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Rated: E · Short Story · Dark · #2271912
Entry for Dystopian Scrawlings April-May 2022
I ride with a group of like-minded, individuals. Many of them wouldn't qualify as people in the old way of thinking. One is a cat that can talk and has hands, don't ask me how because it won't tell me. One is a recovering mutant zombie. He still has a taste for brains and indulges at least once a week, when we find forts to raid. There are a few others, some with some technical smarts. Me, I used to be an accountant. The end of the world has a way of violently changing things though.

My name is Jax, now. It doesn't matter what it was before, any more than it matters what line your gross income went on the 2020 income tax form. The good news is that it is now punishable by death to hoard toilet paper. At least that is the principle our little band of merry travelers operates under. We take from the rich fortifications and nomadic groups and give mostly to ourselves. We have electric cycles we charge with photovoltaic panels. It keeps us mobile. That keeps us alive. Nobody likes us. We are Raiders.

"Duke, Duchess, what did the part I am looking for look like again?" I yelled to the twins. They looked nothing alike but they were closer than brothers. They also kept our tech running.

Duchess held up a singed grey metal part waving it practically in my face. He wasn't the best at interpersonal relationships. "Like this but not singed!"

I dug through the treasure trove of parts in the junkyard. I seriously doubted that I would find one, let alone all three that we needed. "Maybe we should try a different junkyard!"

"Do you want to walk the hundred and ten miles to the next likely place? Oh by the way it is heavily fortified and we won't be invited through the gates after what we did last time we were there." Duke snarled.

"Hey, I just found a pile of lead!" Featherfoot purred. It waved a bar of the dull metal as high in the air as his short little tabby arms could manage.

Poetic Justice, our zombie mutant shuffled over and began helping Featherfoot pull the pile out and carry it to the cycle trailer set up to cast bullets. Now, all we needed was another stockpile of gunpowder. We were running low and bullets didn't go very far without the bang. We had maybe a month's supply of the explosive stuff. Taking this junkyard had cost us a lot of bullets, but Poetic Justice had eaten well.

"Why travel any further? This place is defensible. There are already crops and food supplies. We could rock it here for a year easy!" Featherfoot asked.

I glared at the cat. "We don't know how many of this junkyard's citizens may still show up to claim it from us. Do we have enough people to man the defenses against a dozen people who know this place inside and out? We are best off to get what we are looking for and run! Besides you can't call yourself a raider if you take up residence somewhere!"

"Raiders forever!" The rest of the group chanted.

"Hey! Jax! I just found something to beat all! An armored bus that is fully gassed up and has an extra tank. It could take us a hundred miles or more in style!" Rudolf yelled running up from where he had been investigating a fortified shed.

"We found led!" Featherfoot purred.

"I found better than that! These people have an arsenal of weapons locked up in another shed!" Judy shouted running up from another direction. She was a former secretary, now sporting a spiked dog collar, leather, and not much else.

"This place is a jackpot!" Duke yelled waving four copies of the part that they were looking for. Three to repair one as a spare.

"How did we manage to take this joint so easily?" I began looking around suspiciously. They had been awfully eager to let us in. There hadn't been many of them. "Did the locals seem sick to anybody?"

At the mention of the word "sick" the gang drew closer together. Several of them pulled out their personal stashes of hand sanitizer. They rubbed their hands and faces generously with it.

"Jax, you don't think they had it?"

"I don't know... You know the drill, check for graves! Duke, Dutchess get these cycles running. Everybody else grab the guns and load up the bus, we are out of here!"

The group scattered. I stayed in the pile of parts guarding the pile of lead. Featherfoot returned shaking. "There is a fresh dug trench, and signs they have been burning something in it."

By early evening our worst fears about this treasure trove had been proven. Most of the homes were clearly sterilized by fire. The charred bones of a lot of people were piled near the back fence of the fortification. Our little group gathered around the armored bus. It was loaded with our gear, weapons, and what food we felt safe to salvage. We loaded onto the bus and stopped outside the gate only long enough to do the responsible thing. I hopped off the bus and spraypainted "C19" on the wall next to the gate. As I got back on the bus Dutchess sneezed loudly. I know that I wasn't the only one that felt the icy finger of fear trace itself up my spine.

916 words


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