Fiction: Afterlife Volume 2 (Chapter 35)

by Mike Monroe on October 3, 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 34

Where:

Mavery gives Big Ed an ultimatum.
Alex Harris shaves and puts on a fancy suit, becoming Karl Bergson.
Nat and his deputies shoot it out with the IAO and kill Beretta.

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 35

“All of these soldiers don’t make you nervous?” Deanna Tralley asked as she and Herman Rennock walked through the lobby of Rennock Tower.

There were dozens of guards in black uniforms and dozens more enforcers in blue, all carrying laser rifles as they patrolled the cavernous lobby.  “On the contrary,” Rennock said with a grin as they approached the exit.  “They make me feel safe, darlin’.”

“Can you trust them all?” Deanna asked as she looked around at the armed men.

“My personal guards are all thoroughly vetted,” Rennock said.  “No need to worry about the IAO here, darlin.’  I assure you we’re safe.”  The lobby was surrounded on three sides by glass, and the other wall was covered with paintings and framed photographs portraying various periods from the Rennock family’s famed past.  They could trace their ancestry back to the legendary James Garrison, the founder of New Atlantis.  There were stairways that led to walkways that allowed people to traverse the entire Wall of Fame, which was ten stories high, corresponding with the huge lobby.  A four story high crystal chandelier hung in the center of the vast hall.

They left the lobby through one of many revolving doors and Rennock and his mistress were joined by ten armed guards.  Hundreds of people were cheering in the street far below from behind a barricade as Rennock passed the newly made statues of himself and his father.  His father’s statue was pointing off to the distance as Rennock’s looked on, smiling.  Rennock noticed several nearby billboards which were also new.  One pictured his face with the words “Our Greatest Leader” written underneath it.  Another pictured several stacks of dollar bills, piles of diamonds, and scattered gold coins and it read “Prosperity for All.”  Another billboard Rennock noticed pictured a black man and a black woman passing what appeared to be a joint to a long haired man whose face was covered with dirt.  The black woman was holding a laser pistol behind her back.  This billboard proclaimed “Life on the Outside.”  The statues and the billboards were Fred Stimple’s doing.  The public relations man was building a cult of personality around Rennock, apparently, and though Rennock didn’t feel particularly comfortable about it, he went along with it for the good of New Atlantis.  “This is the first time we’ve left the tower together,” Deanna said as they walked down the marble steps towards a waiting hover car.  “Are you sure you’re okay with this?”

“I’m not afraid anymore,” Rennock said.  “Let the people think what they think.  Stimple’s been sayin’ we’ve been workin’ closely together as two of the wealthiest business owners in the world.  People probably think we’re business partners.”

“Are you sure that’s what they think?” Deanna asked as she smiled and waved to the crowd.

“Stimple’s been pushin’ me as a great family man,” Rennock said.  “The people are buying’ it, apparently.  He showed me some charts and stuff.”

“Charts and stuff,” Deanna repeated.  “Very reassuring.  And you aren’t nervous at all about the IAO?”

“We’ll be well-guarded wherever we go,” Rennock said.  “Besides, I’m not scared of those punks.”  Rennock’s soldiers and enforcers were capturing more IAO members every day, and Rennock’s intelligence operatives had discovered that two top IAO leaders were now dead, so Rennock was feeling less nervous about leaving his sanctuary and travelling around his city once again.  As Rennock descended the impressive stairway, he noticed the red, blue, and yellow graffiti he’d come to dread covering much of another billboard, and he was reminded that the IAO still remained a threat.  The billboard pictured a gold sun with the phrase “Morning in New Atlantis” stretched across it, though most of the sun was obscured by the graffiti.  Strangely, the skull pictured in this graffiti had red eyes that made him feel uneasy, like they were glaring at him personally.  Rennock didn’t remember ever seeing red eyes on the skulls before, though maybe this was just the first time he’d noticed them.

When Rennock and Deanna reached the bottom of the stairway, they got into the back seat of the white luxury hover car and the chauffeur started driving, heading through the busy streets towards a posh restaurant on the other side of town.  The car stopped in traffic and the chauffeur honked the horn.  Deanna squeezed Rennock’s had as the two of them looked ahead at the stopped hover cars.  “So I’ve heard that Doctor Jefferson Hendricks has perfected his nanotherapy system to the point that he can cure diseases in unborn fetuses now,” Deanna said.  “He can cure pretty much anything, from mental retardation to cancer.”

“He’s a great mind,” Rennock said.  “It was only a matter of time.”  Nanotherapy was a state of the art new medical technology which used tiny nanobots to alter DNA in order to cure genetic diseases.  It could be used for other genetics purposes also, but that was the most common use.

“Some people want him to make the treatments available to everyone,” Deana said.  “They want him to either lower the price or start a charity, or something.”  She grinned sardonically.

“He can do whatever the hell he wants with it,” Rennock said.  “It was his discovery.   The wealthy can afford it.  Productive members of society can afford it.  Those are the people whose lives are most worthy of bein’ saved, anyway.”

His communicator buzzed and he pulled it out of his pocket to see that it was Devin Hellier contacting him.  “We’re in Las Colinas awaiting Alex Harris’ arrival,” the message said.  “I’ve assembled a team of ten panthers to work with myself and the enforcers with me.  We’re scouring the town for information.  I’ll let you know when I learn more.”  Rennock nodded and put the communicator back in his pocket.

“Big news?” Deanna asked.

Rennock nodded.  “Another plan fallin’ into place.”  He wondered what had happened with the sandstorm Jane Gonzalez had messaged him regarding.  She was supposed to let him know when she reached town, but he still hadn’t heard from her.  It didn’t matter.  She was expendable now.  He’d gotten all of the information he needed from her.  Alex Harris had most of the Song diamonds with him and he was heading to Las Colinas.  Devin Hellier would intercept him there, kill him and everyone with him including the spy, and then he’d steal the diamonds and they’d be in Rennock’s hands, forfeiting the Song fortune and essentially putting an end to any real hopes the rebels had of bringing down Rennock’s empire.  There was still Abigail Song and any diamonds she was still trying to collect, but soon Eileen Traymont would have that problem under control with the help of the Remingtons.  The IAO was reeling and soon the rebels would be a thing of the past.  Rennock was ready for a wonderful dinner and a fun night out on the town.

<>

Juanita watched through the front of the hover truck as a city appeared far on the horizon.  She could barely make out the vertical structures of buildings forming a faint skyline in the distance.  The town was in some rocky hills which weren’t quite high enough to be considered mountains.  The hover truck had recently entered a rocky stretch of jagged badlands as John drove and Alex sat beside him, decked out in his shiny new suit.  Juanita was still getting used to his new clean-cut appearance, and she hoped he didn’t mind if she continued calling him Alex, as that was the name she’d always known him by.  “There,” Alex said, pointing to a rocky arch.  “Fly through that, and then fly through the rocks behind it.”

Juanita saw that there was a rock wall just beyond the arch.  “Are you crazy?” John asked.

“No,” Alex said.  “It’s a secret entrance.  Trust me.  I’ve come this way a thousand times.  It has been a while, but I’d never forget this.”

“Really?” John asked as he slowed down the hover truck.  “What’s a while?”

“Twenty years, give or take a few.”

John frowned.  “Are you sure this is it?”

Alex nodded.  “I’m sure.  Go ahead.  You’ll be fine.”  John shrugged and slowly drove through the arch and through the rocky wall behind it.  The headlights on the hover truck came on and they were flying through a long tunnel.  “You see?” Alex asked with a grin.  “You can trust me.”  After some time, another rocky wall appeared ahead in the tunnel, blocking the way.  “This one’s not an illusion,” Alex said.  “Stop in front of it and I’ll take care of the rest.”

John stopped the truck and Alex got out and walked up to the rock wall.  “He said this is how we get into his mansion?” Juanita asked.

“The secret way,” John said.

“What is he?” Juanita asked.  “Batman?”

“More like paranoid,” Ayman said from the bench across from Juanita.  “But that’s understandable, with the amount of money he has.  We’re in communist territory right now, remember.  And these hills are swarming with terrorists, thieves, and killers.”  Mark sat next to him, quietly brooding.  He’d been doing a lot of that since Jane’s death, but for some reason it didn’t seem like he was in mourning to Juanita.  It seemed more like he was angry.

Alex placed his hand on the wall and then turned and walked back to the truck as the wall rose up, revealing more passageway.  Alex got back into the truck and John continued driving as Juanita watched the rock wall close back up behind them.  The hover truck traversed the tunnel for what seemed like several miles when it entered a huge cavern with a vast underground lake.  There were rocky columns, stalagmites, and stalactites, all dimly lit by scattered wall lights.  “Park here,” Alex said.  “And be careful of cave bears, giant bats, and giant sand crabs.  They’ve been known to come through here from time to time.  They’re attracted to the water.”  Everyone got out of the truck and followed Alex as he walked through the damp cavern, which was probably the size of a stadium.  The sounds of dripping water echoed throughout the cavern as they walked to a metal door in the wall.  Alex placed his hand on the rocks next to the door and it opened.  He walked through, followed by the others.  Juanita went through last, her eyes and ears alert after Alex’s warning.

They walked through a hallway with metal walls until they reached a stairway, which they ascended until they reached another barrier, this one metal.  Alex placed his hand on it and a door opened outward.  Alex and the others entered what appeared to be a library with shelves full of books flanked by comfortable looking leather chairs and reading lamps lining the walls.  A bookcase closed behind them, sealing the secret door.  They followed Alex through another door and they were now standing in what appeared to be some sort of atrium.  Four walls were metal, about four stories high or so.  The other wall, which they were now facing, was glass, and the view was breathtaking.

They were in a building that had been partially carved out of a cliff, as Juanita could see the other edges of the cliff expanding out on both sides.  Beneath them and all around them were beautiful buildings with smooth, mirrored exteriors, and between the buildings were glass domes filled with colorful flowers and green vegetation.  The glass gardens were all connected to tubes through which water flowed, and there were also bridges which held crystal clear rivers, and people were maneuvering boats through them.  There were motorboats, sailboats, and rowboats, and there were even large lakes where people were waterskiing and parasailing.  Juanita noticed one large pool which had a beach entry, and there were people in skimpy bathing suits swimming and sunning.  Breathtaking waterfalls tumbled down surrounding cliffs and rivers flowed through hills, all emptying into a larger river which led through the center of the city and out into the desert.  Juanita had never seen a city anywhere near as beautiful.  Everything she’d heard was true.  She hadn’t even noticed the two men who had joined them until Alex walked over to greet them.

One man was tall and thin with graying hair, and he was dressed in a dark blue suit.  The other was shorter and he wore a black suit.  He wore glasses and had a balding head of graying brown hair.  Alex smiled at Juanita and the others.  “This is William Warner, my CFO,” he said, nodding towards the taller man as he nodded to the guests with a cordial grin.  “And this is Albert Crane, my chief steward.”  He nodded to the shorter man, who also nodded to the guests.  “Now if you’ll please excuse us,” Alex said, “we have some matters we need to discuss.  I shouldn’t be long.  Enjoy the view until we get back.”  He and the two men he’d just introduced walked back into the library and Alex closed the door behind them.

<>

“So I’m very happy with what the two of you have done since I left,” Karl Bergson, the man who had been Alex Harris for so many years, said as he sat in the comfortable leather chair he’d moved to the center of the library.  William and Albert were seated across from him, close enough they wouldn’t have to talk loud.

“Thank you, sir,” the two men said.

“I knew I left my business in good hands,” Karl said, “and from the messages we’ve been sending back and forth over the years, all of my hopes have materialized.  Now, seeing things in person, it’s even more reassuring.”

William nodded.  “It’s nice to finally see you in person after so many years.”

“It is,” Albert agreed.

“As it is to see you,” Karl said with a warm smile.  “William, I’m glad to know you’ve donated the majority of my profits to the charities I requested.  I always knew I could trust you.  A lesser man would have tried to pocket more of it, but I’ve kept a close eye on my accounts through the years.  You’ve been trustworthy and loyal.”

“Thank you,” William said.  “You’ve a very generous man, sir.”

“I thank you for everything you’ve done for me,” Karl said.  “Now it’s time for us to close up shop.”

“Sir?” Albert asked.

“I’m going to sell the business and the mansion, and we’re going to take the money to Valhalla to give to the resistance,” Karl said.  “I’d like the two of you to come with me, if you’d like.”  They seemed surprised and unsure.  “You’ll both be well-compensated, of course.  And when we move to Valhalla, I’ll find new duties for you and you’ll never want for anything.”

“Very well, sir,” Albert said.

William smiled.  “So you’re finally selling the company.  I knew this day would come.”

Karl nodded.  “So you’re okay with it?”

“Well, it’s really your company,” William said.  “I’ve just been running it in your absence.  But, yeah, I’m fine with it.”

“Think of it as early retirement,” Karl said.  “I think I may retire once I reach Valhalla, also.  Settle down, maybe.  Find a wife.”  William and Albert looked at one another and Albert swallowed.  Karl immediately realized they were hiding something from him.  “Is everything all right?”

“Sir,” Albert said.  “I’m afraid we have some bad news.”

“Hit me with it,” Karl said.  “I’m a grown man.”

“Well,” Albert said.  “I’m afraid that we’ve received news regarding the deaths of some important leaders of the resistance.”  He paused and frowned.  “Some members of the lead council.”

Karl could see where this was going.  He could feel his heart sinking.  “Who?”

Albert cleared his throat.  “Barney Chambers was killed when his airship was shot down.  Glen Stratus was killed by a bomb, Elias Long was murdered near North Point by bandits, and, I’m sorry sir.  I know how you felt about her, but Heather Cylburn was murdered by a maid.  Shot through the head.”

Karl felt lightheaded and his stomach sank.  He took a few seconds to gather himself.  “Are we sure?”

William nodded.  “Our sources saw her body at the funeral.  It was definitely her.”

Karl frowned, in a daze.  “I was certain I would marry her someday.”  He leaned back in his chair.  “Even as the two of us grew older, hope may have dwindled, but I still felt that, somehow it would happen.  Now my dreams are dead.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” William said.  “But now, your safety is paramount.  Someone’s obviously targeting lead council members.”

Karl shook his head.  “I don’t care so much about myself.  The resistance took a big hit.  We’re in trouble.”

“There will be others,” Albert said.  “There will always be others.  Abigail Song for instance.”

“She’s on the lam,” Karl said.  “Robbing banks with Ace McCoy and Annabelle Rose.”

Albert frowned.  “Still.  Someone will step up to fill the roles.”

“No one can fill Heather’s shoes,” Karl said.  “Or those others, for that matter.  Still, the show must go on.  Do we know who it was?”

“We can’t be sure,” William said.  “The IAO and Rennock’s people are our top suspects.”

Karl nodded.  “Judith Isreal was Rennock’s spy.  Rennock’s known for some time who the lead council members are.  There would have been no reason for him to wait so long to start killing us if that was his goal.  It’s got to be the IAO.  They must have a mole in the lead council also, or someone else high up.  Someone who defected more recently.  It’s the only way they’d know.”  He shook his head.  “I can’t believe she’s dead.”

“So about selling the mansion and the company…” William began.

“I’d like to find the same person to purchase both,” Karl said, “in order to simplify things.  William, start putting the word out to wealthy business owners.  See if anyone’s interested.  I’ll help you.  I believe one hundred fifty billion would be a good price for the company.  We’ll do more research, of course to get an exact number.  For the mansion, one billion would probably do, unless we work it in as part of a package.”

“Very well,” William said.

“Albert,” Karl said, “begin letting the staff know.  They’ll be well compensated.  And be sure they get everything in tip top shape in preparation for the sale.”

Albert nodded.  “Yes, sir.”

Karl smiled at them both.  “That’s it, then.  I can’t stress enough how happy I am to be with you both in person once again.  I’ve missed you.”

<>

Abby peeked through the curtain for the millionth time, looking out into the desert at the five hover cars parked on the horizon.  She could barely see the tiny specs, but she knew who they were.  The Remingtons had followed them across the border while Rennock’s enforcers stopped to await permission to cross.  Abby knew it wouldn’t be long before the enforcers, probably with some reinforcements, joined the cars on the horizon.  The Remingtons were watching the safe house Abby was in like a hawk, waiting for her and her companions to leave once again.  They were going to try to leave early in the morning, under cover of darkness, hopefully before the enforcers showed up.  They were expecting to have to blast their way out regardless, but that plan would probably give them the best chance of success.  Abby was glad Einstein was turned off.  She really didn’t want to know what their exact chances were.

In the meantime, things were far from safe.  It wasn’t really a safe house they were staying in; it was a whorehouse run by an old friend of Digits’, Madam Beauvoir.  There were armed thugs everywhere, just like there were everywhere else in the town of El Paraiso, a corrupt border town just barely on the Mexico side, but the Remingtons would only be kept at bay by the thugs for so long.  Abby knew once the enforcers arrived, they’d attack.  And then there were the vultures.  Two vultures she’d seen following them once they crossed the border.  There were legends that vultures followed the Remingtons around knowing that they’d produce plenty of food for them.  Now Abby knew the rumors were true.  She couldn’t see the two ominous birds, but she knew they were there somewhere, probably perched up on the roof above her head.

Ace and Annabelle, dressed as their alter egos Honest Abe and Arlene Miller, were down in the common room at the poker table.  Della was down there too, but Digits had been busy sampling the merchandise since they’d gotten there the night before.  He’d been going in and out of various girls’ rooms throughout the night and pretty much all day.  Annabelle briefly confronted him in the hallway where Abby could hear, asking him how much money he was blowing on hookers, when Digits replied “Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  What better to spend money on?  It’s not like I have any kids to leave it to.  None that I know of, at least.”  And he giggled and ran off into the next room.  Abby was by herself in the bedroom she was sharing with Della, nervously looking out at the cars, trying her best not to think of the ghosts who haunted her mind.  There was her family, Pastor Earl, and Horseman.  But there was also Judith Israel and the sheriff she’d shot and killed.  No matter how many times she told herself it was self-defense, she knew it wasn’t really the case.  She’d become a murderer, and she was realizing that each time she did something that went against her moral judgement, it became a little easier.

She knew there were plenty of places to get drugs in El Paraiso.  She could get pain killers, or she could just go straight for heroin.  She really needed to take the edge off, and with her current state, she was starting not to care so much about future repercussions.  There was a good chance she’d be dead soon, anyway.  It was very hard for her to talk herself out of it, and it was getting harder with each passing minute.  The door opened and Annabelle and Della stood in the doorway.  Della was in drag, dressed in her slinky silver dress, but Annabelle was dressed in a white summer dress, and the wig she wore as Arlene Miller was gone.  Her short, red hair blazed like fire in the sunlight coming in through the window.  “We’re going on a philanthropy run,” Annabelle said.  “You wanna come?”

“A what?” Abby asked.

“Well,” Annabelle said, “you heard we give a lot of what we get to the poor, right?  Well…”

“Who’s gonna watch?” Abby asked.  “I was on watch.”

“Ace can,” Annabelle said.  “Come on.  It’ll do you some good to get out of this room for a while.”

Abby nodded.  “All right.”  She grabbed her belt and strapped it to her waist.  Her laser pistol dangled at her side as she followed Annabelle and Della out into the hallway.  They walked by closed doors full of laughter and various other sounds Abby tried her best to ignore.  They went down the steps and through the common room, where scantily clad women were sitting on men’s laps, fondling their clothes and smiling seductively.  The furniture was posh and mostly red hued, and there were lots of flowers and vases.  Standing along the walls, trying their best to blend into the background, were armed guards with laser rifles.  They all wore dark blue suits and matching fedoras.  Madam Beauvoir was standing by the front door, wearing a fine white gown.  Her long, golden locks were falling down her bare, tan shoulders, and her face showed some age, but she kept it looking very good for a woman in her fifties.  Her blue eyes were always sizing people up, though they still held kindness, and her thin lips were always smiling.  “Good luck out there,” she said with a southern accent.  “I hear it ain’t so safe these days.  You want an escort?  The armed kind, I mean.  Three women like y’all shouldn’t be walkin’ the streets alone.”

Annabelle smiled and shook her head.  “We’ve got our own arms, thank you.”

“Suit yourselves,” Madam Beauvoir said with a grin.  “If y’all are stickin’ around, I hear Wild Joe Rodeo and his travellin’ roadshow are comin’ into town for several days, startin’ tomorrow.  It’s a great show if ya ain’t seen it.  They do some amazin’ things with guns and knives, and even lassos, and I even hear they got real life horses in the show.  Ain’t too many of those around anymore.”

“Sounds great,” Annabelle said.  “If we’re here, maybe we’ll go.”  Abby had heard of the Wild Joe Rodeo Show.  Everyone had.  He was a legend throughout Numurka.  In another lifetime, she would have loved to go, but the longer they were in El Paraiso, the more dangerous things would get.

The madam nodded as Annabelle, Della, and Abby left the establishment through the front door.  They walked down the dusty main road of El Paraiso and Abby turned to glance at the white southern mansion they’d just left, with a wide porch with white columns, and three stories with balconies and large windows.  Just like she’d thought, the two vultures were perched on the roof, looking down at the town, hoping to find a morsel to hold them over until the shootout.  Abby turned away from them and followed Annabelle and Della through the creepy town.  There were some men in suits walking the streets, along with some bandits in leather and metal armor, but Abby knew regardless of what the people were wearing, their livelihoods likely came from questionable sources.  Still, there were lots of poor people in the town, and Abby’s heart always reached out to them, regardless of what sort of state her mind was in otherwise.

They were soon walking past metal shacks and tents, in a place where the sandy, muddy streets ranked of urine and feces.  Annabelle walked up to a door and knocked.  Two timid eyes peeked through a crack as the door opened.  “Hello, ma’am,” Annabelle said.  “You don’t know me, but I was hoping we could talk for a second.  You got a second?”  The woman shook her head, but Annabelle handed her some money and the woman left the door cracked.  “You have kids in there?” Annabelle asked.  The woman nodded.  “How many?”

“Four,” the woman whispered.

“You have a husband?”  The woman shook her head.  “Well we’re here to help,” Annabelle said with a grin.  “You see, I’m Annabelle Rose, and this is Della Luscious and Ruth King.”  Annabelle handed the woman a huge wad of cash.  “Keep quiet until we leave,” Annabelle said, “but once we’re gone, make sure you tell everyone that Annabelle Rose, Ace McCoy, and the Orphan Gang gave that money to you.  Tell all your friends and relations, and any news reporters that come through town after we’re gone, all right?”  The woman smiled and nodded.

They did this several more times, visiting a dozen or so shacks.  Then, Annabelle threw some bills out into a crowd in the street and people cheered.  “Tell them it was Annabelle Rose, Ace McCoy, and the Orphan Gang who did this,” she kept saying.  “But wait until after we leave.”  Abby wondered what good that last part did if Annabelle was going around the streets proclaiming who she was.  Abby was impressed with her generosity, and she knew the people they were giving the money to really needed it, but she knew there was an obvious ulterior motive.  With Annabelle, there was always an ulterior motive.

When they were done, they made their way back through the streets to Madam Beauvoir’s establishment.  They went through the common room, up the stairs, and back to Abby’s room, where Annabelle turned on the hologram projector above the dresser.  “I want to see what they’re saying about us in the news,” she said, flipping through channels.  “Local news reporters are always talking about us.  I just need to find a local news station.”  A news reporter appeared and Annabelle stopped flipping through channels.

“And now to the town of Sunset City,” said the local reporter, a pretty Latina with long, brown hair, “where Ace and Annabelle’s latest crime spree has taken a major toll.  It isn’t them we’re going to talk about now, though.  It’s Ruth King.”  A blurry image appeared behind her head, of Abby with her buzzed platinum hair and black outfit.  Her face was blurry, but Abby still felt self-conscious.  It must have been from an outdoor security camera or something.  “Witnesses say she’s an Asian girl who’s about five feet tall and weighs less than a hundred pounds.  She has buzzed platinum hair and is usually seen wearing black.  Miss King specifically is wanted for the murder of Sheriff John Wilmore.  He was leaving work early that day to give his son a birthday present.  He’d been contacted about the bank robbery but hadn’t responded, so it’s unclear if he even knew it was happening.  A witness said Miss King murdered the sheriff at nearly point black range.  Here now is his son.”

A boy of about ten appeared, and his eyes were red from crying.  “She killed my daddy,” the boy said.

“I’m sorry,” the interviewer said.  “It must be a hard time for you.”

“I’m gonna kill her,” the boy said, his angry young eyes staring out at the world, and at Abby.  “I’m gonna learn to shoot like my daddy did, and I’m gonna find her, and I’m gonna kill her.”  Abby grabbed the remote from Annabelle and turned it off.

Annabelle smiled at her.  “Well I guess now you’re one of the bad guys, too.”

Abby dropped the remote, pushed past Annabelle and stormed out the door.  “Abby!” Della shouted from behind her as she ran through the hallway.

“Leave me alone!” Abby shouted back.  She ran down the stairs and through the common room, ignoring Madam Beauvoir’s greetings.  She ran through the streets and turned to make sure she was alone.  She looked around, looking for anything resembling a pharmacy or a heroin bar.  Or any place she’d be able to find some drugs to erase the pain she was feeling.  Her eyes were streaming tears as she looked around at strange faces, some concerned, some uncaring.

“Hey,” someone said.  “You need help?”

She whipped out her laser pistol and spun, pointing it at everyone around her.  “Get the hell away from me!” she growled.  And she ran.  She ran until she was tired and she stopped in an alley, hoping she was alone, and seeing that she was.  She dropped to the ground, her back against a rusty metal wall, and she wiped the tears from her cheeks.  She closed her eyes and pictured the boy’s face as he threatened her.  She pictured Judith Israel’s face.  She pictured Judith’s children, though she’d never seen them.  They were shadows, also threatening to kill her, threatening revenge.  She pictured her father’s face, her mother’s face, the faces of her siblings, all drenched in blood.  Then, she pictured Herman Rennock, Warrick Baines with his glowing red eyes, and finally herself.  “No,” she said.  “No, it ends here.”  She took a deep breath, looking at the sand she was sitting in.  “It ends right here.”  What was the difference between her and Rennock?  Just their political views?  He was a murderer.  She was a murderer.  Were they the two evils lurking at opposite ends of the spectrum?  Abby cackled at the thought, and then shook it away.  “I’m going insane.  I really am.”

She looked up at the stark blue sky, imagining God looking down at her.  “Why have you done these things to me?  Why me?  It hurts so much!  I didn’t choose to deal with this.”  She shook her head, trying to calm herself down.  “I didn’t choose to have my family murdered.  Please help me.”  She continued looking up at the sky.  “I’m so sorry.  I’m so sorry.  Please help me.  Please.”  The tears started coming again.  “Anything.  Anything.  Please.”  She buried her head in her knees and closed her eyes.  “I’m so sorry.”

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 36
Where:
Eileen Traymont discovers how evil Abby has become.
Bobby has a heart to heart with Nat Bigum.
Nat is visited by someone from his past.

 

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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