine.  John drove the hover truck through the dunes for a while, but the sandstorm picked up.  The winds were so powerful they were starting to blow the hover truck around a little, and the sand was decreasing visibility to next to nothing.  Mark figured Jane’s body was probably buried deep by now.  “We’re gonna have to give up the search,” Mark said.  He caught Alex gazing at him with concern.  “She’s probably dead by now,” Mark said.  “We don’t want to end up dead, too.”

“Are you sure?” Juanita asked.

Mark nodded.  “It’s time to go.”  John turned the hover truck away from the sandstorm and pushed the vehicle as fast as it would go.  They shot across dunes and through valleys, leaving the sandstorm behind them.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 33
Where:
Shelly has a confrontation in the Crosshairs Saloon.
General Rodriguez has a chat with Paul Jacobs.
Abby robs another bank with Ace and Annabelle.

 

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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