Fiction: Afterlife Volume 3 (Chapter 9)

by Mike Monroe on October 2, 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 8

Where:

Mavery and Big Ed visit Phoenix Books and meet Matt Lund and his associates.
Razor confronts Phillip Brevington and threatens him.
Abby has a dream in her cell and is awoken by chaos outside.

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 9

The door to Abby’s cell opened the rest of the way and two enforcers in full blue uniforms with sand shields over their faces and laser rifles in their hands rushed in.  “You need to come with us,” one said.  “We’re moving you.”

“Well,” Abby said, her back still in excruciating pain, “you obviously need to unstrap me, then.”

One of the men stood several feet away, keeping his laser rifle trained on Abby’s face, while the other rushed to her legs.  “She has a cybernetic prohibitor.  Do you think we need to take it off?”

“I don’t know,” the other enforcer said, still aiming his laser rifle at Abby’s face.

“I won’t be able to get very far on one leg,” Abby said.

“Whatever,” the enforcer aiming at her face said.  “We’re in a hurry.  Come on.  We need to get out of here.”

“I can only do this so quickly,” the other said as he entered some numbers into a keypad on the device on Abby’s leg.  A magnetic lock shut off and the device dropped onto the bed and then to the floor with a clank.  There were laser shots out in the hallway as the enforcer unstrapped Abby’s ankles and wrists.  “All right.  Come on.  We need to go or we’re all dead.”  The enforcer aiming the laser rifle was visibly nervous, and there were footsteps running up the hall, but he still didn’t look away from her.  A laser blasted through his head and he slammed to the floor, his head bouncing off the stone in a splash of blood.  The other enforcer turned to fire as two bandits appeared in the doorway wearing metal and leather.  One fired a laser pistol at the enforcer, blowing a hole through his chest.

The bandit aimed his laser pistol at Abby.  “Well look what we have here.”  He was short and muscular, with a stubbly face and shaggy brown hair.

“She’s pretty,” the other bandit said, a tall, bald man with a goatee.

“She’s okay,” the first one said.  “Should I blow her brains out?”  He prepared to pull the trigger.

“Nah,” the other said.  “May as well have some fun with her first, right?”

The two men closed in on Abby as she got out of bed and backed up against the wall, her back throbbing.  As they got closer, she kicked the first in the stomach with her cybernetic leg, sending him flying into the stone wall.  He fell to the ground, moaning in pain.  The other one aimed his laser pistol at Abby’s face, but she kicked him before he could fire, sending him sprawling into his friend.  She rushed out into the hallway, her back throbbing as she looked for some sort of storage room.  She needed to find Einstein and her bag.  The stone hall turned corners at both ends and was lined with metal doors with barred windows.  There were three dead enforcers on the ground and voices were coming from around the bend at one end of the hall.  Abby ran the other way, hoping she’d find the storage room that way.  There must have been a place where they kept items they took from prisoners.  As Abby rounded the corner she heard someone shout and a laser fired, hitting the stone wall as she turned the bend and ran down a new hallway.  This hallway was also lined with metal doors, but there was a door at the end and in the left wall was an open vault door.  A dead enforcer was on the ground in front of it, blood pooling around his head.  As Abby ran for the open vault, she heard voices inside.

She ran past the vault on purpose and quickly hid behind the open door.  “What was that?” someone shouted from inside the vault.  Two bandits came out to investigate.  Just as they did, two more appeared from around the bend.

“Did you see someone come past here?” she heard one of the bandits approaching from the other end of the hall ask.

“I thought I saw something,” one of the bandits who’d been in the vault said.  The two bandits who’d been in the vault walked towards the others.

“You thought?” the first bandit asked.  “How can you miss a person running through this hall?  It ain’t like there’s nowhere to hide.”

Abby took a deep breath and ran around the door and into the vault.  A laser fired, hitting the door behind her.  She reached out and slammed the door shut.  Then, she exhaled.  The vault was locked and she could hear the bandits outside trying to figure out how to open it.  Abby looked around, seeing several bags on shelves.  There were some clear plastic bags full of white powder and there was also a small pile of gold blocks.  They were too heavy for her to try to take with her.  She noticed her own white bag on a nearby shelf and she grabbed it, looking inside to see that everything was in it except Einstein.  Pastor Earl’s Bible and Bobby’s copy of On the Road were both still in there.  The enforcers hadn’t found the secret compartments which held the diamonds, so those were still there.  The chip that held her father’s documents, including the constitution he’d been working on with other members of the resistance, was safely hidden with the diamonds.  If only Einstein had fit in the secret compartment.  She could have jammed him in there, but it would have made the compartment obvious.  The camouflage projector was still in the bag, though, along with its cord, and there was a socket in the wall below the shelf.  She plugged the camouflage projector in and waited as she listened to the bandits cursing as they tried to open the door.  She’d only need a few minutes.  Just long enough to escape and find a way to get to wherever the next set of diamonds were.  But she needed Einstein.  She remembered Eileen Traymont had told her that hackers were working with him.  Where could they have been located?  They were likely somewhere in the enforcer station, which was now apparently crawling with bandits.

Some time passed and the door finally opened.  Abby quickly put the camouflage projector on her left wrist and turned it on, placing the cord back in her bag.  “What the hell?” one of the bandits asked as he rushed into the room with his laser pistol drawn.  “There’s no one here.”

“What do you mean?” another bandit asked.  The three others came into the room also.

“There’s nowhere to hide,” one of them said.  “She must have a camouflage projector or something.”

As they processed the situation, Abby ran past them and closed the vault behind her, turning the combination several times to make sure it was locked.  She could hear shouting from behind the vault door as she walked to the closed metal door at the end of the hall.  “Here goes nothing,” she said as she opened the door and ran through, finding herself in an office, behind a counter.  Several dead enforcers were on the floor.  Five bandits were searching through the office and they all turned when the door opened.

“What’s going on?” one of them asked.  He ran to the door with his gun drawn and looked down the hallway.  “There’s no one there.”

“Is there a spy in our midst?” one of the bandits asked.  He wasn’t wearing the same leather and metal clothes as the others.  He was in an old, dark blue suit and he was wearing glasses.  The others turned to him for guidance and Abby assumed he was the leader.  “Everyone to me,” he said.  The other four bandits ran to him, as did Abby.  “Start firing everywhere.”  The five bandits formed a circle and aimed their laser pistols outward as Abby dropped to the floor right in front of the leader.  All five bandits fired their laser pistols around the room repeatedly in every direction, filling the walls with laser holes.  Papers flew everywhere.  A desk caught on fire.  “All right, all right,” the leader said as Abby rolled away from him.  “If he’s here, he’s dead.”

“He ain’t here,” another bandit said, looking around.  “We’d see blood.”

“If only we had a radar system of some kind,” the leader said.  “There’s got to be one in this station somewhere.  We need to keep up the search.  In the meantime, this spy’s power will run out eventually.  Keep your eyes peeled.”

Abby stood quietly and backed away towards another closed metal door.  There was also a glass front door which had been shattered by the laser blasts.  She needed to find Einstein before she escaped, though.  Her back was killing her, but she knew she couldn’t make a sound.  She waited by the closed metal door either for it to open, or for the five bandits to leave the front office.  She hoped one or the other happened before her power ran out.  She knew there was no way she’d be able to complete her mission to find the last of the diamonds and Valhalla without Einstein’s help.  The door finally opened and another man in a suit walked into the office.  “The coast is clear down this hall,” he said as Abby rushed past him.

“You probably just let a spy go past you,” the leader said.

There were several laser blasts as Abby ran down the hall.  The walls were lined with metal doors.  All of them had barred windows except one to the left.  That’s the one Abby opened as lasers flew past her.  There was a dead man and a dead woman on the floor, but they were dressed in civilian clothes.  Einstein was on a table in the center of the room.  Abby put him on her right wrist and turned him on.  “We’re in trouble,” Abby whispered.  “I have a camouflage projector on.  Don’t say anything.”

Two bandits appeared in the doorway to the room.  They started firing their laser pistols as Abby dropped to the floor and rolled towards them.  They stopped firing as Abby lay beneath them looking up at them, her back in excruciating pain.  She tried to keep her breathing quiet.  One of the bandits tapped the other’s arm and pointed down at Abby with a grin.  They both aimed their laser pistols at her.  She leapt to her feet and kicked the first as hard as she could with her cybernetic leg.  He flew into the wall of the hallway.  She rushed past the other one, heading back towards the office.  “She’s coming that way!” the bandit shouted to four others at the end of the hall near the doorway to the office.  They drew their laser pistols and fired.  Abby stayed to the left as far as she could and the four blasts went down the center of the hallway.  She crashed through the four enforcers and leapt off her cybernetic leg with all of her strength towards the shattered door.  She landed in the sandy street with a thump that sent shockwaves of pain through her back as she screamed and rolled several times through the sand.  When she was done wincing, she realized her camouflage projector was off and she was surrounded by bandits.  There were eight of them standing around her, pointing their laser pistols down at her as she looked up at them and the sky beyond them.

One was the leader in the suit, glaring at her through his glasses.  “Oh, we’re gonna have some fun with you.”

A mob of people seemed to appear out of nowhere and the bandits fired their laser pistols.  Abby was surrounded by chaos.  There were shouting people and lasers all around her.  “This is our town!” someone shouted.  Someone grabbed Abby’s wrist and before she knew it, she was being pulled down a street.

A man and a bald woman were running in front of her.  She watched up the street as two bandits fired repeating laser rifles into a crowd of civilians, mowing them down in a bloody massacre.  The woman and the man running in front of Abby turned right down an alley.  They ran until they reached a sand bike and stopped, breathing heavily.  The woman smiled at Abby, who’s back hurt so bad she could barely think.  “You’re Abigail Song, aren’t you?”  Abby didn’t answer, but she looked at the woman with pain-filled eyes.  “You are,” the woman said.  “We heard rumors they were bringing you here.”  She was wearing a plain white dress and the man was in jeans and a t-shirt.  As far as Abby could tell, they were unarmed.  “You have to get out of here,” the woman said.  “Get as far away from here as you can.  You’re too important.”

The man handed Abby a set of keys.  “Here.  Take our sand bike.  For the cause.”

Abby frowned.  “The cause?”

“You’re going to save us all,” the man said with wide eyes.  “I believe it.  Others believe it.  You’re the one we’ve been waiting for.”

A few weeks earlier, Abby would have laughed at him.  She would have told him she was just some girl.  Instead, she took the keys and smiled.  “Thank you.  And you’re right.  I’m going to save you.  I’m going to come back here, and I’m going to save all of you.  I promise.  Hang in there until I return.  Don’t go getting yourselves killed.”

The man and the woman both smiled.  “Good luck,” the woman said as Abby mounted the sand bike and started the engine.

“Good luck to you, too.”  Abby drove the sand bike through the alley, making a sharp right on the road she figured led out of town.  It was the road that led away from the mountains, probably west.

The buildings of Black Rock were almost all made from dark gray stone, giving the town its name.  Many were carved into the side of the mountain range the town had been built along.  Abby increased her speed as she headed towards open sky, dark gray homes and shops whizzing past along with stray lasers.  Most of the fighting seemed to be behind her, but she still had to be careful.  She glanced behind her to see a pair of sand bikes on her tail.  The bikes were beat up and dented and their riders were bandits in the usual metal and leather garb.  Abby rocketed past the last buildings of Black Rock as the road skirted the edge of a high cliff.  A laser went past her head.  Another grazed the side of her bike.  There was no road to her right, just a steep drop off where the cliff fell hundreds of feet down towards more rocky foothills.  Abby took a deep breath.  She’d seen Horseman and Ace both do some crazy things.  Both were excellent drivers.  She also thought of Digits, though he seemed like an afterthought.  She couldn’t get her mind off Ace as she tried to decide on her next move.  Was she really starting to develop feelings for Ace McCoy of all people?  This wasn’t the time to be thinking about that.  Abby turned a sharp right and her sand bike dove off the side of the cliff.

The rocky ground was coming at her fast.  She had to have lightning reflexes.  Just before the nose of the sand bike hit the ground, she pulled up and hit the gas.  The rocket engine shot her straight out over some rocky foothills.  She held on for dear life as she zoomed past the last foothills and was once again surrounded by the familiar white dunes of the desert.  “Drummond,” Einstein’s voice said from her wrist.

“What was that?” Abby asked as she drove.

“The next set of diamonds are in Drummond,” Einstein said.  “Head west.”  Abby realized she was in a similar situation to the one she’d been in when she’d first left her family home after Warrick Baines killed her parents and siblings.  She was completely alone.  Maybe that’s how it was meant to be.  She continued driving towards the horizon where sand met sky, slowing down a little as her heart stopped racing.

<>

Eileen Traymont looked east at the Rockies.  They spread across the horizon like a massive wall of rock.  She wondered if she’d ever see Lookout City or New Atlantis again.  Traveling in the desert was getting to be too much for her.  She’d always wanted to put down roots.  And here she was wandering the desert again like a nomad.  All thanks to the International Anarchy Organization.  And Abigail Song.  “Are you alright?” Mick Callaway asked.  He was one of the few enforcers who’d survived the attack in Black Rock.

Eileen nodded.  “Of course.  We need to find Abigail Song.”

“Ma’am?” Mick asked.  The other three survivors were in the car, resting.  Dusty Snow’s arm had been injured and Phil Funk had been hit in the leg.  Neither wound was life threatening, but they still needed their rest.  Eileen had used the first aid kit in the car to clean their wounds and bandage them up.  Gerald Remus was also resting in the car, though he hadn’t suffered any wounds.  They’d managed to escape in an enforcer hover car in a hail of laser fire.  The red lights on top were shattered and the back windshield was gone.  There were dents and laser burns on the sides, but they’d managed to escape with their lives.

“I said we need to find Abigail Song,” Eileen said.  She looked to the southeast, where the town of Black Rock was, though it was too far away to see.  There’d been no sign of Stanley Everett, her top enforcer.

“But, ma’am,” Mick said, “Rennock’s captured.  New Atlantis has fallen.  Shouldn’t we try to figure out our next move?  And when I say that, I mean, what’s our best option if we want to survive?”

Eileen frowned.  “I don’t know if we have a best option.  I’m going to do my duty.  And my job is to capture Abigail Song and bring her to justice.  We had her and thanks to the IAO we lost her.  Now we need to find her again.”

“What about the IAO?” Mick asked.

“We’ll bring them to justice also,” she said.  “Any IAO members we find along the way, anyway.”

“But Rennock’s done,” Mick said.  “His empire’s fallen.  It’s just the IAO and the resistance now, ma’am.  We need to choose a side.”

“Do you know what happened to Jorge Bautista?” Eileen asked.

“I didn’t see him,” Mick said.  “You can ask one of the other guys.  Ma’am.  I’m gonna be frank with you.  You need to stop changin’ the subject.  There’s no point in lookin’ for Abigail Song at this point.  The IAO have her now and they’ll kill her.  And we won’t be able to do a thing against the IAO by ourselves.  We need to pick a side.  One of the ones that’s left.”

Eileen glared at him.  “General Schmidt’s Army was in Vulture’s Pass.  They were attacked by the IAO, but from what I’ve heard from my sources, there were survivors.  I haven’t been able to contact General Schmidt, but I’m going to keep trying.  As long as he’s somewhere with Rennock’s army, they’ll be able to retake New Atlantis and rescue Herman Rennock.  Until then, we need to do our duty.”

Mick bit his bottom lip.  “Ma’am, the IAO beat Schmidt’s army at Vulture’s Pass.  Even if there’s anyone else, how in the hell are they gonna be able to retake New Atlantis?”

“Are you questioning my order?”

Mick glared at her for a second and slowly shook his head.  “No, ma’am.”

“All right,” Eileen said.  She noticed the glint of metal just over a dune to the southeast.  As it approached, a smile appeared on her round face.  It was Stanley on an enforcer sand bike.  He’d survived after all.  Eileen knew he’d take her side in continuing the pursuit of Abigail Song.  Perhaps any pending mutiny was now at least put off for a little while.

“So he’s back,” Mick said.

Stanley rode his sand bike up to the busted up hover car and parked it.  He took off his helmet, hopped off the bike, and walked towards Eileen and Mick.  His blonde hair was bloody near his forehead, and the left lens of his glasses was missing.  “Stanley!” Eileen exclaimed, showing more emotion than she was usually comfortable with showing in front of her men.  “I’m glad to see you’re all right.  For the most part, at least.”

Stanley smiled and nodded.  “I got a little beat up, but I’m okay.”

“Was Abigail Song there when you escaped?” Eileen asked.  “I asked Benny and Mitch to get her, but they never showed up.”

“I heard the IAO thugs saying a prisoner escaped,” Stanley said.  “One using a camouflage projector.  You can bet your life it was Song.  They killed all the others, so there’s no use looking in Black Rock again, either way.”

Eileen nodded.  “Did you see what happened to Jorge Bautista?”

Stanley nodded with a frown.  “He’s with them now.”

Eileen frowned.  “Of course.  He always struck me as someone who’d flip sides in an instant if things got bad.”  She glared at Mick.  Jorge was a good man to have on your side with his cybernetic forearms and his familial dysautonomia condition which prevented him from being able to feel pain, but  Eileen cherished loyalty above all else when it came to her employees.

Mick nodded.  “Well it’s good to see that you’re okay, Stanley.”  He turned and walked towards the car.

“What’s next for us?” Stanley asked.

“Get some rest,” Eileen said.  “Maybe some food, too.  We’re leaving in an hour or two.”

“Where are we going?” Stanley asked.

“We’re looking for Abigail Song,” Eileen said.  “The resistance have control of Rose City.  General Schmidt’s army is somewhere southwest of here, most likely.  I think we want to head in that direction.  Once we’ve joined up with them, we’ll head for Rose City.  That’s probably where we’ll find Song.”

“Sounds like as good a plan as any, I guess,” Stanley said.  “You’re the boss, ma’am.”  She watched as he turned and walked towards the car.  Of the thousand or so enforcers in Black Rock, there were only six left that Eileen knew of, including her.  She hoped General Schmidt’s army hadn’t suffered similar casualties.

<>

“We’re gonna need new disguises,” Della said as he looked down at Black Rock.  Many of the buildings were burning and bandits were walking the streets.  Several dead enforcers were hung by their necks from posts around town.

Ace glanced at Della’s enforcer uniform and then down at his own.  “I’d say so.”

“We’ll have to kill a couple of IAO bandits,” Della said.  “Or knock them out somehow.”

“Going as civilians probably wouldn’t be a safe bet either,” Ace said.  “Things look even worse here than they were in that border town we had to run from.”

They were crouched behind some rocks on a cliff about one hundred feet or so above the road that led to town.  Della watched as a group of IAO thugs rode sand bikes below them.  “We’ll need to get closer to the road,” he said.  “Hopefully there’s a smaller squad we can hit.”

“We need to get further away from town, too,” Ace said.  “If we’re seen, the gig’s up.”

“Do you even think there’s any chance Abby’s still here?” Della asked with a frown.

“There’s only one way to find out,” Ace said.  “And if the IAO have her now, she’s probably in even more trouble.”

“And the plan was to go to Rose City if she’s not here,” Della said.

“That’s right.”  Ace frowned.  “Or if she’s dead.”

Della took a deep breath.  “Yeah.”  The two of them scrambled up the rocks back to their hover car, which they’d parked further up the mountain.

 


Continue on to the next chapter:

Afterlife, Volume 3, Chapter 10
Where:
Ace and Della search Black Rock for Abby.
Ayman Ali has a prime seat for the Wild Joe Rodeo Show.
Paul talks to Aiyana MacGowan about the books he’s been reading.

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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