Fiction: Afterlife Volume 3 (Chapter 5)

by Mike Monroe on August 7, 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 John Blaszczyk.


Read the previous chapter here:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 4

Where:

Long John visits Rennock in his cell and they have a talk.
Long John cuts Rennock’s tongue out and rips out all of his teeth.
Razor goes home with Ramona Perez.

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 5

Razor got out of bed and started putting her clothes back on, covering up some of her tattoos in the process.  As she put her tank top on, the eagle with spread wings on her back was mostly covered and much of the snake that wrapped around her waist and neck was also covered.  The dragon on her right arm and the tiger on her left arm were displayed in all their glory, though.  Razor spiked up her Mohawk and slowly opened the bedroom door, trying not to wake up the beautiful, naked girl sleeping in the bed.  She closed the door, unplugged the EMD belt and laser pistols that had been charging in the wall sockets, and slung the rifles and swords over her back.  She hadn’t charged the laser rifles overnight because they would have been too large a jolt to the poor girl’s electric bill.  Razor then quietly walked to the front door of the apartment, ready to leave in the darkness of early morning and continue her journey of vengeance.  “Where are you going?”  Razor turned to see Ramona standing in the doorway of her bedroom, draped in a white bathrobe.  There was something angelic about her in the morning light that came in through the window.  “I realized this would probably be a one night stand,” she continued, “but won’t you at least stay for breakfast?”

“I can’t,” Razor said.

“I thought we had a connection,” Ramona said as she approached Razor.  “You know, you don’t have to do this.  Those awful things you’re planning on doing.  I’ve seen the IAO.  I know the horrible things they do.  But you don’t have to be like them.  You have a heart.  You’ve shown it to me.”

Razor shook her head.  “I have to.  I’m sorry.  Don’t pretend you know me after one night together.”

“But nobody should have to carry the burdens you’re carrying.  Let go.  Stay with me a while longer.”  Razor could feel the loneliness in her pleas.

“I’m sorry,” Razor said as she put her arms around the girl.  “I can’t.”  They kissed again, and Razor tried not to let it affect her.  She knew the kiss meant goodbye forever.

“We’ve both lost a lot,” Ramona said, looking Razor in the eye.  “We can help each other.”

Razor shrugged.  “I really don’t know about that.”

“You can come back whenever you want,” Ramona said as Razor backed away from her.  “Whenever you’re ready.  You’re always welcome here.”  Her smile was sweet and genuine.

Razor nodded.  “Thanks.”

“Can I call you Michelle?”

Razor frowned.  “Just call me Shell.”

“Shell,” she repeated.  “Please come back someday.”

“We’ll see.  I’ll try.”  Razor managed a slight smile as she turned away from Ramona and opened the door.  She knew she’d never be back.  She thought of Bobby’s headless body as she walked down the stairs towards Nat’s sand bike.  She thought about the baby inside her and she thought about Warrick Baines, and the anger returned.  The rage filled her with fire and it quickly burned away any tenderness that had been experienced the previous night.  Razor did everything she could to drive Ramona from her mind.  She also tried her best to ignore the nausea and the overall feeling of weariness.  As she climbed onto Nat’s sand bike and started the engine, Warrick Baines was the only thing she was thinking about.

<>

“Are you sure it’s all right?” the mayor asked.  “Are you sure he won’t try to kill me?”

Jim Brantley shook his head as the two men walked through the mostly deserted town.  Drummond was in the desert just west of the foothills of the Rockies, with buildings mostly made from white sandstone.  There was an air converter in the distance on the horizon, and the smoke from a body pit rose up next to it.  “He only killed the sheriff because he saw him as a rival.  And he killed his deputies because obviously, if you’re gonna kill a sheriff, you have to kill his deputies, too.”  Jim felt strange with his Mohawk and sweaty leather clothes, walking next to the mayor in his shiny suit.  Mayor Ulrich was a short, middle-aged man with a white beard.  He was just a tad overweight, but Jim thought he looked like Santa Claus.

“But I’ve heard about what he’s done in other towns,” Mayor Ulrich said.

Jim smiled as they stepped up to the door to the Drummond sheriff’s office.  It was a faux wooden door with a yellow star painted in the center at eye level.  “He’s got no beef with you, mayor.  You’ll find that if you’re loyal to him, Warrick Baines could end up becoming the best friend you’ve ever had.”  Jim opened the door for the mayor, who walked through.  Jim entered after him, closing the door behind him.

There were eight IAO guards standing in the room, all dressed in leather and metal armor and holding laser rifles.  A hallway led back to the jail cells, and there was a large desk.  The man sitting behind the desk had his back to Jim and Mayor Ulrich.  He was reaching for a book on a bookshelf behind the desk.  His wide-brimmed black hat was the most distinguishing feature from behind.  Jim cleared his throat.  “Mayor Ulrich to see you.”

Jim watched as the mayor smiled nervously.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mister Baines.  I’ve heard so much about you.”  His round face was red.

The chair slowly turned, revealing a figure wearing a black suit and tie.  A shiny silver star badge was fastened over his left breast.  His face appeared to be a skull made of metal and bone, splotched with skin, with a bloody bandage over the right cheek and two red lights for eyes.  There was a large bullet hole between them.  Some smoke seeped out of it as Baines gazed at the mayor.  “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mayor Ulrich.”  His voice had a metallic ring to it.  “I’m sure I haven’t made the best first impression, though understand, you can’t truly formulate an opinion of someone without meeting them in person.”

The mayor swallowed.  “Of course.  That’s why I’m here.  I wanted to introduce myself.”

“There’s no reason to be nervous, mayor,” Warrick said.  “I don’t bite.”  He paused.  “Well, there was that one time way back when, but she was into that sort of thing and I didn’t want to disappoint her.”

The mayor let out a nervous chuckle.  “I…  I just wanted to let you know.  I’m here to cooperate in any way I can, Sir.”

“Don’t worry about the formalities,” Warrick said.  “Just call me Warrick.”

The mayor nodded.  “All right, Warrick.”

“And I’d be glad to work with you, mayor.  Don’t worry about your position.  I’m no threat to it.  I’m just here to tend to some business.”  Jim noticed some white electric sparks around Warrick’s face.  He’d never noticed them before.  He wondered if they were somehow related to Nat Bigum’s deputy’s laser grazing Warrick’s face during their recent duel, or they could have been due to Warrick’s continued deterioration after Bigum put a bullet between his eyes near Primrose.

“No,” the mayor said with an awkward smile.  “That’s understandable.”

“Do you read, Mayor Ulrich?” Warrick asked as he looked down at the book he’d taken from the shelf.  He placed it on the desk in front of him.  Jim read the title.  Lord of the Flies by William Golding.

“Um, a little,” the mayor answered.

“That’s good,” Warrick said.  “I have an easier time getting along with an educated man.  Or at least one who’s read a thing or two.  Are you familiar with this book?”  He nodded down to the book on his desk.

Mayor Ulrich shook his head.  “Sorry.  I can’t say that I am.”

“Contrary to the more popular reading,” Warrick said, “I’ve always related to Jack Merridew’s character.  I consider him the protagonist.  We’re both hunters, you see.  And one of his men murders a fat, bespectacled boy named Piggy.  Piggy was a weakness, an obstacle to the greater good of all of the other children on the island, being an oaf who was incapable of carrying his own weight, so to speak.  The group was stronger for killing him.”

Mayor Ulrich nodded.  “Is that so?”

“The Nazis in Adolph Hitler’s time tried to do the same thing with the Jews,” Warrick said, “when they tried to exterminate them during the holocaust.  Did you realize that the high commanders of the Nazi Party, better described as Germany’s National Socialist German Workers’ Party, didn’t actually want to murder innocent people?”  Some smoke seeped out of the bullet hole between Warrick’s eyes and there were some more sparks.  Jim backed away and he looked at the other guards to see their uneasiness.  Warrick sat still and silent for a few seconds and his red eyes flickered on and off.  Then, he seemed to shake something off.  There were a few more sparks.

“No,” the mayor said.  “I didn’t realize that.  I guess I never thought about it, really.”

“They saw the extermination of the Jews as a solution to a problem,” Warrick continued.  “They thought the Jews were their greatest political enemy, and they looked upon the Jews as one might look upon an enemy in wartime.  And once they started with the extermination, it sort of forced them to unite with one another until the bitter end, with unprecedented loyalty.  They basically thought they were forced to murder all of the Jews, including the women and children, out of necessity.  They saw the men as their political enemies, but they knew if they killed all of the men and left the children, they’d have a major problem in the future with the threat of retaliation and rebellion.”  The mayor nodded nervously.  “They justified their actions to themselves in this way,” Warrick continued, “saying they had to remain strong and do what they thought they must for the good of Germany.  They couldn’t let sentimentality and guilt get in the way of their duty.  They also knew that if they lost the war, society would never understand what they were doing.  They knew that they would be condemned men.  That’s why they destroyed documents, burned bodies, and tried to cover everything up the best they could.  You can’t just make millions of bodies disappear, though.  Someone was bound to find evidence.”

“Very true,” the mayor said.

“Of course,” Warrick said, “they kept the big secret from their own people, also.  Hitler had millions of loyal followers, and while Nazi propaganda had most of them hating Jews, some may have looked down on their leadership if they’d known they were actually systematically murdering people, including women and children.  They kept the secret so well that there were still people living just before the apocalypse, a century or more after the holocaust, who denied the holocaust ever happened.  Some people still deny it to this day.”  Warrick leaned back in the chair.  “I’m going off on a tangent, though.  My point is that no one is the monster people make them out to be, at least not in their own mind.  We often have practical reasons for the awful things we do.”

The mayor nodded.  “I guess that’s true.”  He was rubbing his sweaty hands together.  Jim could feel the fear in his eyes.

Warrick continued staring at the mayor with his luminescent red eyes.  “Now, while I don’t personally consider Jews to be a nuisance or a hindrance in any way, since I personally don’t look down on any individual due to race, religion, or any other demographic factors, I do believe there are some people who are burdens to the greater good of society.  These are the lazy, the derelicts.  These people don’t hold their weight, and therefore, society is better off if these people are weeded out.”

Mayor Ulrich swallowed.  “That’s an interesting way of looking it at.”  Jim thought the mayor would probably say anything, agree with anything, if it put him in Warrick’s good graces.

Warrick patted the book on the table with his gloved hand as more electricity sparked across his face.  “It’s a good book, mayor.  You should read it when you have time.”

“I suppose I should,” the mayor said nervously.

“Now,” Warrick said.  “Mayor Ulrich.  What can you do for me?”

The mayor’s mouth opened and he stood speechless for a few seconds, shaking a little.  “Um.”

“You must be good at something,” Warrick said, “or you wouldn’t be mayor.  So what use can you be for me?  What is your life’s purpose?”

“My life’s purpose?” the mayor asked.

“Let me put it differently,” Warrick said.  “What benefit does you being alive give me?”

“Um.”  He swallowed.  “You have no reason to kill me.”

“I didn’t say anything about killing you,” Warrick said.  “I merely asked how you can benefit me.  Let me help you.  You’re a mayor, right?  I assume you have some sway over the citizens of this town.”

“I do,” the mayor agreed.

Warrick nodded.  “So you can make sure they stay in order.  Quell any uprisings.  Stuff like that.  Am I right?”

Mayor Ulrich nodded.  “I suppose you could say that.”

“I can say anything I want,” Warrick said.  “What I’m asking you is, is this true?”

The mayor nodded.  “It’s true.”

“So your job, Mayor Ulrich,” Warrick began, “will be keeping your citizens in line while I’m here.  I don’t want to spend my entire time here quelling petty uprisings.  So, there.  Now you have a job, a purpose.  You have some value.”

“Thanks,” the mayor said.

“Of course,” Warrick said, “it goes without saying, if you’re ineffective, if you fail, that value is greatly diminished.”  The mayor swallowed.  “Don’t worry, mayor.”  Warrick stood and stepped around his desk, approaching the nervous mayor.  Warrick held out his hand.  “We’re friends.”  The mayor nervously shook Warrick’s hand.  “And you’ll see I’m very kind and understanding when it comes to my friends.”

Mayor Ulrich nodded.  “Thank you.”

One of the other guards walked the mayor out as Warrick stood facing Jim.  “Now, Jim.  I had something I wanted to bring up while my guards are present.”

Jim nodded, a little nervous about the last part of the statement.  He looked around at the faces of the eight guards standing around the room.  They all looked indifferent.  “All right.”

“It’s come to my attention that some of our men have been raping the women here in Drummond.”

“That’s true,” Jim said.  He knew the possible repercussions of lying to Warrick.

“That’s unacceptable,” Warrick said.

“They were just having their fun,” Jim argued.

“That type of fun won’t be allowed,” Warrick reiterated.  “We’re in charge here.  We need to have some semblance of morality.  We to need at least have a few rules, regardless of what the IAO is normally used to.  No raping.  That’s rule number one.  Have the men who did this brought here as soon as you get all of their names.”

“What are you gonna do to them?” Jim asked.  He saw the worry in the face of one of the guards standing near the hallway that led back to the jail cells.  “You aren’t gonna kill them, are you?”

“Of course not,” Warrick said.  “We need all the men we have.  We’re just going to remove the offending bodily members.”

“What?” Jim asked.

Warrick stood in front of him, his red eyes looking into Jim’s eyes.  “That’s fair.  That’s the rule.  Have the men brought here.  I’ll take care of the rest.”

Jim nodded slowly.  “All right, then.”

“Now there’s also something I wanted to talk with you about in private,” Warrick said.  “Come with me.”  Jim swallowed and followed Warrick down the hallway towards one of the open cells at the end.  Warrick walked in and sat on a folding chair.  “Sit down.”  Jim sat across from him on the cot.  The stone walls of the cell made him feel a little claustrophobic, even with the barred door open.  “I really like this town,” Warrick said.

“That’s good,” Jim said, curious to know where this conversation would go.

Warrick nodded.  “It’s a nice, central location.  There’s also a good restaurant.  I wouldn’t mind staying here.  Being a sheriff, a lawman again.”

“What about the men?” Jim asked.

“They can be my deputies,” Warrick said.  “Things won’t really change much for them.  I just think it’s time for me to settle down.  I’ve been on the move for a long time, Jim.  I’ve been hating Nat Bigum for so long, blaming him for what I’ve become.  Now he’s dead and I feel empty inside.  And I killed his prodigy too, this Bobby Brooklyn.  Now I’m out to kill Michelle Hemingway and it just isn’t the same.  Sure, she’s killed a bunch of our men, but she’s never done anything to me personally.  If anything, I’ve done some horrible things to her.  I sliced up her face and ruined any chance of her being a famous actress again.  And now I’ve killed her boyfriend.”  He shrugged.  “Oh, well.  What can you do?  It’s always been my philosophy to tie up all loose ends so nobody comes trying to get revenge against me.  And after I’ve killed her, I’ll go after my biggest loose end ever, that rabble rouser Abigail Song.”

Jim nodded.  “So why stay here?”

“Once I’m done with Abigail Song,” Warrick said, “what’s next for me?  I think I’ll just wait here for Michelle Hemingway for now.  I know she’s looking for me so she’ll end up here eventually.  Our men say Abigail Song has been captured by Eileen Traymont, the woman who replaced me as Rennock’s top enforcer.  We can send our men there to steal her from Traymont, unless of course, she’s already been executed.”

“But we have Rennock now,” Jim said.  “Like you said, our men took over New Atlantis and captured him.  Don’t you think Traymont would just give Song up?  Why hold Song if we have her boss.  Traymont may even join us.”

Warrick laughed.  “You don’t know Eileen Traymont.  Sure, she might give Song up peacefully.  I doubt it, though.  She’s a stubborn one.  And she’s just the type of idealist to think it’s her duty to carry Rennock’s torch to the bitter end.  We’ll probably have to steal Abigail Song from her, as I said.  And once we do, our men can bring Song down here so we can deal with her.  There’s no reason for me to leave Drummond, though.  So what I’m saying is, I want to stay here and be sheriff.  And I want you to be my top deputy.”

“Me?” Jim asked.  “A bandit?”

“A former bandit,” Warrick said.  “You’ll see there’s not much difference between being a lawman and being an outlaw.  It’s all about public perception.”

Jim nodded.  “I guess so.”

“So what do you say?” Warrick asked.  “Do you accept my offer to be my top deputy?”

“Sure,” Jim said.  “You’ve gotten me this far.”

“You’ve been my most loyal friend,” Warrick said.  “And I won’t forget that.”  The two men stood, Warrick held out his hand, and Jim shook it.  As Warrick pulled his hand away, there were some sparks around his face and smoke seeped out of the bullet hole between his eyes.  He went for his laser pistol and Jim backed away, quickly.  He put his arm up in front of his face as Warrick fired the laser pistol at the floor nearby.  Jim looked down to see what was left of a dead mouse smoking on the floor.  Warrick stood still.  The red lights of his eyes had gone out.

“Warrick?”  Jim slowly stepped towards him.  “Are you all right?”

The lights came back on.  “I don’t know what came over me there, Jim.”  He shook his head.  “The headaches are getting worse.  I have short patches where I black out and can’t remember anything.  I may need to see a cyberneticist again.  Maybe there’s a lose wire or something.”

Jim nodded.  “All right.”

“Well,” Warrick said, “let’s head back to the office.  We have lots of work to do.”  The two men walked back down the hallway towards the office.  Jim didn’t mind staying put in Drummond for a while.  And working for Warrick had provided him with opportunities he’d never had before.  The main thing that made him uneasy was the concept of being a lawman.  He wondered how the other IAO bandits would respond to such a change.

<>

A knock on Paul’s door woke him up.  He slowly came around to hear another knock.  “Who is it?”  He realized even if there was an answer, he’d have no idea who it was, unless of course it was the nurse, Aiyana MacGowan.  She’d never knocked, though, that he could remember.  She just entered the room when she came.

“It’s Noah Maxwell,” a familiar, soothing voice said from the other side of the door.  “I’m the man who brought you here.”

“Come in,” Paul said.  He noticed the pile of books on the table.  He still hadn’t read any of the books Aiyana had brought him.  There appeared to be even more added to the pile since he’d been asleep.  He’d been mostly resting and eating.  There was something very relaxing about the hospital room, even if it had a white, sterile look to it.

The door opened and a man in a tan robe walked in.  His head was uncovered, and Paul could see that he was about Paul’s age, in his early thirties, with long brown hair and brown eyes.  The man’s left eye was surrounded by the same tumor Paul remembered, but Noah looked far less mysterious without his hood, and under the fluorescent lights of the hospital room.  “How are you feeling?”

“My leg still hurts,” Paul said.  “They’ve been giving me pain killers through my IV, though.  And the food’s amazing.  They keep bringing me fruits and vegetables.  And fresh water!  Those things are so rare out there.”

“Yes, I know,” Noah said.  “We trade them for a hefty sum.  For things manufactured by Rennock and people like him.  We don’t manufacture anything ourselves.  We’re mostly farmers here.  And obviously nurses, doctors, teachers.  You know, all the necessary stuff.”

“Sounds like you have a good deal,” Paul said.  “The things that are hard to get out there, you have in abundance.”

“We still have to be careful,” Noah said.  “We don’t want to deplete our resources.”  He smiled.  “I’m sure you have lots of questions about this place.  Who we are.  What we’re like.  I also see Aiyana brought you some light reading.”  He chuckled as he nodded towards the piles of thick volumes on the table.  “Still, if you have any questions, I’d be happy to talk to you for a while.”

Paul nodded.  “I have so many questions.  I’m not sure you’ll be able to answer them all.”

“As a trader,” Noah began, “I have more access to the outside world than most here.  I’ve also read up on history quite a bit.  You could say that gives me a unique perspective.  Sure, there are wiser people here.  But talking with me might be a good start.”

“First of all, thanks for saving my life,” Paul said.

“Oh, it’s no problem,” Noah said.  “There is a catch, though, I hate to say.”  The concern on his face showed the seriousness of his statement.

Paul frowned.  “What do you mean?”

“You won’t ever be able to leave Denver again,” Noah said.

“When I feel better?” Paul asked.  “Won’t I be able to leave, then?”

Noah shook his head.  “I’m sorry.  Never again.”

“Are you serious?” Paul asked.  “Is this some sort of weird joke or something?”

“It’s not,” Noah said.  “I’m dead serious.”

Paul thought about his parents, his sister, and his brother who lived up north in Adirondack City.  He hadn’t seen any of them in years, but he’d always hoped to see them again at some point.  He’d also been hoping to rejoin the fight against Rennock, and now also the IAO, once he’d healed and was ready to fly again.  He frowned and looked at Noah’s concerned face.  “Why?”

“Like I said,” Noah said, “I’m sorry.  I wish there were some other way, but there isn’t.  This is how it has to be.  Let me give you some history first so you’ll better understand why.  Those books will fill in details, but I can at least give you an overview.”

“All right,” Paul said, still in shock and trying to figure out what to make of what was happening.

“So Denver was once a city in the United States of America,” Noah said.  “As I’m sure Aiyana told you, there was some sort of nuclear holocaust that destroyed almost everything, but we survived.  In the beginning, there were hundreds of thousands of people here.  Within a year, there were less than a thousand.”  Paul nodded.  “Even though the blasts missed us, many died of sickness.  We were all infected.  As I guess you’ve surmised, it’s affected our genes.  We’re all born with tumors.  Some malignant, some not.  With the help of the outside, we’ve been able to cure the malignants born in recent years, but for the longest time it was a death sentence.  The holocaust was still finding a way to kill many of our people thousands of years later.”

“How many live here now?” Paul asked.

“Approximately three thousand,” Noah said.  “I don’t know the exact number.  We’ve been growing significantly since we’ve been curing the malignants.”

“And you don’t know who fired the nuclear warheads or why?”

Noah shook his head.  “The United States wasn’t at war at the time.  We aren’t even sure they were fired.  There’s speculation that they were bombs, either planted or smuggled into the country somehow.  Many of the observers said there were no rockets.  Just explosions.  Others said they did see rockets.  The accounts are full of contradictions.  The key is, the world was destroyed.  We somehow survived.”  He took a deep breath.  “But there were other survivors.  After some time, say fifty years or so, we started seeing people in strange suits walking around in the desert.  The atmosphere changed after the holocaust, most of the plants and trees died, though we were able to save seeds and plant some new ones.  The sands blew over everything out there, and it became the desert wasteland you know today.  So anyway, we didn’t know who these newcomers were who were showing up out in the desert.  At first we thought they were aliens in spacesuits, but as we had continual contact with them, we realized they were humans from earth, much like us.  But they didn’t have the tumors.  We began referring to ourselves as the Survivors.  They were the Outsiders.  So the Outsiders continued appearing, and after some time, they were building various structures.  They built the air converters you still see to this day.  They built cities.  More and more of them appeared, and as the converters cleaned the air, they stopped wearing their strange suits.”

“And you still don’t know where they came from?”

“No,” Noah said.  “We still don’t.  They didn’t even know where they came from.  At least the ones we talked to didn’t.  All we know is they survived, just as we did, but it wasn’t as hard for them.”

“They were prepared,” Paul said.  “Like they knew it was coming.”

“Or they at least feared something,” Noah said.  “You’re right, though.  They were prepared.  So Rennock’s ancestors were these people.  Your ancestors were these people.  They were ruled by a group calling themselves the Council of Atlantis, and they still are today.”

“I’ve never heard of the Council of Atlantis,” Paul said.

Noah shrugged.  “I guess they keep it secret, then.  We know about it, though.  Rennock’s ancestors were some of the strongest members of this council, as Rennock is today.  When it was apparent that the Outsiders had an abundance of weapons and we didn’t, we realized it was in our interests to find a way to protect ourselves.  So we made a pact with the Council of Atlantis.  They would defend us, and we would trade with them.  We would give them wood, crops, and water.  They would give us the manufactured items we so desperately needed.  It was a mutually beneficial deal.”  He looked at Paul gravely with his kind brown eyes.  “The other part of the deal was they would use their weapons and armies to protect us from any potential enemies as long as we never associated with their people without their permission.  Traders like myself are some of the only ones ever allowed to leave Denver, and only for short periods.  We can only associate with designated traders chosen by Rennock and the other council members.  We needed to keep ourselves a hidden secret from the Outsiders.  And to this day, if they ever find out about us and learn our secrets, the deal is off.”

“Sounds like a protection racket to me,” Paul said.

“And part of the deal is,” Noah continued, “once an Outsider enters our boundaries, they can never leave.  There are a few others here who’ve come here through the years.  Some merely found us.  Others, like you, would have died were it not for our assistance.  I realize it’s a lot to ask.  I wouldn’t have brought you here unless I knew your life depended on it.”

Paul nodded.  “I’m grateful you have.  So what happens if I do leave?”

“The deal is off,” Noah said.

“Meaning Rennock’s people will attack you,” Paul added.

“Most likely,” Noah said.  “For whatever reason, it’s clear that our existence is somehow a threat to them.  But only if it’s widely known.  So we came to that agreement.  And it’s stood for millennia.”

“So you don’t have an army?” Paul asked.  “You don’t have any weapons?”

“We don’t,” Noah said.  “We’re pacifists.  Our people decided that it’s wrong for governments to impose their views on their people using force.  Everything must be done through mutual agreement.  We have no leaders here.  We hold town hall meetings and everyone has a say.  We have no armies.  There are some police, but they’re trained in hand to hand unarmed combat.  They don’t use weapons.  There’s no death penalty.  People who break our laws must work for the betterment of all of the people here.  We have no currency.  Everything is done through trade.  It’s a wonderful place to live.  Way better than outside.  We keep things real simple here.  I know you may be upset about not being able to leave, but believe me…”  Noah smiled.  “This is the best place in the world to live.”

Paul nodded.  “But I had family out there.  I had friends I would like to see again someday.”  He thought about John Bernard.

“I’m sorry,” Noah said.  “Everyone from the outside who’s brought here is upset about that at first.  But in the long run, they’ve all decided it was worth it.  Our quality of life is so far beyond that of the outside.  Even the wealthy people only dream of some of the things we have here.  And it’s free for everyone.  There’s no rich or poor here.  We’re all wealthy, as we like to say.”  Paul frowned.  “You’ll see,” Noah said.  “You’ll come around, I’m sure.  I’ve left you with a lot to think about, though.  I’ll leave you with your thoughts and your books.”  He stood and left Paul’s room.  Paul couldn’t get his friends and family out of his head.  When he was feeling better, he’d find a way to leave.  How could they stop him if they had no weapons?  And how would Rennock’s people ever know he was there?  And Paul’s leaving wouldn’t affect their agreement.  It sounded like it was as good for Rennock’s people as it was for the Denverites.  There was no way the agreement would end just because one person managed to leave Denver.  Paul’s mind was full of thoughts and schemes as he drifted off to sleep once again.

 

 


To be continued in Volume 3, Chapter 6:

Appearing here on August 21, 2017. Stay tuned!
Where:
Della and Ace discuss their next actions.
Mavery and Big Ed arrive in Rose City.
Razor continues her journey to Drummond.

Find the Volume 3 Table of Contents page 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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