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I lied
I lied

Joined: 07 Mar 2005
Posts: 4175
Location: filth

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2016 6:55 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Dogmeatlives wrote:

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Living Legend
Living Legend

Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 3189
Location: Junktown, Phil's doorstep

PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:43 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Hey everybody, so I'm nearly halfway through writing a Wasteland Radio book and I thought it was getting to be about time to share some of it and get some feedback. Anyway, here is Chapter 1 and I'll eventually post each chapter as I finish them. I'm looking for some specific feedback: questions you have about characters, grammatical errors, areas where I need to add details, and anything else you think I need to know before I try to publish the book. Anyway, here is the first of about 14 chapters I have so far. Please let me know what you think-


The boy was grubby, and his crude shoes made of animal hide stuck to hot pavement as he walked east along Route 40 toward an ancient roadside gas station.  The setting sun was still strong enough along the horizon to draw beads of sweat from his body. Instinct told him to be off the road by nightfall or the things out there would find him and snatch him up and only if he was lucky would they cook and eat him or sell him into a nearby labor camp.  If he was unlucky he would be sold back into the camp he had just escaped from. Ending up as either someone's slave or their dinner was the most likely outcome of an encounter here in north Texas where a particularly cruel strain of humanity had flourished.  

The boy stepped into the shade of the gas station’s awning, and took a moment to survey the wasteland in all directions.  He found only sand and road and mountains, and then there was the filling station which would provide some protection for the night.  A little voice in his mind, his Father's voice, reminded him that it could also prove an attraction for nearby wildlife seeking shelter of its own.  The boy told that voice that he had to take the risk.

He promised that he would only sleep until nightfall, and then he would have energy to protect himself against anything that might come hunting after small boys in the dark.  He had his slingshot of course, and was a sure enough shot to at least wound an attacker.  The boy entered into the station’s lobby through a screen door with no latch.  He let the wind catch it and send the door swinging open and shut, open and shut, clapping back against the frame each time.  Behind the  clerk’s counter the boy found only a dulled pencil, one end of which he stuck in his mouth and chewed as he eyed the faded walls around him, the paint chipped away a century ago.  

He rocked back and forth on a loose tile beneath his feet and chewed away at the pencil, deep in thought.  Since he had run, the boy had become very good at finding hiding places in plain sight, and as he stood in the room he examined the possibilities here.  He could tuck himself in underneath the counter and stack some rusted old chairs around him, or he could keep looking.  There were two doors leading to rooms beyond the lobby.  Behind one, he discovered a dusty broom closet which contained, ominously enough, only a human shin bone poking up out of a bucket. Behind door number two was the service garage and in one corner lay a large refrigerator fallen on its side.  

‘Just right,’ he thought, and with some effort lifted its door, and slid inside, leaving his small burlap pack stuffed in the gap to keep the door propped open just slightly.

Hours later the boy awoke to a hovercycle gang passing by out on the highway, their turbine engines screaming on through the night like the ghosts of elders who still stalked the blasted Earth, mourning their lost paradise.  The cycles weren’t ghosts though, not really.  The boy thought they were more like undead mechanical corpses from the Elders’ time, reassembled from wasteland scrap, mounted by men, and ridden out onto the great blackened paths the elders had laid down before they destroyed their own world.  They had all kinds of words for these sinister passageways from place to place- roads, streets, turnpikes, and highways.  There were also bridges which spanned great gaps in the Earth.  The boy’s brother, Flint, had shown him photographs of such structures in a book he found out scavenging.

Flint could read okay, and he taught the boy what he knew, and the boy had taken those seeds of learning and nursed them into an understanding of the Elder language and a respect for their ancient knowledge.  They had worked such magic upon the Earth, and as the hovercycles’ roars faded away into the darkness, the boy, tucked into a rusted old refrigerator somewhere along what was once known as Route 40, slipped back into sleep imagining those miracles in his mind’s eye; the ferris wheel and the skyscraper, the carnival, and the movie theater.

Slipping slowly into a dream, he imagined that Flint was with him and their mother was there, and their father too.  They were alive and seated on a blanket beneath a tall tree full of leaves and cool shade in a peaceful green place the elders had called a park. There were small birds flitting about and sunlight that didn’t burn at all, but was instead a calming warmth; a warmth made for napping.
“Play catch with me, bucko?” Flint was asking him.
“You bet,” he shouted and looked down to find a ball already in his hand, and Flint had a kind of glove on one hand, and the boy tossed the ball to Flint, watching it whirl through the sky, and as it landed Charlie saw the face of his brother; the dead face, with his skin melting down his scalp.  Beneath the dripping skin was skull and then jawbone.  His brother’s body burst into flames before him and glowed like the sun.  Beyond that death glow the Earth was falling away, distant buildings and trees and then people falling as the ground gave way beneath them, and then Flint was falling down into blackness, his jaw extended in a silent scream before skull and jaw and bones tumbled from his clothes, and all was gone.

Behind him, the boy heard his mother and father calling out to him, and he already knew they could not save him from what was coming; an up-rushing avalanche of nothingness.   He would join them all.

When the boy awoke again, with slingshot still grasped in one hand, he pushed the refrigerator door up just enough to squeeze his head out through the crack and listen to the night sounds.   Against the brick walls of the filling station sounded the sprinkling of sand carried upon a soft wind from the east, while out there somewhere far off upon the wastes came bestial howling, and further still, from the distant southern mountains he heard the beating of drums and imagined the frenzied death cults dancing before a great fire set to burning for an end that had already come.  Flint had told him, before mother shushed him quiet, that sometimes the cultists would throw themselves upon the flames, granting themselves their sacred oblivion.

The boy shivered as some secret thought plucked at his spine.  He managed to push it away and tuck his head back into the small refrigerator sanctuary, before reaching into his burlap pack for his most valued possession; a handheld radio, chipped and worn with more than a century of age and a few years in a boy’s possession.  He clicked open the radio’s battery compartment and then rifled around again in his sack before pulling out another priceless relic his mother had smuggled out of the glowing lands; an AAN battery.

Popping the battery into its slot in the back of the radio, he felt a little glow inside himself as the radio’s blue screen pulsed to life.  
‘Welcome,’ it displayed, and then ‘You are listening to 104.7.’
He was catching the signal mid-song and for just that single moment before he was able to turn down the volume with the flick of a dial, a rock and roll tune boomed out from within a rusted old refrigerator in the garage of a forgotten filling station.  Inside the little compartment, the biy sat curled up and listening to the words of Fats Domino, drinking them in.
‘... vows you made
Were never to be

Though we're apart
You're part of me still
For you were my thrill
On Blueberry Hill’

The music ended and the disc joskey cut back in.

‘I don’t know where Blueberry Hill is but boy oh boy would I love to be there right about now!  Dear listeners, it’s DK DJ working the overnight here on WRTX Radio, coming to you live from Amarillo, Texas.  We’re going to take a quick commercial break and head right back into the music. Coming up we’ll hear from The Ink Spots, Sons of the Pioneers, and Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters.  Stick around!’

The boy would stick around, all night.  He would be soothed by the sound waves humming from his radio’s speaker, and as he listened he gazed into one corner of the cramped little refrigerator, far off into a city of his own imagining, a place where he would find safety and kindness, and maybe one day they would even let him play the music.  The city was Amarillo, and he was determined to make it there by Spring time’s end.

The boy dreamed and listened while high above him, tens of thousands of miles from earth’s surface, slept a man from the past, frozen in time and orbit.  The man lay within a cryogenic pod crafted of an alloy hard enough to stand up to extreme heat, extreme pressure, and extreme time.  The man had entered the pod and remained frozen over two centuries before at the tail end of a mission to orbit Mars and test the effects such a trip might have on the human body.  The man, the astronaut, was shot off on his mission in a first of its kind spaceship designed to deflect the radiation that lurked out there in the deep of space. The mission had been a success, but back on Earth, in the newspapers, it was nothing more than a back page blurb.

Filling the front of the paper were headlines about unconfirmed reports of Soviet spies infiltrating the United States’ nuclear program, Chinese flying drones sighted off Alaska’s coast, and Congressional hearings into the potential nationalization of the U.S. oil industry.  The name of the man had been all but forgotten in the minds of the American public as Earth’s mightiest nations seemed moving ever onward toward a suicidal final war.  The astronaut re-entered his cryogenic pod upon completion of studies of Martian gravity and the effect of its orbit and the order was given from command central in Houston, Texas to put him back on ice for his return trip to Earth, where his wife, kids, and the family dog would all be waiting.  His last conscious thought was a memory of his home in Richmond, and his family standing out in front as he snapped a photo to send to the relatives.  He would be home in 128 days, and would kiss his wife, and boys, and then he would get down on his knees and kiss the ground beneath them.

Just about halfway into his return flight, however, as the astronaut hung in cryogenic stasis, a voice that would have been familiar to him crackled through the ship’s radio comm.  It was the voice of a friend and colleague.
“Peter, it’s me, Richard.  I know you can’t hear me or comprehend what I’m saying right now, but for my own reasons I need to explain.  No, that’s not the right word.  I need to confess.  Peter, the world is on the brink of nuclear war.   Here in Houston, the military’s taken over and shut down the city.  I’ve decided to stay here at command central until the end comes.  I don’t have anyone on the outside, and, hell, this place is as good a home as any I’ve ever had.  If this is where it ends then so be it, but now I’m rattling off about my own choices when I should be telling you about the one I made for you.  You see, there’s been some changes to your flight plan, Peter, to ensure that you will remain cryogenically frozen for much longer than we had planned.  

Don’t worry, I managed to round up some of the tech boys last night and convinced them to re-program your shuttle’s emergency procedure so that, on reserve power, you will continue your trip home, but once you reach Earth’s orbit  you’ll remain there for as long as you need to be.

  Best case scenario, the fears of an all out nuclear war are nothing more than media circus run reckless, but Peter, absolutely worst case is that by the time you and your ship re-enter earth’s atmosphere, there will be no more nations… and, well, we can only hope that radiation levels will have returned to normal by then.  It would be a long shot, but if you survived the landing you’ll find a new world… a world that will need your help.

 You’re an astronaut, Peter.  You were trained to explore harsh new worlds like the one you will encounter here on a earth a century from now.
I know, I’m probably being dramatic.  I’ve been at the bottle, and it makes me really fixate on the worst possible outcome down here on this little hunk of rock hurtling through the universe.  It’s probably for the best that your just a frozen turkey up there and can’t hear a word of this.  If this turns out to be nothing Peter, we’ll reprogram your ship for re-entry as expected and when you wake up you won’t even realize that you could have been up there for a hundred years or more.  I just, I felt like I needed to get this off my chest in case this whole nuclear holocaust thing pops off the way the military brass expect it.   Your wife and the boys have been taken to a deep con military bunker three miles outside of Houston.  They should be alright down there.

I have to go now Peter.  I hope you find some kind of peace in whatever world you return to.  Richard Byers signing off.”

Nuclear annihilation did befall the Earth and the astronaut, Peter Von Jensen, remained frozen in time, orbiting high above, while the planet bathed for one hundred years in nuclear fallout which ravaged all life, and left, in its place, twisted nightmare creatures hungry for blood.
but in time, as the radiation died away over the years and decades that passed, human life began to re-emerge from the precipice of extinction, first organizing into tenuous communities held together only by that human hunger for survival.  A few of those communities grew in power, either by force or by friendship, and then were born kingdoms once more, and the old machines of man were rediscovered and rebuilt; the gun, and the hovercycle, and the transmitter.

In a piece of the world once known as Texas the men and women etched out a meager and grim kind of life, clutching their lives to themselves with hands bloodied and worn.  It was the kind of life the boy with his beaten little radio in a rusted out refrigerator hoped to escape, while thousands of miles overhead, as the night wore on, the slumbering astronaut orbited in his spacecraft. The boy would move on and fight his way into Amarillo, while the astronaut would remain in a state of cryogenic stasis.
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Living Legend
Living Legend

Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 3010
Location: Cackalackyland

PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 10:49 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

How long is the book going to be?
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Living Legend
Living Legend

Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 3189
Location: Junktown, Phil's doorstep

PostPosted: Fri Nov 03, 2017 1:20 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Most likely between 160 and 200 pages.
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Living Legend
Living Legend

Joined: 23 Apr 2007
Posts: 3010
Location: Cackalackyland

PostPosted: Thu Nov 09, 2017 7:21 am Reply with quoteBack to top

Sounds cool. I'll keep an eye on its development.
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Living Legend
Living Legend

Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 3189
Location: Junktown, Phil's doorstep

PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2017 10:03 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Alright, I'm pretty happy with chapter 2 so here it is. Please leave a comment if you're reading and would like more so I know whether to keep posting chapters. Gracias.


Peter opened his eyes for the first time in centuries, but for him it had only been an instant. A friendly female voice, the voice of his ship’s computer, spoke to him.
“Commander Von Jensen, you are re-emerging from cryogenic stasis, please prepare for extraction. You have remained in stasis for approximately two hundred and thirty-seven years, three months and four days. Margin of error, one day.”
Peter's mind had yet to fully recover from long-term deep freeze and so he could not make conscious sense of the computer's words, but still he felt a sense of vague alarm and for a moment had the urge to burst from his cryogenic enclosure and find something or someone very precious to him. Then the chamber’s lid lifted on pneumatic hinges and Peter fell out onto the steel walkway between the ship’s lab and cockpit. As he tried to stand up he found that he was so much weaker than he had ever felt coming out of deep freeze, like willing putty to support a man’s weight, and so he stayed on hands and knees and warmed his mind to the situation at hand. Something had gone wrong, and he was in some way beginning to make connections, at least subconsciously, and it would be nice if the subconscious shared its results with the rest of the class.
Peter stayed on all fours and tried to let his body catch up with the physiological changes taking place, and that’s when he noticed the red alarm lights signaling from the cockpit, and the computer’s voice repeating “entering Earth’s atmosphere. Please take manual control, Commander.” Instinct kicked in and Peter rose, shambled toward the cockpit while through its viewports he beheld a beautiful sight, the Earth slowly churning in its orbit, and far beyond he saw its moon.
The cockpit’s control panel was lit up with a dozen or more emergency signal lights, like a Christmas tree of imminent disaster. Peter reached out and steadied himself against the pilot’s chair, trying desperately to gather his mind into sharper focus. His thoughts were muddied. He could not make sense of any of the emergency warnings, and even if he could recall what they meant, Peter knew there was no time to address the myriad malfunctions in the ship as it barreled directly toward Earth. ‘My brain’s still thawing out,’ he knew. The only course of action he could draw from his mind was to sit down and strap himself in to the Pilot’s chair, and so he did. Whatever followed would have to come to him quickly or he was a dead man. It was that simple. Peter pulled at the chair’s chest straps, testing their tightness, while looking up he saw the continent of North America growing in size through the cockpit viewport, and then the ship was shaking violently, and flames were shooting up from its nose as it entered the planet’s atmosphere. The viewport was blackening with the flames and the heat, but still he could see through it dimly.
Overhead the computer’s voice warned that ‘automatic re-entry’ was malfunctioning. He would have to do something, something with his hands. He reached out for the pilot’s control wheel, and holding it he connected memory with action.
‘Pull up,’ was the thought that screamed in his mind, and as the ship rocketed toward the Earth, on a crash course with the southwestern United States, Peter began to pull back on the wheel. Slowly, frustratingly so, the ship’s angle to the Earth shifted, from ninety degrees, to eighty five, seventy, sixty, and still he was plummeting at hundreds of miles an hour toward a deadly impact. There must be some way to slow the ship’s descent. It suddenly occurred to him to deploy the stern parachutes, so he scanned the control panel and after a few precious seconds he spotted the button and clicked it. From the rear of the ship came several mighty explosions, which could be the chutes deploying or just the start of the ship’s disintegration before impact. It was possible, he thought, that this entire ship could crack up and fall to pieces, scattered upon the Earth in a hundred mile line of debris.
Through the viewport the ground continued to rush into focus, he could make out mountains spread upon a vast desert; a barren landscape. Then, at the very top of the viewport he saw the horizon line, meaning he was nearly perpendicular with the planet’s surface, making a survivable landing much more possible. No structures, he thought, no buildings. Only sand, plants, and timeworn red mountains, all rushing beneath him at a dizzying speed as the small ship shook violently. The cockpit and the world beyond its blackened viewport blurred around Peter, and then there was impact with the desert floor, and in the instant before he lost consciousness he heard the roar of metal meeting sand and stone.
“I got a live one here, Jacob,” said a croaking voice very close to him.
“Fella or lady, Scraz?” came another voice from farther off.
“It’s a fella.”
“Healthy enough I scribe, ‘cept he’s banged up from the landing.” hands were touching his face, pulling his head back.
“Then add him to the taking! Hah, mah boys I thinks we hit the payload! There’s scrap and juicy goodies in here to last us a lifetime of scavving!”
“Not if the Hunters get out here and takes it from us!”
“If they try, Scraz, then we kill, and we take them’s loot on the top of all we got here!”
Peter opened his eyes slowly, seeing dimly, still strapped into the pilot’s chair. As he stirred, a sharp pain in his chest drew a groan from his lips.
“He’s coming ‘round,” said the closest voice, a man’s voice.
“Drag ‘im out then, and tie him up on the cart, then you come back quick and help us with the rest of the loadin’."
Peter felt the closer man struggling to get him out of his harness, and then heard several sharp snaps. He was being cut out of the straps. Then two strong hands were grabbing at him, trying to pull him from the seat. The movement sent rushes of pain up his spine, and Peter’s eyes snapped open, finding himself face to face with some kind of monster. The stench coming out the thing’s mouth stirred with the pain of what he suspected were several broken ribs and made Peter nauseous.
“Get your damned hands off me,” Peter cried and pushed the thing back into the control panel, where he got a better look at it. He saw that the creature was human, but with an extra eye sprouting from its left cheek, and with greenish bulges pulsating beneath its visible flesh. It wore only a reptile skin loin cloth and some kind of strange armor fashioned from rusted license plates and rope.
“Jacob, he’s awake,” cried the semi-human thing “and looks like a fighter!”
“Well, then show him the club, and we’ll just sell his body for flesh! No time for taking him softly,” shouted a voice behind him in the ship’s corridor, the voice of Jacob. Peter rose up from the chair and spun to look upon Jacob, a bearded man wearing scraps of clothing cobbled together with what looked to be strips of tire who stood beside the cryogenic pod and met Peter’s gaze and chuckled, lifted one hand, and waved goodbye. In the pod’s reflection Peter could see himself, battered and bloodied from the violent landing, and behind himself stood the three eyed mutant man lifting a large club over his head with the clear intent to bash in his skull. Peter turned quickly, raised his left forearm as the club crashed down upon it, while with his right hand Peter sent a clenched fist into the thing’s face, cracking bone and popping green blisters which oozed a glowing pus. Scraz crumpled back against the control panel howling in pain, and already Peter heard heavy footsteps clanking down the corridor toward him. He dropped to one knee and grabbed Scraz’s wooden club, noticing for the first time small metal spikes protruding from it.
He leapt back up and fought a dizziness that threatened to overwhelm his balance, as Jacob came barreling at him, his face strangely calm, as if this was just part of another day on the job. Far back, beyond the corridor, light was shining through an open doorway. Peter thought that the back half of the ship must have ripped off in the landing, because where the laboratory should have been he now saw only sand and sky and two other figures silhouetted against sunlight.
‘One down, three to go,’ he thought as he swung the club at Jacob and missed by inches, misjudging the space between them slightly. Jacob slammed into Peter hard, knocking the wind, and Scarz’s club, from him. They fell back into the control panel, and then tumbled down onto the screaming Scraz. Then vice gripped hands were around Peter’s throat and he was looking up into Jacob’s face, watching the man mutter to himself.
“Gotta do everything myself,” he said again and again.
Peter tried to scream but found that he coulsd make nbo sound as he clutched at Jacob’s arms, trying to break the choke. He thought he would die on the cockpit floor after surviving an impossible crash landing only minutes after coming out of deep freeze, killed by a gang of lunatics in some southwestern desert. He felt life draining from him as the grip tightened around his neck. Peter’s eyes, wide and bloodshot, stared fiercely into the face of the man killing him, and through them he saw something silver and shimmering shot out of nowhere. Suddenly Jacob was wearing a large silver headband. It was Peter’s last thought, that his killer wore a large silver headband. His eyes closed and he was still.
“This your ship, buddy?” came a new voice.
“Yes, please don’t kill me. Peter Von Jensen, Commander of the United States Mars Mission Alpha. Please.”
“Kill you? You’re lucky I made it out here when I did. You’d be scavmeat right now if it weren't for me and my trusty 'rang.”
Peter opened his eyes and saw a wild haired girl standing over him, pulling at Jacob’s silver headband. ‘Not a headband,' he thought as his vision cleared, but a boomerang. A steel boomerang embedded in the side of the man’s head, blood trickling from the wound as the girl pulled at the weapon, working to free it from where it had lodged in the man’s skull. She lifted a fur booted foot and kicked at Jacob’s head while pulling at the boomerang until it came free and fresh spurts of blood shot out of the gash. The girl knelt down and offered Peter her free hand, he took it, and was surprised by her strength as she helped him to his feet. She was no taller than five feet, and if he had to guess he’d put her in her late teens, her skin was deeply tanned, and freckles stood out prominently on her cheeks. She wore an elaborate fur toga trimmed with animal teeth and sewn-on pouches, a cracked leather belt, and boots fashioned from animal hide as well. Her eyes burned green and blonde hair hung down in thick waves around her face and shoulders. She looked like an extra on the set of some caveman movie, and as if fitting the part perfectly Peter could read nothing from her but a feral tenaciousness.
“What in the hell is going on here? Where-,” Peter was rocked by a wave of adrenaline and dizziness that sent him stumbling backward. She reached out and grabbed his arm, holding him firmly in place.
“Texas, mister, and if you don’t pull it together elder quick that’s gonna be the only answer you ever get. We gotta get moving!”
“Listen, I need to just sit for a minute. I can’t think. I need to just sit down for just a minute.”
“Fine. Sit,” she told him, releasing his arm, and walking quickly back to the open doorway which led out into the desert. Peter found the pilot's chair soaked in Jacob’s blood so he staggered from the cockpit and dropped hard to the metal floor where he thought he could stay for eternity. His whole body felt heavy. His head pounded and there was the taste of iron in his dry mouth. Wind was roaring outside, causing the ship’s frame to moan. Sand sprayed against the ship’s hull. The girl stood in the doorway, the fur she wore draped around her stirred gently in the wind.
Peter had a thousand questions, but he started with one. An easy one with an answer he could keep in his head.
“What’s your name?”
She looked back at him and spoke. “Ima.”
“Ima. Is that short for something?”
“Imogene,” she said, turning her head back to look out into the desert, arching it slightly, like a wild animal listening for a predator.
“Well Imogene, thank you for saving my life. My name’s-,”
“Shush! Quiet,” she shot back, still facing the sandscape beyond the doorway. She turned suddenly and raced towards him, grabbing his arm and pulling him up briskly. Looking him squarely in his eyes she told him to follow her closely.
“Where are we going?”
“Amarillo! You’re the scoop of the century and I’m not giving you up to the cults this easy. You got any weapons in this thing? Anything you can kill someone with?”
Peter thought for a moment, and then walked over to a locker built into the corridor wall. He struck out with a fist and the locker door popped open, revealing its contents. At the bottom was a steel case containing a government issued laser pistol and several rounds of fusion cells. He popped the latch on the case, pulled out the pistol, and tucked it in his waistband, emptied the fusion cells into one hand and stuffed them in his pocket. Higher up in the locker was a duffel bag which Peter unzipped and filled with as much of the locker’s other contents as he could before Ima was shouting for him to get going. He zipped up the bag, slung it over his shoulder, and stood. From a magnet on the inside of the locker’s door hung a picture of his wife and boys standing in the front yard of their home in Richmond. He pulled the photo gently from where it hung, undid the button of his breast pocket, placed the photo inside, and then buttoned it back again. Then he closed the locker door and followed Ima out into the heat of a Texas day.
Peter stepped over an arm severed at the elbow by a sharp object, the boomerang he presumed, and a few feet away the arm’s owner, a deformed man in ragged leather, writhed and groaned in agony, where his arm had once been now crimson blood spilled out onto the sand. There was a fourth man lying dead not far away. She was a killer, that much was clear, and he had no idea why she had saved him. His ship had etched a deep scar in the sandscape with its landing, and he followed her up out of the trench. There was a wooden cart already half filled with items the four men had looted from his ship; food rations, flashlights, and wires.
“My trike’s just over that ridge. It should be able to handle the extra weight,” she said, pointing to a rocky outcropping a few meters away, “We haul ass back to Amarillo, and then I get my scoop. You play along and I’ll help you out. Deal?”
“Help you with what?”
“My story, uh, I mean your story. I want your story down on tape, where you came from, why you’re here, your whole deal.”
“I have questions of my own,” he shouted as he plodded on behind her.
“Well, fortunately for you Amarillo is full of answers, but like I said there’ll be a time for questions. Right now we gotta jet,” she was at the edge of the outcropping, looking down. When he reached her he saw that there was a small drop to a waiting hovertrike, like the ones the neighborhood kids used to ride around on warm evenings. This one was beaten to hell, rusted in places, and patched back together with scrap metal, but it was still a hovertrike. She jumped down the rocky slope and hopped onto the trike, then she looked up at him.
“Let’s go now!” she shouted.
“Listen, I need questions answered, damnit! Where am I? Who were those men? Who the hell are you?”
“You must be deaf, mister, if you can’t hear that drumming.”
“Drumming, what drumming?”
“A death cult band about a half mile out, but heading fast in this direction. I’ll explain something real quick to you since that crash seems to have damaged your thinking. Everyone in a five mile radius saw you come down in your flying machine. I saw it clear as day. A long black trail of smoke trailing out behind something shiny and big, falling from the sky. You put on a real show, and you were loud, and if I heard you then the death cults heard you, the slavers heard, cannibals too, and every other kind of wasteland freak heard you fall out of the sky and you know what you sounded like to them?” the question was rhetorical, “Loot, goodies, Christmas coming early. Now get on this trike or by Elders I’ll leave you here to deal with the hell that’s about to descend on this location.”
“Fine,” he said and jumped down the few feet to the trike.
“Behind me,” she gestured to the small perch behind her on the vehicle. Peter swung one leg over the seat and lowered himself down. She squeezed the trike’s clutch and pushed the starter button, and the motor wheezed, sputtered, and died. She pressed the button again, and got the same result, “Damnit,” she hissed. The engine was not turning over. Peter spotted something, he couldn’t be sure if his eyes were playing tricks on him, but there was a bulge growing a few meters away beneath the sand, as if something was rising slowly from the earth. The motor groaned, and now he was sure that there was something moving beneath the sand, attracted by the sound of the engine. Whatever it was it began to burrow in their direction as the engine roared to life. The trike’s turbine whined and screamed and the vehicle rose slowly into the air. Once they were about a foot off the ground, Ima spun the trike in the opposite direction, cranked the accelerator, and then they were speeding off towards Amarillo, plumes of sand and exhaust trailing in their wake.
By the time they left the desert dunes behind and hit the main highway heading east Peter began to realize that the nightmare situation he had landed in may extend beyond the crash site. He noticed far out on the horizon a sort of unnatural green hue in the sky, like a menacing cloud hung thinly in the air all around them. The details of the highway were likewise ominous. A sign reading ‘Route 40: See the West’ was faded,dented, and riddled with bullet holes. The road surface itself was cracked and forgotten, sand sweeping in from the sides, the desert well on its way to reclaiming this stretch of highway.
“Does anybody use this road?” Peter shouted over the thrum of the engine. It's small vibrations kept the pain in his chest ever present.
“You bet, it’s the safest highway into town. Least, the only one I’d ride.”
Peter watched the miles roll by on either side of the little hovertrike and saw gas stations and strip malls and rest stops, all weather worn and half buried in the sand. They passed several signal lights hanging at awkward angles out of the dunes where no side streets could be seen. The only living things out on the road were themselves and the enormous cacti they passed by. He looked ahead, over the back of Ima’s head, and saw smoke rising.
“We’re getting close to the city now. You play it cool when we reach the gate and there won’t be a problem. Don’t be funny or say anything funny.”
“Got it."
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Living Legend
Living Legend

Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 3189
Location: Junktown, Phil's doorstep

PostPosted: Fri Dec 08, 2017 5:07 pm Reply with quoteBack to top

Here's Chapter 3. I'm pretty happy with it. No pun intended.


Before the Great War that ended the world, the town of Happy, Texas, about thirty miles south of Amarillo, was nothing more than a sleepy rural town visited mostly by those passing along at sixty miles an hour north or south along I-27, and remarkable only as the home of the headquarters and largest manufacturing facility for the Happy Pappy Cupcake Company, known for its line of plastic wrapped snack cakes stocked in grocery and convenience stores across the country. After the war, well the place was downright desolate. The town was spared the scourge of radioactive fallout, but the population of several thousand could not withstand the other ravages that tend to befall a people experiencing the end of their civilization. One by one they either died off or moved off, until on December 13th, 2051, almost a year to the day the war began and ended, the final resident of Happy, Texas, a man named Moses Johnson, grabbed his shotgun and shot his dog and then himself.
Nearly two hundred and twenty two years later- and seven months before Peter Von Jensen would return to Earth- Happy, Texas was visited by a desperate man looking for something to keep him alive. He had once been a religious man and a teacher traveling with a caravan tribe trading in and around Lord Gorth’s great kingdom of central Texas. He had always believed that the elders would keep him in their good graces, and had failed to see the signs that the sompany he traveled with had turned against him blinded as he was by what he now knew was a foolish trust in the elder spirits and their power. Certain allegations about his behavior, which he claimed were more exaggeration than fact, began to bubble up amongst the tribe. These allegations bubbled to the surface and spilled over as the caravn moved north on I-27 on a trading mission to Amarillo. It was on some random stretch of roadway that he was pulled from his wagon, butt naked and in the company of a young lady, and left beaten in a ditch on the side of the road. He had tried to explain his position, but those people turned out to have no hearing for reason.
“You can’t leave a man out here with no food or water,” he cried to the passing members of his former tribe, blood flew out with his words and fell to the sand beneath him. They all refused to meet his gaze, all except one. All but one, his former student and one of his current lovers, Mirabelle peeked her head out from between flaps of canvas at the back of her family’s wagon and gazed down at him through crying eyes. She looked pityingly down on him and finally tossed him a bladder of water. It landed a few feet from him.
He would survive, he had always managed, and so he stood, naked, bloodied, walked to the bladder and picked it up. He kept his eyes on the caravan, watching it vanish into the wasteland, leaving him stranded. When he could no longer see the final wagon he followed north along the elders’ faded highway. After a half day’s walk he came to a sign in the road that grabbed his attention and lured him of I-27.
‘Welcome to Happy, Texas,’ it read, ‘Home of the Happy Pappy Cupcake Company.’
On one side of the weatherworn sign was an illustration of a man holding some kind of baked treat in his hand and with a wide grin on his face. The man, who he assumed was Happy Pappy, had a head of bright blue hair and wore a curled moustache of the same color.
Despite having passed the sign dozens of times back and forth between Amarillo and Tradetown to the south, only now did he take it as a sign by the Elders. They knew he was in need and perhaps they would provide, as they had in the past. He took the next exit, hopping along the sand and barren soil because the roadway was too hot for his bare feet. Passing the first few houses on the outskirts of this small town, he could already make out the dark silhouette of a large factory which lie closer to the town center. He could make it there by nightfall if he kept moving, but had to be careful to avoid any freaks who may have taken up residence in this ghost town. He also needed clothes and so he kicked in a few doors and wandered around inside the small shotgun-style homes built haphazardly in what was once the poor side of Happy.
Time had opened the homes up to the elements, and sand and wind moved through cracks in the siding, swept down stairways and kept doors creaking gently. Eventually he found some sweatpants, a faded t-shirt the cupcake company’s blue haired mascot, and a pair of sandals in a bedroom closet. He nodded and thanked the faces of Elders in picture frames for providing for him, drank deeply from the leather bladder filled with water, and headed for the factory.
The wind began to pick up as he first step foot in the parking lot of the enormous brown brick factory. Above the building’s main entrance, large pink letters spelled out ‘Happy Pappy Cupcake Company’, and beside the entrance was a statue of the blue-haired man himself, Happy Pappy. He was a man to admire, this Happy Pappy, standing legs apart, one hand on hip and the other holding some round blue treat up toward the sky. This Happy Pappy smiled broadly, gazing at the treat in his hand.
Whatever he had come to town for, he would find it within this elder factory, but if there were any cannibals or mutant beasts he would most likely find them within the factory as well, drawn to it the same way he had been, sensing its power. It was power you could sense in the face of Happy Pappy’s statue. It was a power that said everything was going to be all right in the end. He was hungry and somehow he knew that a cupcake or whatever it was Pappy held in his hands would fill him up and make him forget all about the suffering of this post-Elder world. They had provided.
He pushed in a steel door labeled ‘Maintenance Entrance’. Its lock had been cracked open. While his eyes adjusted to the darkness within the factory, he felt along the wall for a light switch. While unlikely, an industrial facility of this size may very well have an Elders’ nuclear power source at its heart. If that was the case, then he should be able to egt the lights on to see what abandoned treasures lie within. He was unaware that there were men and women watching him from deeper within the darkness with wide, bloodshot eyes.
They were men and women who had, like himself, sought refuge in the old pastry factory out of desperation, and like him they hoped to find some Elder treasure to secure their survival. What they found was a new vice, and a new deity in Happy Pappy and his world famous cupcakes. They saw this new man only vaguely, as an intruder. He threatened the paradise of peace, seclusion, and abundance they had found here, and so he would die like the others who had wandered here. They would not share Pappy or his cupcakes with anyone new, anyone from the outside.
“Happy Pappy would want us to kill him,” muttered one of the addicts.
“Kill is such a strong word,” muttered another from behind a small conveyor belt that smelled faintly of preservatives.
“More like… squish,” an addict whispered through tightened blue colored lips.
“Better. We’ll just squish him. Like a desert critter,” another said, this time louder than the rest
“No harm done. Just a pest squished.”
The man reached what he thought was a switch and flipped it, but no lights came to life and he heard no motors whirring into action. What he did hear was movement from somewhere else in the room, first from his right, and then off to his left, and then he thought he heard a suppressed giggle, and someone whisper “Squished. Funny word.”
He stood frozen for a moment, realizing he had slipped up, let himself get cornered. He could run for the door and maybe make it outside in time to be shot or stabbed by whatever subhuman breed of freak called this place home, or he could, what? Pray to the Elders? Fight? Bluff? No. Running back the way he came was his only chance, and so he took it, first kicking the sandals off into the darkness and then sprinting toward the open doorway and the light beyond. More laughter, now from all sides, and he relized they were toying with him. They had no fear he would escape, he realized that the moment the door he had entered through was slammed shut and all was plunged into darkness.
He slid to a stop on bare feet and heard movement from all around him. The factory seemed to be coming to life with the sounds of bodies moving toward him, and so he doubled back, hoping in vain to run further into the factory and lose his pursuers. A second later, however, he collided with the cool flesh of another. He felt for the thing’s face, found it, and struck out with an elbow, eliciting a cry of pain from the fctory freak. Then the lights did come on, and he found he was surrounded by naked men and women, half-starved with feral eyes and blue stained mouths and lips. They were stunned momentarily, taken off guard by the sudden brightness.
The man took in his surroundings as he had no way of knowing how long the light would last. He was standing in one corner of the factory floor. Around him large ovens loomed while conveyor belts laced the heavy machinery to other manufacturing machines which would continue the process. It was a system known as one of the Elder’s most ingenius creations; the assembly line. Along the wall off to his right, far beyond the ovens was a series of doors. Two of them festured symbols which he knew meant bathrooms, while a third had the words ‘PRODUCTION OFFICE’ mounted upon it. He was only vaguely aware that Elders held the offices to be important places where a very skilled level of work took place.
“You down there! You have trespassed upon a sacred site,” came a voice from above. He looked up to see a hunched pale man standing on a metal bridge which spanned the factory from one ond to the other. This bridge was most likely used to observe the production that went on within the factory, but now, he assumed, these freaks used it as some kind of religious pulpit, as it was ornamented with various pieces of factory equipment and illustrations representing this Pappy fellow.
“It’s too bright, Cleavus,” shouted a woman who stood only a few meters away on the factory floor “For the last time you don’t need to turn every light on! We can see just fine the way it was!”
“Oh, I’m sorry Janet but when were you made supervisor of the lights? Last I heard I was the security officer around here and so it’s my job to oversee the capture of trespassers! That’s what I’m doing right now, so if you don’t mind you can just-“
“Cleavus, come on now,” another man, the one who had closed the door, and shut off the only means of escape from this place, spoke up, “We all want things to run smoothly, and like the manual says, there is never anything wrong with suggesting improvements.”
“No, and I agree,” Cleavus shouted back in response, “but it’s the tone of voice I don’t appreciate. If Janet had said something like ‘Excuse me, Cleavus, but I would appreciate it if you just turned down a few of the lights.”
“Blah blah blah, you want me to stroke you off while we’re at it.”
A few of the factory freaks gasped at this.
“Oh come on Janet. Totally unnecessary,” said the man at the door.
“Hey, where’s the intruder?” asked Cleavus, now nervously scanning the floor below.
The others down on the floor glanced quickly around them, their eyes still adjusting to the bright light.
“These fucking lights,” one of them cried, “Turn them down.”
The intruder had used his pursuers’ light blindness and their argument to slip towards the door to the production offices. They heard the door open and then slam as he slipped inside, ran down a short hallway and up a flight of stairs.
“Get him. He’s headed upstairs,” cried Cleavus.
The man burst through another door, and slammed it behind him. Beside the door was a book shelf filled with ammo crates and comic books. He got to the other side of the shelf and pushed with all his might, sending it crashing to the floor in front of the door. Shortly after he heard heavy thuds against the door as the factory freaks tried to push the door open. The only other pieces of furniture was a large wooden desk and a chair. He ran to the desk and pushed it to the doorway, as the head of an ax burst through the door. Frantically he scanned the room for an exit. There was only one other door in the room, no windows. He grabbed the chair and flung it onto the desk to add just a bit of weight and give him maybe just a little more time.
Outside the room they were screaming threats and curses in at him as ax blows rained down on the office door. The man ran for the other door. He opened it and found a closet. A useless little closet with nothing but pre-war clothes. Panicking, he scanned the closet’s floor, found a silver spray can with a bright blue lid, picked it up and read the label, ‘Blue Hair Spray’. There was an image of a young man with bright blue hair on the can.
‘Useless,’ he thought as he dropped it back to the floor and pushed some of the hanging clothes aside, in a last ditch effort to find some real weapon with which to defend himself. That’s when he saw it at the back of the closet; a light pink sports jacket in nearly mint condition. It gave him an idea. He reached down, grabbed the spray can and jumped into the closet, closing the door behind him.
A minute later Cleavus and the rest of the factory freaks came crashing through the office’s outer door and set their sights squarely on the door to the closet.
“What’s through that door?” Cleavus asked.
“Nothing but a closet filled with old Elder clothes. Not even a single cupcake.”
“Thank you Janet. Well, boys and girls it looks like we got him cornered,” Cleavus grinned and clutched the ax tightly as he walked toward the closet door. He slowly raised it over his head. Behind him the others bared their teeth in hideous baby blue grins, some holding knives, and others armed with wrenches and screwdrivers and whatever else they found lying around which could be used to bludgeon a living thing to death. From within the closet they heard movement, as, they assumed, the intruder shook in fear of his very life. What they did not expect; the last thing they expected, was what happened next.
“I have returned to my factory and this is how you miserable fools greet me! With such stupidity,” came a booming voice from within the closet. A moment later the door burst open from within and there standing beneath the light of one small bulb was Happy Pappy in the flesh. Janet fainted. Cleavus nearly lost a toe when he dropped his ax to the floor. The intruder had been Happy Pappy all along. He was testing them, and they had failed. Cleavus dropped to his knees and began blubbering, begging for forgiveness. The others followed suit.
The man, who had seconds earlier threw on the pink sports jacket, jumped out of sweatpants and into as pair of pink slacks he found hanging with the jacket, and sprayed his hair and scruffy moustache a neon shade of blue, now walked calmly from the closet, put a hand on Cleavus’ quivering shoulder, and spoke.
“You are forgiven my child. Now, I wish to tour the facility. I trust that you have taken good care of it while I was gone.”
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Joined: 29 Apr 2015
Posts: 73
Location: DAK Oracle

PostPosted: Tue Dec 12, 2017 9:10 pm Reply with quoteBack to top
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