Home > Creative Writing Exercises, Fallen Earth, NaNoWriMo, Writing > FE NaNoWriMo 2010: Installment No. 6

FE NaNoWriMo 2010: Installment No. 6

June 20, 2156

Tommy Smalls shook his head, released a disappointed sigh, and then pointed northwest toward the tunnel that cut through the mountain, normally providing a route between Pass Chris and Watchtower.

“Night Wolves got it blocked off during the night,” he said. “No one comes or goes without taking fire from the bandits.”

I wondered if Fern made it through in time, but I didn’t voice the concern.

Tommy Smalls was a young man, but he looked haggard and worn out, his eyes dark and sullen. Stubble peppered his cheeks. We stood outside his house along the main street leading through Pass Chris. Folks often referred to him as “Chief,” “Mayor,” or “Sheriff.” Not that he was ever elected, really. Not that Jacob Method would’ve let him wield any real power, either. But he got along well with his fellow residents. He sympathized with them. Tommy Smalls possessed the warmth and humanity that Method, known as “the wizard on the hill,” absolutely lacked.

His father, Beck, was among the citizens of Murphy when the town fell to the raiders. Beck Smalls hadn’t been among the refugees who reached Pass Chris, though. I wondered if I’d seen him, if he’d been one of the stalwarts who stood their ground as those rumbling buggies tore through town and mowed them down.

I didn’t mention that to Tommy, though. He had enough on his mind.

“We’re cut off,” he said, settling onto the stoop and burying his face in his hands. “They’ve put us in a stranglehold. We need help, but how can anyone get to us?”

A voice off to my right spoke: “Break the stranglehold.”

I turned to see a familiar figure – blue LifeNet jacket and pants, blinking black plastic and metal collar, a mess of brown hair. He was a couple of inches shorter than me. His boots looked new, but the gun holstered at his side hadn’t changed since he took it back from me in Terance.

“I’m surprised to see you’re still above snakes,” he said, smirking, but he extended a hand just the same. “We’re on the same side this time, though. I’m Jonas Lander.”

I shook his hand. “Amp Denton.”

Tommy lifted his face from his hands to gaze at the clone. He couldn’t conceal the glimmer of hope inspired by Lander’s words. “How? How do we break it?”

Lander took a step toward the house and said, “I’ll need explosives.” He looked at me. “And a partner with a gun.”

I could feel Tommy’s eyes upon me. I frowned, shaking my head. “Don’t have a gun. Sorry.”

The clone unholstered his pistol and offered it to me. “I’ll want it back, of course.”

***

The plan’s not elaborate, but it is certainly suicidal. What it lacks in complexity, it makes up for in pure, unadulterated foolhardiness.

Luckily, guys like Jonas Lander are mostly immune to suicide.

Unluckily, guys like me aren’t.

***

Scribbled in the right margin: If I had a cloning collar, I could jump off a bridge and regen with perfect teeth.

Sketched in the left margin: A stick figure with a collar, angry wiggles coming from his cheeks, jumping off a bridge.
***

The tooth aches. The last dose of medicine is wearing off. Soon, the fever’s coming back.

That’s why I’m doing this. I don’t care specifically about the people of this town. Their problems are their own. Sad about Tommy’s dad, but like Jacob Method said: It’s a tough world.

He won’t give up any precious antibiotics or painkillers. So, the only chance that I’ve got is to bust through the Night Wolf blockade and get to Watchtower. It just so happens that the only way Pass Chris can survive coincides with the only way that I can survive.

That’s why I’m doing this. Don’t mistake it for altruism. I’ve looked at the costs and the benefits. The deal works for me. I’ll take it.

Gotta do it soon, though.

***

Jonas galloped toward the mouth of the tunnel where five Night Wolf bandits formed the blockade. He howled furiously, arms outstretched, the long fuses of the two dynamite sticks sparking and hissing.

The bandits might’ve just gunned him down, if not for the fact that I started opening fire from behind a boulder about ten yards away. The gunshots sent them bolting for cover. Jonas spurred his horse onward just before he hurled himself out of the saddle in a head-over-heels leap from the stirrups that brought him down behind the barricade with the bad guys.

The horse charged onward into the tunnel.

Stunned, the Night Wolves barely had time to register what was happening before they reached for their guns.

And by then, of course, it was too late.

The fuses ran out, detonating the sticks of dynamite. The blast killed Jonas, but he took those bandits with him.

The route to Watchtower was clear for now.

***

“So, is Amp short for something?”

Jonas Lander found me sitting in the bunker bar that was buried below the dirt street that ran through the settlement known as Watchtower. In the old days, back when GlobalTech owned the Grand Canyon and built up its own paramilitary organization, this had been one of many outposts. Back then, they called it Watchtower No. 3.

I swished warm salt water in my mouth, then spat it on the concrete floor.
“Ampersand,” I said.

“Seriously?” Jonas Lander chuckled.

“Yep. Apparently, my parents had a tough time coming up with a suitable name. Here.” I fumbled through the right pocket of my brown duster until I found the creased photograph. The picture showed a young man and woman, and she was cradling a swaddled baby in her arms. On the back, this was scrawled: DENNIS, JANE, &. “Old LaRue decided to call me Amp. I guess it stuck.” I slid the pistol across the table to him. “That was a pretty good trick with the dynamite. Almost seems like cheating, but, y’know, if your cheating works to my advantage, who am I to complain?”

He smirked. “It’s not something I want to do a lot. Yes, I get resurrected by the LifeNet system. But it usually hurts like hell when I die. I try not to make a habit of it.”

“Still, I’m jealous,” I said. “I keep wishing I had one of those collars.”

“Don’t be jealous,” Jonas cautioned. He tapped the photo on the table. “At least you have some sense of where you come from and who your parents are. You’re not marked as a freak. No one’s calling you rerun, retread, or puppet. It’s not all you probably think it is. If I could give you this collar, though, I would. In a heartbeat. Don’t doubt that for a second.”

“You can’t remove it?”

He shook his head. “No. I’ve tried more than a few times. It won’t come off.” Jonas shrugged. “Anyway, it is what it is. I’ll deal with it.”

“Look, about that trouble back in Terance,” I said, “I just…y’know, I didn’t mean anything by it. Just trying to survive. It was selfish, I know, but that’s the way of the world.”

“The law of the wastes,” Jonas said, smirking again. “Forget about it.” But he reclaimed his pistol and slid it back into the holster at his side. “Still going to Picus Ridge?”

I nodded. “Trade caravan leaves in the morning. I’m riding north with them. You?”

The clone shrugged. “Back to Pass Chris, I think. The Night Wolves will definitely try to block off that tunnel again. They’re probably gunning for the town’s water supply. I don’t want to see them get that kind of a foothold.”

“Why?” I asked. “You’re clear of the place. You blew yourself up to break the blockade. Now Watchtower’s sending supplies and a few reinforcements to help. It’s not your fight.”

That elicited a smile from Jonas. “Now, see, it became my fight the minute the Night Wolves overran Murphy and set their sights on a town full of honest settlers just trying to cling to what little livelihood they can eke out in the wastes. It just rankles my sense of right and wrong.”

“So what’s in it for you?”

“A good night’s sleep at the end of the day,” he replied. His right hand stretched out to me. “Safe travels, Amp.”

I shook the offered hand. “Good luck, Jonas.”

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: