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Authors: Nick S. Thomas

15 Years Later: Wasteland (18 page)

BOOK: 15 Years Later: Wasteland
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As they reached the edge of the town, they were surprised to see that nobody stood guard, and not a single person questioned their entry. They just walked between two trailers and into the camp. Many turned away and wouldn't look up at them, and they soon realised why. They were the only ones carrying weapons. Not a single one among them had anything more than a utility knife about their person.

"Completely under Jay's thumb," said Zed.

"They probably heard what happened at New Denver."

"What did happen?"

"He killed them, all of them."

Zed didn't need to ask any more or know the statistics, as he could already imagine. He studied everything around him. It looked much like Calico, just less well organised, and a little more destitute and depressing. He could only assume that was the result of being under the will of Jay for so long, and it was a grim reminder of what would happen to Calico before long. But that was out of his hands now. There was no going back. He could never go back there. He had given his word, and that meant something.

He spotted a man he recognised, the one who had been on the cart with Sasha and had tried to confront him. Zed approached him, but as soon as he noticed, he turned and began to walk away at a steady pace without actually running.

"Hey! I just want to talk!" Zed yelled.

The man wouldn't stop. He followed him past several trailers and began to pick up pace, but the man did the same.

"Why are you running?" he shouted.

The man rose to almost a sprint, but as he took a bend, another figure crashed into him and threw him into the side of a shipping container. It was Rave. The man bounced off the metal wall and tumbled to the ground, wincing in pain.

"Why'd you do that?" he complained.

"You ran," replied Rave.

"I thought you were coming to hurt me."

"Why would I do that?"

But he didn't say a word. Zed could only assume it was the natural response to anyone they didn't know and trust.

"Look, all I want to know is where Sasha is?"

The man's eyes widened as if he knew something and was scared to speak up. Rave stomped on his foot and drove it into the ground in a rather sadistic fashion until he cried out.

"Okay, okay!"

She eased back just a little, but didn't release him.

"Jay came to town, said he was looking for anyone who knew you."

"And you gave her up?"

He shied away and shook his head. Maybe he did, maybe he didn't. That was not his concern anymore.

"So what, you all let him take her and did nothing?"

"What can we do? Anyone who stands up to Jay dies. We have to survive."

"You can be a man, and live like a dog."

But the expression meant nothing to the man. It was clear that he only had one priority in life, self-preservation. That disgusted Zed, until he realised that he was probably more to blame for that than anyone else.

"Did he take her back to Jaytown?"

"I expect so."

Rave went to apply more pressure, but Zed hauled her off.

"He may be a coward, but he ain't a liar," he added.

He walked on out of town the way he had come with Rave at his side. Yet again lost and with seemingly nowhere to turn.

"Next town?" she asked him as they wandered on.

He shook his head. He didn't even know anymore.

 

Chapter 20

 

They had been trundling on across the hot sands for an hour, but Rave could see his heart wasn't in it. Finally, she stopped him and turned him around.

"What are you gonna do?"

He didn't even look at her as he shrugged and tried to move away, but she held on firmly.

"No, not after all this."

He was surprised at how vehement she was, and that caused him to stop for a moment and look up into her eyes.

"You have been telling me for days now that there is better out there. Better people, better places, better times ahead. You don't get to walk away now."

"Why? There is nothing left for me."

"So maybe your family don't want you, but you have more. You have Sasha. You wanted her enough to go looking, and now because Jay has her, you're gonna give up? If that were my sister in there, I would kill every single one of them to get her back. I just wouldn’t care.”

“But it isn’t, is it?” he snapped, “Some woman I barely know.”

“Ever since we met, you have been going on about making a life for yourself, saving what you used to have. You’ve got one chance left.”

He dropped to his knees and thought about it. The weight of it all was making him feel exhausted, and the sudden burst of logic and reason from the fanatical schoolgirl looking psycho was messing with his head. He was starting to realise what he had done for her. He had given her hope. Hope of a better existence, and she wasn’t willing to let go of that chance, no matter what.

“So what’s it gonna be?”

He knew she had been right all along, and he smiled as a result.

“Okay, maybe you aren’t as crazy as I first thought.”

“Everyone is crazy here. Everyone else died long ago,” she replied sternly.

“Right, so we are gonna get Sasha back, how?”

“Go back to Calico. Maybe they don’t want you there, but perhaps your wife, or ex-wife, whatever, still cares for this woman. She said they used to know each other.”

Zed was already shaking his head.

“No way. I am not bringing them back into this. They have already paid enough for all that I have done.”

“And you don’t have any other friends that can help?”

“All I got is you.”

She looked pleased to hear it, but it didn’t help their situation.

“We can’t take on Jay with strength, so we’ll have to take him on with cunning,” said Zed.

She didn’t understand what he meant and looked at him strangely. That didn’t surprise him. He doubted she had ever done anything cunning in her life, and yet she had a mischievous look in her eye that said she wanted to give it a shot.

“So we do this alone?”

“You know how dangerous this is gonna be?” he asked sincerely.

“Lived there long enough, so I know.”

“I want you to decide this for yourself.”

“I decided. I’m going.”

He got up, put a hand on her shoulder, and smiled in gratitude. He couldn’t believe how far she had come. She was now becoming the woman she always should have been. There was that glimmer of hope that she could come back from the brutal and crude existence she had grown up with.

“One thing, though, how do you know she’s still alive?”

“I saw her. Jay doesn’t kill pretty girls.”

That sent a shiver down his spine as he could already imagine why.

“Jay is a despicable man, a monster. You get that, right?”

She nodded, but it didn’t seem sincere. She had lived there so long under his rule that she had clearly become accustomed to it. It left Zed feeling sad for her, but he had to try and show her better. He had to be a better person for her. Unfortunately, that just reminded him of what he had been until recently, the Boss.

How can I be a role model to a young woman like this when I was a monster far worse than the master she left?

That was a guilt he was going to have to put aside. This was a new call to act. He had been given a new reason to go on living and go on trying. He didn’t remember Sasha at all, but he felt warmth around her that made her familiar. That had to count for something.

Maybe we could look for the boy as well, Lannie’s
son. I owe her that.

“You think you can get us into Jaytown?”

She nodded.

“Not in chains, and without getting us killed?”

She smiled and nodded again.

“Then I am all yours. You lead the way. You make the plan. Just get us in there.”

“I will.”

She turned to leave, but he grabbed her and stopped her.

“But you promise me one thing?”

She agreed and waited for him to go on.

“You promise me that you will come back out alive? Don’t get caught. Don’t give yourself up for anything. Not to save Sasha, and not because of me. I won’t sacrifice you to save another, no matter who they are.”

She looked surprised. No one had ever spoken with such concern for her.

“I won’t get caught. I never do,” she replied, smiling as she tried to hide the embarrassment she felt. He couldn’t believe he ever would have said it, but he was glad to have a trusted companion, even if she was crazy.

"So we doing this or what?" she asked.

He nodded and instantly felt better about things. He needed a cause or a reason to go on. This was as good as any.

"Long walk to Jaytown."

They walked for almost every minute of daylight for two days until finally they could see the town. The sight of it instantly made them both feel uncomfortable. It was a place they had fought hard to escape and never imagined coming back to. They waited for nightfall, and then another hour so that things had settled down before making their way forwards.

"I hope you got a better plan than walking right up to the front gate," said Zed.

"Just follow me."

She led him on a path towards the town that he had not seen before. It was strewn with old wrecked cars and trucks like a junkyard. It was the perfect cover for what they needed. They stopped before the last vehicle as they heard noises on top of the wall just thirty feet ahead of them. They ducked down and watched from the cover as two men walked along and talked. It wasn't clear what they were saying, but one of them was laughing. They seemed relaxed and to be paying little attention. They waited for them to go past, and then darted out and made the way quickly but quietly to the walls, stopping dead as they waited to hear for any response.

Nothing came. Rave carried on skirting the wall around the town for at least a hundred feet. It was a smart plan, being right under their noses, and not in line of sight of anyone who might be on guard. Zed was still suspicious of how she expected to get in. He trusted her, but he wasn't sure if she was the smartest. After a while, he was starting to wonder if she had a plan at all, or if they were just going on in hope of finding an opening. That seemed unlikely. The town had high walls right the way round.

Finally, she stopped. She pushed him back and then knelt down, pushing sand away with her hand as if she were looking for something.

"What are you doing?" he asked wearily.

He couldn't help but feel she was wasting time, but a few seconds later she pulled upwards, and a hatch opened up in the ground right in front of the wall.

"How did you know about that?"

"I made it."

"Anyone else know about it?"

"Nope."

She climbed in, and he followed her. He had to pull off his rifle and sword, as it was a tight fit to crawl through. He laid them down at the entrance, knowing he couldn't take them with him. He had to go light. As he got inside, he realised it was some kind of ceramic tunnel for venting or drainage that she must have uncovered. They crawled twenty feet through until finally coming up to the surface. To his surprise, they didn't come out in the open but into a building of some sort, a small square room that was empty. Support beams made it unusable, and looking around, it was the foundations of one of the towers.

"Very clever," he whispered to her.

She reached past him for something on the wall. The room wasn't entirely empty. Hung on the wall were a hammer, a machete, and a large bowie knife.

"You did all this?"

She nodded.

"You had a way out all the time and never thought to use it?"

"There was nowhere to go."

He took the hammer. It was nothing more than a workman's tool, but it would be perfect for silencing anyone they might meet, and he still had his knife at least.

"You know where she will be?" he asked.

"Probably, follow me. Stay close," she whispered.

She pushed a hatch open just a little and peered out of the gap to see if the coast was clear before lifting it off completely and stepping out. He did the same. As she pushed the hatch back on, he saw just how well concealed the entrance was. It gave the appearance of a piece of wood bolted to the side of the structure. She was a lot cleverer than he had given her credit.

They heard voices and ducked back down beside the tower and waited. It was the two men now walking back along the same length of wall. They waited them out and finally set off. She didn't hunch down as if she was sneaking about now. She walked as casually as if she was part of the town once again, and he could see why. In the low light of night, they just looked like two of the Braves to anyone who wasn't close enough to see otherwise. He got the sense she had been used to this kind of deception before.

"Jay will either have her locked up in a cage or in his place."

"You sure?"

"Yes, we'll try the cages first. Less risky."

Up ahead, they noticed a man walking across their path. He nodded towards them as if to say hello, but they were far enough away to be little more than silhouettes. They nodded back and just hoped for the best. He carried on without a moment's pause.

"You see, it looks like you should be here, and it's fine."

However, Zed was still anxious. The thought of bloodthirsty maniacs that wanted him more than any other surrounding them was unsettling. He was starting to doubt if this was a good idea now. But he knew deep down that it was. He owed Sasha that. She had been taken because of him.

"Almost there."

Zed stopped her. Some sense told him they were in danger. He took the bend by himself while she stayed behind. He froze as he recognised a man standing twenty feet in front. Zed could see in his eyes that he recognised him, too. He couldn't tell if he meant them harm or not, but it was only logical. They were at a standoff for a few seconds when the man's hand quickly reached for a knife on his belt. Zed drew back the hammer and launched it at him. The tip caught him square on the forehead, and he went down limp. Zed breathed a sigh of relief as Rave rushed around the corner to help. He could see she knew him, but that was no surprise. Yet she seemed to show more disgust than he would have expected for a brave.

"You know him?"

"Trigger, he's an asshole. You should kill him now."

"No, that's not my way."

But she drew out her hatchet as if to do the job herself. He grabbed hold of her and stopped her taking another step.

"No, we came here for Sasha. Let's not spill any blood we don't have to."

She didn't understand the concept, but she did accept it. He picked up the hammer and carried on.

"That's it," said Rave.

She was pointing to what was clearly the body off a large prisoner transport truck lying on the ground. There were no guards or sign of any other people around. They rushed up beside it, and he let Rave open the door carefully. They both stepped in and shut it behind them.

"What does he keep in here?" Zed asked quietly.

"Shh," she replied, pointing to one of the viewing windows on a door. There were ten cell doors, each one of them shut. He leaned in and looked through one. A woman lay sleeping in a sitting up position. A small blanket only covered her from the waist down, and her wrist was bound to a steel handle with handcuffs. It was a horrible sight to behold. He wanted to open the door and set her free, but he knew he couldn't. It was hard to imagine how she could even be sleeping as she was.

"That her?" Rave asked.

Zed shook his head. They went along the line, checking the cells. It was much the same story in each one. Every single one occupied by a pretty young woman. He even double backed over the ones Rave had look at, just to be sure.

"She's not here, Rave."

"Only one other place she can be, then."

"Lead the way."

He looked back one last time at the cells in the trailer. He hated having to leave them. He didn't recognise a single one of them, but he was compelled to try and help. Right now he had to put that to the back of his mind. There was nothing he could do. The only way they were going to make it out of there was with subtlety, and that wouldn't be possible with ten women trailing behind them.

Rave led him to the centre of the town where there was a three-storey office like structure. A line of cars was out front, including the cash truck and a dump truck parked around the corner. It had been heavily reinforced around the cab and mesh over the front screens. It looked like some kind of assault vehicle. He doubted even the thick gates of Jaytown would stop a monster like that.

BOOK: 15 Years Later: Wasteland
2.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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