Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 9d by nova

Chapter 9d

First I went and retrieved the lance and it was a bitch to get out. Definitely a one shot weapon. I ended up having to roll him over on his stomach and slide him down the length of the shaft to get it loose. It had a wicked piece of steel on the end that looked freshly forged. All the cool feathers fell off though in doing that or ended up lodged in his lungs or somewhere.

I had to wipe the shaft off with his shirt and it was going to require further cleaning later. Then again it might be a decent stain, kind of redwood looking and all. I was laughing to myself over that when Ty yelled out, "Got a live one here Gardener!"

"How live is that?"

Ty looked at me puzzled, I added, "Does he got another 30 minutes or more left?"

He looked down at the survivor who all I could see of was a leg. My guess was he got pinned when his horse went down.

"Oh yeah. At least."

"Make sure he doesn't have a weapon, then finish the horses and take of Grandmother. I'll be over in a few."

I worked real hard at keeping my voice level and the irritation out of it. "Fucking rookies" is what I thought. It had been a while since I had worked with people who were this clueless about the basics. I started checking bodies to make sure they were dead using the same method I had used since the beginning. The lance made it easier, I leaned on it and kicked them in the head. I left the pat down and weapons collection for later, I wanted to make sure I talked to the survivor. No one else was alive. I would have been pissed if they had been.

Ty and Kat were hovering over Grandmother, they couldn't figure out how they were going to dig a hole. Yeah. Rookies. I could hear them arguing over who was going to walk back to the truck to get the shovel as I walked over to say hello to my new friend.

I sat down on the haunch of the horse that had him pinned. Their horses weren't all that big which was fine because none of these guys had been very big either. They were all post PowerDown born except for two of them. The young ones coming up were kind of on the scrawny side compared to the males who were grown, or were close to it, when the economy tanked. This was one of the older ones. I was glad. They cracked easier then the young ones I had found.

"How ya doing there?" I asked him.

"Hows it look asshole. I got a dead horse on my leg."

"Bet that hurts."

He was doing a pretty good job of eating the pain but it hurt, I could see it in his eyes.

"Yeah. Want to get it off me."

"No. Not really."

His eyes narrowed. "So you're really Gardener."


"You'll be dead soon."

I laughed. "Right. Well you'll be dead sooner."

"I'm not afraid of dying." He sounded like he meant it too.

"That's nice." I told him. Then I reversed the lance and drove the head into his stomach and pulled it back out.

He yelped, just a small little yelp, then groaned and grabbed at his gut. Blood was already starting to darken his shirt.

"I'm not going to kill you right away. I'll just leave you out here for the buzzards and maybe the coyotes. You have wild dog packs around here? Yes, I believe you do."

He called me a mean name. I laughed.

"So...want to hear my deal?"

He didn't respond. Well, he snarled but technically I didn't consider that a proper response.

"Okay. You talk to me and I put one in your head if I'm satisfied. If not? I leave you."

Much to my delight a coyote pack started singing. His unease over hearing this was palatable.

"You're really an asshole Gardener" he told me through gritted teeth.

"Yeah. So I've been told."

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 9c - by nova

"Oh my God!" Was the first thing out of Kat's mouth quickly followed by, "Grandmother!" Both her and Ty went running to where Grandmother was laying in the sand. For a second I considered going to her side but I decided to instead to go find a rock to sit on while the drama ran down. It didn't last long and I didn't expect it to. She was pretty hardcore and Ty was an EMT, or what passed for one around here, and they had grown up in a tough world. I figured I had about five minutes of star gazing at most before they were done. I was wrong. It took her all of two minutes. Helped by the fact that Grandmother was dead I'm sure. I had found that Kat's generation were realists about death, blood, and other facts of life that were once considered "gross."

I heard, "Where the hell is Gardener?" from Kat and I decided to get up off my ass and mosey on over. Ty replied, "Damn. I think he killed everyone of them. This is fucking amazing."

They didn't hear me walk up behind them so I startled the hell out of them when I said, "No. Just doing what was needed." I wanted to say "I'm just a simple cowpoke" but this wasn't the right audience if one even existed. They both stared at me like I had just dropped in from another planet.

"We'll bury her here if that is okay with you."

"Sure. That's fine." Then Kat added, "I'm glad you killed them Gardener."

"Yep. Ty, I want you shoot the horses. I'm going to see if we got any live ones and see what I can find on them."

"Shouldn't I look for live ones?" was Ty's reply.

"No. You'll try and heal them. I just want them to talk to me."

A Brief Interlude for Music

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 9b by nova

Chapter 9b

I didn't make it far when I heard them coming. I faded further back into the darkness and waited. I was glad to stop moving, my leg was throbbing and I was tired. Real tired. They were trying to be sneaky and doing a very good job of it. Being raised out here, and one being a full blooded Indian, I thought they would have managed to be a little stealthier.

I assessed my performance while I waited for them, doing the after action critique was what I had been taught to do a long time ago, and since it made sense I kept up the practice. Even when, like now, it was just me instead of a squad or more.

Instead though, for a second I saw her, we had just dumped our packs, she was smiling at me. It was somewhere in Virginia back in the early days when I knew, I mean I knew, that there was a chance that it was going to be all right. We could make it happen. I blinked internally, slammed the door on that piece of the past and refocused.

Surviving was about a lot of things and most of them were all inside your head. One of the biggies was the ability to be honest with yourself and others. Brutally honest. If you knew you couldn't do something but told yourself, deluded yourself really, that you could do something but couldn't, you got hurt, or more then likely someone else got hurt, and nothing happened to you which in my mind was even worse.

I stood there and watched Ty and Kat stumble into my kill zone. They stopped dead and just stared at the flames, the horses, the bodies, the aftermath. I did too but I was seeing something different. It was sloppy work on my part, stupidly executed, and I was lucky to be alive. What really galled me was the missed shots and slightly off placement when I did hit my target. Probably 99% of the population wouldn't even see it but I did. Someone like me, that 1%, would read it, and if they knew it was me would also know I was slipping. For the first time in life I knew that I was no longer the best in the world and I also knew, the world being what it was, that it was only a matter of time now. I couldn't remember who said it or even where I heard it but there were no "Second place winners" in my world. The strange thing was I didn't really give a shit.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 9a by nova

Chapter 9a

The next part, as usual breaks into fragments. Snapshots of images, smells, and sound. Random thoughts like advertisements from another planet flash in my brain. Lightening strikes of words, shaped like thoughts, and just as quickly gone.
My world,during this, becomes layers, and I respond with out thinking, fear, or pain. All I feel is joy and it is good. So very good.

A horse, its neck arched, snorting and eyes rolling, as it slowly drops to its forelegs. My rifle is empty. I reach back and drop it in its sheath and draw both my guns. I feel fluid, my leg is working, I am me again. It has been so long.

A round smacks me in the chest. Handgun from the feel. Hoser isn't bad but I'm better. A face screaming in rage at me. He is wearing war paint, how unoriginal, he dies.

I keep moving. I'm going downhill. I'm flying. One of the formerly mounted guys is standing behind a down horse. His? I keep coming. I don't pull the triggers. His nerve breaks. He fires but he misses. I launch into the air using a down horse as my launchpad. Something, gear? The horse? The angle isn't what I had ran in my head but I don't care. It doesn't matter and he knows it. I see it in his eyes just before I impact. He knows. I am death and I won't stop coming. He is down. I smell his stink, see his eyes widen, then I begin beating his face to a pulp with one Ruger while keeping the other ready. I don't have any more time for him. I jam the barrel in his eye and pull the trigger and roll off of him.

One of them is left and I want him. No one escapes. I hear "No mercy" in a voice from a world gone and I scream my rage at what was taken. I keep rolling. No reason why, I just do, it was the right thing to do. The sand, and the guy who I just provided an eyeopener twitched with the multiple rounds of a machine pistol running full tilt. Somebody had just spent a months pay at least.

The timing was unfortunate for me. Both Rugers were empty. I still had the Navy Colt but I noticed the lance I had seen early was less than a foot away and I grabbed it. The burst had died off far to soon, a jam, and I heard him say something that probably translated to "Motherfucker!" I stood up. He was about 20 paces away.

I grinned at him. He didn't grin back.

I hurl the lance at him. Much to my amazement, and from the look on his face, his,it punches solidly into his chest. I watched as he reached out, wrapped his hands around it, trying to pull it out was my guess, and drops to his knees. I shot him in the head with the Colt anyway. Fuck 'em. Always better to make sure they're dead then to assume it.

I look around. A chunk of falls and lies burning in the sand. Most of the hogan is gone. I hear at least two horses crying. I begin reloading while I move backward out of the firelight. Never assume its over and never stand in the spotlight. I'll move again as soon as I reload, wait a few in another spot, and then begin walking the perimeter slowly. Just to make sure. Then I'll have to kill the injured horses. I'm not looking forward to it.

The Unknown - Chapter 9 by nova

Chapter 9

I used iron sights because that was what I had learned on and because I didn't like scopes. My feeling was if I wasn't close enough to hit you with out a scope then I had screwed up. Plus, and people seemed to think this was strange considering it was coming from me, but I thought drilling someone from 700 feet out was impressive but wrong on a level I could never get past.

I got up on one knee, ran my targets through my head one more time, and shot Pelt Boy in the sternum. I was aiming for the adams apple but he moved and I never really was as good with a rifle as I was my revolvers. I levered another round, and shot the horse that was waiting for the former Pelt Boy dead center in the side. It screamed, I said a silent "Sorry" to it, and swung to my right and nailed the guy who was leading up the rest of the horses.

My original plan was to spook the horses, kill the ground guys, and then deal with the mounted riders who would, hopefully, still trying to get their mounts under control. It was cold, efficient, and maximized mine and anyone with me odds of survival. It had been awhile, decades, since I had screamed her name, and charged a battle line, house, or band of warriors. I had replaced it with cunning and the cold steel desire to kill as many feds, or whoever, as I could, and live to do it again.

This time was different. In between shooting one of the guys who were staring at the blanket and registering the mounted ones were shooting back at me along with the Hoser, not accurately, but that would change, the wind of ice blew through me. It was good, it was more than good, it was like being touched by lightening, god, and the woman you loved at once. I stood up and screamed her name, that cold hearted bitch whose name hadn't passed my lips in years.


Then I started walking down the hill shooting horses. I wanted them on foot. I wanted them to come to me.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Interesting Video on How to Flip a Retreat

A reader sent me this. I don't know anything else about it but I do know this is how I would do it. When we were in Italy last summer one of the things I noticed was many of the hills had old fortified manor houses, not quite castles usually, but not villas either. Why? Because they survived the collapse of an empire that way.

Retreating to a farm is one thing but it has to be in the context of a community with a team of LE/Rangers (Texas type)/light cavalry to run constant patrols and act as a fast reaction team. The place to stop people like this is before they enter your Zone, community territory, or village proper.

The problem then becomes how do you pay them? They will have to be supported by the community through taxation. You can call it tithe, tribute, or a donation but in the end it is a tax. One you will be happy to pay at first.

The Unknown - Chapter 8d - by nova

The desert at night when the moon is out is a place of shadows as much as it is of light. Night in the desert is when the predators awaken and slough off the heat of the day only to find it replaced by hunger. Some people never get comfortable moving at night in the land of shadows, be it forest or sand. I wasn't born to it but I took to it and made it my own.

We made it to the turn off and Ty was headed down the road. Road, was a word that meant one thing to people of my generation an another to Kats. I remembered well maintained 4 and 6 lanes of asphalt where you could drive at 80 mph and watch terrain that might as well be the moon pass by outside of your air conditioned bubble. Kat had never seen that and probably never would. Her mental picture of a "road" was closer to what we had just left. Something that had a black tar foundation in some places that was made of a long lost material the ancients had created. Over it were drifts of sand, washouts roughly patched and places were the only reminder that a road had even been there were signs for speed limits and places that only existed in the minds of those of us who still remembered what was.

"Find somewhere in the next few minutes to hide it, at least break the silhouette, if you get hung up -- leave it. Take Kat and move at least 100 yards from the vehicle once you stop."

"Where are you going?"

I grabbed her by the back of the head and pulled her face to me. It wasn't far but it took a couple beats for her lips to soften. To bad that was all the time I had. I popped the door and fell out. It wasn't pretty, even as slow as Ty was going, exiting a moving vehicle is awkward at best. Nothing ripped bodily or leather and I wasn't going to be picking gravel out of my palms. It was a winner as far as I was concerned.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 8c - by nova

Chapter 8c

"Hey. That's a fire!" This was Ty's contribution. He cut off Kat who was telling me no one said 'mosey' anymore including her grandfather.

"Stop the truck."

I said this calmly which meant Ty didn't listen, or if he heard me, wasn't listening fast enough. I tried again.

"STOP the Fucking TRUCK!"

That worked. I caught KAT across the chest with one arm trying to stop her from eating the dashboard while I braced myself with my other hand. The truck may have come with seat belts but they had long ago broken or been cut away except for the drivers side.

Kat yelled, "God damn!"

"Shut up. Ty listen to me. Put us in reverse and slowly move us backward about a quarter mile to the turn off we passed. Pull into it and keep your foot off the brake pedal."

I said this calmly and quietly. It got through to Ty. He was an EMT. He knew emergencies and how to react. I knew he would key in to the calmness in my voice after yelling and figure out we had a problem. He did and I was glad. My Plan B was putting a gun to his head. That would have been awkward.

Kat picked up on it to, she asked "What's going on Gardener?"

I had seen movement silhouetted by the flames. I was also pretty sure I had seen horses off to one side. My leg may be hurting and my boots were too fucking tight but I could still see and hear better than almost anyone within 700 miles.

"It's a raiding party. Who? I have no idea. From the look of those flames they should be about done. If they move this way I want to prepare a surprise for them."

I was mentally inventorying what we had against what they might have. Horses made it more complicated but still doable. If not, we let them go by and see if Grandma was still alive which I doubted.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 8a - by nova

Chapter 8a

We had almost made it to the door when I heard a young guy say loudly, "We don't need him. We can do this ourselves." I stopped dead and slowly turned around to face him and the people who, for the most part, didn't seem to upset to see me go.

"You want to know why I said I can't help you?" I paused and waited for the nods, the muttered or shouted Yeahs! "Because I'm not sure you know what you ask. Not only for yourselves but as a people. They will come. They always do. They will be well armed, used to killing, raping, and taking. They will always have the edge until the end, when you, you as a people, have your backs to the wall and you're seeing all you lived for just days, or usually minutes, away from extinction.

You thought the white man was bad? You have seen nothing yet. There will be no reservations for the losers or mercy this time. There is no mercy anymore. No one can afford it now. There is just survival. That is where their edge is. They know, I mean know in a way you can't imagine, that they have to find a place to live or they will die. Oh yes, they will come."

They were silent. Their shadows, thrown from the lanterns that provided the light, elongated, restless, and listening. I was talking to them but seeing other places, other times, and the gnawed bones of children and adults who believed in the lies whispered by fools who deluded themselves to their final moments on earth that mercy was hard wired in everyone.

Before you ask what can be done ask yourself this first; can you kill? I don't mean in battle with honor and against an opponent armed as you are. You will have to slaughter them in battle and the wounded afterward. No mercy. You will need to find their camps and kill every male that can walk. Their women, all but the young or useful must die. You will have to do this until they stop coming because there is none left alive to come.

I can't help you because I can't do that. I won't do that."

I turned away and walked out the door.

Monday, August 22, 2011

And so it begins...

Prostitutes Flood Vallejo After City Slashes Police
By Alison Vekshin - Aug 22, 2011

When Ruth Rooney moved in 2005 to a two-bedroom house in Vallejo, California, near Napa Valley’s famed wineries, the historic St. Vincent’s Hill neighborhood attracted young professionals and there were few vacancies.

Things began to change in 2008 after Vallejo, a city of about 116,000 that had lost its biggest employer, the U.S. Navy’s Mare Island shipyard, filed for bankruptcy, said Rooney, a 54-year-old marketing consultant.

“I see prostitutes, pimps and drug dealers out my front window,” Rooney said in a telephone interview Aug. 5. “There’s two on the corner right now.” Her property value has dropped 70 percent in six years, she said.

Vallejo’s experience comes as Central Falls, Rhode Island, proposes $5.6 million in budget cuts after seeking Chapter 9 protection this month and Jefferson County, Alabama, negotiates with creditors to avoid what would be the biggest government filing in U.S. history. There have been five municipal bankruptcies this year, compared with six in 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Prostitution became a growth industry in Vallejo as the San Francisco Bay city slashed its payroll, cutting police by a third, to 90 from 134. The largest municipal bankruptcy in California since Orange County in 1994 has forced law enforcement to focus on violent crime at the cost of so-called “quality-of-life” issues, residents and officials said.
‘Half the People’

“When you have half the number of people, you can only do half the amount of work,” Robert Nichelini, Vallejo’s police chief, said in an Aug. 15 telephone interview. “Where it’s taken a toll is the lower-priority crimes, which have had to take a back seat.”


Vallejo has 302 neighborhood-watch associations with 2,552 members, up from 10 groups with 60 people in 2009, said Tony Pearsall, executive director of the Fighting Back Partnership, a Vallejo-based nonprofit social-services group.

“They’re doing crime prevention themselves because there is no crime-prevention unit in the police department anymore,” Pearsall, a retired Vallejo police captain, said by telephone.

Another group, the Central Core Restoration Corp., hired two armed security guards beginning in 2008 to patrol Georgia Street, the city’s commercial center, on bicycles during business hours.

“They help us with the panhandlers, loitering and assist us in calling the police if we have more serious infractions,” Janet Sylvain, the group’s president, said in an Aug. 11 interview at her upholstery shop, Pieced on Earth.


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Something Different

I was at the Holocaust Museum doing research Friday. This is an excerpt from a part of what I came back with. It is an interview with a survivor of Treblinka, a death camp, in WWII. In a way it fits, I think, as it describes a real Apocalypse.

A: I experienced it in the camp. I saw it. As soon as one-gave up somehow they found it. The SS, they found it out. They, would have it,somehow written on his face.
Q: Was there any attempt on the part of some who were stronger to help the ones who were weaker
A: No one, after my experiences, could survive by his own, being alone.
He must live there in a group. There were, in the camp, were groups of 2, :3 , 4, 5, 6, even 7 people. stuck together, they helped mutually,
with food. The one was sick, so they kept him hidden, and so on.
No one could survive simply being alone. So we were, with Charlie Unger, like twins. From the very beginning, until we, until we got
back to Prague. Every hour, every minute together, and of course we saved our lives, each other~

The Unknown - Chapter 8 by nova

The podium was up on a platform which would require me to climb a couple of steps. I decided not too. I looked at the crowd, did the measured stare while waiting for silence, which I let hang for a couple of seconds before I said what I had to say.

"Thank you for allowing me to stand here before you. You know who I am. You know what I have done. I understand what you want and that is how to preserve your way of life against what you believe is coming."

I paused here and checked for people nodding in agreement and not off to sleep. That was something I was known to do once upon a time. No one here was.

This was when I told them it could be done. It would be hard and they would have to become harder people then their enemies to do it but they were brave and they were motivated. All they needed was training, leadership, and to be pointed in the right direction.

I didn't tell them that. It stuck in my throat. I looked at them and smelled the burning houses, fields, and saw the bodies. They weren't the right people, and to become the right people would destroy them as a nation. I didn't have a problem with that as much as I was tired of being on the losing side and these people would end up losing even if they won.

"I am not the right man for you. Sorry."

I ignored the buzzing of the crowd, the shouted questions, the muttered nasty comment or two. Instead I made my way to Kat and Ty and said, "Get me out of here."

The Unknown - Chapter 7d by nova

Chapter 7d

I walked down the aisle left for me as people moved out of the way just enough to get in a better position to stare at me. I shrugged off Ty and Kat's help and ignored their whispered comments which summarized said I was supposed to wait and get called up to the podium. I don't wait. It pisses some people off. I can't say that I care.

Of course I wasn't doing my manly confident stroll either. It was more of a lurch which I knew didn't quite make the impression I was used too. That did bother me. A lot of what I did was built around getting an edge and appearance was part of it.

A bitter small voice whispered to me "You're a fucking cripple now. Give it up." I ignored the voice but it still stung. Not as much as what I saw in some of the eyes of people I passed. The pity rankled, a few were amused, one of them, a young guy with his own hardware worn like mine was appraising me and I could tell he liked what he saw.

I stopped at him, I needed to, plus it was time to make a point, and stared at him. I didn't smile. I just stared and watched him run through his card deck of reactions. That alone told me enough. People like me, when faced off, don't have any cards to run. We are ready to go all the time, anytime, anywhere. It's why we live. For me it was all I have left.

He folded. I moved on. It was another show time in another town.

The Unknown - Chapter 7c by nova

Chapter 7c

We did the "How are ya's" along the way. Kat had told me somewhere in the journey here how important it was to "see" each person I met or looked at. I just grunted, and said "Got it."

The problem with people, in my mind at least, was they always assumed someone new was an idiot when it came to their local pond. Pond were ponds. A big fish, a couple of other almost big fish, usually wanting to be the "big fish. Their school of followers, a couple of lurkers, and a few predators. The real predators never came to the pond meetings. Probably because they were never got invited.

I also knew how to look at people and greet them. Law enforcement 101 covered that in detail. Greet everyone, check them out, give them a threat rating, and move on. Before I grasped that I had thought it was just bullshit politicking. It was that too, I thought of it as "brushing buttons," just enough contact to generate a nonverbal response, not enough contact to actually generate a reaction.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. The smell of a group of people packed in like this was another data point to be taken in. Did they stink wrong? If they did it wasn't a good sign. There was honest stink, poor hygiene stink, sick stink, and fear stink. This was wood fire, honest stink. A long time ago me and Ninja had been talking about how to read a crowd in a room and had come with 50 different variables that we read in the first couple of minutes.

Then there was the "flow" for lack of better words. When I was younger I had thought of it as a mystic current that the world generated. Now I was more inclined to believe it was a highly tuned survival sense that was constantly updated by experience.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I have the flu or a cold or I have been cursed

Thought I could shake it but it is getting worse. I'll be back in a day or two. Just staring at the screen brightness is making my head ache.

I like the idea of him being cursed...

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 7b by nova

Chapter 7b

They went on and on about tribal politics, who was going to be there, and who I should pay attention to. I didn't listen. Instead I ran through the street layout of Page, where I thought were the strong points, and how I would assault them. Of course I didn't have any assault troops and I wasn't up to shoot and scoot but it was better then listening to them. To bad I hadn't seen enough of the town to know it as well as I might need to.

"You're not listening Gardener" Kat told me. I ignored the undertone of scold. Funny how I never heard that until after I slept with them.

I told the both of them, "I was leading troops when you were dreaming about what it be like to get laid. I have sized up more minor functionaries, and shot them when needed, then there probably is people in your Chapter. I don't do politics nor do I tolerate them being run on me. I'll listen as long as they keep it short otherwise I am going to sleep. Hopefully after eating something that has sugar in it. That shut them up.

We pulled into the parking lot of the Navajo Mountain Chapter house. It wasn't very big and it looked like three pointy roof small wood houses that had been made into one big house. I figured they must have gotten a deal on small pointy roof module houses once upon a time.

The lot was the usual interesting mix of vehicles. Horses and horse drawn carts. Bicycles that were all tucked up next to the buildings walls so they wouldn't get run over. A couple of motorcycles and two ancient SUV's that probably ran on bio fuel. I had noticed that battery cars weren't big out here except as carriages for the horses to pull. Mercedes Benz Smart cars were the preferred model in most places but I doubt if many were ever used out here before. This was truck land once and their skeletons or what was left after being stripped were everywhere. The bicycles were tucked up against the wall so they wouldn't get run over.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 7a - by nova

They rode in tense silence for a bit. I just rode. I wasn't feeling all the well. I was cold. Colder inside then I should be. The antibiotics weren't doing their job or something else was going on inside me that shouldn't be. I buried it. I needed to focus.

"Tell me about who we are seeing and why."

I thought Ty would answer but instead it was Kat who did. Either he was still smarting from whatever she had hissed at him or Kat was more then she appeared. Or maybe she just liked taking charge which wouldn't come as a surprise.

"We are going to see the Navajo Mountain Chapter. Both Ty and I belong and they, well, our Chapter is different. We didn't move off our lands when the feds came to force every one off. We knew that, and this was over 200 years ago, that it was ours and we weren't going to leave. We..."

"Any chance this was because they couldn't find you?"

I had her. I smiled. She didn't laugh until Ty did.

"Well, maybe."

Ty told me, "There will be people from other Chapters there. We don't make decisions based on what a couple of people tell us to do. We talk it over first.

"A lot of talking over." Kat added.

"So what are they talking over?"

Ty got serious and said, "Organizing to protect our nation and people."

"What is a Chapter?"

I had a good idea. It sounded like something a white guy from the government would think up as a nice way of saying tribal band. I bet the word empowerment was in there somewhere too. I was right."

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 7 by nova

Ty pulled the truck out onto the dirt road and we proceeded to bump and thump our way to where ever the hell we were going. We rode in silence for the first 20 minutes are so. Ty broke it by asking me, "You don't mind if I ask you some questions know...some of the stuff I heard that you did?"

"Yeah. Go ahead."

I stretched my bad leg out and shifted in the seat. Kat whispered in my ear,"You're going to need that bandage changed soon."

I just grunted and waited for Ty to spit it out.

"I mean you have been around since the beginning. I read every graphic novel I could download until I couldn't anymore. Now they have paper versions."

"No shit?"

I was surprised. I had seen some of the graphic novels way back when, I thought they were funny for about 10 minutes and then I got pissed. They made people I had cared about into jokes. None of the sweat, pain, and stink of death was mentioned. Plus I came off looking pretty damn good which instead of flattering I found irritating. I didn't know there were paper versions circulating now.

"I know they were exaggerated and all that but even if it was half true it was..." He paused, I saw his teeth flash as he grinned, "I know, it sounds stupid, but it was inspiring."

"Bullshit Ty. I've heard the stories and it was a tragedy. Everything that comes after was too."

I was beginning to feel like I was invisible.

Ty ignored her. "You knew Max! I mean that guy runs the North. Ninja leads Sword and Raven Legion. The haven't haven't been beaten since the Battle of Ohio!" Is it really true the old gods fight with them? Even the Lakota ride with them now."

"It wasn't the Battle of Ohio." I said flatly. It was a fucking massacre.

Kat hissed something in Dine at him. My guess it was "Shut up!" It was good advice.

Time to Get a Gun - Miranda Lambert

The Unknown - Chapter 6c - by nova

I went to stand up and would have fallen over if she hadn't caught me. Once I got stabilized I stiff armed her away from me and bit back on what I wanted to say which was "Stay the fuck away from me!" I wasn't angry with her. I was angry with me. Angry with the way life had turned out, angry with my leg. Angry that I still missed Night so much. I took a deep breath and said, "Sorry, my leg fell asleep."

"Oh. Okay. Do you need a hand?"


I stepped off and almost fell over again. I reached out, grabbed her shoulder, heard her wince, loosened my grip a little, and told her, "I'll take a shoulder instead if you don't mind." We walked back slowly to the hogan where Ty was waiting. He pretended not to notice my difficulty walking and I pretended not to notice that he had seen it.


"Yeah Ty."

"I talked to some people. They want to meet you and talk about what's going on."

"When's this supposed to happen?"

"How about now?"

I thought about it. I wasn't doing anything else. Well, maybe apologizing to Kat eventually and I had a pair of boots to pick up. Eventually, like in the next few days, I would be killing Apaches and who ever else got in the way. That was about it for a schedule. Somewhere in there was a vague desire to see if Kat wanted to go back to Utah with me. That might require some adjustments that I wasn't sure if I was up to and she was willing to put up with. "No harm in asking" I thought. Plus who knows. The meeting might be interesting as long as no one talked a lot and it was over fairly quickly. Maybe the women had made dessert.

"Sure. You coming Kat?"

She looked surprised, then said dryly, "Well, I was invited but thanks for asking."

I looked at Ty and we both started smiling about the same time. I told her, Okay but I'm riding shotgun."

I said goodbye to Grandmother, for a woman who always wore about six layers of clothes she was remarkably cool to touch. While I did that Ty got my gear together. Grandma said something to Kat and she walked away. Once she had Grandma reached up, pressed her hands against the side of my face, and said "What was once has come again. You will be fine." Then she left me standing there. I thought about that for a few minutes and couldn't make heads or tails of it. The best I could think of it was some damn Dine cryptic goodbye shit.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 6b by nova

I was still sitting there when Kat returned with Ty and Grandmother. They approached me cautiously and when they were about ten paces from me they stopped and didn't say a word. I knew they were there but I didn't say a word. Why? For two reasons really; I was past thirsty, way past parched, and deep into the land where my throat tissue could polish pine. The other was I didn't care. In fact I would have been happy if they all just went away after leaving me a gallon of water to drink.

They went away. Kat had tried to come closer but Grandmother had called her back. I sat out there until the sun began to go down and thought about a lot of things but never for more then a moment. I would touch them mentally and then recoil from the heat they generated. Some were as searing as the sun while others just generated old pain like coals once the outer crust of memories crumbled away.

As the shadow cast from the butte in front of me began to darken Kat came to me again. She stood there, on my right side, for about five minutes before she said, "I brought water." I stuck my arm and beckoned for her to bring it. She placed it in my hand and I drained it and handed it back to her saying, "More."

She came back with more but this time stood a lot closer. I drained that too and wiped my mouth with the back of my hand. We waited together in the darkness for about five minutes before she spoke.

"You want to tell me what's going on?"


"I should have known. She was as famous as you once and still is among the Northerners."

I didn't say anything.

"So what's next Gardener?"

"I kill people. It's what I do."

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 6a - by nova

When Ty left he took Grandma with him. That was thoughtful. It wouldn't have stopped what me from what I had in mind but it was a pretty clear sign that I wouldn't have any problem getting to sleep later.

She was gentle and I was restrained by my leg so what happened was different then my usual use them and loose them encounter. Far different. I had never let myself be touched inside again after that day but she managed to get through to me and in doing so I realized how empty and thirsty a part of me had become. I drank her caresses like a man who had spent far too long in the desert and despite my fever I wanted more. I got it too.

When I woke up the next morning the hogan door was open for light and she was propped up on one arm watching me.


"Hey to you" I told her.

I smiled. I hadn't slept well, my dreams were not pretty, but that was not unusual and I was used to going without enough sleep. She didn't smile back. Instead she asked me, "Who's Night?"

I blinked, not from surprise, rather from the sudden pain in my chest. Her words were an icepick to my heart. She was the one who was surprised. The change in my attitude, my face, must have been clear enough. She sat up, a lovely sight at any other time but not now.

"I'm sorry!' Did I ..."

She was frightened and genuinely worried. Intellectually I understood that and I knew I was supposed to tell her it was okay. It was just a name. It wasn't. I also knew that I shouldn't be getting angry but I was. I told her quietly, "Why don't you go."

She didn't say a word as she dressed. I didn't look at her. She was no longer there for me. Instead I pulled one of my pistols, opened the gate, and spun the cylinder around and around.

She paused in the door. I suppose she was waiting for me to say something. I didn't. She left.

Twenty minutes later I walked outside into the sun and screamed until my throat felt like it was bleeding.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 6 - by nova

"They have any shooters?"

Ty nodded, grimaced, and said "You got their two best but all of them are pretty good."

Kat added, "They aren't above shooting you in the back or swarming you either."

I laughed. "Okay. How many are in town and why were they here? Aren't the Apaches down south?"

Kat told me "We call them the the Inde. We think they are looking for new lands. The Comanche People are also starting to show up in our nation. There is little or no water anymore in many places where they live."

Ty said "We are not a warlike people but we aren't stupid. Water is everything and we have it. Right now the best thing we have going for us is there are still many of us and we will fight if pushed."

"So I can count on your people to have my back when I go see these...Inde?"

They both looked at each. Kat looked down. Ty met my eyes and said, "I doubt it."

I laughed and laughed. When I got over it I told them, "Yeah. I thought so."

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

American Apocalypse I & II are going to be released as audio files

I don't know a lot about it other than that. I think AA I will be done in a month.

On the Story

I am writing backwards. About three chapters ago I realized I was writing this in order to write AA V. I don't know if I will publish this anytime soon. Maybe I will just sit on it until I finish AA V. Thanks for reading.

The Unknown - Chapter 5c - by nova

Chapter 5c

There was more then a little empty air time after that was said. I thought about denying it and decided not to. I was who I was.

"So who knows?"

Ty answered "Everyone."

"Is that like 'everyone' who is Dine? Or the entire town? Or just for 40 miles in every direction?"

I guess I sounded sharper than I thought because they both looked taken aback. Speaking in concise, fact based sentences must not be taught around here I thought.

Kat told me, "Everyone. It will be in Flagstaff soon if it isn't already."

"Tell me about the feds."

"They were contractors here to provide security for a fed survey team. They are thinking about getting the coal plant up and running again. The feds would be providing the hardware, probably salvage from somewhere back east. They aren't your problem."

Kat jumped in with. "At least not in the next week or so."

"Yeah Gardener...damn I can't believe I'm talking to The Gardener, The feds will come looking for you. They hate your guts."

Kat laughed and added, "Sure as hell won't be any bounty hunters."

I grinned at that. "Yeah. They got discouraged."

I had a large bounty for anyone who delivered my head to the feds. They didn't say "Dead or alive." It was assumed the only way I would be showing up would be as a corpse.

Ty laughed, "No kidding. You only killed, what 20 plus?"

Kat added, "Plus you blew up a town!"

I just smiled. It was half that number and only a few blocks but having a rep was like carrying an extra Ruger."

Ty continued, "And word went out from people up North that anyone who delivered you to the feds wouldn't live to enjoy the money, nor would any family out to third cousins, the town they lived in, and their pets."

"Except for the dogs."

I said this quietly. Kat opened her mouth to say something, more then likely to ask about the dog exemption, but she saw my face and changed her mind. I had gone inward. Back to places and people and a time. I cut it off. When I refocused they were both staring at me.

"I'm back."

I could feel the fever coming on and decided to get this conversation back on track and then go lie down.

"So if I don't have to worry about the feds then that leaves the Indians. Why them?

"Not just Indians Gardener. Apaches."

"So what."

"No. Not so what." Kat told me gently. "They are vindictive and they will want to get some payback. Especially now."

"Why now?" I was curious.

"Because they know who you are."

Monday, August 8, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 5b by nova

Chapter 5b

What I wanted was to know what happened in town and where was Kat? I was feeling better and I missed her. I was also worried about her. You don't shoot people in most small towns and get away with it. Not as much because the law came looking for you as they usually had friends. They were assholes but even assholes have friends who, since they run in packs, might decide to do something.

I knew I wasn't going to Flagstaff. Not with my leg like this and maybe never. I suppose I should have been worried about people looking for me. I wasn't. For me it was another bar dustup and if they did? So what. Even with a bad leg I figured I could take who ever I ran into. I was even idly considering asking Kat if she wanted to back to Utah with me.

I started walking away from the hogan and climbing a trail all of 60 ft up to a sandstone ledge and sitting. I would watch the clouds and their shadows race across the land and let my mind idle. I would pull off the bandage on my leg, expose it to the air, and tell myself it was healing. Once I saw a big ass bird with the wingspan and size of a drone fly over head. That gave me the cold sweats until I figured out it was a condor. That put me in a bad mood for the rest of the day.

That night Ty showed up with Kat. He had antibiotics he had bought with the money I had given him. Kat had news. She didn't look happy and neither did Ty and that was before he looked at the wound. They also seemed changed around me more distant. More watchful.

"So whats up Kat?"

We had to chit chat. Nobody here seemed to understand that getting to the point was the main purpose for talking but I kept my tongue in check. Kat sat next to me and was very concerned about me. I couldn't think of a subtle way of letting her now that if she was spending the night I hoped it was next to me. So I skipped subtle and asked, "You spending the night?" She looked down and grinned and said in a much smaller voice "Yes."


I reached over and let my hand curve across her leg while I leaned in close, smelled her hair, and whispered, "Thanks." Then I checked out Grandma and Ty's reaction. They seemed okay with it. My bad mood was gone so I was sounding and feeling upbeat when I asked them for the news.

It was easy to tell from their reactions that Ty had been elected spokesman which he confirmed by telling me, "You stirred up some people Gardener. Killing Apaches always does. Killing a couple of Feds does too. Killing them both at one time is like a grand slam."

Kat added, "Especially when it's Gardener doing it."

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Little Toby Keith

I heard this in Texas and said I can make a story of this

The Unknown - Chapter 5 by nova

I came to on and off. No pain. Just blood loss and maybe a touch of shock. The longest period was when I was riding in the back of a pickup, the night was dark, the air cold, and the stars brilliant in the sky above.

For a while kept fading out of now to then. Then was a long time ago but now it seemed like I could touch it. I remember yelling for Max and Night but I didn't get an answer. I felt them close by which was good enough. I went back to sleep.

I woke up inside a beehive. At least that was what I thought it was first. I found out later it was a hogan, a Navajo house made out of mud, railroad timbers, and wood. It smelled good inside, I always like the smell of pine burning. Kat was there as was a male Navajo who was looking at my leg.

"He's awake." This was Kat.

"Yes he is." I thought it was moderately funny but they didn't smile. The kerosene lamp that was the one source of light left shadows on their faces that made them harder to read then I liked.

The Navaho male, I found out later his name was Tyrone which I thought was the funniest thing I had heard in years. Both Kat and Tyrone ended up shaking their heads and leaving me to lay there laughing and holding my side for awhile until I calmed down.

Tyrone was the town EMT and a former army medic. He wasn't gay either. Not that I cared, it was unusual in my experience. Kind of like a male antique store owner with five kids from three different women.

Our first conversation began with him looking at my leg and saying, "You got one seriously messed up leg and thigh my friend. You even feel anything where he stabbed you?"


"Been that way for awhile?"


"Seen a real doctor about it?"


He looked at me. He wasn't a youngster and I didn't need to ask him to know he had seen some shit in his day. "So you know?"

Kat was listening. Women are always listening. They can be doing three different things including holding a conversation with a friend and still here everything that's said.

"What do you know?"

"I know that I should have shot all four them assholes as soon as I came in the door." Then I went back to sleep.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 4f - by nova

Chapter 4f

I leaned back in my chair, it helped relieve the back pain I felt damn near every day I wore a pack now. My leg was tingling. A good sign that. It meant it had not gone completely dead on me yet. One of these days it would not only stay numb, but start dying on me. The doctor I had seen told me eventually it would have to come off. That wasn't going to happen. No. Fucking. Way.

A loud scream of pain and I refocused. Kat was yelling, "You cocksucker! That hurt!" while she rubbed her left breast. The assholes were laughing, all of them except for Lizard Lips who just looked amused. It was show time. I decided to go with Plan B instead of the usual Plan A. Why? Because it was riskier.

I stood up and dropped a couple of silver dollars on the table top. Yeah, I was way over tipping but I wanted them to see the silver, hear it clink, and process what it meant. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed Lizard Lips shift position and drop his hand down to his side. For an Indian he could hold his liquor better than most. I walked past them at the table and without looking at her I raised my hand and said, "Thanks. See you around.

I had to walk past the bar to get out the door. About ten paces from the door I hesitated, turned to the dumb ass bar keep who was polishing glasses, and asked him, "Hey. You got any matches?" I took a step toward him and went into overdrive. I hit the bar, grabbed the edge, and threw myself over the top of it. In doing that I knocked the barkeep back against the bottles.

The shotgun was where she said it was. Now came the fun part. Was it actually loaded and hopefully not with bird shot either? I had to flip it since it was facing the right direction for a right hander and I was left handed. I took that opportunity to bounce the butt off the barkeeps forehead. He was yelling in my ear, "What the hell you doing?" I didn't need any distractions. Then it was pump, watch the already loaded round eject, tuck it to my shoulder, and start acquiring targets.

I loved this part still. Everything else had turned to "stale same old same old" but this, this was magic, this was the rush drugs had always promised but only in the beginning had they come close to delivering. Life was chopped into frames of clarity and beauty that in real time lasted microseconds but crawled in this magic time, the time of killing.

I pulled the trigger and Lizard Lips went sideways. That happens when you are off balance and 7 or 8 balls about the size of a .38 bullet touch you all at once. He was good. Better than I thought. He still managed to draw and touch my right shoulder. I jacked the pump and found target two as I moved towards the end of the bar. He was just as good as his buddy. If I hadn't have moved, my head would have been all over the wall, but I had and it was his head that got turned into a bunch of puzzle pieces.

I hit the waist high swinging door at the end of the bar with the intention of coming out fast and hosing the two white boys down. I got past that, pivoted, and pushed off with my bad leg except it wasn't where my head told me it was supposed to be. I lost balance and went down. Not good. Not good at all.

I was getting untangled and back on my feet when I realized I had been too slow. Both of the white boys were up and moving towards me. One of them was screaming, in the lead, and had his butcher knife held low in his hand. The other had his gun drawn but couldn't shoot because his partners bull rush fouled his shooting lane.

I had cleared and pumped a new shell but when I pulled the trigger all I heard was click. Well, I hadn't asked her how many were loaded had I? Oh well. I dropped the shotgun and went for what I should have started with, my Rugers, when he hit me and bounced us both back against the wall. He was snarling "Fuck you" and his eyes were glazed with drink and the victory that was just seconds away. I realized he wanted to be in close for the knife work so I pulled him in even closer. "Fine you sonafabitch" I thought and pulled my bayonet from its metal sheath, pulled him in tight, and reached around and punched it in his kidney. He stiffened and I shoved him back towards his partner. I need the space to draw and I was going to be cutting this one just a little too close.

That's when I heard the "boom" of a large bore handgun. It was followed by another one and I watched the other white guy go down. I saw Kat standing there in a two handed shooters stance holding a Ruger GP100 with a long fucking barrel.

"That;s a big gun for a little woman."

"The world is filled with big assholes."

"Yeah. You got a point."

"You know you have a knife sticking out of your leg?"

I looked down, pulled it out, dropped it, and said, "You wouldn't believe how many times people have fucked this leg up. You got any bandages?"

"Yeah. Let me get them."

I pulled of my body armor and then my shirt. By then I was starting to get dizzy. I took the shirt and pressed it against my upper leg hoping to stop most of the blood loss. Then I slowly slid down the wall and waited for her to return.

extensive edit

Tent City - Today

The Tent City of New Jersey: Desperate victims of the economic slump forced to live in makeshift homes in forest

The article is mostly photos. Notice the solar panel?

Thursday, August 4, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 4e - by nova

Chapter 4e

When she brought me my tea it was in a clear glass that was actually clean. She bent over to set it on the table and I noticed that one more button had been loosened on her blouse. I liked the view.

"There you go."

She did rush to stand up either. I was okay with that.

She smiled, straightened slowly, and said, "Back to the assholes."



"Where exactly is that shotgun?

"About a foot to his right. It's loaded with one in the chamber. Don't be messing up my floors. Unless it's..."

"Hey baby. Bring that pretty ass over here!"

This was from the white guy who thought he was going to get some. He was too. I was positive of that.

"Those assholes." She yelled, "Hang on!" I heard her mutter "The shit I gotta put up with to make a living." Then she was gone.

I sat there nursing my tea and watching. They got drunker and nastier. The old man went to sleep. Two people came in, looked at the table of drunken assholes, and spun on their heel and bailed.

When she came by to freshen up my drink I asked her, "You have a name?"


"I like it. You look like one." She did too. Or an elf girl. "Move like one too" I added.

"Thanks. How about you?"

"I don't have a name anymore."



"So I should call you Unknown?"


She laughed. "Okay Unknown. I get off in two hours...think you can nurse that drink that long?"

"Oh, I think you'll be closing early."

"Hah! I should call you Dreamer instead."

I just smiled. I saw her eyes change for a second. They got harder, more focused. Then the Indian called for her. I had noticed they didn't like her spending more than a couple of sentences with me. I was going to have to fix that.

The Unknown - Chapter 4d - by nova

Chapter 4d

I watched as she dropped off the bottle, grimaced at their bullshit comments, an almost evaded an ass grope. She spun her way out of that one and told them to watch their hands. They laughed. As she made her way to me I watched them. One white guy was telling the other who wasn't listening because he was too busy watching her walk away, "I'm gonna get me some of that." He was an idiot. I was confirming my kill order and he was last on the list. His buddy was next.

The Indians though, they were both good. Probably very good. That was unusual. People that good don't spend time in little towns like this. They went where the money was. Yet here we were. One was tilted back in his chair staring at the ceiling. The other Indian was looking at me. Not looking, appraising. He would be first. Our eyes locked. I knew him. He knew me. He gave me the lizard grin, thin lipped and cold blooded. I winked. Fuck him.

The bar maid was almost to my table so I focused on her. It was a pleasure. She looked as nice coming as she did going.

"What can I get you?"

"Is your bartender as worthless as I think he is?"

She looked over her shoulder quickly. When she looked back at me her face had tightened, "Yes. He is. He's got a 12 gauge under the bar but I think he would rather use the back door first."

"Yeah. Okay. You got any ice tea?"

"Sun tea...not iced. That work?"


"She smiled, "You mean for the tea?"

I felt it. It had been a long time. "Yeah. For the tea."

Another big smile. I liked that smile. "Coming right up" and she was gone. I didn't bother looking over at the assholes. I was running a new scenario through my head.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 4c - by nova

Chapter 4c
see minor edit to 4b - it will make a difference

It didn't look like much from the outside. The walls were white painted cinder blocks originally; now it was white in places and gray where all the paint had been sanded off by the wind. There was the support for a sign, the actual sign that once had been there had blown away. A roadrunner had been painted on the street side wall, underneath crude block letters spelled out ROADRUNNER. This work of art looked newer, my guess was it had been done no more than five years ago. Somebody had shot at the roadrunner and his head no longer looked quite right.

About five paces from the door I was hit with an invisible wall of wrongness. This was not a good place. Bad things had happened here and bad men were inside. I smiled. This was my kind of place.

I walked in the door, it was a screen door with a metal one behind it that was propped open. I let it slam behind me. I liked the sound of screen doors slamming. It reminded me of old movies about other peoples happy lives. I liked it so much I kicked backward and popped it back open so I could hear it slam again. I stepped to my right and smiled as it banged shut again behind me.

"Hey now. Don't you love the sound of a screen door slamming?" I asked the other patrons who had interrupted important conversations to stare at me. Nobody answered. The bartender looked at me and went back to drawing designs on the bar top with his finger and a puddle of beer.

It was almost the usual place with the usual people doing the same stupid shit. Almost. This place was different for two reasons. I instantly liked both of them.

The first was the table full of bad asses. Four males, two of them Indians and not the Navajo type. Their faces were sharper, more angles than planes. They looked leaner too from what I could see. Built for going the distance rather than working in one place all day. They would be quick.

Both of them were wearing leather holsters like mine except theirs had more leather cutaway in front so they could draw faster. They also were packing butcher knives in handmade leather sheathes. One of them was fringed with what had been a nice head of blond hair. It was just getting better and better.

The two white guys were to young to have seen Mad Max but they had instinctively grasped the concept that looking like a B movie bad ass would intimidate peace loving citizens. The skull motif had been overdone when I was their age. Now, it just said, "Trying to hard!" They were probably from what used to be California.

The second reason was the barmaid. She was beautiful. Enough so that it distracted me from the staring contest I was having with the assholes at the table. I'm sure they thought they won but I didn't care.

She came out of the backroom and was carrying a fresh bottle of skullfuck, complete with worm, balanced on a little tray like this was actually someplace where people cared about presentation. She smiled at me, said, "Have a seat stranger" and was past me in a hummingbirds heartbeat.

I watched her move, she had a great ass and black hair long enough to touch it. I thought it would be nice to be that hair while I pulled up a seat at a table where I could keep my back against the wall and watch the doors.

I nodded to the old guy lost in his drink a couple of tables down. He didn't even notice. I wasn't surprised. All bars like these had an old man or woman whose job was to stare into their drink and occasionally bust into tears or rants.

The Unknown - Chapter 4b - by nova

Chapter 4b

They had a pair that the guy had never came back for. Bobby told me "It's been two years and I'll have your boots done in three days. Odds are pretty slim he'll come back and if he does, well we'll find something else. Just don't scuff them up. Please."


I pulled them on. They were tight. "What size are these?"

"Eleven and a half." He shrugged. "That's the best I got."

"It's okay sweetie. You can walk from one end of this town to the other in five minutes."

She had a point.

"Okay. Anyplace you can recommend to get something hot to eat and cold to drink?"

Without hesitation she told me, "The Roadrunner. Make a left on the boulevard and you'll see it."

Bobby didn't like that. "What about the Dock? Better crowd."

"Honey. Does this man look like a rough crowd is a problem." She laughed. It was a strange laugh, the raucous cry of a crow. For a second I felt a cold chill run down my spine. I looked closer at her. I got zero feeling from her. She had no presence. It hadn't set off any alarms because it wasn't a threat. Very strange. It was unique but I had run across people like before. Back in the day. I didn't want to think about back in the day. I shut it down. It wasn't a threat -- it wasn't a problem.

"You go have a bowl of chile. You'll like it."


I walked out the door and made my left. I heard that damn crow laugh in my head until I found the Roadrunner.

The Unknown - Chapter 4a - by nova

Chapter 4a

I threw my backpack on the bed and looked around and sighed. It was a dump. For the average twenty year old out there it would have been great. They would have no standard of comparison with what had been once because the once upon a time I knew no longer existed. For them, the a/c, which was actually running, and the light switch that worked would have been storybook.

I shed some gear, keeping the guns and sharp stabbing tools and left the rifle in it's sheath along with my pack on the bed. My back ached from toting all this stuff, especially with my raggedy ass boots making me walk funny. I decided to see if I could find a cobbler. Maybe I could get a few more miles out of them. Then get something to eat and see if what else was for sale that was on my list. Salt should be easy enough to find. My ammo supply was fine and I didn't plan on stocking up until it went on my new employers account. As I walked out the door the electricity in my room died.

I found a cobbler without any difficulty. It was run by a wizened old white woman who ran the counter in front while her man ran a foot powered sewing machine in the back. The shop smelled good. A mixture of leather and old feet. A smell I found comforting. I pulled my boots off, my foot wraps were less than pretty. I was glad she couldn't see them. Hell, I didn't want to look at them myself.

I dropped the boots on the counter and handed her the boot heel. She set it down on top of the counter and moved it next to the boots with the tip of her index finger. She looked at my boots, looked at me, looked back at the boots, and yelled, "Hey Bobby. Come check these out!"


"Come here!"

He turned his head to look at me and made a frowny face, that's when I noticed he had lost an eye somewhere along the line, and shuffled over to join us. She indicated my boots and told him, "He wants them resoled."

Bobby picked up the worst one up, turned it upside down, then stuck his finger through the hole by the toe, shook his head, and set it back down.

"Mister. It would be cheaper for me to make you a new pair. I mean..."

I cut him off. I was trying to stay calm but I was getting angry. I was telling myself "It's the truth. Don't get mad at him" and I wasn't really. I was just mad. Mad that everything was slipping away. Mad that I was here. Mad that my life was what it was.

"No. I want them fixed."

I think my expression had changed or maybe the tone of my voice. Maybe both. He physically stepped back from me. The woman? She cocked her head, looked at me for a couple of beats, and asked, "They magic boots sweetie?"

I looked at her. I felt the anger spiking. If she was being a smart ass or just fucking with me I was going to make her extremely sorry. Burn down the fucking shop with them in it flashed through my head. She didn't flinch, she just looked me in the eyes, and I realized she understood. The anger drained away as fast as it had arrived to be replaced with a sad weariness.

"Yeah. They are."

She nodded her head and we all kind of went suspended while she thought whatever she was thinking. "Okay. Hows this work for you. Bobby keeps the original uppers and redoes everything else?"

I thought about it. It wasn't a bad idea. "Okay. How much? How long? And do you have something in a size 12 I can wear until you get them done?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

The Unknown - Chapter 4 - by nova

I checked into my room. The clerk, probably the owner, was a white male in his early 50's who was sitting in an old metal folding chair outside the office. He wasn't reading or talking to anyone. He was just staring off in to yesterday probably and waiting for something to happen or the day to end. Instead he got me.

Check in was easy. No questions asked by either of us other than wanting to know how long I wanted to pay for and how much. He was curious but not curious enough to ask which was not that unusual.

Our conversation was brief.

"How much?"

"You want deluxe?"

"What do I get?"

"Stove works probably, well, one burner does...sometimes. You can come by and use my Internet if it's working. If we have power, which we do sometimes, your room a/c might work."

" A lot of mights and maybes in there for paying extra."

He shrugged. "Not going to lie. Everything we got was already old before Powerdown. It runs or it doesn't. The special gets you the room where last time I checked everything ran."

"I'll take it.

"Yes sir!"

Manners had improved greatly since PowerDown. Not surprising as the survivors included a fair amount of angry, armed, and usually traumatized people who were as stable as old school dynamite was. I would like to think I added to that as I believed manners was a borderline capitol crime depending on who was involved and what my mood was like that day.

The room was a room. It had the original kitchen appliances from the renovation done 50 years ago. The refrigerator had been duct taped shut 20 years ago at least and someone had scrawled "Don't open!" with a black marker on the door. Of course someone had opened it as the tape had been nicely slit. I couldn't smell dead refrigerator so it had to have been awhile.

The bed was lumpy. If I came down with bedbugs I was going to be very unhappy. So would the man who checked me in.

The Unknown - Chapter 3c - by nova

Chapter 3c

I walked around the motel before I went in and then made a circle through the closest streets. I wanted to know my exits and entrances, possible enemies, and mostly just to feel the flow of the place. It wasn't too hot but I was aware of the sun. Lately I had found sun spots on my arms and I had a nice one below my left ear. Crusty reminders that genetics had designed me for a land under a different sun.

Cover was nonexistent outside of the buildings. Nothing new there. The grid layout worked for me on a number of levels. Mainly because once I got a feel for the layout I had most of the possible city movement patterns locked in. Page wasn't much of a potential street fighting battleground. No connected buildings or narrow alleys. That would make movement tough for any defenders and easier for the raiders to isolate and then burn or mortar out. There had to be some kind of perimeter guard or patrol but I hadn't seen any sign of one. They were relying on picking them up far enough off to bug out to the safety of one of the bridgeheads and hold until a Saints or nation react force showed up. Not really a plan but better than nothing. My guess was it had been a long time since anyone worried about raiders here.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Gardener Summer and The Lion are out in paperback now

On Amazon

The Unknown - Chapter 3b by nova

Chapter 3b

I was dropped at the town park and pointed in the direction of my motel, I had gone with the non VIP choice. My motel was called the Red Rock and it was just one of a handful of ancient motels all stuck in a motel ghetto. The difference between the Red Rock and the rest was it was still in operation. The others? No one who wasn't drunk would even want to climb through one of the kicked in windows or doors and seek shelter inside of them. I'm sure it was done and I'm sure it wasn't something you could do very many times and survive.

Just thinking about the odds of a scorpion bite made me shudder. I hated the evil little fuckers. They were the Wests version of the water moccasin. Always pissed off and ready to mess with you just because the could. Originally, when I first came out this way I thought it would be rattlesnakes. I went two years without seeing a rattlesnake. I shook a scorpion out my boot the second night I crossed into what was once Atlzan, once the American Southwest, and now a collection of half assed autonomous regions and American Indian Nations sprinkled with religious leader compounds, white only clans, and a lot of sun baked, half starved feral whatevers who were just one step up from wild dog packs.

The feds had pulled out of most of the American southwest after fighting a long ugly insurgency throughout most of the region that sputtered along even after PowerDown. For awhile after they gave up on that they had settled for protecting areas with resources and the related delivery infrastructure with mixed success. Lately they had been making noises about reunification of all the areas into one big, glorious, USA again. Too bad they had screwed that up so badly the first few times they had tried that. From what I heard they were having problems holding on to what they had.

There was another power bloc that was growing steadily and that was totally expansionist to the north. Even the Saints were looking over their shoulders and wondering about their borders. So far the Northerners had been content to raid to the east and expand into the heartland. They had a serious dislike of the feds and were beginning to push them hard. Real hard. I made myself stop thinking about them. Nothing good lay there for me and hadn't for a long time. I knew I was still welcome, hell, I was a legend, but I had left and never looked back.

Instead, I waged my own personal war against the feds. Eventually the fire inside me, that drove me, burned out. I found myself at a loss. Hunted by the feds I had taken refuge with the Saints. I made some money and made myself useful to them. They had left me alone and at times I even convinced myself that I was happy. They were good people and inside their boundaries I could almost forget the people I had known and all the blood that been spilled. Sometimes I wore no gear at all when I went out, nothing but a single holster, everything else hung on their hooks inside my bedroom closet.

I wasn't happy. If anything, once the fire had died I found more and more I was left with the blackness. I quit taking jobs and that didn't make a difference. I took jobs and that didn't make a difference either. The last one I did I had barely made it through to the end. Not because the people I was sent to talk to were any good. Rather, it was me. I just didn't care. It was the same old shit happening, with the same old people. and the results were always the same. The last job, I had, for a tiny bit of time, not drawn my weapons. Muscle memory took over just in time, it helped he wasn't as good as he thought he was, but for a blink I didn't care. Even I knew that was not a good sign.