Fiction: Afterlife Volume 3 (Chapter 8)

by Mike Monroe on September 18, 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.

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Read the previous chapter here:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 7

Where:

Abby is visited by her old friend Eileen Traymont, who is an enforcer leader.
General Rodriguez and Foxtrot fight some IAO men in a village.
Warrick Baines kills Mayor Ulrich and some IAO men by accident.

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 8

Mavery slowly stepped through the front door of the bookstore, followed by Big Ed.  It was a quaint place, its small space cluttered with shelves which in turn were cluttered with paperback and hardcover books.  They looked old and dusty, and Mavery looked over some of the titles, seeing everything from ancient Greek mythology to poetry from the beat generation to more modern treatises on the difference between communism and socialism.  One of the few newer books was on the dangers of oligarchical capitalist society.  One book in particular caught her eye, on Nordic social democracy.  Mavery wondered what that meant as she walked deeper into the small shop, towards a counter in the back with a real wooden door in the wall behind it.  Mavery wondered how such a small shop had managed to acquire a five hundred thousand dollar door as she noticed the man behind the counter.

He was old and tiny, with a bushy white moustache that seemed larger than his face.  A pair of spectacles were balanced on his round nose.  There was a small black cat sitting on the counter in front of him, which his hand was unconsciously petting.  “Welcome to Phoenix Books,” the old man said in a high-pitched voice.  “What can I do for you?”

“I’m Mavery Thomas.”  She nodded towards Ed.  “This is Big Ed.”  Big Ed looked huge in the small shop.  Wherever he stood, both of his shoulders were brushing bookshelves and his head was just inches away from the ceiling.

The man nodded and looked down at something on the desk, which was hidden by stacks of books in front of it.  The man looked up again and smiled.  “Mavery Thomas.  I’m Alfred Heimdall.  It’s nice to meet you.  We were hoping one day you’d make it here.  We feared the worst when…”  He took off his spectacles and wiped his eyes.  “When Barney was found dead.”

Mavery nodded.  “So you knew I was coming?”

“Barney sent us a message.  He told us you’d be here.”  His grin widened.  “I’ll have to introduce you to everyone else.  They’ll be happy to see you.”  He turned and opened the wooden door.  “Matt, Victor, Sandy,” he said through the doorway.  “Mavery Thomas is here.  You, too, Gale.  Come out and say hello.”

“Mavery Thomas?” a man’s voice said from the other side of the doorway.  Alfred nodded and opened the door wider as two men and a woman walked through the doorway, joining Alfred in the crowded space behind the counter.  The last to enter was a silver android.

The first man to enter, a tall, thin man with short blonde hair, was in his mid to late twenties and had an innocent, almost naïve air about him.  He was wearing a light blue button down shirt that was buttoned all the way to the top button.  “I’m Matt Lund,” he said, nodding to Mavery and Big Ed, a kind smile on his handsome face.  “I was Barney’s chief editor, so I’ve sort of taken things over since he left.  At least for now.”

“Always so modest,” the second man said with a grin, which Matt returned.  He was a short, black man with glasses.  He was also in his mid to late twenties and he was wearing a purple sweater vest over a white button down shirt.  “Matt’s very good at what he does.  Anyway, I’m Victor Lowe.  I’ve taken over the radio station part of the enterprise since Barney left.”

The woman standing with them was short, with dark skin, short black hair, and kind brown eyes.  Mavery thought her ancestors were probably from India.  She was a little younger than the two men who’d appeared from the back, and she was wearing a pink sun dress with a yellow flower pattern.  “I’m Sandy Patel.  I was just an intern when Barney left, but I’ve sort of been forced to take a full time role now.”

“That leaves me,” said the android.  Her voice sounded as close to human as an artificial voice could.  “I’m Gale and I’m here to help in any way I can.”  She was shiny and silver, and though the face was artificial, it had a warm, welcoming smile as its permanent expression.

“Gale used to belong to one of Rennock’s commanders,” Matt said.  “We were able to capture her and reprogram her.”

“Art Crab isn’t here today,” Dennis said, “but he’s our top programmer.  He’s mostly responsible for Gale.”

The android nodded.  “I’m grateful for my reprogramming.  The work I’m doing here is far more suited to my temperament.”

Mavery and Big Ed introduced themselves to the newcomers.  “I was surprised to see some of the books I saw as I walked through here,” Mavery said.  “Aren’t a lot of them illegal?”

Alfred nodded.  “Yes, we used to keep lots of these books hidden when Rennock was in control of the town.”

“We have more freedom now,” Matt said.  “And not just regarding the books.  We’re able to do a lot of things we wouldn’t have been able to less than a year ago.”

“So much is changing,” Sandy said.  “It’s exciting, but also scary.”

“But it’s for the best,” Victor said, smiling at Matt.

“Can we be so sure?” Mavery asked.  “Things are sort of up in the air right now.  If the IAO comes out on top, things won’t be for the best.”

Matt nodded.  “I’m hearing they’ve detained hundreds of wealthy business owners and CEO’s, the ones they haven’t killed yet.”  He frowned.  “They’re executing them in public displays.  They’re doing awful things like disemboweling them, drawing and quartering them, decapitating them, tearing their heads off with ropes.  And the people are cheering them on.”

“Like they always do,” Big Ed muttered.

“It’s frightening how awful people can be to one another if someone or something gets them all worked up,” Victor said with a frown.

Matt nodded.  “The IAO has really been able to harness people’s hatred of Rennock and the wealthy.”

“This is what the ever growing gap between the rich and the poor has brought us to,” Victor said.  “The poor have been economically tortured for so long by the rich and the greedy that they love watching these wealthy oligarchs tortured and murdered in brutal ways.”

“And some of the people being killed had nothing to do with the gap between rich and poor,” Sandy added.  “At least not directly.  Some were just profiting from a system already in place.”

“Well, we plan on changing that system,” Matt said.  “So everyone has the opportunity to make enough to survive.  As you know, the system has been rigged for too long.  The so-called free market of Rennock and people like him was really a system that allowed the wealthy to exercise infinite power to make sure they always got richer and the poor always suffered.  We’re doing away with it.  Ours will be a true free market, where regulations keep the wealthiest and most powerful in check so everyone can benefit from the economy.”

“I hope we aren’t boring you with all this political talk,” Alfred said, smiling at Mavery.  “It’s sort of what we do here.”

“On the contrary,” Mavery said.  “These are the sorts of things that interest me the most.”  She glanced at Big Ed, wondering how he felt about it.  He wasn’t as much of an intellectual as she was, but he still was smarter than he let on.

“Of course,” Matt said with a smile.  “I know that from your work at the Mountaintop Herald.”

“We received some of the video you shot in Primrose,” Victor said.  “Barney sent it to us before he died.  It’s awful what happened there.  We’ve actually been able to use the footage to bring more people to our cause.”

“But we may have unintentionally helped the IAO also,” Matt said.  “People saw the awful things Rennock was doing and they started looking for someone to help them fight.  We’ve been doing the best we can to get the word of the resistance out there, but the IAO definitely has the numbers right now.  They’re everywhere.”

“The IAO taking over is a major threat to society,” Victor said.  “While some people see them as a welcome alternative to Rennock, we see them for what they truly are.”

“They’re barbarians,” Mavery said.

“That’s right,” Victor said.  “They aren’t true anarchists, at least not according to Immanuel Kant’s model.”

Gale nodded in a jerky movement.  “Barbarians are identified by force without freedom or law, which describes the IAO to a tee.  Despots are identified by law and force without freedom, which would be Rennock.  A republic, which is what we want to put into place, is identified by force with freedom and law.  We believe force is only necessary when used to preserve these ideas of freedom and law, but it is necessary in some situations.  Now, true anarchists are identified by law and freedom without force.  Sounds good in theory, but it falls apart when an outside force tries to intervene in your politics or conquer you through force of their own.”

“Or when an inside force tries to usurp the power,” Sandy added.

“There isn’t a real anarchy in the world today,” Matt added.  “At least not one we know of.  In reality, though, the IAO are the opposite of anarchists if you look at things from Kant’s perspective.”

“Something definitely needs to be done about them,” Victor said.  “Society’s regressing into utter chaos.  Rumors are they’re having ritual dances, orgies, and all sorts of other insanity.  And killing and brutality is always at the heart of it.”

“And rape,” Sandy said with a heartbroken look on her face.

Mavery nodded.  “So things haven’t gotten better with Rennock’s fall from power.  They’ve gotten worse.”

“Far worse,” Matt said.

“And that’s not to say that Rennock was great or anything,” Victor said.  “Obviously the people need another alternative.  I believe they’re looking for another alternative, even praying for one.”

“And we’re going to be it,” Matt said.  “But we have a lot of work to do before we get there.  Which brings us to you.  Will you be willing to work with us here?”

“That’s why I’m here,” Mavery said with a grin.

“Good,” Matt said.  “Well, you know where we are now.  You know what we’re about.  Can you come tomorrow around nine?  We can start getting more into details.”

“Who’s the big guy?” Victor asked, eyeing Big Ed.

“Big Ed’s my bodyguard,” Mavery said.  “I’d like for him to come with me.  I’m sure you’ll find a way to put him to work.”

“All right,” Matt said, smiling at Big Ed.  “You up for it?”

“Sure,” Big Ed said.  “I guess so.”

They said their goodbyes and Mavery and Big Ed left the bookstore, heading back through the cobblestone streets to their hotel.  “Just as long as it ain’t computers,” Big Ed muttered as they walked.  “I don’t do computers.”

“Oh, it’ll be fine,” Mavery said.  “Just do what they say.  The real reason you’re here is to watch my back.  I don’t trust these people yet.  We don’t know if the IAO has managed to infiltrate Rose City.  Matt and the others talk a good game, but talk is talk.”

“You’re thinking the same way I am,” Big Ed said.

She held his hand as they walked.  “You’re the only person I trust these days.”  She noticed some graffiti on the side of a nearby sandstone building.  It read “Abigail Song Lives.”

<>

Several men marched Razor through the center of Iron Town, a large town in the foothills of the Rockies.  Her ankles and wrists were in heavy metal shackles, making her march an uncomfortable one.  Men in suits and women in long dresses watched suspiciously, eyeing Razor with a combination of awe and disgust.  Razor figured it was her Mohawk and her eyepatch that caused such a reaction.  Most of the houses in Iron Town had been built in the Antebellum architectural style, mostly painted white, and many surrounded by columns.  There were horses everywhere, which would have been strange anywhere else.  Iron Town had a reputation for being way behind the times, though.  The seven men walking with Razor were all wearing the gray uniforms of Brevington’s soldiers and they were holding old style carbines.  They all had the Confederate battle flag patches on their breasts, and Razor noticed the flag hanging in front of many of the houses.  Razor snarled when she noticed the Nazi swastika flag hanging alongside one of them.  The wide road the soldiers were marching Razor down was lined with trees, and the largest house of them all was at the far end, with a wide front porch lined with thick columns.  The Confederate battle flag was displayed prominently between two of the front windows.

The soldiers marched Razor up the front steps of this house and through the large iron front doors, into a cavernous foyer with spiraling dual staircases.  The carpets were red with gold lining, and another confederate battle flag hung from a railing on the second floor, filling the center of the room.  A black woman wearing black and white was dusting the railing and a black man in a suit was standing near the front door, holding a tray full of chocolate bonbons.  One of the soldiers took one as he walked by, not even acknowledging the black man’s presence.  Razor saw a combination of fear and anger in the black man’s eyes as he watched her.  The soldiers led her up the staircase on the right to the second floor.  She was wearing the gray jumpsuit she’d received when she’d first reached Iron Town.

When Razor had finally regained consciousness after she’d first been abducted, possibly days ago now for all she knew, she’d found herself on the floor in a cold, dark cell with stone walls.  She quickly realized the soldiers had taken her weapons and her EMD belt.  She was stripped naked by two men who ogled her and made obscene comments the whole time.  Their superior officer told them she wasn’t to be touched, though, and the men seemed too scared of him to disobey.  They tossed her the gray jumpsuit she was wearing now and left the room.  Once they were gone and the door was locked, Razor put on the jumpsuit which covered all of her tattoos except the head of the snake that wrapped around her neck.  There had been two other women in the cell, which seemed to be a holding cell.  They’d both been kidnapped by the same men.  Razor hadn’t felt like talking much, but she tried to be friendly.  The other two women didn’t seem like they’d be much help in any escape attempt.  Both were frightened and weak.  One was a black woman and the other was Latina.  From what Razor knew of Brevington and Iron Town, she figured they were probably both heading to the Iron Mines where they’d end up dead from overwork and starvation in a few weeks most likely, judging from the look of them.  They looked about as tough as soap bubbles.  When Razor wasn’t throwing up in the dirty metal toilet due to her morning sickness, she’d been trying to sleep on one of the stone benches.  The two girls were eventually taken out of the holding cell.  Razor lost track of time since there were no windows, but eventually the soldiers she was with now came to get her.

It was midday now, from what Razor had been able to tell from the position of the sun in the sky.  The mansion she was now in was full of natural light, with lots of big windows.  One of the soldiers knocked on large iron double doors in the center of the foyer on the second floor.  The black woman was still dusting the railing, looking at Razor suspiciously with big, frightened eyes.  “Come in,” said a masculine voice from the other side of the doors.

The doors opened and the soldiers marched through with Razor.  They were now in an office as big as the foyers in most mansions.  Floor to ceiling windows filled the room with sunlight, and the ceiling was easily thirty feet from the floor with a huge glass dome in the center.  There were stairs leading up to a loft full of bookshelves.  There was a grand piano in the center of the room, and the walls were lined with fancy golden chairs with plush red cushions.  Soldiers in gray uniforms stood all around the office, and there were also men in black suits with black ties.  Every man was white, just like everyone else Razor had seen in the town outside of the prison.  The men in the black suits reminded Razor of Rennock’s infamous Panthers, but they all had high and tight military haircuts, just like Adolf Hitler, while some of the men in gray uniforms had a more grizzled look with long hair and shaggy beards.  To Razor, they looked like quite a collection of assholes.

There was a huge wooden desk in front of the far wall and there was a man sitting in a hover chair in front of it.  He was obese, wearing a gray suit that was bursting at the seams and a gray tie.  Like many of the other men in the room, he had a high and tight hairdo, but his looked comical on such a huge head.  His face had the permanent arrogant sneer that he shared with many racists.  “Hello, there,” he said with a smile as the men walked Razor up to him.  “I’m pleased to make your acquaintance.”

“Burn in hell,” she snarled.

He chuckled.  “Well you’re a feisty one.  That’s good.  You’re going to make a good gladiator, I’m sure.  I’ve heard of what you’ve been doing to the IAO men around Dead Man’s Bluff.  I admire your work.”

“Maybe I can give you a sample right here,” she grunted.  If she hadn’t been in shackles, he’d have been dead by now.

“Now, now.”  He floated his hover chair closer to Razor, still smiling.  “Don’t waste your talent.  You know my men here would kill you in an instant if they thought you were a real threat to me.”

“They’re idiots.”  She spat at him.  Her spit landed on his left lapel.  One of the men who was nearest to Razor hit her in the back of the head with the butt of his carbine and she collapsed to the floor on her knees, her head aching as she glared at Brevington with her one eye.

“What have I done to deserve such animosity from you?” he asked.

“You’re a racist asshole,” she said.  “I don’t like racist assholes.”

He frowned.  “I’m not racist.  I believe all men and women should be given equal opportunities in the world.  And they have, and a certain structure always seems to assert itself.  It’s the natural order of things.  If you fight that natural order, you’re only going to bring those who are by nature superior down to the level of those who are inferior.”

“I wonder if you’d feel the same way if you weren’t a white male,” Razor said, “of European descent.”

He grinned.  “Well I am.  So that’s a moot point, isn’t it?  I’m proud of my white heritage.”  The way he said the word “white,” it sounded more like “ha-wite.”  He gave drastic emphasis to the “h” sound.  “Should I be ashamed of my own race?  Like you seem to be?”

“I’m not ashamed of anything,” Razor said as she slowly stood.  The back of her head was throbbing.  “You should be, though, if the rumors I hear are true.  You make blacks and Hispanics work your iron mines without any real pay.  That’s slavery.  It’s one of the worst crimes against humanity in the history of the world.”

“You’ve been listening to the wrong people,” Brevington said.  “My workers aren’t slaves.  They’re migrant workers.  They can leave whenever they want.  But I give them food, shelter.  Everything they need.  If they were out there…”  He motioned to the window.  “Out in the desert, they’d be dead.”

“Migrant workers,” Razor said.  “I suppose you abducted them against their will, just like me.”

Brevington grinned.  “We rescued you.  You would have died out there.  Believe me.  Here, you’ll have everything you need, just like the rest of our workers.  Besides, you did kill one of my men.”

“I know the story,” Razor said.  “I’m not stupid.  You give them just enough slop to survive.  But they’re still starving.  You work them to death.  You give them shelter, but it’s caves.  They live in filth.  And you charge them so much money for these things that they’re perpetually in debt, since you purposely don’t pay them enough.  They’re perpetually indebted to you with no way of ever paying it off.  And if they try to leave, you have your men bring them back by any means necessary, using the excuse that they’re trying to avoid paying off their debt to you.  Yeah, they’re slaves.  You’re a slaver, Brevington.  Everyone with half a brain knows it.  You can’t pull the wool over my eyes.”

“Eye, you mean,” Brevington said with a sadistic grin as some of his men laughed.  “Like I said, you’ve been listening to the wrong people.  You see, things here are the way they should be.  Our ancestors, Europeans, were the first settlers in these lands, and we built a wonderful civilization.  Then these foreigners came here pushing their diversity, and it all fell apart.  They’re the ones who brought about the end of the world.  I’ll say it.  I’m not afraid to say it.  It was the blacks, the Jews, the Hispanics, the Muslims, the Indians.  All of them.  If things had been left to Europeans and Asians, the world would still be just like it was before the apocalypse.  I’m trying to restore that world.”

“The original settlers?” Razor asked with a grin of disbelief.  “What about the Native Americans?  We were all immigrants.  Europeans weren’t the original settlers here.”

“We were the first civilized settlers,” he said.  “Sure, there were savages living here before we got here, but we came along and brought civilization.  We conquered them.  And by conquering them, we made this land a better land.  Immigrants destroy.  They’re moochers, looters.  Immigrants are all like cockroaches.  Our people, our European ancestors, were conquerors, not immigrants.”

“Conquerors?” Razor asked.  “What happened to the Confederate States of America?  What happened to Nazi Germany?  Were they conquerors?  No, they were both conquered by this diversity you seem to be so afraid of.  And you’ll be conquered, too.  I just hope I get to be a part of it.”

“Diversity doesn’t conquer,” Brevington said.  “It destroys, like a cancer.  It dilutes.”

Razor shook her head.  “Diversity allows you to take the best parts from all groups, bringing them all together to make a stronger whole.  Diversity doesn’t destroy identity.  It is human identity.  It’s what makes us great.”

“Diversity,” Brevington said, “especially the mixing of races, destroys us and brings all of us down to the level of savages. Whites are more intelligent than people with darker skin.  It’s a proven fact.”

“Proven how?” Razor asked.

“Proven by history,” Brevington said, “time and time again.  Put a bunch of blacks together and you have a violent ghetto, or you have savage bandits out in the desert.  A world of savages.  A world of chaos.”

“Put anyone in a ghetto,” Razor said, “or out in the desert, and take away their means of bettering themselves, and you have a bunch of violent savages.  You say it’s been proven?  On the contrary.  It’s been disproven.  There are negligible genetic differences between races.  Humans are humans.  The differences are mostly cultural and relational.  Get over your racist self.”  She felt some nausea coming on and thought about her unborn child.

Brevington also thought for a few seconds, eyeing Razor suspiciously, and eventually grinned.  “You seem to me to be an educated woman.  Why are you wandering around the desert killing bandits?  Who are you, really?”

“No one,” she growled.

Brevington nodded.  “Well, ‘No one,’ you aren’t as smart as you think you are.  And you aren’t as tough, either.”  He looked over her as if he’d come to some conclusion.  “Why do you hate your own race so much?  Why are you so intent on working against your own interests?”

“I don’t hate any race,” Razor said.  “And how is it in anyone’s interests to distort the facts?  I’m just telling the truth.”

“You’re a woman who needs to know your place,” Brevington said.  “I’ve let you talk to me this way because I’m interested in getting to know you.  But any other woman would have gotten a stern talking to, followed by a good slap.”

“Slap me,” Razor said.  She was seething.  “Do it.  See what happens to your hand.”

Brevington glanced at her shackles and chuckled.  “I’m going to let you fight for me.  We’ll see how you do.  The only reason you’re going to fight for me is because I’ve heard what you can do and I know you’ll make me money.  But once you’ve outlived your usefulness and the fans stop coming to see you, I’ll have my male fighters butcher you.  They’ll put you in your place, all right.  As long as people pay to see it, I’ll be happy.”

Razor glared at him with her one eye.  “One day, I’m gonna come back here, and I’m gonna kill you.”

He smiled.  “Oh, you’re gonna make me loads of money.”

“Before all’s said and done,” Razor said, “I’m gonna slice your fat stomach open and I’m gonna watch your racist guts spill out across the floor, and you know what?  They’ll be no different from black, Indian, or Asian guts.  I’ve seen all sorts of guts, so believe me, I know.”  She smiled sadistically.  “And I’ll make you look at them as you’re breathing your last painful breaths, so you can see for yourself.”

Brevington grimaced in anger.  “Take her away!  Get her out of my sight!”

One of the soldiers smashed Razor in the back of the head with the butt of his carbine and they dragged her across the floor to the doors of the office.  She glared at Brevington all the way out, her head aching violently.

<>

Abby was no longer in the cell.  She was in the mountains by a waterfall.  There were flowers and four leaf clovers growing all around the pond the waterfall emptied into.  And past them, there were rocks, and cliffs, and more mountains.  Just beyond them through a pass, Abby could see the hint of a city.  There was the gleam of metal on the horizon.  “Is that Valhalla?” she asked.

“It’s whatever you want it to be,” Pastor Earl said.  “This is your dream.”

Abby nodded.  “So what do I do now?  I’m in a cell waiting to be executed.  Rennock’s men are everywhere and I’m alone.  I don’t even have Einstein.  I don’t think there’s any way I can get out of this one.”

“You’ve thought that before,” her father said.  He was standing next to Pastor Earl, near the waterfall.  “You always find a way, Sweet Pea.”

“What if there’s none to be found?” she asked, looking at her reflection in the pond.  It was blurry.  She wasn’t even sure if it was her.  “Haven’t I gotten past this uncertainty by now?”

“As long as you’re alive,” Pastor Earl said, “there will be uncertainty.”

“The only thing we can be sure of in life is death,” her father added.

“That’s comforting,” Abby said.

“And God,” Pastor Earl added.  “Remember, Abby.  When you can’t figure out what to do, when you don’t think there’s any way you can go on, you have to put your trust in God.  He will always be there for you.”  He closed his eyes.  “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Abby nodded.  She recognized the verse from Deuteronomy.  “The Lord is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”

“Psalm 118,” Pastor Earl said.

“But it’s easy to say these things,” Abby said.  “It’s harder to believe them when you’re stuck in the middle of a real life rough spot.  Especially as rough as some of the spots I’ve been in.”

“But what choice do you have?” Pastor Earl asked.  “When you have nowhere else to turn, there’s only one who will always be there.”

“Don’t ever wish for certainty,” her father said.  “Uncertainty is what makes life worth living.  Seeing what’s around the bend.  Do you remember our trip to the mountains when you were in middle school?  Remember when we climbed the highest peak together and took in the view?  Remember what I said?”

Abby smiled.  “You said ‘The rock in motion is the one that brings about change.  The others could stay in one place forever and no one would ever notice.’”

“It’s become our family motto through the years,” her father said.  “Words to live by.  Change is all about uncertainty.  You can think of the motionless rocks as being dead.  Don’t ever stop moving, Abby.  Don’t ever stop believing.  Do you remember the other thing I said?”

Abby nodded.  “Always look for the rock that’s teetering on the edge.  That should be your guide.”  She’d always thought it was strange that these two family sayings both involved rocks, though she understood the meaning behind it.

“Because that’s the one most likely to move and bring about change,” her father said.  “That rock is you, Abby.”

“You are the little rock,” Pastor Earl said, “but God as a far bigger rock.  Make God the rock you rely on and you will never be disappointed.”

Abby frowned.  “I pray and I pray, and I know God listens, but sometimes he doesn’t act.”

“He may be acting in ways you just aren’t seeing yet,” Pastor Earl said.  “Also, remember that whatever happens, things are all right between you and God now.  That’s what’s most important.  You’ve given up your sinful quest for revenge.”

“I would have never wanted that for you,” her father said.

“None of us would,” her mother said, and Abby noticed her now, standing just beyond her father, with her two brothers and her two sisters, all smiling at her.  Abby smiled back and wiped a tear off her cheek.

“Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people,” Pastor Earl said, “but love your neighbor as yourself.”

Abby nodded.  “But it’s still hard to accept, though, that such evil things can happen in the world.”

“These things may be necessary to bring about the ultimate good God wants for us,” Pastor Earl said.

“So do you think evil is necessary for good to exist, then?” Abby asked.

“I don’t know,” Pastor Earl said.  “That’s a question for the ages.  Does the existence of good necessitate evil?  Would good exist if we had nothing to compare it to?  If evil as we know it now didn’t exist, would a lesser level of goodness then be seen as evil?  Everything is relative after all.  If people never murdered one another, would we see petty theft as being the ultimate evil?  If they never stole, would we see ignoring someone who says ‘hello’ to you on the street as being the ultimate evil?  This is all philosophy, though, and philosophy doesn’t help us in the here and now.  It doesn’t help us when we’re going through struggles.  Just know that God is the ultimate good, a good that we as humans may not fully understand until our journeys in this world are over.”

Abby nodded.  “But I think I do understand to some extent.  At least better than I did before.”

He father walked up to her and put his arms around her.  “Hang in there, Sweet Pea.  Just remember that everything’s going to be okay.”  She closed her eyes, smiled, and hugged him back.

<>

Abby woke up to find herself in her cell, strapped to her bed.  The IV was still in her arm and the metallic object was still attached to her cybernetic leg, making her leg all but useless.  Her back was in excruciating pain.  It took Abby several seconds to come to her senses after the dream, but once she was aware of her surroundings, she heard commotion outside the door to her cell.  There were laser blasts and explosions outside in the street which she heard through the barred window, and people were shouting.  There were some screams.  Several sounded like women.  Abby tried in vain to get up, forgetting her restraints for a second.  It only made her back hurt worse.  She wanted to see what was happening.  Whatever it was, she was a sitting duck.  She’d be totally vulnerable to anyone who found her in her current state.  The metal door to her cell started to open.

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 9
Where:
Abby deals with unforeseen circumstances.
Eileen Traymont deals with the aftermath of events in Black Rock.
There are some new arrivals in Black Rock.

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.

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