Read 15 Years Later: Wasteland Online

Authors: Nick S. Thomas

15 Years Later: Wasteland (9 page)

BOOK: 15 Years Later: Wasteland
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He got up and went over to his bike to check for fuel. The gauge wasn't even working, so he opened it up to see for himself.

"Well, what do you know? Something is going our way. We could get a hundred miles out of these crotch rockets, " he said, looking over to her to see if she had found the same. She nodded.

"Jay won't stop, not after what we did. He will come for us."

"Well he hasn't managed it yet. I woke up with nothing, and his goons trying to take my life, and look at me now. Got a bike, a gun, a friend, that's a damn sight more than I had two days ago."

She smiled as she heard him say friend, almost as if he had spoken in a quaint fashion.

"You don't want to be my friend?"

"Yes...yes I do," she replied as if nobody had ever asked her.

"All right, then, saddle up. It's time to cover some ground."

He pulled on his goggles once more and looked to the open ground ahead.

God I hope there is something or somewhere out there!

Chapter 10

 

They'd been on the road for a while when they noticed a cart up ahead. It looked like something from the nineteenth century, but it wasn't being drawn by horses, but by people. Zed kept his speed constant on the approach, but the group stopped and took cover as they pulled out a range of weapons. He now knew why. He slowed a little, making no sudden movements as he rolled up casually to their position and stopped twenty feet in front.

He pulled his goggles down so he could get a better view. Two men, three women, all ranged from twenty to forty years old. They looked terrified and had just a few knives and bats between them.

How do they survive in this world?

"I am not here to hurt you," he stated.

"Zed? Is that you?" asked one of the women.

He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Somebody had recognised him. He kicked the stand down on his bike and leapt off enthusiastically. She looked close to thirty years old, with dirty blond hair. She was dripping with sweat and covered in dust, but he could see that under all that was a beautiful woman.

"You know me?"

The others looked anxious, but the woman stepped out without any fear at all. She was a little suspicious and in disbelief, as if she had seen a ghost.

"It can't be you? They said you were dead!"

"Don't go near him. He's from Jaytown!" yelled one of the men.

"No, no I'm not," he replied.

"Bullshit, she is, and so are those bikes!"

"Shut up!" the woman yelled at him.

She looked back almost a little dreamy. He had no memory of who she was, but clearly she knew plenty about him.

"Don't you remember me?" she asked.

He shook his head. "I am sorry..."

"What happened to you? Where have you been all these years?"

Oh, shit, that wasn't the response I was hoping for.

"Honestly I don't know, and that's the truth."

"I haven't seen you in what, since just after all this began. I remember you being around the first year or so, and that's it."

It was dawning on her that he really didn't recognise her at all.

"Sasha," she said.

It meant nothing to him.

"I want to remember. I am really trying to, but I can't. I can't remember any of this. One day everything was perfect. Enjoying a beer at a barbecue with green grass under my feet and a smile on my face. Next thing, I am here, with people trying to kill me everywhere I go. I don't know why I don't remember everything in between, and I'm starting to think that might be a good thing. So please, just tell me who you are, and how you know me."

She looked a little offended, but was starting to realise he was telling the truth.

"I was a friend of your wife. I used to babysit for your daughter, you don't remember any of that?"

"No."

The photos.

He pulled them out and showed the one of the woman and girl.

"My god, I haven't seen this photo in, in...so long."

She began to weep. "If only we could go back."

Ain't that the truth,
he thought.

He wanted to ask her so much, but his mind was clouded by a thousand different thoughts and questions, and he stumbled to try and get any words out.

"I don't care if you know this guy. I don't trust them," said the man who had spoken previously.

Zed wasn't willing to waste this opportunity.

"You have no idea what I have been through to get to his point, so don't you dare try and get in my way now! I don't mean you harm, not any of you. All I want is information. Nothing harmful. I want to know where to find my family, is that much to ask?"

He stared the man down until he looked away.

"Where are they now?"

Sasha looked uneasy for a moment, as if not wanting to share the information. It was much like the response he had gotten from Red when pressed similarly.

"Please don't mess me around. If you have any humanity in you, you will tell me where I can find my wife and daughter."

That seemed to win her over instantly even though she still wasn't comfortable with the idea.

"You shouldn't go after them. They are outcasts."

"Who the hell isn't around here?"

"Those who follow the Boss and his Generals."

"I heard the Boss is dead and gone?"

"Another has taken his place, worse than the last one, and his Generals are more loyal than ever to him."

"Generals?"

"Jay," muttered Rave.

"Generals?" he repeated in disgust, "Jay is nothing more than an arrogant asshole."

"But he's strong."

Zed turned to Rave who only nodded in agreement.

"You really still respect him, don't you?"

"Everyone does."

"Why? Has the whole world gone mad?"

"He's strong, and that means a lot in this world," said Sasha, "We can't buck against him or we pay dearly, just like your brother did."

"My brother?"

She looked surprised, but it was finally dawning on her that his story of memory loss was actually true.

"You mean Johnnie?" he asked.

She seemed to be uneasy again.

"Come on, I need to know. I've been walking through this wasteland with not a thought of hope, and now I have you. Please, all I want is information."

"You can't go there. Nobody that does is ever allowed back."

"I don't care. Just tell me."

"There is a small town, more than a hundred miles North of here they say. That's where your brother went, last I heard."

He frowned as he tried to understand why she was so reserved and worried to tell him.

"Calico, that's what you mean, isn't it?"

"You knew about this place, Rave?" he asked angrily.

"Everyone does, but I didn't know who was there."

"Well, what's the deal, what is it, Sasha?"

"It's where your brother and his followers ran to and have been ever since. Ever since he lost to the Boss. We had such hope that we could be freed of this life, but he failed."

"And the Boss just let them be?"

"As long as they never came back this way," added Rave.

It didn't make sense to him.

Why leave an enemy on your borders?

"You can't go there," said Sasha.

"To hell with that. It's the only place I do have to go. I need answers. I need my family."

He felt somehow that there was plenty she wasn't telling him, and didn't want to. But he didn't want to push it. It looked like they had been through enough as it was, and she was at least the first person to help him without being forced into doing so.

"Why don't you come with us? Got to be a better life up North than what you have here."

"No, at least we are safe here."

Zed laughed. "Safe? This place is insane."

"And it's our home," snapped one of the men.

He couldn't argue with that. He didn't have anything to his name but what he carried.

"How do I find this place, what was it, Calico?"

"Please, if you have any faith in me at all, don't go."

She seemed to have a genuine care for him, and that made it all the worse because she was as a stranger to him. Same as everyone else in this world was.

"You said my brother was there, is my wife there, too?"

She nodded. "Last I heard. But that was some time ago."

It was the best lead he had gotten yet.

"Please don't go. I don't know how you are still alive, but you have a chance to make a life now. Come with us. We can make it together."

He could see she genuinely meant it, but they both knew he couldn't let it go. He couldn't go on living without knowing what had happened to those he cared about most.

"I'm sorry, but you know that’s not possible. I don't know what I am supposed to do here, but I can't go on without finding out what I can. I am sorry I don't remember you, Sasha, but you seem like a nice person, and you've been the first I have met around here that has helped without trying to kill me," he said as he looked around to Rave.

She responded with a sly smirk as if she found the whole thing entertaining. He climbed back onto the bike and fired it up, but Sasha came right towards him and reached in to kiss him. He turned just slightly so that her lips touched his cheek.

"Good luck, you'll need it."

He nodded in gratitude before pulling his goggles back on.

"My wife, what's her name?"

"Lannie."

He smiled in response.

"We’ve got some miles to cover. Let's move."

He pulled away, reaching a casual thirty miles per hour as Rave came up alongside him. They both knew they had to try and make the fuel last as best they could, and the rough ground didn't help either. They rode on without a word. Maybe neither had anything to say, or maybe they just didn't want to eat dust and sand in doing so.

They did not stop. The bikes were only good for as long as their fuel lasted, no point in dragging it out. They had been riding for almost three hours when Rave's bike conked out. She rolled to a halt, using the last of her momentum to get at least a few more feet, as if that would make a difference. He drew up alongside her. She leapt onto the rear mudguard, and he sped off. They managed just another five minutes of riding before his bike ran dry, too.

It was a shame, but at least they now had some peace. The rasp of the exhaust and the drone of the engine had given him a pounding headache. He took a small drink of water and carried onwards on foot in silence. The fact they were going further and further from a source of food and water was not lost on him. All based on a rumour, but it was the only direction that made any sense.

They walked on for another three hours. The ground was becoming steeper, and there were thin outcrops of trees and bushes, but nothing that food grew on. The sun was lowering now, and despite Zed's will to go on, his feet ached and he was tired. He strode up to a sheltered piece of rock and threw down his bag as if laying claim to the ground. Rave was more than happy to stop. He gathered some wood together from the nearby trees and started a fire. Just as before, he didn't even know why he did it, but it was as comforting as it had been before. Rave seemed to appreciate it, too. She pulled out a glass jar from her pack and a spoon and fork.

He expected her to pass him one, but she merely popped it open and held it out to share. It was about the most unappetizing meal he could think of, even worse than he had when in the pit at Jaytown. The contents were a slimy mess. He wasn't even sure what it was, but clearly Rave had survived on it, and so he had to trust her judgement. The food was gone quickly and far from filling, but it was a relief when he had his last mouthful because the taste was revolting.

"What I wouldn't give for a smoke," he said as they finished.

Do I even smoke?

The craving was there when he hadn't previously noticed it. Maybe it was wishful thinking that he might have a way to rid himself of the taste of what they had just endured.

"What is it like?" Rave asked.

"Smoking?" he laughed, "To be honest I don't really remember, but I bet it would feel real good right about now, just like a nice cold beer."

"Jaytown has beer."

Zed was surprised to hear that.

"How has it lasted this long?"

"They make it in the town."

He scowled and sighed.

"Wow, I bet that tastes wonderful," he replied sarcastically.

"Tastes good to me."

"Yeah, well, I am sorry if I don't take your word for it. I doubt you ever tasted a good beer."

"All this talk of how good life used to be, why? You can't have that anymore."

"I'm starting to get that."

"Why not just enjoy what you have?"

He chuckled. "And what is that?

"You're alive."

"That's something, I guess."

The evening went on quietly for hours. It seemed like they had nothing left to talk about. She didn't know very much, and he couldn't remember hardly anything at all. It brought a smile to his face as he realised what a ridiculous pair they were.

"What if you don't find what you are looking for?"

"This town, I am sure we will find it soon enough. Might take a few days or weeks, but we'll find it."

"No, the people. What if you do not find them, or they do not want to be found?"

He shrugged. The prospect hadn't even crossed his mind.

BOOK: 15 Years Later: Wasteland
10.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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