WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS...
An Empire of Blood short story
Robert S. Wilson
Jackie didn't really think they would hurt innocent little girls. She had only meant to scare Karen, to have a little fun. But now her sister lay dead in the passenger seat and they would soon get Jackie, too.
The girls took off on Highway 15 South with the money Mom and Dad left for food while they went on their stupid little "second honeymoon." There was already plenty of food in the house they could take with them. She could use the food money for gas and they could go out for the night of their lives. But she couldn't tell Karen where they were going, no way. If Jackie had told her, she wouldn't have come along.
So, that morning, they packed up the car with the big cooler and headed southwest. Karen was just tall enough to see over the dashboard, but she mostly read on road trips. Jackie had always wanted to see the city, especially after Robby Shelton told her about all that was left behind.
was a huge, wealthy city in its time. She thought about all the money that was just left to rot. Just one U.S. dollar in "acceptable" shape was worth fifty bucks these days.
"Now, if Mom or Dad
, remember, we're just in town getting something to eat."
"What if they call late at night and we're still out?"
"You let me handle that, kid."
"Hey, you're not much older than me, so shut it."
Jackie gave her sister the angry face and Karen quickly stuck her nose back into her book. Jackie turned her hungry eyes back to the road. Living in
, it was only about a three hour drive to the old city. And so long as they got out of there before dark, they would be just fine. They would even get home in time for Karen's bedtime and all would be right with the world.
When they crossed the state line into
, Karen watched as the sign flew by, the golden rims of her glasses reflecting the bright sun in Jackie's eyes. Most of the drive was boring.
Just more and more desert.
Jackie was lucky enough that Karen's face stayed buried in her book when they passed the crossed-out sign that read
It was common knowledge that the closer to the city you came, the less people you found. And nobody kept you from driving right on in.
Jackie hadn't counted on just how big of a tourist attraction the city had been. As they came up to the large sign, still mostly intact, that welcomed anybody and everybody to "Fabulous"
, she couldn't help but gasp at what had been done to it. Karen looked up from her book and her complexion turned several shades paler.
Splotches of dried blood randomly adorned the sign and the wordNecropolisseemed to be painted in dry blood right over "
." The real thing was a far cry from the horror stories they had been told when they were younger. It was always the first thing out of Dad's mouth when they got in trouble. "Lying is a sin, Jackie. You don't
grow up and get sent to Necropolis, do you?" Or, "You know what the monsters in Necropolis do to people, don't you? They drink all their blood until they die. If you keep up this nasty behavior, that's where you'll go."
It took some time to calm Karen, but inevitably Jackie had to just be the boss and make her come along knowing that Karen was too scared to run away. Besides, there was
desert out there and nobody for miles.
Jackie's friend Lori's older cousin had been sent to Necropolis. He had been caught kissing another boy and both of them were charged as homos. When Lori's aunt found out, she refused to talk to the boy anymore. It was hard for Jackie to believe that before the city had been taken, there were some states who actually allowed the homos to marry. A mix of guilt and anger waved over her at that thought.
look around and try to find some cool things to bring back with us. It'll be awesome, trust me," Jackie said.
Karen didn't reply. Her book sat at her side as she stared all around at the tall, empty buildings and strange landmarks. Other than the engine and its echo off the buildings, the place was dead quiet. They drove by several huge buildings alongside a big green statue of a lady in a toga holding a torch above her head. It looked vaguely familiar to Jackie. She thought it might be something from history class.