Well crap. I may have just accidentally started yet another book.
I had intended the following story to be a Flash Fiction Friday, but as I wrote it last night, it turned into something else. I removed the Flash part, because it’s already longer than 1,000 words. Besides, it’s not exactly a complete story. I think it want’s to be a novel, or at least a short story. Since I really want to get something out today, I’m going to make it an episodic. So I present to you,
The Mongers, Part 1
The dust cloud rose from the dry desert floor like smoke from a bonfire as four vehicles raced over the barren soil. Two motorcycles flanked a battered armored car while a third took point. Crudely spray painted on the sides of the armored car was the word “Mongers”. Each of the riders wore a leather vest with a patch to match on the back.
The bikes had once been Harleys, but after years of wandering the wastes and scavenging whatever parts they could, they weren’t of any recognizable make anymore, but they ran, and that’s all that mattered. The armored car they had found in front of a bank, completely cleaned out, but with the keys still in the ignition.
Atop the point bike sat Butch, the leader of the Mongers. His face, baked by the blazing desert sun, resembled the barren remains of the once lush prairie they now rode across.
Butch craned forward, the leather of his bike’s seat squeaking beneath him. There was a town up ahead. Or, at least, what had once been a town. Most of the houses were charred wrecks of their former selves. Normally, Butch wouldn’t have given it a second glance, but there, on the outskirts of the town still stood what looked to be an old school. What’s more, even though it was hard to tell at this distance, he could swear he could see movement near the fence. He aimed his handlebars at the school. The rest of the group didn’t need to be told to follow.
As they got closer, Butch was able to assess the situation. A band of raiders was attacking the school. Inside the fence, a group of the school’s inhabitants were trying to fight them off, but they were losing.
Butch raised his left arm, and pointed one finger into the sky. He heard the hatch they’d cut into the top of the armored car clang open followed by a quick burst from the .50 cal machine gun they’d mounted to the top. The gun was aimed harmlessly into the sky, but the sound had the desired effect. For a moment, all activity at the fence stopped as they all turned to look at the approaching dust cloud. Those inside the fence turned and ran, but the raiders, sensing their chance, began scaling the chain-link fence.
Butch opened his hand, now pointing all his fingers into the sky. Then, with a chopping motion, he pointed his arm at the raiders. The machine gun opened fire. Even over the roar of the engines and gun fire, Butch could hear Nutcase cackling maniacally. Bodies began falling from the fence as the rest of the raiders ran off into the desert. Nutcase turned the gun to follow, but Butch once again raised his hand and closed his fist. The gunfire stopped immediately. A moment later, he heard the hatch clang closed.
Butch hated raiders. He would have loved to let Nutcase mow the rest of them down, but there was no sense wasting precious ammo.
They approached the school slowly, lest the already spooked inhabitants mistook them for another band of raiders. Butch signaled for the others to wait as he dismounted his bike and approached the gate. A small, mousy looking man ran out, trying to look as tough as he could which only brought an amused smirk to Butch’s face.
“Friend or foe?” The mousy man demanded.
“Well, considering we just saved your bacon, what do you think?”
“What business do you have here?” The mouse asked, ignoring Butch’s question.
“We’re here to trade.” Butch said with a nod toward the armored car.
After a moment’s thought and a curious glance toward the closest building, the mouse pulled out a set of keys and unlocked the rusty gate. It slowly groaned open as Butch helped him open it.
Once the vehicles were safely inside, the mouse rushed to re-close the gate.
“Don’t worry.” Butch said, dismounting his bike and brushing the dirt off his leathers. “They won’t be back anytime soon. At least, not while ‘ol Betsy’s on guard.”
Nevertheless, the mouse finished closing the gate before returning to Butch and introducing himself.
“I’m Jacob Drake. Mayor of this place.”
“Yes really. And you are?”
“Name’s Butch. This is Bear and Gut.” Butch said, indicating the other two riders. Bear was a mountain of muscle while Gut was merely fat.
The back door of the armored car creaked open and out stepped a tall black man with a bright white afro followed by another man who looked fairly normal until you looked at his eyes.
“Those two are Rat and Nutcase.” Butch finished.
“We typically ask our guests to turn over their weapons.” The Mayor said hesitantly. Butch just stared at him. “But considering what you just did for us, I suppose we can make an exception.”
“Tell ya’ what,” Butch said, unslinging the rifle strapped to his back and tossing it to Rat, who caught it deftly, ”We’ll keep our rifles locked in the truck. We keep our sidearms though. Don’t worry, they’ll stay holstered unless there’s a need to take ‘em out.”
Butch nodded at the others and they did the same.
“Now, you said you were here to trade?” The Mayor said.
“We are. But we’re a lot more agreeable when we’ve had a meal and a good night’s rest.”
“Yes. Of course. I suppose it’s the least we can do after your saving us. Follow me.”
Jacob led them to what had once been the school cafeteria. Inside, they could hear dozens, if not hundreds, of voices.
“You’re in for a real treat tonight.” Jacob said proudly. “My wife, Margaret, just made a big batch of homemade peach cobbler and Isaac tapped a keg of his home brewed…”
“Beeer.” Nutcase said, sniffing the air.
“Um, yes. Just sit anywhere you like and I’ll send someone over to take care of you.”
As they walked through the doors, conversation stopped for a moment. Then, a single pair of hands clapped, then another. Soon everyone was cheering and applauding. They found an open table and before they knew it, plates heaping with home cooked food were placed before them. Nutcase drained his beer in a single gulp and almost immediately another was set before him.
“Man.” Gut said around a mouthful of food. “A guy could really get used to this.”
“Yeah, well don’t.” Butch said. “We aren’t staying.”
Conversation in the cafeteria had resumed, but all the while, people were stealing glances at the newcomers while others stared outright.
One of the starers caught Butch’s eye. He couldn’t help but feel like he recognized her, but he couldn’t figure out where. He stared back, expecting her to look away, but she didn’t. Instead she got up, and walked confidently toward him and sat down across from him. Right between bear and Gut.
“Hi.” She said cheerily.
“You were staring at me.”
“You were staring at me first.”
“Everyone’s staring at you. Even the ones who’re pretending they aren’t. But why were you staring at me?”
“Uh…” Butch wasn’t sure what to say.
“Hey, Gut. Wanna go see if we can get seconds?” Bear asked.
Gut quickly got the idea and followed Bear while Nutcase said something about more beer. Rat sat at the table busily sketching something, his food barely touched, oblivious to what was going on around him.
“Come on. There has to be a reason. Is it because you think I’m beautiful?” She asked, flipping her hair comically.
“No. I mean, yes, you’re beautiful, but it’s not that. I feel… I feel like I know you, but I don’t know why.”
“I think I know why.” She said, dropping him a wink.
So that’s it for now. I’m sorry if it left you a little unsatisfied. I’m also sorry that it isn’t my best work. truth be told, it’s the first thing I’ve written in quite a while. Hopefully next week’s installment will be better and have more action.
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