Fiction: Afterlife Volume 3 (Chapter 4)

by Mike Monroe on July 24, 2017

in FICTION

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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 by Jay Hood.


Read the previous chapter here:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 3

Where:

Ayman Ali has dinner with the members of the Wild Joe Rodeo Show.
General Rodriguez and Foxtrot discuss heading to Rose City.
Ace McCoy and Della Luscious have to escape a poker game gone bad.

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 4

The darkness was unnerving.  Rennock was aching all over as he lay on the softened floor of the closet.  The Duke’s women had padded the walls, floor, and ceiling of the closet so Rennock could no longer attempt suicide by smashing his head into any of them.  He’d tried it earlier and it caused a serious concussion, so while the Duke’s medical personnel tended to him, the girls padded the walls.  The purpose of the Duke’s medical personnel was to keep any prisoners alive so the torture could continue.  They also fed Rennock through an IV, so there was no way he could refuse food.  They’d even made sure to cut and file his nails each day so he couldn’t claw his wrists open.  He still had his teeth.  He hadn’t built up the courage to tear the skin off his wrists with them yet, though.

The music started again.  The insane, high pitched, howling guitar, and the volume was turned up so high it still made Rennock jump every time he heard it.  Part of the reason was that often the song played as an intro to the Duke entering the cell and “having some fun” with Rennock.  Rennock refused to let himself enjoy it, no matter how many times it happened, no matter how tempting it may have been.  Tears started dripping down his cheeks.  At times, he wondered if any of the looters living out in the desert felt so helpless.  It was their own laziness that led to their misfortune, though.  Rennock had done nothing to deserve what was currently happening to him.

The guitar howled for what always seemed to Rennock to be an insane amount of time, screeching in his ears and crushing his resolve to dust.  Finally, the singing started.  It was a cover of “You Really Got Me” by Van Halen.  Many times, when the song mentioned not being able to sleep at night, the Duke would enter the cell with his menacingly seductive grin.  Sometimes he didn’t.  The randomness and uncertainty were part of the terrorizing torture technique.  Rennock never knew whether the Duke would show up or not.  There was no rhyme or reason to his appearances.  The song stopped and there was no sign of the Duke.  Rennock breathed a sigh of relief, but the relief was temporary and it was false and Rennock knew it.

The door slowly slid open and Rennock felt himself shaking.  He often felt like he was watching himself from a distance, as if he were on a hologram projector show or something.  It wasn’t the Duke standing in the light, though.  It was one of the other leaders of the IAO Rennock recognized, a tall Hispanic man in a gray cowboy hat.  He was dressed in the leather and metal armor of a bandit.  “Good morning,” the man said with a wicked grin.  Rennock noticed some gold teeth.  He was silent.  “I said good morning, you little bitch.  You better respond when I talk to you, you slutty piece of trash.”

“Good morning,” Rennock grumbled.

The man laughed.  “I’m Long John.  We’re gonna have a little talk.”  He pulled up a chair and sat in the doorway, grinning down at Rennock, who was curled on the floor.  “So,” Long John said.  “I guess it looks like you’re nothin’ without daddy’s money, huh?”

Rennock swallowed, looking up at the towering bandit.  He tried not to think about what Long John had been doing to Deanna and his wife and daughters.  “I inherited his empire and improved on it.  I’ve made more money during my lifetime than my dad ever dreamed of.”

“Is that so?” Long John asked, still grinning.  “You wouldn’t have had the money to do any of it if the opportunities hadn’t been handed to you by your daddy on a silver platter, though.  Your daddy bought you an education.  He handed over the keys to the city to you.  It’s okay though.”  He leaned forward.  “You have a new daddy now, don’t you, you little piece of trash?”

“My dad made me work for what I have,” Rennock said timidly.

“What about the hardworkin’ people who never had your opportunities?  What about all of the people dyin’ out in the desert, and with no help from you or any of your rich friends?  What about the children dyin’ out there?”  He pointed behind him to the window Rennock could no longer see.  “You have a lot of sins to atone for, Herman Rennock.”

“You’re talkin’ about sin?” Rennock growled.  “You all have the morals of a satanic whore.”

“Worse actually.”  Long John chuckled.  “This isn’t about us, though.  It’s about you, you inhuman piece of doggy poop I just wiped off the bottom of my boot.  And you better watch your tone.  If you raise your voice at me again, I’ll cut your tongue out.  I’m a man of my word.  Now apologize.”

Rennock frowned.  “I ain’t gonna apologize to the likes of you.”

Long John drew a knife and cut Rennock’s right cheek with a swift movement.  “Apologize, or I’ll take your whole face.”

“I’m sorry,” Rennock said softly, his hand on his bleeding cheek.

“Louder,” Long John said.  “You were loud enough when you were talkin’ trash just now.”

“I’m sorry,” Rennock said louder.

“All right, then.”  Long John was still holding the knife.  “Now, back to you, you gutter crawlin’, stench-covered rat.  So as I was sayin’, you don’t have your money anymore.  Shows how meaningless money really is, doesn’t it?  And anyway, who decided that printed paper was the end all be all?  Or even worse, invisible credit?”

“I’ve got gold, too,” Rennock said.

Long John pointed the knife at Rennock.  “No ya don’t.  We’ve got gold.”

Rennock nodded reluctantly.  “You’ve got gold.”

“Still, gold is just another arbitrary form of barter.  Why not sand?  Or bunny rabbits?  I know, I know.  Gold is rare.  And it’s pretty.  And it lasts.  But it ain’t people.  The real value in this world is its people, Rennock, and what have you ever done for any of them?  What have you ever done for anyone but yourself?”

“Selfishness is the only moral way to live,” Rennock said.  “Help yourself.  Look out for your own interests, and see that you’re taken care of.  If everyone lived this way, we wouldn’t have any poor.  We wouldn’t have any lazy looters.”

Long John laughed.  “You crack me up, Rennock.  You expect me to believe you’ve ever done anything for yourself?  Servants have always done everything for you.”

“I pay them well,” Rennock said.

“With daddy’s money,” Long John countered.  “And did you really pay them well?  Things here in New Atlantis were so expensive, they were probably scrapin’ to make ends meet.  Just barely survivin’.  Not anymore, though.  Now that we’re in power, the servants live like kings.  As long as they’re willin’ to give us our piece of the pie.”

“You’re criminals,” Rennock muttered.  “That’s extortion.  As a matter of fact, all taxes are extortion.  Why should anyone give you money just because you’re stronger?”

“I’ll let that one slide.  Since I’m in a good mood.”  Long John leaned back in the chair.  “It’s nice havin’ a chat like this, huh Rennock?  It’s been a long time since I’ve had a good political talk with someone I disagree with.”

Rennock frowned.  “Whatever.”

“So let me just tell you a little about myself,” Long John said.  “I was one of those people livin’ out there you call looters.  I was born to parents who had nothin’.  I had to scrape together food any way I could.  I’ve eaten insects.  I’ve eaten feces and I’ve drank piss.  Long as it’s not your own.  That’s the rule.”  He wasn’t grinning any longer.  “I’ve had to eat dead people.  Yeah.  Did you know that Rennock?  Anyone ever tell you how people out there are starvin’ so bad sometimes they have to raid the body pits?”  Long John grinned, his gold teeth gleaming.  “I bet you didn’t know about that.  Yeah, those roastin’ bodies smell pretty good to a starvin’ kid, and after a while, you can’t control yourself.  Anyway, that was me.  I was a kid eatin’ dead kids.  Sometimes kids I’d known when they were alive.  You don’t know starvin’ until you’ve had to eat your best friend’s leg.”  He glared at Rennock.  “So I started dealin’ drugs, right?  Better than eatin’ dead children, right?  I started dealin’ drugs, and got a little money, a little power, and now here I am.  So let me tell you somethin’ Rennock, and you listen close.”  His brown eyes bored into Rennock like drill bits.  “I am a criminal.  I’m ruthless.  Most people would call me evil.  But you created me.  You and the thousands of people like you, who think it’s more important to have a diamond necklace for your god-damned dog…”  He paused, his eyes full of anger and hatred.   “…than it is for a little kid, like starvin’ little me so many years ago, to eat some decent food.”

Rennock’s mouth was open.  “I…   I…”

“You…  you…”  Long John smiled again.  “Don’t open that mouth so wide unless you want somethin’ put in there.”  Rennock closed his mouth.  “So maybe you’ll think twice before callin’ someone a looter from now on,” Long John said.  “Maybe, just maybe, those are actually human beings out there, Rennock.  Some of us have actually really had to work for what we have, Rennock.  I came from nothin’.  My parents were practically slaves.  And look at me now!  I’m the one with all the power.”

“Power you got through force and murder,” Rennock said.

“One more time…”  Long John raised a finger.  “One more time and your tongue’s gone.  Anyway, you crack me up, Rennock.”  He shook his head.  “You, with the massive army and the murderous enforcers, accusin’ me of murder.  You kept your power by force, Rennock.  Yeah, you thought it was your birthright.  You thought you were justified because of your money and all that crap.  You’re just a liar and a hypocrite.”

“I was defendin’ what I had from…”  He paused and closed his mouth.

Long John grinned.  “You say it even when you don’t say it, Rennock.  Go ahead.  Say it.  Looters.”  Rennock was silent as Long John pointed the knife at his face.  “I wonder how you’d look without a nose.”

“Looters,” Rennock said, and Long John punched him in the face.  Rennock shook it off.

“You mean the people your actions were killin’.  What’s the difference between destroyin’ someone financially to the point they can’t afford to eat and murderin’ them?  Nothin’!  The weapon’s different, that’s all.  You kill with money.  I kill with guns.  You’ve murdered millions by wasting the money they could have used to eat on your silly useless luxuries.  And I’m not even talkin’ about the people your men actually have murdered.  The thousands.  Millions, probably.  You’re a wasteful, evil man, Rennock.  And pretty soon, I’m gonna put an end to you, you penniless, good-for-nothin’ son of a whore.”

“Go ahead,” Rennock said.  “Just kill me.  Go ahead and get it over with.”

“I’m not so sure you’re sorry for your actions yet.”

“I’ll never be sorry,” Rennock said.

“That’s becomin’ apparent.  You’ll stand by what you’ve done no matter what.  And you’ll blame everyone else for the awful things you’ve done.  You never take responsibility for your actions.”  He pointed the knife at Rennock again.  “You never killed anyone yourself, right?  You just let your minions take care of the dirty work.  Killin’ looters as you call them.  You don’t actually have to watch the kids die, right?  And the slavery.  You just buy stuff from slave owners.  Never use slaves yourself, right?  You’re a hypocrite, Herman Rennock.  The worst sort of hypocrite.  The one who’s blind to his own sins.”

“I’m not blind,” Rennock muttered.

“You could be,” Long John said, holding out his knife.  “I could take your eyes.”

“Where’s this goin’?” Rennock asked.  “What’s the purpose of all of this?”

“We just want you to feel some semblance of guilt before we kill you.  That’s all.”

“I’m free of guilt,” Rennock said.

“How about I bring in a dead kid for you to eat?” Long John asked.  “A kid who’s dead because of your policies.  Because of your inaction.  And because of your actions, also.”

“Do your worst,” Rennock said.

Long John leaned back in his chair and laughed.  “Oh, you sure are gonna regret sayin’ that, you slimy little worm.”

“I’ll never regret anything.”

Long John nodded.  “That’s apparent.  Do you know what happened to your public relations guy?  What was his name?”

“Fred Stimple,” Rennock said.

“Yeah,” Long John said, nodding as he reminisced.  “Fred Stimple.  That little dork with the big head and the huge glasses.  What a nerd.”  Long John laughed.  “Yeah, they gutted ‘im.  In front of a crowd of thousands.  I saw it.  They cut his stomach open, pulled out his intestines, roasted ‘em over a fire, and made him eat them until he bled to death.”  Long John laughed.

Rennock swallowed.  “Why are you tellin’ me this?”

“Because,” Long John said, leaning forward and looking directly into Rennock’s eyes, “what’s waitin’ for you is far worse.  Worse than you could ever dream.”

“What do you want from me?”

“Nothin’,” Long John said.  “You ain’t gonna show any remorse.  That much is obvious now.  Wouldn’t matter anyway.  You’re gonna get what’s comin’ to you regardless at this point.  And the whole world’s gonna see.  We’ll do it in front of hundreds of thousands of people.  And we’ll broadcast it for everyone.  The whole world’s gonna be watchin’.”

“You evil bastards,” Rennock said.  “I don’t care!”  He was shouting at this point.  “I don’t care what you do to me!”  He stood.  “I don’t care anymore!”  Long John grabbed him by the throat and slammed him into the floor.  As he sat on Rennock’s belly, Long John took a pair of pliers off his belt and squeezed Rennock’s mouth hard with his other hand until it opened.  He pulled Rennock’s tongue with the pliers and sliced it out with his knife.  He threw it into a trash can just outside of the closet as Rennock screamed and spit out blood.  Long John then proceeded to tear out Rennock’s teeth one by one with the pliers, throwing them into the trash can.  Rennock screamed in agony, trying to fight, but Long John had him easily overpowered.

“There,” Long John said with a grin when he’d finished and Rennock no longer had a tongue or any teeth.  “Talk back to me now.”  He returned the pliers to his belt with a grin.

Rennock tried to talk, but all he could do was make sounds.  “B,” “p,” and “m” sounds and vowel sounds.  He was crying from the intense pain in his mouth.  He spit more blood out onto the padded floor.

“Mmmm…   Bbbb…  Ah eh.”  Long John mocked him.  “Don’t worry.  I’ll get the doctor and the medics.  And don’t scream too much or I’ll have the surgeons remove your voice box.”  He left the closet and the door closed behind him, sealing Rennock back into the darkness.

Rennock was in intense pain, sobbing uncontrollably.  All he could think of were the starving children eating bodies out of the body pits.  He tried to say “I’m sorry,” but all that came out was a groan.  Then the music started again.  The insanely loud, screeching guitar.

<>

Razor was seated at the bar of a saloon in some tiny mountain town between Easterville and Drummond, which themselves were too small to appear on any maps.  This even smaller town consisted of a saloon, a fueling station, and a handful of houses.  It hadn’t fully escaped the influence of the IAO, though.  Razor had killed four punks on her way in.  They were waiting to ambush people using the main road, but Razor sniffed them out and ambushed them instead, using her EMD belt and her swords.  Now she was at the bar, in jeans and a white tank top, her tattooed arms folded in front of her as she waited for her food.  The nausea wasn’t bad, so Razor figured she’d get some food before leaving and finding a place to camp in the nearby mountains for the night.  No drinking for her, though, since she was pregnant.

It was a small, dingy place in a stone building, like so many other saloons in mountain towns.  The grizzled old bartender was smoking a cigarette, as he leaned against the counter, staring off into space.  Razor looked in the mirror at her eyepatch, scarred face, and black Mohawk.  The visage was starting to seem familiar to her.  She watched through the mirror as another woman sat next to her.  It was a beautiful Latina with full lips, big brown eyes, and long, wavy dark brown hair.  She was petit, dwarfed by Razor’s muscular body.  The bartender placed Razor’s plate on the bar in front of her along with a water.  She’d ordered a medium rare cowboy steak and a plain baked potato with extra pepper.  The only thing missing was a straight whiskey, but that would have to wait.  “They have good food here,” the pretty Latina said with a shy smile.  Razor noticed that she was dressed in blue overalls with a name tag.  Must have been some sort of work uniform.  The name was “Perez.”  There was only one other patron at the saloon, an older gentleman seated at one of only three tables.  He’d been eyeing Razor suspiciously, but that was normal in a small town.

The girl sitting next to Razor was sexy as hell, but Razor wasn’t in the mood.  “Yeah.”  She cut into the steak, watching the blood seep out onto her plate.

“We don’t get newcomers in town very often.”  The girl spoke with an accent.

“You don’t say,” Razor said as she chewed a chunk of steak.

“You gonna be in town long?” the girl asked.  Razor shook her head.  “You can rent a room at the fueling station,” the girl said.  “It doubles as a small motel.  Not everyone knows that.  They don’t advertise it.”

“That’s good to know,” Razor said.  She considered getting up and moving away from the girl, or just leaving, but she decided maybe some conversation would be good for her.  She hadn’t really talked to anyone since she’d found Bobby’s body.  Maybe conversation would help keep her sane somehow, if she wasn’t already too far gone.  “How long have you lived here?”  She only looked at the girl through the mirror.  For some reason she didn’t feel like making direct eye contact.

“Only six years.”  The girl seemed really happy that Razor was engaging with her in conversation.  “Most people here have lived here their whole lives.”

Razor nodded.  “Doesn’t surprise me.”

“I was fleeing the Mexican Territory,” the girl said, “and settled here.”

“Why were you fleeing?” Razor asked.  “If you don’t mind my asking.”

“Communism,” the girl said.  “Our village was starving.  The officials were corrupt and they didn’t give us the food we needed.  My parents died and I left.  I was sixteen.”

Razor nodded.  She remembered Juanita Ricardo telling a similar story when she was teaching her to shoot.  This girl reminded her a little of Juanita.  She was more delicate, though.  Juanita was small and pretty, but she also had a hardiness about her.  Razor was attracted to this new girl, though, just like she’d been attracted to Juanita.  “Why’d you settle on this place?”

“It was the only place I could find a job,” she said.  “People north of the border aren’t always welcoming to Mexicans.  I found a job at the fueling station here, working the counter.  It doesn’t pay a lot, but I manage.  It’s better than where I was before.”

Razor nodded.  “What’s your name?”

The girl smiled an innocent smile that made Razor forget her problems for a split second.  “Ramona.  Ramona Perez.”

“I’m Razor.”

“Razor?”  She grinned.  “What sort of name is that?”

Razor shrugged.  “It’s just a name.”

“Okay,” Ramona said.  “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Razor.”  She said the name awkwardly.

“It’s nice to meet you.”  Razor glanced at her, making eye contact with her for the first time.  “Can I buy you a drink?  I’m not drinking myself.  But if you want one, I can get it for you.”

She smiled.  “Sure.  I’ll have a pousse-café.”

Razor grinned, looking at the girl with her good eye.  “That’s a weird request.  Are you trying to tell me something?  Sending signals?”

Ramona shrugged and smiled.  “I had one in a bar in Las Colinas once.  It stuck with me.”

When the bartender returned, Razor ordered the drink for her.  She watched the bartender pour each ingredient into the glass, forming a layered rainbow of liquid.  He handed it to Ramona when he was done and she took a sip.  “How is it?” Razor asked.

“Good, as usual.  So you know some things about me.  If you don’t mind my asking, what brings you this way?”

Razor decided not to tell her about how she was tracking down Warrick Baines so she could slit his throat, or how she was also decapitating every IAO stooge she met along the way.  She only had one laser pistol on her, which was customary for people traveling.  She’d left the rest of the weapons hidden under a blanket on her sand bike outside.  She’d wanted to draw as little attention to herself as possible, but she knew that in such a small town, any newcomer drew attention.  “Just passing through on my way to Black Rock.”

“It’s dangerous these days,” Ramona said.  “The IAO are everywhere.”  She frowned.  “They came through here a few days ago.  They raped some of the other girls.  My boss and I hid in the cellar of the fueling station until they left.  They murdered a boy, too.  He was only eight years old.  They’re barbarians.”

Razor nodded.  “I can take care of myself.  Sorry to hear about your town, though.”

“I just thank God I was able to hide from them.  My boss, too.”  She took a swig from her drink.  “They might come back, though.”

“I doubt it,” Razor said, remembering the bandits she’d killed on the way into town.  She chewed the last piece of steak.

“Still, you should stay here a few days.  It’s not safe traveling around here.”

Razor thought about it for a couple of seconds.  Some rest would be helpful.  She could rest in a comfortable bed in town.  Then she’d leave refreshed and ready to seek her revenge.  “Sounds tempting.”

“I have a decent sized apartment.  You can stay with me if you want.”

Razor smiled.  “Pretty forward, aren’t you?  I mean, we just met.”

“What do you mean?” Ramona asked.  Recognition came over her face and she chuckled.  “Oh, no.  Not like that.  You can sleep on my couch.  You won’t have to pay for a room.  Just for a day or two.”

Razor eyed her suspiciously.  What sort of person would let a stranger into her home like that?  Especially the way things were in the world.  It was possible she was some sort of spy.  Either for Rennock’s people or for the IAO.  Or maybe she was just attracted to Razor, just like Razor was attracted to her.  Of course it was possible she was just an innocent, naïve girl who wanted to help someone out.  “Sure.  I’ll stay with you.  Just for a night, though.”

The girl nodded.  “All right.  You seem tired.  We can leave whenever you’re ready.”

The girl finished her drink as they talked a little longer.  Razor mentioned she had a brother who’d died, but she tried not to get into too many details regarding her former life.  Once they were ready, Razor paid the tab along with a hefty tip, and the two of them left the saloon together.  “I live in the building right next to the fueling station,” Ramona said as Razor took the blanket off her bike which was parked in front of the saloon.  Razor noticed fear in Ramona’s eyes as Razor revealed the swords and laser rifles strapped to the sides of Nat’s old sand bike.

“It’s all right,” Razor said.  “They’re just for self-defense.  Like you said, it’s dangerous traveling around here.”

Ramona nodded and got on the sand bike behind Razor, who started the engine and drove towards the fueling station near the edge of the small town.  She stopped near the stairway that led up to Ramona’s apartment in the stone building next to the fueling station, the last building in town before the road led up into the foothills.  The two women got off the sand bike and Razor unstrapped her weapons and slung them over her back.  There was no way she was leaving them outside overnight.  Razor followed Ramona up the steps and Ramona unlocked the door, opened it, and switched on the light.  The two women entered a room with a large black futon, a hologram projector, and a kitchenette.  The apartment was small but clean and the decorations were minimal.  It looked like the apartment of someone who’d just moved into town, though Ramona had said she’d lived there for six years.  Razor threw the weapons into a pile on the floor and sat on the couch as Ramona sat next to her.  “I just got the chip for a good movie with one of my favorite actresses.”  She turned on the hologram projector before Razor could say anything.  “It’s a new one that just came out.  ‘Shades of Irony’ starring Michelle Hemingway.  I was gonna watch it tonight regardless, but you can watch it with me.  The networks are all down thanks to the IAO, so this is probably our best bet.”  Razor was nervous.  She felt like leaving.  The nanobots formed the opening credits of the movie as the music played.  “Make yourself comfortable,” Ramona said.  “You look tense.”  She reached over and touched Razor’s hand, but Razor pulled it away.

“I might have to leave,” Razor muttered.

“You don’t like this movie?  It’s okay.  We can watch something else.  I’m sorry.”

Michelle Hemingway’s image appeared in front of the wall.  She was smiling and seemed so full of life.  Her long, flowing sandy blonde hair was blowing in a gentle breeze.  This had been filmed just before the sidecut.  There were no scars on her smooth face.  She still had both stunning blue eyes.  She was running on a beach, next to ocean waves.  It had all been recreated digitally.  This movie took place before the apocalypse.  A tear formed in Razor’s one remaining eye as she watched her former self.  Ramona looked at her, looked back at the image, and looked back at Razor again.  Recognition came over her face.  Razor ran into the bathroom and slammed the door shut.  “Are you alright?” Ramona asked from outside.  Razor started throwing up into the toilet.  She’d felt nauseated for several days, but this was the first time she’d actually thrown up from the morning sickness.  “Do you need help?” Ramona asked from outside.  Razor threw up some more as tears streamed down her face.

“Please leave me alone,” Razor shouted.  She threw up a few more times and sat hunched over the toilet for several minutes, sobbing quietly.  After some time passed, she wiped her tears and left the bathroom.

Ramona was sitting on the couch with a concerned expression on her pretty face.  The hologram projector had been turned off.  “What’s happened to you, Michelle?  I mean Miss Hemingway.”

Razor bit her bottom lip and shook her head.  “Rennock.  Warrick Baines.  The IAO.  Life.  Death.  I wouldn’t know where to start.”

“Please sit,” Ramona said.  “You seem like someone who could use a friend.  Please don’t go.  I’ve been through a lot, too.  I understand.”

Razor nodded and reluctantly sat beside her.  There was no way anyone could understand all the pain she’d been through.  “I’m pregnant.  Warrick Baines and the IAO killed the father of my child.  Baines sliced up my face.  One of his men took my eye with a knife.  I’m gonna kill them all, though.  And I’m gonna find Warrick Baines.  And there are no words that can describe the pain I’m gonna put him through before I kill him.”  Ramona looked frightened.  “You’re fine,” Razor said.  “Don’t worry.  I only kill IAO punks.”  She looked at Ramona, though, and thought how easy it would have been to kill her.  Razor could have killed her, stayed in her apartment for a night, taken all of her stuff.  She shook off the crazy thoughts.  Killing was becoming too easy for her.  She had to hold onto some part of her humanity.  She thought about the baby she was carrying.

“I’m so sorry,” Ramona said, her face full of empathy.  “I had no idea.  I love all of your movies.  You’re my favorite actress.”

“That’s not me,” Razor said.  “I’m not that person anymore.”  Ramona nodded.  “Look,” Razor said.  “Can we not talk about this anymore?  Can you just try to forget about who I was?”

Ramona nodded, but it didn’t seem convincing.  She moved closer to Razor and held her hand.  Razor didn’t pull away this time.  They looked one another in the eye and there was a sense of understanding.  Razor felt like somehow, they were sharing one another’s pain.  Ramona leaned in, and at first Razor backed away.  She thought about Bobby.  But that was a former life.  Razor leaned forward and their lips met.  They kissed, and it was so much more than a kiss of passion.  It was a kiss of understanding, of belonging.

 

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 5
Where:
Razor leaves Ramona’s apartment.
The mayor of Drummond is forced into an uncomfortable partnership.
Paul learns some disturbing information.

Find the Volume 3 Table of Contents page here.

View the Map here.

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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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