If you’ve never read Afterlife before, click here to go to the first chapter.
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:
Warrick Baines kills Anna Ballin and talks to Bessie Moore.
General Rodriguez and Foxtrot escape from the IAO.
There’s a shootout in the Chestnut Club with many casualties.
Check out Afterlife on Goodreads and don’t forget to rate it.
Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 42
Just as Ayman Ali pulled his pants back up, he noticed the music had stopped. There was some commotion outside, so Ayman opened the door to the stall he’d been using and slowly walked towards the bathroom door. By the time he reached the door, the commotion had stopped. He’d surely heard several laser blasts. It was likely that the enforcers who’d entered just before Ayman had excused himself to use the restroom had somehow discovered who Karl and the others really were. Ayman took a deep breath and left the bathroom, walking down the chestnut-walled hallway that led out into the club and the dining area.
As Ayman emerged from the hallway, he found the dining area and the dance floor covered with bodies and splattered blood. He noticed that the table where he’d been sitting was splintered to pieces and the enforcer who’d joined them and all of the businessmen were dead, including Karl Bergson or Alex Harris, whose face was mostly gone. There were dead Panthers and enforcers everywhere he looked. Mark Gonzalez was dead, his head and chest blown to pieces. John Bernard was also dead and riddled with laser blasts. Juanita Ricardo, or what was left of her, was leaning against the wall, her misshapen, bloody face nearly unrecognizable with the back of her head blasted open. There was no living person in the club. Ayman stood in shock for a few seconds, praying that Allah would have mercy on all of their souls, when his attention turned to the briefcase which was handcuffed to the wrist of Juan Romero Gonzalez’ dead aide. There were over a hundred and fifty billion dollars in bank notes in that briefcase. Ayman’s look of shock turned into a grin.
He rushed to the briefcase and examined the handcuffs. Realizing there was no way to unlock them, Ayman grabbed a steak knife from a nearby table and started sawing at the dead man’s wrist. It was hard work, but Ayman was eventually able to saw through the wrist and the briefcase was his. He stood for a few seconds when he remembered that far more money was in the hover truck John had been driving, hidden in a secret compartment. Ayman had overheard Mark and Alex discussing it. He rushed to what was left of John and searched his bloody body, eventually finding his keys in a breast pocket in his blood-soaked jacket. Ayman would still have to find a way past the doors in Karl Bergson’s mansion. He remembered Karl placing his hand on the walls in various places to open doors, so he picked up the steak knife once again and slowly sawed through Alex’s wrist until he was able to remove the hand, wrap it in several napkins, and slip it into his pocket. Ayman grabbed a laser pistol and a shoulder holster from one of the dead Panthers and put it on under his jacket. Karl and the others hadn’t let him carry a weapon when he was with them, but none of them were left to protest now. With a proud smile on his face, Ayman Ali left the Chestnut Club with the briefcase, making his way through the Las Colinas tubeways to Karl Bergson’s mansion.
Shelly opened the bag she’d laid out on the hotel bed, revealing two atlantium samurai swords, two laser pistols, a laser rifle, and the EMD belt Sera had given her. “That’s quite an arsenal,” Grace said as she watched. Her son was asleep in the other room they’d rented, and Doctor Dayton was treating someone in a nearby house.
“I’m probably gonna need it,” Shelly said. She was wearing combat boots, jeans, and a white tank top which showed off her muscles and tattoos. She put the EMD belt on, slipped the laser pistols into the two holsters, slung the two samurai swords over her back, and finally strapped the laser rifle over her shoulder.
“Word in town is there’s a roadblock just outside of Dead Man’s Bluff,” Grace said. “They’re gunning down everyone leaving or trying to enter the town with RLR’s.”
“They won’t see me coming,” Shelly said. She frowned at Grace. “Bobby should have been here a half hour ago. Something’s not right and I intend to find out what happened to him.”
Grace nodded. “Well don’t go getting yourself killed. You’re gonna have a baby to look out for soon.”
“I’ll be fine, and so will the baby.” Shelly glanced at Sherry, who was curled up sleeping at the foot of the bed. “Take care of Sherry until I can find my way back here.”
“I will,” Grace said. “And be careful.”
“I will,” Shelly said as she opened the door and left, leaving Grace alone in the room.
Bruiser Bailey was getting tired of watching the road. It seemed that had been all he’d been doing for the past five or six hours. He and the other five men with him had been resting and eating in shifts, but it was past two in the morning now and he could barely keep his eyes open. There had been flurries of excitement earlier as the last few stragglers had tried to leave and Bruiser and the others gunned them down, but now the road was as dead as the town and the bloody bodies on the ground. The only living things around other than Bruiser and his fellow IAO men were the vultures eating the bodies. He watched as one of the big black birds pecked the eyes out of the pretty Hispanic woman in the red dress who was on the ground next to the laser-riddled sand bike she’d been riding. One of the other men had mentioned that she’d been a waitress at the saloon. Now she was just another shot-up bloody body, meat for vultures. Bruiser hoped Jethro would end the roadblocks soon. Surely everyone had heard it wasn’t safe to enter Dead Man’s Bluff. They didn’t need to keep up appearances too much longer.
There was a sound in the rocks to the right of the road and Bruiser aimed his RLR in that direction. Maybe it was some other idiot trying to sneak out of town, or worse, trying to sneak in. A woman emerged from the rocks. She was moving quickly towards them so Bruiser pulled the trigger. The RLR didn’t fire, and the confused expressions of the other five men with him told Bruiser their weapons weren’t working, either. Bruiser dropped the gun and drew the knife from his hip. The woman was wearing a belt lined with blue lights, which Bruiser recognized as an EMD belt. That explained why none of their laser rifles were working. The woman drew two samurai swords from her back and kicked the first man in the stomach, then sliced him in half from his head to his crotch. His name had been Bill, but Bruiser hadn’t known him well. Still, he felt queasy watching a man die that way as the two halves flopped to the ground. Bruiser and the other four men took several steps backwards. Each was holding a knife.
The woman made quick work of the next two men, decapitating one and slashing the other man’s chest open. Like Bill, Bruiser hadn’t known either of them well. He wasn’t working with his usual crew that night. One of the other men, a tall, thin man named Henry, tried to run, but the woman caught him in the back with one of her swords. She sliced the other remaining man in half at his waist as he tried to stab at her with his knife, then she began walking slowly towards Bruiser. Her right eye was covered with a black eye patch, but her left eye was angry and determined. Bruiser decided his only chance was to attack, so he lunged at her with his knife, but before he knew what was happening, one of her swords sliced through his neck. He felt the intense pain and then saw sky and ground spinning as his eyesight faded to darkness.
Shelly slowly crept through the streets of Dead Man’s Bluff, not knowing what to expect. She noticed objects hanging from posts lining the main road up ahead. As she approached, she realized they were bodies. There were men, women, and children. She recognized Spencer Dayton and his son Frank, both shot so full of holes they were covered with blood from head to toe. Spencer’s wife, Carol, was also hanging from a post, her face bruised and toothless. There was also Annie Dayton, her pretty face twisted in a grimace of horror. Shelly crept past the bodies of several more people with Dayton features, some elderly, some children. The people who did this were soulless monsters. Shelly had no qualms about taking them out on sight. She eventually reached the house with the wine cellar Nat had been using as a sheriff’s office. She turned down the alley to find two wooden coffins leaning against the wall. The bodies in them were both missing heads, but she immediately knew who they were. One was in Nat’s blood-soaked clothes and the other was in Bobby’s, and there was a bloody hole in his abdomen. He was Bobby’s height and build. He had Bobby’s hands. It was definitely him. Scrawled above the bodies in blood was the message “This is what we do to sheriffs around here.”
Shelly stood, unable to breath for a few seconds. She almost fell over, but she caught herself and started breathing heavily. She felt the anger rush through her, her body shaking and her left eye burning with fire as it glared at the bodies. Her teeth were clenched together like a vice. Somebody was going to pay for this. A whole hell of a lot of people were going to pay for this. Her mind was mostly focused on one person, though. Warrick Baines. She almost let out a scream of rage, but stopped herself when she heard footsteps coming up the stairs of the nearby door to the sheriff’s office. She quickly rushed to the back of the building and hid in the shadows.
Bessie Moore had been sleeping better than she had in decades. The town of Dead Man’s Bluff finally belonged to her and the Moores, and the Daytons would be gone forever. She felt like she’d finally achieved retribution for the murder of her husband long ago, even if he had been a lazy, ungrateful twit. Life was better for Bessie than it had been since she was a little girl, and a lot of that was thanks to Warrick Baines. She woke up, her eyes fixated on the beam of light coming in through the window. The moon was particularly bright. “Damn space rock,” she muttered. “Ruinin’ the sleep of an old lady.” She heard footsteps. Must have been one of the guards she’d stationed at her door. Looking for a midnight snack or something. What time was it, anyway? He bedroom door opened and she pulled her blankets up to her chin. “Who’s there?” she asked as something rolled across the floor. She squinted at the object to see gray hair and a bushy moustache. Two eyes glared lifelessly at the ceiling. It was Gary’s head. He’d been her last son. She felt horror, shock, and anger at the same time. When she saw the woman in the doorway, fear took over.
The woman was muscular, with laser pistols on her hips and two swords and a laser rifle slung over her back. She had a black eye patch over her right eye, and her face was covered with nasty scars. Tattoos covered her most of her arms. The one on the right was a dragon and the one on the left was a tiger. There was also a snake wrapped around her neck, its mouth open and ready to bite just below her right ear. Her hair was long and sandy blonde, but the left side was shaved. She was the most intimidating woman Bessie had ever seen, and her single blue eye was full of hatred and malice. “Where’s Warrick Baines?” she growled.
“I don’t know,” Bessie said, trying her best to hide her fear. “Try the sheriff’s office.”
“He’s not there,” the woman snarled, stepping closer to Bessie.
“I’m not scared of you,” Bessie said, lying. “I’ve seen far worse than you. And only a coward would kill an old lady.”
“I don’t care what you call me,” the woman said. “You’re not getting out of this.”
“Out of what?” The woman must have killed her guards.
“You played a part in the murders of dozens of innocent people, including the father of my child.”
Bessie grimaced. “You’re a mother?”
“I will be,” the woman said.
“Heaven help whatever comes out of you,” Bessie said.
The woman drew a sword that was dripping with blood and walked closer to Bessie as she shivered in her bed. “What would you know about heaven?” the woman asked. “Hell’s where I’m sending you.”
“Get on with it, then,” Bessie blurted. “It’s late. I ain’t gettin’ any younger.”
“I’ll ask one more time,” the woman said. “Where’s Warrick Baines?”
“Probably sleepin’,” Bessie said. “Just like any sane person would be at two or three in the morning, not like I’d call Baines sane or anything. I don’t know where he’s sleepin’, though. So stop askin’. Get on with it.” The woman nodded and swung her sword down with mad ferocity. It sliced through Bessie’s torso, spraying blood as it sliced through the bed, hitting the floor below.
It was unnerving how many enforcers Abby had seen as she made her way through Shady Hill. She had to keep reminding herself that they couldn’t see her with her camouflage projector. It was late at night, so not many people were out on the street. She would have been spotted immediately if not for the projector. She walked past the last few ramshackle huts and found herself in the center of the small town, where Einstein said the armored hover car would be parked for refueling. It was only going to be in town for a few hours for refueling and maintenance. Then, it was going the rest of the way to Black Rock. This was their best chance to hit the armored car and get the forty billion dollars in bonds and diamonds that were inside. Abby stopped walking when she noticed four enforcers walking down the street on patrol. When she saw any enforcers, she tried to move as little as possible to avoid making any noticeable sounds. She had Einstein on her wrist, but she’d turned him off just in case. Once the patrol passed by, she continued walking towards the center of town.
The armored car came into view as Abby rounded a corner around a sandstone house. She stopped in her tracks when she saw two large hover trucks parked near it. There were reinforcements. That probably meant they were expecting something. As long as they didn’t have a way of detecting camouflaged nanobots, Abby would be okay. She was feeling a little nervous, though. Hopefully their plan was good enough to deal with those sorts of unforeseen issues. She crept slowly towards the armored car. There were three men in white suits standing near it, talking. There were some Remingtons already in town. Was their whole detective agency after Abby and her companions? It definitely seemed that way to Abby. They weren’t alone, either. There were also four enforcers nearby holding laser rifles, scanning the area visually. Abby took a deep breath and glanced at the armored hover car. There was a gas pump in the side of the vehicle running to a nearby building. The back hatch was closed, and one of the Remingtons was leaning against it as he talked. Abby had a small electromagnetic concussion bomb Ace had given her. He always carried a spare, he said, just in case Digits was unable to open a locking system, and now Abby was going to use it to hopefully get into the armored car. It would be hard to place the bomb with the Remington leaning against the hatch, though. Abby needed to wait for him to move. And if anyone saw the bomb after Abby moved away from it, the gig was up. She had to place it where the lock was, too, or the explosion wouldn’t be enough to break the hatch open.
Abby tried to clear her mind of everything that could go wrong. She had to focus on the task at hand. If she waited, Della and Ace would create their diversions and maybe some of the enforcers or a Remington or two would leave the area to see what was happening. Not likely, though. They seemed to have more than enough men in town. The seven who were guarding the armored car probably had orders to stay there no matter what. Abby stood still and waited, hoping for an opening of some sort. She just didn’t feel safe planting the bomb quite yet.
Della crouched behind the rocks, aiming his laser rifle at the four enforcers standing on the road just outside of Sandy Hill. It was dark, but the moon was bright so he could see fairly well. He waited for Ace’s signal. There was an explosion on the western edge of town, the opposite side from where Della was hidden. Della fired, hitting one of the enforcers in the face. The other three quickly ran for defensive positions behind the nearby metal shacks. Della aimed and fired again, hitting another enforcer in the head before he reached cover. The other two were hidden form Della’s sight now. They’d call for reinforcements. It was time for Della to move. He ran for a dune and quickly climbed it. Lasers came at him, but he knew he was too far away for anyone but an expert marksman to hit without a lucky shot. For all he knew, one of the enforcers could have been an expert marksman, though. He scrambled up the side of the dune and rushed down the other side. Once he was safe from their lasers, he started running north, where he’d try to enter town to find Abby.
Abby heard an explosion. It had come from the west, which was where Ace was supposed to start taking out enforcers with his RLR. Abby wasn’t sure what he’d used to cause the explosion, but that was surely the signal Della had been waiting for to create his own diversion. Abby watched as one of the Remingtons said something into a communicator. None of the seven men left the armored car, though, and now there were two Remingtons leaning against the hatch, talking. She wished she was close enough to hear what they were saying, or that she knew how to read lips. The camouflage projector was going to run out of power in a half an hour or so, so Abby needed to plant the bomb soon. She still had to give herself enough time to escape with the money once she had it. She hoped there were bags of some sort inside the car. She had her backpack, but there wasn’t a lot of room left inside. Della and Ace also had backpacks, but who knew when they’d be able to regroup with her?
Abby realized she’d have to create her own diversion. She noticed a stone on the ground near the door to one of the sandstone houses. She crept over to it, turned to make sure none of the Remingtons or enforcers were looking in her direction, and picked it up. Just then, a squad of five enforcers appeared from an alley next to where Abby was standing, holding the stone. She stood still, trying hard not to make a sound. “Someone’s in town shooting our men,” one of the new arrivals said to the Remingtons. “We’ve come as reinforcements to guard the loot.”
“All right,” one of the Remingtons said. “Stand at these intersections.” He pointed to the two roads that crossed the main road closest to the armored car. “Let me know if you see anything from any direction.” The five enforcers nodded and two of them walked to one intersection and three walked to the other. Abby took the opportunity to throw the stone at one of the hover trucks. It hit the side and made a loud clang.
The four enforcers and the three Remingtons who were guarding the armored hover car all looked in that direction and the two Remingtons who had been leaning against the armored hover car stood and took a few steps away. Abby ran on her tiptoes to the armored hover car, standing a foot or so away from one of the Remingtons as she placed the magnetic bomb on the hatch near the lock, trying to be as silent as possible. The bomb was set to go off a minute after it was attached, so Abby ran away, still on her tiptoes. “I don’t see anyone,” said one of the enforcers, who’d gone to check on the hover truck.
“All right,” one of the Remingtons said. “I’ll bet there’s someone here, though. Time to use our tech detector.” He pulled a device that looked like some sort of small computer out of his jacket and started moving it around him, pointing it level to his waist.
Abby continued running towards the alley the five enforcers had emerged from. “There!” the Remington with the tech detector shouted. Someone fired a laser in her direction. She was off her tiptoes now, running full speed as a laser blasted the side of a building next to her. The bomb exploded and she ducked against the side of the building. There was some shouting and someone was yelling in pain. Abby turned to see if anyone was coming after her and didn’t see anyone. She wasn’t sure how the tech detector worked or how well the Remingtons could use it to find her position, so she started running again, down the alley away from the armored car. The armored car had probably been blasted open, but she had no way of knowing for sure, and she had no way of getting the money out of it.
Ace turned a corner and ran down another street through the slums of town. The buildings smelled like feces and garbage. Ace stopped when he saw another group of enforcers in the road ahead and he fired his RLR, taking them out with a volley of hundreds of laser blasts before they could react. The gun stopped firing and the red lights shut off. It was out of power. Ace frowned and dropped the RLR in the sand, not wanting to be weighed down by a weapon he couldn’t use. “I’ll miss you, friend,” he said as he drew his double barreled laser rifle from his back and ran towards the explosion. Ace, Della, and Abby had surprise on their side, but that only helped in the beginning. Every enforcer in town knew they were there now. Ace saw a group of four more enforcers in the road ahead and he fired blast after blast at them with his laser rifle. He realized they had RLR’s and his heart sank as all four men opened fire on him. Lasers were coming at him in swarms as he flinched, firing blindly ahead with his double barreled laser rifle. There was a shout and the four men fell to the ground. Ace checked himself and realized he hadn’t been hit. He turned to look at the sandstone wall behind him, seeing laser blasts everywhere, some seemingly behind where he’d been standing. He turned back to look at the four dead men in the road, their stomachs and chests bleeding out. “Well,” Ace said with a shrug, “if there was ever a time to draw a royal flush, this was it.” He grinned at the bodies in the road. “Sorry you were my unfortunate opponents. Hopefully I have just a little more luck up my sleeve, though.”
He continued walking towards the center of town, past sandstone buildings, trying his best to use the shadows and the darkness as cover. When he saw two enforcers in the street ahead, he quickly fired two shots with his double barreled laser rifle, taking them out. The armored car and two hover trucks were just past them, but there were men taking cover there, and they started firing at him. Ace fled to an alley, trying to come up with a way to take out the men taking cover. “So if there are fifty men in town,” he said, “I’ve killed fifteen already. Della’s probably killed ten to fifteen. And Abby may have taken out one with the bomb. Bless her pacifist heart.” He heard the hisses of lasers near the armored car, and then there was silence. He peeked around the corner and no lasers fired at him. He noticed Della standing near the armored car and he rushed out to meet him. The bodies of three Remingtons and four enforcers were on the ground between the armored car and the hover trucks, and there were three more dead enforcers down the road at an intersection.
“This isn’t over,” Della said. “We have to hurry. Let’s see if we can get the money into our bags.”
Ace nodded as he ran up to Della and the armored car. “Where’s Abby?”
“I don’t know, honey,” Della said as he jumped into the back of the armored car. “She probably drew some heat, though. Still, I’m sure more enforcers are going to show up. They may be coming up with a plan. They probably have no idea how many of us there are.” Della tossed some small sacks to Ace as he stood behind the armored hover car and he shoved them into his backpack. Della put more sacks into his backpack and picked up a bag of bonds and slung it over his shoulder. He slid the other bag to Ace, who grabbed it. “That’s everything,” Della said as he leapt out of the back of the car. He quickly fired his laser rifle at a rooftop and a man in a white suit fell down to the sand. Ace noticed a window in a nearby house move and he fired several shots with his double barreled laser rifle.
“We need to get out of here,” Ace said when he was done shooting. “I could hotwire one of these hover trucks.”
“Let’s see if we can find something less conspicuous,” Della suggested. He pointed down an alley that was riddled with laser blasts. “I’m sure Abby went that way.”
Ace smiled. “I’d be willing to bet a large some of this cash you’re right.” They ran down the alley, but stopped when they saw several enforcers running up the alley from the other direction. There were probably a dozen of them. They drew their laser pistols and fired as Della dragged Ace into the small veranda of a sandstone house. He kicked the door in and pulled Ace into the house, slamming the door shut behind him as he moved a table behind it to brace it. There was a window next to the door, so Ace aimed his double barreled laser rifle through it, waiting to see if anyone showed their face.
Della rushed around the inside of the one story house, looking through all of the doorways. “Nobody’s home.”
Ace nodded. “I guess that’s reassuring.” He heard other voices shouting from outside. Some were coming from behind the house.
“We have you surrounded,” a female voice said through a loudspeaker of some sort. “There are thirty of us and two of you. And we have Abigail Song cornered in an alley. Turn yourselves in and you’ll live. You’ll have to answer for your crimes, but you’ll live.”
Ace glanced at Della. “Do you believe her about Abby?”
Della shrugged. “So what are we going to do? We have the money. If we lose it, according to Einstein, the resistance ends. I know it might not mean much to you, but the resistance is my life.”
Ace frowned. “I’m not ready to turn myself in, that’s for sure. They’d hang me in a heartbeat, and everyone in Numurka would come to see.”
Della smiled and nodded. “So it’s fighting, then.”
Ace nodded. “It’s fighting.”
“Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin!” Della shouted. He leaned out the window and fired. A barrage of lasers came at the house and Della dove to the floor, as did Ace.
Continue on to the next chapter:
Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 43
(The Conclusion of Volume 2)
Herman Rennock begins to panic.
Ace and Della try to escape Shady Hill and find Abby.
Shelly continues her search for Warrick Baines.
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.