Fiction: Afterlife Volume 2 (Chapter 4)

by Mike Monroe on July 27, 2015

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 3

Where:

Warrick Baines tortures Mickey the Rat for information regarding the IAO.
Bobby goes to the Carpenter City Bank but there’s no Jupiter Diamond.
Abby finds out that the truck is damaged and they won’t be able to leave town.

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 4

Juanita Ricardo curled up next to John Bernard and he put his arm around her.  He looked like he was still half asleep.  Juanita knew he was tired from working on the hover truck late into the night.  He told her he’d made a little progress.  He said he’d figured out that there were some severed wires, but he hadn’t had the chance to replace them yet.  At this point, he’d do it after the church service they were all supposed to be going to.  Juanita was grateful that Paul had let them have some time together early in the morning before he left for the Messier Mine.  He’d left the room under the guise of going for a walk and Juanita snuck in.  John slowly opened his eyes, smiling at her with a tired grin.  “Oh, you’re still here?”

Juanita frowned and hit him in the side.  They were naked and mostly under the white sheet.  John’s muscular, brown-skinned body dwarfed Juanita’s thin, tan body.  “Of course I’m still here,” she said, “you ass.  Would you rather I was never here in the first place?”  She spoke with a slight accent.

“No,” John laughed.  “It’s just that I’m done with you.”  He grinned at her playfully.

Juanita hit him again.  Her thin face was smiling but there was fire in her big brown eyes.  “That’s not even funny.  How about if I’m done with you?  For good this time.”

“You know you can never get enough.”

“And neither can you, loser.”  She ran her hand through her long, black hair and rolled her eyes.  “Really, though.  Why do we keep doing this?”

He looked into her eyes and smiled, putting his muscular arms around her as he snuggled closer.  “I’ll tell you why I do it.  Because you’re beautiful.  And you’re the best I ever had.”

“I’ve had better,” Juanita joked with a grin.

“Oh have you?” John asked.  “Well why don’t you go hang out with them then and leave me alone?”

Juanita rolled her eyes again.  “Seriously, though.  We both know this isn’t going to work.  You’ll do something stupid and I’ll yell at you and you’ll yell back and we’ll try to kill each other and break up.  And then we’ll be back together again.  When will we end the cycle?”

John shrugged.  “I’ll try my best not to do anything stupid this time.”

“Don’t go into any more strip clubs,” Juanita said.  “That would be a good start.”

“I know,” John muttered.  “But, you know, guys have to have some fun sometimes.  I mean, Paul doesn’t have anyone, you know?  I was trying to show him a good time before the big battle.”

Juanita shook her head.  “I’m your good time.  And as far as Paul goes, he can find his own good time.  And it wouldn’t be a problem if you didn’t cheat on me every time a pretty woman came your way.”

“Like you never cheated on me.”  John shook his head.

Juanita frowned at him.  “I was just trying to get back at you.”

John frowned back.  “And that makes it any better?”

“I know,” Juanita said.  Her expression was serious.  “I’m sorry.”

John grinned at her mischievously.  “We could have an open relationship.”

Juanita hit him again.  “I can’t believe you just said that.”

“What?” John asked.  “I’m always up for anything.  You know that.  Let’s try something new.  Maybe that’s what we need.”

Juanita shook her head and settled into her pillow.  “Let’s just stop talking and cuddle.  We don’t have much time before that church service.”

John grunted and grabbed the watch on the nightstand.  “Oh crap!”

“What?” Juanita blurted.

“We’re late!”  John sat up and stretched.  “Quick.  Get your clothes on.  Mark’s gonna be pissed.”  The two of them scrambled to put their uniforms on as quickly as possible.  Juanita quickly put her hair up in a ponytail and John fumbled around for his glasses.  They both also grabbed their belts, each with a holstered laser pistol, and rushed out the door.

<>

Abby walked through the open front doors of the Carpenter City Church of the True Christ, which was a large, plain-looking church with white panel siding.  There was a high steeple in the front with a huge golden cross on top.  Abby tried to sandwich herself between Della and Bobby as she entered, trying to blend in as much as possible.  Della had toned down his appearance as Abby had requested, his long fingernails covered by black gloves, and the usual makeup on his face was missing.  Abby thought he was actually pretty good looking, with pretty brown eyes, high cheekbones, and a strong jaw.  Michelle, Mark, and Jane entered the church just behind them.  Abby noticed that Alex, Mavery, and Sera were already there, sitting in a faux wooden pew towards the back, so Abby and the others headed towards them, wading through the sea of people gathered in the aisle, past the wide-eyed welcomes and smiles.  Nat, Big Ed, and Paul had left earlier in the morning to retrieve the Jupiter Diamond from the Messier Mine.  Abby was hoping she and her group wouldn’t have to field too many questions regarding their whereabouts.  If anyone asked, she’d say they were sick.  Hopefully the citizens of Carpenter City didn’t have the audacity to check their rooms or do anything crazy like that.

As Abby sat down on the faux wooden pew between Della and Bobby, she noticed that most of the other women in church wore long dresses with long sleeves.  Some had flower patterns and others were plain white, but all were pastel in color.  The men wore either white or light gray suits.  Everyone was smiling and shaking hands.  They seemed so friendly.  Probably too friendly, Abby thought.  A woman seated in front of Abby turned and smiled at her.  “Welcome,” she said.

“Thanks,” Abby said sheepishly.

“It’s good to see new people here,” the woman said.  She had kind brown eyes and a warm smile.  “I hope you’ll stay a while.  You may even like it so much you’ll want to live here.”

“I don’t know,” Abby said.  “We’re just passing through, but it seems like a nice place.”

“I was just passing through, too,” the woman said with a chuckle, “but this place has a way of drawing you in.  There aren’t any other places like it.  If you need anything while you’re here, please let any one of us know.  We’ll be more than happy to help.”

Abby nodded as the woman turned back around.  Abby realized that Juanita Ricardo and John Bernard were missing as the churchgoers settled into their seats.  Soon, all was quiet and the sounds of a pipe organ playing “Amazing Grace” filled the church.  Abby looked towards the front and saw a plain, faux wooden podium.  Wood was so rare and expensive that many in Numurka had started using faux wood, which was a synthetic version.  People from Abby’s family’s circles would have thought it very tacky, but she realized that not everyone had the money to spend on wood, which generally cost upwards of ten thousand dollars a pound.  Abby had been away from wealthy society too long to know the current prices.  She recognized Pastor Oral Kenyon as he walked up to the podium, his trademark smile on his round face.  He stood at the podium, looking out at the now quiet crowd as the organ music stopped.  He was wearing a pristine white suit and the same gold and diamond cross she’d seen him wearing before.   “It’s so great to see y’all this morning,” he said with his strong accent.  “God welcomes ya.  And for all the new folks, welcome to our family.”

There was a murmur through the church.  “Amen!” someone shouted.

Pastor Kenyon nodded, the smile still on his face.  “Today I wanted to talk to you about…”  He stopped as the back door to the church opened and Juanita and John walked slowly through.  They saw Abby and her companions and quickly rushed to sit down near them, embarrassed expressions on their faces.  Abby noticed that Sergeant Gonzalez was glaring at them.  “Take your time,” Pastor Kenyon said.  “It’s all right.  Welcome.  Come as you are.  Anyway, today we’re gonna talk about hopes and dreams.”  He smiled out at the churchgoers.  “I know when you were all children, none of you dreamt of a world like the one we live in.”

“No way!” someone shouted.

“Children don’t dream of sin and evil, which this world is full of.  Children don’t dream of death and destruction.  You probably thought you’d be a millionaire.”  He paused with a knowing grin.  “And then there are those of you who’ve suffered from illnesses of one type or another.  I’ll bet you never dreamt of anything like that either.”

“No!” several people shouted.

“You probably thought you’d be young and healthy forever.”

“That’s right!” someone agreed.

“Well, what if I told you that you can be?”  Abby found the look he gave the churchgoers unsettling.  It was like he knew something no one else did.  “You can be a healthy millionaire,” he continued, “without a trouble in the world.  And that’s what God wants for you.”  Abby couldn’t help but think he reminded her of a used sand bike salesman.

“Yes!” the woman seated in front of Abby shouted.

“You just need some faith,” Pastor Kenyon said.  “That’s all.  Faith in Jesus Christ, and all of your worldly problems will disappear, for as it says in the Bible, by his stripes we are healed!  And it also says that for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”  Abby realized he was taking these Bible verses out of context.  He seemed to be hand-picking them to fit some agenda.  She remembered Pastor Earl once warning her about such people.

“Amen!” someone shouted.  “Hallelujah!”

“Now maybe you’re asking yourself why you haven’t yet received these blessings.  Well, there are several possible reasons.”  He stepped away from the podium and started walking back and forth in front of the church.  “First of all, maybe you just haven’t asked God for them yet.  Or it could be a faith issue.  Maybe you don’t have enough faith that these things will happen.  And then there’s sin.”  He clenched his fists.

“Yes!” someone shouted.  Other shouts rose up from the crowd.

“The Bible says that neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor male prostitutes nor homosexual offenders nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”  Abby noticed that he was speaking louder and becoming more energized with his motions.

“No way!” someone shouted.  Abby glanced at Della sitting beside her.  He was smiling sardonically and rolling his eyes.

“Look at all the homosexuals out there.  None of them are millionaires, right?  At least they don’t have what they could have if they did things the right way.  And they have AIDS and disease spreadin’ throughout ‘em.  They don’t have health.  And that’s just one example.  You must repent of your sins if you want all of the gifts God wants to give you, folks.  Turn away from the evil ways of the world.”

“Yes!” someone shouted.  “Amen!”

“The blights of the world are caused by our sin.  It’s the homosexuals and the other sinners of the world that cause all the earthquakes and sandstorms.  Their sin threatens us all.  It brought about the end of the world long ago, but here we are in a new age, folks.  And it’s time for you to join this new age.  It’s time for you to reach out for the gifts.”  Abby was quickly realizing that she wasn’t going to find any spiritual healing or enlightenment from this man or his sermon.

“Yes!”

“Now, of course, in order to receive, you first have to give.”  He was speaking softly once again, and smiling.  “But the Bible says no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age.  So give a hundred dollars and you’ll get ten thousand!  Give a million and get a hundred million!”  People clapped and cheered.  “Have faith and give whatever you can.  Give more than you can as an act of faith, folks!  You won’t be disappointed.  I want you all to remember this when we pass the trays later in the service.  Remember that none of your wealth or belongings mean anything if you aren’t faithful to God and his servants here on earth.”  He looked out at everyone and smiled.  “Now, this is the time in the service, for those of you who’ve never been here, when people approach me with their requests.  You can confess your sins, proclaim the lord Jesus Christ as your savior, and start a new life of faith.  You can tell me about any affliction you have, and I’ll heal you of it.  You can give your testimony.  If you’re called to speak in tongues, you can do that.  Come to me, my children!”  He stood behind the altar with outstretched arms.

Abby turned to see Della get up, shaking his head.  He headed to the back doors of the church and left.  Abby considered doing the same.  She turned to Bobby.  “I think he had the right idea,” Bobby whispered.

“We can’t all leave,” Abby whispered back.  “Not at the same time.”

“Why not?” Bobby asked.

Several people began shuffling up the aisle towards Pastor Kenyon.  Abby was starting to think he had the look of a red-faced madman.  “And what can I do for you?” he asked a young woman who was first in the line of people standing in front of him.  She said something to him softly.  “Cancer, is it?  Well your faith has defeated your cancer!”  He pushed her forehead with his hand and two men caught her as she fell backwards.  “You are healed!”  Pastor Kenyon did the same for several others.  One woman stood in front of the church and started speaking gibberish in a loud voice, followed by many more.  Their eyes were closed and they seemed to be lost in trances as they muttered incoherently.  Music started playing as the church became a chaotic mess of people speaking in gibberish while others hit one another in the forehead and people fell into the arms of others.  Some were convulsing on the floor.  “Be healed!” Pastor Kenyon’s voice shouted repeatedly.  “Your sins are forgiven!”

“All right,” Abby said to Bobby.  “It’s time for us to get the hell out of here.”  Bobby nodded and the two of them stood along with Michelle, who was seated next to Bobby.  The rest of their group also stood and they quickly made their way towards the back doors of the church.

“Leaving so soon?” Pastor Kenyon’s booming voice asked.

Abby turned slowly.  Everyone in the church seemed to be staring at them, though some were still babbling in gibberish.  Mark, who was standing near Abby, shouted “We have some things we need to do!  Thanks for having us, though.”

“Well, feel free to come back,” Pastor Kenyon said.  “Remember, we all need God in our lives.”  Abby turned and quickly walked out the door.

She and her companions were in open air, walking towards the hotel as the desert sun stung the earth.  “Absolute craziness,” Bobby muttered.

Abby nodded.  “We need to get out of here as soon as we can.  As soon as John gets the hover truck fixed and Nat, Big Ed, and Paul return with the diamond.”  She was thinking about Pastor Earl as she walked as quickly as her feet would carry her.

<>

“I ain’t comin’ in after ya,” Nat said to Paul as he and Big Ed stood outside the entrance to the mine.  “Make sure you don’t go and get yourself injured or killed.”  His voice echoed throughout the cavern.

Paul chuckled.  “Believe me.  I’ll try not to.”  He peered into the darkness ahead.  It was still and silent.  As far as he could tell, there was no movement.  He turned on his flashlight and started walking into the unknown.  He was more curious than scared.  When he was a kid, he’d been deathly afraid of public speaking, but he tried to do it as often as possible after being advised by his grandfather to conquer his fears by facing them head-on.  By the time of his bar mitzvah, Paul had conquered his fear of public speaking.  He’d used a similar technique of confronting his worst fears for most of his life, from rock climbing in order to get over his fear of heights, to spelunking in order to get over a fear of closed-in places.  He soon found himself becoming an adrenaline junky, which was why he loved flying airships and using explosives so much, and now he fed off the excitement of exploring an unknown cavern.  He smiled as he continued walking into the darkness.

Paul was short for a man, with dark, curly hair.  His short stature was why Sergeant Gonzalez always had him going into tunnels to find possible enemy hideouts.  That, and he wasn’t scared.  Paul loved doing it, actually.  Still, flying was his first love.  He really missed flying airships, which was what he’d been doing when he’d first joined the resistance.  His ship had been shot down several years back, though, and the resistance in Primrose didn’t have enough money or resources for him to get another, so they relegated him to ground forces.  He proved to be a great soldier and soon ended up joining Sergeant Gonzalez’ Bloody Six.  Paul shined his flashlight into the darkness ahead of him, noting that the mine seemed to grow narrower as it went deeper into the hill it had been dug into.  There was a track for a cart leading deep into the darkness, and some wooden frames helped keep the ceiling from collapsing, but the mine hadn’t been used in decades according to Einstein, so Paul knew he had to be ready for anything.  He was dressed in his tan uniform, and while his right hand held the flashlight, his left hand hovered over his holstered laser pistol.

As he walked further, Paul noticed side passages.  He opened the paper Abby had given him and read it softly, shining his flashlight on the words.  “Seek the temple of the forty niner.  Time is on your side: eleven plus four.  Remember Lot’s wife.  Only through death will you find life.  The prize will be yours for chump change.”  He looked at the many side passages.  “Time is on your side: eleven plus four.”  As he continued walking, Paul counted eleven passages on the right.  It couldn’t have been a coincidence.  There were seven on the left, though, not four.  After a while, there seemed to be no more side passages as the mine continued into the darkness, growing narrower and narrower.  “Eleven plus four is fifteen,” Paul said.  If he was to take the fifteenth passage, he wasn’t sure how to count which one it was.  There were the first fourteen passages, nine on the right and five on the left, and then the next two were directly across the hall from one another, followed by two more.  “Time is on your side.”  Paul shook his head, wondering which side the word “time” could possibly be referring to.

After a while, he shrugged.  “Maybe I should just pick one.”  He walked towards the passage on the right and shined the light into it.  The first things that stood out to him were the three skeletons lying on the dusty floor.  They were wearing tattered rags, and each was missing either a head or an appendage.  Paul grinned.  “Well, if it were easy, it wouldn’t be any fun.”  He stepped into the passage, shining the light along the wall until he saw the long, narrow holes where some sort of trap probably shot out.  He had no idea how the trap was triggered.  “Might be the wrong passage,” he muttered.  He needed to be sure this was the right one, but he also knew he didn’t have all the time in the world.  Nat and Big Ed were sitting ducks standing outside the entrance, and Paul and his friends knew they had enemies looking for them.  Paul picked up a rock and threw it into the passage. Six or seven blades shot out, slicing through the center of the tunnel.  One sliced the rock in two and the two halves skittered along the floor.  Paul frowned.  “I’ll check out the other one.”  He turned and stepped towards the opposite passage, shining his light into the darkness.  There were four skeletons lying on the floor of this one, but unlike the others, they were naked.  When Paul threw a rock into this passage, flames shout out from holes lining the walls, filling the passage with a raging inferno that was so hot it almost scorched Paul standing ten feet away.  “Who was this Gerald Messier guy, anyway?” Paul asked the empty the mine, shaking his head.

Paul took a deep breath and looked down at the line of passages once again.  He definitely needed to make sure he chose the correct one.  “Time is on your side: eleven plus four.”  He thought for a few seconds about what that could possibly mean.  “In time, eleven plus four would actually be three.  Four hours after eleven is three o’clock.”  He smiled and walked down the line of passages.  The first three passages had all been on the right, which was now on his left since he was going back the other way, so the choice was pretty obvious.  Paul smiled and shined the light down passage number three.  There were no skeletons near the front of the passage, where they had been in the two others.  “This must be it, then,” Paul said as he stepped into the passage, shining the light ahead of him.  Just to be safe, he threw a rock into the passage and waited.  Nothing happened.  He took several steps, and there were no blades to slice and dice him or infernos to burn his skin off, at least not yet.  There were just dusty sandstone walls as far as the eye could see.  It was claustrophobic, but not deadly as far as Paul could tell.

He cautiously walked deeper down the tunnel as it seemed to head further underground.  He noticed some side passages, but he chose to stay on the main one.  “Remember Lot’s wife,” was the next clue.  That definitely didn’t seem to suggest taking another side passage.  Lot’s wife looked behind her at the burning city of Sodom and was turned into a pillar of salt.  That seemed to suggest that Paul needed to keep pressing on without looking back.  The passage strangely started getting wider until it was a good fifteen feet wide and fifteen feet high.  The skeletons started showing up again, scattering the floor along with several errant bones.  They didn’t all look human.  Paul wondered what may have caused these deaths.  There seemed to be even more side passages in this section, of all different sizes, but Paul continued pressing forward, shining the light at the dusty floor ahead of him.  He heard noises coming from the side passages.  One sounded like a low, rumbling growl.  “Great,” Paul said with a smile.  “I’m not alone.”

Through the corner of his eye, Paul noticed a giant, furry shape emerge from the darkness in one of the passages to his right.  He could tell it was a shaggy cave bear, but it was huge.  The creature stood on its two hind legs and roared, filling the passage with sound.  The top of its head was just a few inches away from the fifteen-foot high ceiling.  Paul immediately started running.  “Don’t look back,” he muttered as he ran as fast as his legs would take him.  There were other sounds coming from various animals behind him.  He heard the thuds and pattering of their running feet.  Paul knew he wouldn’t be able to outrun a cave bear.  He had no idea what he was going to do as he ran into the darkness, the light from his flashlight bouncing chaotically as he sprinted forward.

<>

Las Uniones was a small village, consisting of farm houses, one general store, a bank, and a small jailhouse.  Only a few dozen people lived there in one story homes made from pale sandstone.  There were a half-dozen sand bikes parked outside of the general store.  They were in various states of disrepair, dented and rusty in places.  The IAO skull and crossbones symbol was spray painted on the side of the general store and a folding table was set up in front of a window with a sill inside which was cluttered with glass bottles and tin cans.  The table outside in front of the window was cluttered with boxes and coffers.  The bald, sweaty man seated behind the table on a large cushion was obese and he was missing more than a few teeth.  He continuously scratched his belly and his crotch as he swatted flies and let out a belch here and there, occasionally taking a donut out of a box on the table and eating it whole.  A stretched-out t-shirt covered about half of his huge belly, and rolls of fat hid most of his jean shorts from view.  Jim Bantley thought the fat man was absolutely disgusting, as did anyone else who so much as caught a glimpse of the foul-smelling mass of humanity.  That’s why the fat man was never married, and as far as Jim knew, he’d never even dated anyone, and Jim had worked for him for fifteen years now.  The obese lump had a mind for business, though.  That’s why everyone called him the Bargainer.

Jim and the three other bodyguards stood behind the table while the Bargainer waited for more IAO scroungers to bring him the IAO’s cut of their earnings.  Later in the week, Jim would travel to the IAO’s main hideout in the Rocky Mountains, where he’d give the IAO’s cut to a man he knew only as Long John.  The Bargainer always took out an extra portion for himself, of course, and Jim got a cut for his trouble.  Jim looked out across the desert at an approaching sand bike, wondering if it was a scrounger.  He noticed the IAO symbols painted on the bike’s sides, but as the dented silver bike came closer, Jim saw that the rider was wearing a black trench coat and a black, wide-brimmed hat which covered his face in shadows.  Two red lights shone out from the darkness.  As the bike came closer still, Jim could see that the rider’s face was covered with cybernetic implants.  There was bone showing in many places.  The other parts were patched with leathery skin.  “Warrick Baines,” Jim muttered to himself.  His palms began to sweat more than usual and he felt himself shaking a little.  As Warrick stopped the sand bike near the table and stepped off, Jim noticed a bullet hole between his eyes from which smoke seeped.  Warrick walked up to the table, his arms at his sides, and gazed at the Bargainer.  “I assume you’re the one they call the Bargainer.”

The obese man nodded.  “And you’re Warrick Baines.”  His low, booming voice filled the immediate vicinity with sound.

“A very astute observation,” Warrick said.  “It seems we both have unmistakable appearances.”

“What do you want?” the Bargainer asked.  “I don’t have all day.  I’m a busy man.  Have you come to pay tribute?  Do you want to join the IAO?”

Warrick shook his head.  Jim’s hand was hovering near the gun on his hip, as were the hands of the three other bodyguards.  They all wore leather and metal armored outfits much like the clothing bandits wore.  “I want you to tell me where I can find your boss,” Warrick said.

“I’m my own boss,” the Bargainer blurted.

“Then who do you answer to in the IAO?” Warrick asked.  “Who do you pay your tribute to?”

The Bargainer laughed.  “You got a lot of nerve comin’ here questioning me.” He glared at Warrick with big, cold brown eyes.  “I don’t care who you are.  You should know somethin’ about who I am.  I killed my first man when I was ten.  I’ve killed dozens.  Men, women, children.  Doesn’t matter.  I ain’t scared of a God-damned thing.”  He leaned forward, looking directly into Warrick’s shining red eyes.  “And I’ve got four good men here who are all really good with a laser pistol.  So you’re dead, mister.  That’s the bottom line.”

Warrick nodded.  “Is that so?”

Jim was uneasy.  He’d heard the stories about Warrick.  And he’d always hated the Bargainer.  Working for him meant money.  That’s the only reason Jim had worked for him for so long.  He had no loyalty to the Bargainer, though.  He did, however, value his life.  “I’ll lead you to the IAO’s main hideout,” he said to Warrick.  “I’ll come with you.  Let me work for you.”

Before anyone could react to the words, Warrick’s arm shot up lightning fast, and with a laser pistol, he blasted one of the other bodyguards in the head.  Before his body hit the ground, Warrick had killed the other two bodyguards with swift shots to the chest.  As their bodies dropped into the sand, Warrick pointed the laser pistol at the Bargainer.  “You could have helped me.  Instead, it looks like your friend here wins the prize.”  He nodded towards Jim.

“Traitor,” the Bargainer spat as he glared at Jim.  “They’ll kill you, you know.”  He glared at Warrick.  “And they’ll kill you, too.”

Warrick shot the bargainer in the stomach with the laser pistol.  He fired two more shots, also hitting him in the stomach.  The bargainer shouted in pain as blood spread out from the laser holes.  “You can’t kill someone who’s already dead,” Warrick said.  He fired several more shots at the Bargainer’s stomach.  His sweaty white t-shirt was mostly red now.  Finally, Warrick aimed at the Bargainer’s head and fired two shots, blasting holes through his massive forehead.  The bargainer fell forward into the folding table, knocking it over and scattering the boxes and coffers into the sand, along with several diamonds and gold coins that they had held.  Jim smiled at Warrick.  He wasn’t sure what to expect.  He hoped his gamble paid off.  He was still very nervous, though.  Warrick’s red eyes bore into him.  “What’s your name?”

“Jim Brantley.”

“Well, Jim Brantley, you’ve made yourself a new friend.”  Warrick walked over to him and held out a gloved hand, which Jim shook.  “And I’m a very good friend to have,” Warrick added as smoke seeped out of the bullet hole in his head.  He pointed his laser pistol at the dead Bargainer and fired several shots into his back, twitching as he did it.  Warrick paused for a moment and looked down at his gun, like he was unsure what was happening.  Though Jim found the situation unsettling, he knew Warrick Baines’ reputation.  He knew it was far better to be on his side than against him.  “Now,” Warrick said, his red eyes gazing at Jim, “lead me to this hideout.”  He nodded towards the scattered loot.  “And you can take what you want before we leave.  You’ll see I treat my friends very well.  As long as they don’t betray me, of course.”

Jim nodded with a grin and started rooting through the gold, diamonds, and other loot that had been scattered through the sand when the table had collapsed, filling his pockets with the valuable tributes as Warrick stood nearby.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 5
Where:
Alex Harris talks to Abby about their future plans.
A concerned citizen of Carpenter City reveals some information to Abby.
Paul continues his adventure in the Messier Mine.

 

Find the Volume 2 Table of Contents page here.

View the Volume 2 Character Profiles here.

View the Map here.

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Check out Michael Monroe’s page on Amazon to find other stuff he’s written.
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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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