Fiction: Afterlife Volume 3 (Chapter 1)

by Mike Monroe on June 12, 2017

in FICTION

Post image for Fiction: Afterlife Volume 3 (Chapter 1)

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.


Image via.

Read the previous chapter here:

Afterlife, Volume 2, Chapter 43

Where:

Herman Rennock begins to panic as he watches New Atlantis burn.
Ace and Della escape Shady Hill and begin their search for Abby.
Shelly continues her quest for revenge against Warrick Baines.

Find the Volume 3 Table of Contents page here.

View the Map here.

Check out Afterlife on Goodreads and don’t forget to rate it.

 

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 1

The door opened.  Herman Rennock turned away from the window and the flames outside.  Wearing only his purple silk bathrobe, he watched as two men and two woman entered his bedroom.  The first man to enter was tall and handsome, with curly blonde hair.  He was dressed in a fur coat and he had an arrogant half grin on his chiseled face as he eyed Rennock with steely blue eyes.  The man behind him was large and had a black goatee.  He was dressed in a black suit and his hard face showed no emotion.  Both of the women were tall and beautiful and were wearing fancy white dresses.  One was a blonde, the other a brunette.  “Herman Rennock,” the man in the fur coat said.  “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Kay,” Rennock said nervously.  “I told you not to let anyone in.  Who the hell are these people?”

“I’m sorry, sir,” the soothing voice of Rennock’s home computer said.  “I no longer work for you, you arrogant, greedy asshole.”

The man in the fur coat chuckled.  “She works for the Duke, now.  Just like everyone else in this building.  Just like you.”

“I don’t work for anyone,” Rennock said angrily.

“That’s too bad,” the man in the fur coat said.  “The Duke was hoping you’d be of some use.  You see, you are now a worthless piece of trash.  The Duke owns everything you once owned now, including your wife, your daughters, and your mistress.”

Rennock swallowed.  “What are you talkin’ about?  Who the hell is this duke?”

“The Duke of Weston,” the man replied.

“He’s the Duke,” the pretty blonde woman said, nodding to the man in the fur coat.

Rennock realized the idiot was referring to himself in the third person.  “Where are my wife and kids?”  No matter what he thought of them, they were still his family.

“And your mistress?” the Duke asked, grinning.  “Yes, the Duke knows.  It’s going to be made public.  Anyway, they’ve been getting to know the Duke’s associate, Long John.  Word is they were reluctant to get to know him at first, but they’re enjoying themselves now.”

Rennock gritted his teeth in anger.  “If you touch any of them…”

“Oh,” the Duke said, “don’t worry.  The Duke will wait his turn.  There are other men waiting in line, too.  Ultimately, though, they’ll all be a part of the Duke’s harem.  Just like your mistress will be.  Yes, Long John’s had some fun with her, too.  And word is she loved it.  There is a reason he’s called Long John after all, and it’s not just because he’s tall.”

Rennock leapt angrily towards the Duke but he immediately felt something slam into his head and he stumbled to the floor, feeling woozy.  When he regained his bearings, he realized the big man in the suit had punched him hard in the face and his nose was bleeding.  He wiped some of the blood away.  “What are you gonna do with me?” Rennock asked the Duke.

The Duke smiled.  “Oh, I’ll have my fun with you, too.”  He walked over to Rennock and touched his cheek gently.

Rennock pushed his hand away.  “You sick bastard.”

The Duke nodded.  “You’ve probably never made a truer statement.  But it’s a shame you’re so resistant.  The Duke’s going to have you bowing to his every whim before this week’s over, whether you like it or not.  You’ll have an easier time if you just submit.”

“Never,” Rennock hissed.

“Everyone’s resistant at first,” the Duke said.  “You’re just like the rest of them, though.  Take away your money, your power, all your belongings…”  The Duke gestured to the room and the city outside.  “…and you’re worthless.  A piece of garbage.  The bandits roaming the desert are more fit to live than you are.”

“You’ll pay for this,” Rennock growled.  “One day you’ll pay for this.”

“Well, the Duke will have plenty of money now.  He’ll be able to pay for anything.”  He nodded to the two women.  “Take his robe.  Find a closet to lock him in.  If he resists, cut off an appendage of your choice.”

The women smiled and approached Rennock.  “Come with us,” the blonde said, drawing a long knife.  “We’ll show you to your new quarters.”  The other woman ripped Rennock’s robe off and he stood, naked and shivering.  The blonde took him by the hand and led him through the door, her knife touching his neck as they walked.

“How does it feel?” the brunette asked.  “To be the Duke’s little bitch?”  Rennock was silent, his mind full of fear and anger has he was led naked through the hallways of what had previously been his home.

<>

The town of Sandville was burning beneath the morning sun.  The explosions from the bombs had mostly stopped, and the sounds of bandits shouting ecstatically filled the streets.  Most of the people who were still alive were huddled in their homes, waiting for the madness to pass.  “This is our town now!” one bandit shouted as he fired an RLR through the windows of sandstone houses.  “If you want freedom, join us!”  Spray-painted depictions of a skull and crossbones with the letters “IAO” scrawled across the middle were showing up on walls throughout what was left of the town, all in brilliant primary colors.

A man in black stood before one of the IAO symbols.  The wall was broken and the house that it had once been a part of had mostly fallen.  Two other men in black with black masks hiding their faces were crouched in the shadows.  A leather-clad IAO bandit turned a corner and noticed them hiding.  One of the shadowy figures drew a laser pistol and blasted a hole through the bandit’s head.  The black-clad man standing in front of the IAO symbol pulled a spray can out and spray-painted in black the words “The Resistance Lives,” covering up the previously painted letters.  He also spray-painted two X’s over the skull’s eyes.  The three men returned to the shadows as the town was overrun with bandits.

<>

Della adjusted his sand shield as he followed Ace through the door.  He hated the blue enforcer uniform he was wearing.  First of all, it barely fit.  It was way too tight.  Second, whoever designed it had the fashion sense of a five year old.  Still, it was a good disguise.  He and Ace were able to kill two enforcers on sand bikes before they reached the first town outside of Shady Hill, and they stole the enforcers’ uniforms.  They’d used the disguises to look for Abby in the jails of two towns so far, only things hadn’t gone as planned either time.  They had yet to find Abby or obtain any information on her whereabouts, and both jail searches ended up turning into shootouts.

In this sheriff’s office, the sheriff was seated at a faux wooden desk with his feet up.  There was a coffee mug on the desk in front of him picturing a pirate with an eyepatch and a parrot on his shoulder, and Della noticed a swimsuit calendar hanging from the wall.  It pictured women, of course, so Della had no interest.  There was a deputy standing near the doorway to the hall that led to the jail cells.  “Can I help ya?” the sheriff asked.  He was a stocky man with gray hair and a kind face.  He wore jeans and a brown vest and the only signifier of his office was the silver star badge on the desk in front of him.

Ace nodded.  “We’re inspecting the local jails,” he said with his gentlemanly southern accent.  “A high profile prisoner is gonna be coming through here and we need to make sure your facilities are up to snuff in case we need to keep the prisoner here for a day or two.”

The sheriff squinted at him.  “I ain’t heard nothin’ about any high profile prisoners.”

“Do you have anyone in your jail right now?”

“A few people,” the sheriff said.

“Who?” Ace asked.

“None of your business,” the sheriff said.  The deputy was watching suspiciously.  “Look here,” the sheriff said with a frown, “nobody told me about any high profile prisoners.  And I won’t take no orders from a couple of Rennock’s goons.  You want to look through my jail, you’ll need orders from some higher authority than just yourselves.  I’ve sworn to uphold the peace as sheriff of this town, and part of that is maintainin’ my own jails.  If you have a problem with that, tell it to Eileen Traymont or whoever it is you work for.”  Della wondered why this sheriff was giving them so much trouble.  The sheriff in the first town hadn’t said anything until he noticed the incriminating laser holes in the backs of their shirts.  The next one asked about the backpacks they used to try to hide the laser holes, and he wasn’t impressed with their explanations.  This time, they were wearing the backpacks again, and they had agreed that if this sheriff asked what they were for, they’d say they were transporting valuable evidence from a nearby murder case and they didn’t want to leave it in their hover car.  They had their stories straight and everything, but this sheriff hadn’t even given them the chance to tell the stories.  He’d been suspicious from the start.

“Why are you so paranoid about letting us look at your jail?” Ace asked.  “Are you hiding something back there?”

The sheriff looked at Ace angrily.  “Are you tryin’ to accuse me of somethin’, mister?”

Ace put his hand on the laser pistol in his hip holster.  “Is there something for me to be trying to accuse you of?”

“Don’t try to muscle me,” the sheriff said, as he put his hand on his own laser pistol in his holster.

Della cleared his throat.  “Let’s not have any shooting here.  Why don’t you let us take a peek in your cells?  We’re not trying to cause any trouble.  We just need to make sure they’re up to code.  That’s all.”

The sheriff sneered at him.  “And I said I ain’t lettin’ you back there.  Unless you want us to lock you both up.”  Della noticed the deputy also had his hand over his laser pistol, so he put his hands over both of his.  “Now both of you turn around and get outta here,” the sheriff said.  “And leave town, too, and we’ll forget any of this ever happened.”

“Not likely,” Ace said, glaring at the sheriff.

The front door opened behind Ace and Della, and the sheriff and the deputy both drew their laser pistols.  Della drew both of his laser pistols and fired before either man had the chance to shoot.  One of Della’s laser blasts hit the sheriff between the eyes.  The other hit the deputy in the forehead.  Della spun and fired two more shots at the doorway behind him at eye level, and the laser blasts shot through the heads of two more deputies who’d just walked into the sheriff’s office.  Della spun his laser pistols on his fingers and slipped them back into their holsters.  Ace was holding his own laser pistol, frowning.  “Next time, let me at least shoot one of them.”

“How about if next time you don’t escalate things to the point where I have to shoot anyone?” Della asked.  He walked to the sheriff’s body and searched him for keys, not finding any.  Ace searched the deputy who’d been standing near the hallway.  He held up a key ring full of nearly identical brass keys.  Della found a wallet in one of the sheriff’s pockets and he found a driver’s license among the cards inside.  “Sonny Blaine.”  Della wrote the name and address down with a pen and paper he found on the desk.

“What are you doing now?” Ace asked as he stood in the entrance of the hallway that led back to the jail cells.

“Don’t worry about it,” Della said.  He was keeping track of each person he’d killed since Shady Hill so he could send their next of kin notes and money.  It would do little to alleviate their grief, but at least it was something.

“Get your bleeding heart over here so we can search the cells,” Ace said.

“One sec, honey,” Della said as he rushed to the front door and checked the two bodies there.  He found their identification and also wrote down their names and addresses.  He walked to where Ace was standing impatiently near the last body and collected the final deputy’s information.   When Della was done, he and Ace walked down the hallway and stopped at the first metal door on the left.

“Your big heart could end up getting us killed,” Ace said as he tried each key.  He finally opened the cell and it was empty.

“Your indiscriminate killing is a way bigger problem,” Della argued.  “I’m not a bank robber, remember?  I’m not in the business of killing lawmen.”

Ace frowned at him.  “Now, Della.  You know that isn’t fair.  Those men were about to draw on us.  And besides, you killed them.  I didn’t.”

Della shook his head.  “And you had nothing to do with it?  This was the third time, honey.  Let’s not do this again.”  The two men checked each door on the right and the left of the hallway until they reached the door at the end.

“The world’s not gonna miss another corrupt sheriff,” Ace said.

“Who says he was corrupt?” Della asked.  “You need to get over your vendetta against the law.”

Ace frowned as he tried each key on the last door.  “I’ll be a rooster’s husband if Abby isn’t in here.  That sheriff was definitely hiding something.”  The door finally opened and there was giggling inside.  Female giggling.

“Back for more?” a female voice asked.

“You’re a horny one, sheriff,” another female voice said.

Della looked inside the cell to see two women lying on cots.  They quickly pulled blankets over their naked bodies.  One was a blonde and one was a redhead.  Both were beautiful and had disheveled hair.  The floor of the cell was cluttered with empty liquor bottles and there was a bag of weed at the foot of the cot the redhead was lying in.  Della noticed the stinky sweet smell lingering a little.  There was also a mirror under the cot with some white powder on it.  “Sorry ma’am,” Ace said.  “Didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Oh, it’s okay,” the redhead said with a smile.  “You want a freebie, handsome?”

“We’re in a generous mood today,” the blonde said.

“We’re big supporters of Herman Rennock’s,” the redhead said.  “Always willin’ to help out enforcers, if ya know what I mean.”  She winked and the two girls giggled.

“We’ll even let you put your handcuffs on us if that’s your thing,” the blonde said.

“Thank you kindly,” Ace said, “but we’ll have to pass.  Not today.”  Della shook his head.

The redhead frowned.  “What are you?  Homos or weirdos?”

Ace grinned.  “He’s a homo.”  He nodded towards Della.  “I’m a weirdo.”  Ace shut the door and he and Della turned and walked back down the hallway towards the office.  “Well at least now we know what the sheriff and his deputies were hiding,” Ace said.

“Still no Abby,” Della said with a frown.

“We don’t even know if she’s still alive,” Ace said.  “I mean, we both saw her get shot in the back and fall off a roof.”

“But there was no body,” Della said.

“Just because we didn’t see a body,” Ace said, “that doesn’t mean she’s alive.”

Della frowned.  “Well we need to continue operating on the premise that she is, though.”

Ace shrugged.  “Well, either way, we may need to rethink our plan.  This was the third town and we’re getting farther and farther away from Shady Hill.  Maybe we should head straight for Black Rock.  If they’re taking Abby anywhere, it’s there.  Unless they’re taking her all the way back to New Atlantis.  Even so, they’ll probably stop at Black Rock along the way.  The biggest enforcer presence this side of the Rockies is there.”

“You’re probably right,” Della said.  “We can maybe stop at towns along the way, too, so we can try to get more information.  No more killing, though.”

“Sounds good,” Ace said as the two men left the sheriff’s office and started searching the town for a new hover car to steal.

<>

The sun was sinking below the western horizon as the woman who’d formerly gone by the name Michelle Hemingway crouched on a cliff about ten feet above the road below.  A steeper, far higher cliff dropped off from the other side of the ten foot wide ledge created for the road.  The rocks and sand of the desert were hundreds of feet below.  Shadows were spreading as the sun set, and Razor was one of those shadows.  Shelly had decided to leave her former self behind completely.  She was now Razor, hell-bent on killing Warrick Baines and everyone else responsible for the murder of Bobby Brooklyn, the father of the unborn child she was carrying.  This was the only way she could make sure that her baby would be safe once it was born.  She knew that Baines would come for her, and the child also.  She had to take him out first.

She’d stopped in Easterville to find the town mostly burned.  Doctor Dayton’s butchered body was hanging in front of the hotel they’d been staying in, along with many other bodies.  There was no sign of Grace or James, or even Sherry, though.  Razor hoped they’d all made it out of town safely.  She’d killed several IAO bandits just outside of town, and one of them said Warrick Baines was heading north just before she killed him, so she was heading north now, also.  She’d stolen a sensor system from one of the bandits’ sand bikes and it had showed her that three objects were approaching from a few miles away, so now she was waiting, perched above the road.  If they were associated with the IAO, she’d kill them, but only after she extracted any information they had on Baines’ whereabouts.  Her swords were strapped over her back and she was holding her laser rifle, waiting to fire when the bikes were in range.

The first sand bike was visible as it turned a corner around a cliff wall down the road.  It was definitely an IAO bandit, with the IAO skull and crossbones symbol painted on the side of the bike, and the driver was wearing the usual leather and metal armor.  Razor prepared to fire when some rocks on the ledge she was crouched on broke away and fell down into the road below.  Razor slipped and dropped her laser rifle into the road, but she was able to regain her balance and stop herself from falling.  “Damn it,” she muttered as she looked down at the rifle.  It would do her little good down there.  She’d left her laser pistols charging back at the sand bike, not thinking they’d be necessary since she had the rifle and the swords.  She’d have to think of an alternate approach.  As the first sand bike neared, she readied herself like a bullet in the chamber of a gun.  She was an intimidating sight, most of her muscular body covered with tattoos of predators, with an eyepatch over her right eye, scars covering her face, and a jet black Mohawk crowning her otherwise shaved head.  Nobody would see her coming, though.  The only one who would see her was the one she’d leave alive just long enough to question.  The first sand bike was close enough that she leapt out towards the road ten feet beneath her.

She landed painfully on the back of the sand bike and in one motion, pulled the driver off with her and kicked him with both legs, sending him flying off the cliff, screaming as he fell hundreds of feet to the rocks.  The sand bike crashed into the side of the cliff as Razor rolled several times, stopping just at the edge of the cliff.  The second sand bike had already gone past and was hundreds of feet away now.  Razor reached for the button to turn her EMD belt on and the third sand bike veered out of control as it passed her and crashed near the spot where the first one had crashed, sending its driver sprawling into the rocky ground.  The sand bikes had combustion jet engines, but the ignition, steering, and breaking systems were all electronic.

Razor turned off her EMD belt, rushed over to the laser rifle she’d dropped, and picked it up again.  She turned the rifle back on and waited a few seconds for it to charge, cursing as the remaining bandit drove his sand bike further away.  She aimed carefully as the last sand bike rode along the cliff edge.  It was hard to see in the spreading darkness, and the bike was probably 3,000 feet away or so now and escaping fast.  Razor fired and the bandit fell off the bike which crashed into the cliff wall creating an orange fireball.  She turned towards the bandit whose bike had crashed when she turned on her EMD belt.  He was moving, so Razor slung the rifle back over her back and approached him.  He was on his back, looking up at her as she drew one of her swords and pointed it at his neck.  “Where’s Warrick Baines?”

“He’s heading to a town called Drummond outside of Black Rock,” the bandit said, visibly frightened.  “He’s gonna wait for you there.  He knows you’re comin’.  And he knows you’re killin’ his men.”

Razor nodded and sliced off the bandit’s head with her sword.  She felt some serious nausea coming on as she walked towards the path where her own sand bike was parked, hidden away from the road.  No more searching.  Now she knew where Warrick Baines was.  It was just a matter of getting there.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 2
Where:
Mavery and Big Ed have dinner with Alpha.
Ayman Ali wonders if some fellow travelers are friends or foes.
Paul Jacobs takes in his new surroundings.

Find the Volume 3 Table of Contents page 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.

Previous post:

Next post: