Fiction Friday: The Mongers, Part 5

The Mongers, Part 5

The broken chain lay on the pitted asphalt next to the open gate. The shiny ends of fresh steel where the chain had been cut stood in stark contrast with the patina of rust that covered the rest of it. Butch was about to ask the obvious question with its equally obvious answer when he heard a voice behind him.

“Hey guys. Man, have I got a story…” Nutcase began.

Butch wheeled on him and punched him in the jaw, knocking him to the pavement.

“Where the hell were you?” Butch screamed at him.

“What the hell, boss? I was just about to tell you that before you decked me.” He said, holding his jaw. “Hey, where’s Bertha?” “I was going to ask you the same thing.” Butch spat. “You were supposed to be watching the truck.”

“I was. It was fine when I left it. I swear.”

“And when was that?”

“Just after sundown. Not long after Rat went to bed.”

“You left it alone all night? And where exactly did you go?”

Nut blushed at this.

“Well… You see. I was sitting here, finishing the lockdown when this girl comes up to me. She was really friendly and, you know. One thing led to another and we went back to her room.”

“And you left the truck unlocked?”

“No, Boss. I swear. I’ve got the keys right…” Nut stopped, patting his pockets. “They’re gone. I swear I had ‘em. Honest.”

Butch put out his hand to help him up. Nut shied away as if he were afraid of being punched again. Butch probably would have, but by now, the citizens were starting to dribble into the courtyard. Some held bundles of treasures they were hoping to trade, but most of them only seemed interested in the commotion.

“Oh my god! The gate’s open!” A woman screamed. “Somebody go get Jacob.”

Several people rushed off, only to return with the weapons they’d bought the previous day as they eyed the shadows and the rooftops, looking for raiders.

By the time Jacob Drake came puffing into the courtyard, carrying with him a fresh length of chain, the courtyard was full of wide-eyed people.

Drake rushed right past Butch and swung the gate silently closed. He took the lock from the broken chain and attached it to the new one and locked it, giving it a tug to make sure it was locked before striding angrily over to Butch.

“Would you mind telling me what happened here?” Drake demanded.

“Why don’t you tell me? How could this happen without anybody noticing? Don’t you have security patrols?”

“Normally we do, but I had your assurance that we were safe as long as your vehicle was in the yard. Where was your man?”

Butch shot a withering look at Nutcase.

“I’m sorry Boss. What was I supposed to do? Bring a stranger into the truck?”

Butch silenced him with a look, but it was too late. Drake was now looking at them with suspicion and hostility.

“I think it’s time you men got on your motorcycles and left.”

“I think you’re right. Just point us in the direction of that raider camp and we’ll be on our way.”

“Don’t be a fool. You won’t get within a hundred yards of them with that machine gun in their hands, not to mention all the other arms you had in the back.”

“That may be so, but we’re dead anyway without our truck. That thing was our whole livelihood.”

“Suit yourself. I’m pretty sure they live in the hills to the south.” Drake shrugged, walking away.

“If we could just borrow a couple of rifles…” Butch started, but then stopped again as everyone holding a weapon suddenly hugged it tighter to their chest.

“Oh don’t be such fools. Don’t you see that they’re our best hope?” A familiar voice said. Melanie stepped out of the shadows and into the center of the crowd. “If they don’t get that truck back, the raiders will be back as soon as these guys leave and mow us all down.”

At this, a couple of men loosened their grips on their guns. Melanie immediately targeted them. She walked to each man, whispered something to them, and then deftly plucked them from their hands. She then returned to Butch and handed them to him.

They weren’t much, one semi-automatic rifle, and one bolt action. Still, Butch knew complaining wouldn’t do him any good, beggars not being choosers and all.

“Thanks.” Butch said, handing the semi-auto to Nutcase and the bolt action to Rat. “What did you say to them?”

“Oh come now. A girl’s got to have some secrets after all.” She said, giving him a peck on the cheek. “Take this one too, she said, slapping the thirty-eight he’d sold her into his hand.”

“I can’t take this. You need it. Besides, I’ve already got a pistol, he said, nodding down at the nine millimeter strapped to his hip.”

“Take it anyway for good luck. You can give it back to me when you get back.”

“But I might not…”

“Shhh.” She said, giving him another kiss, this one on the lips. “Don’t talk like that.”

Without another word, Butch tucked the revolver into the back of his waistband. He turned and started to walk away before turning around and striding back to Melanie. He grabbed her and she let out a brief squeak of surprise before melting into his arms. He kissed her. A real kiss this time, holding her body tightly against his. He heard a few people in the crowd gasp, but he didn’t care. This might be his last kiss ever, and he was determined to make it a good one. He could feel tears welling up inside him and released her, turning quickly and nearly running to his bike. Bear was already mounted up with Nutcase gripping his rifle behind him. Rat was squeezed in behind Gut. Butch mounted his bike which sat between them. They started their bikes as Drake swung the gate wide. The courtyard rumbled as the three beasts roared to life. They warmed their engines for a moment before putting them into gear and heading back out into the wasteland.

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Justin M. Kelly

I tell lies about things that never happened to people who never existed for the entertainment of people I've never met.

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