Prologue: Scorched Earth
A single tick echoed out, shattering the silence like a pane of glass. It broke a certain peace that there was to the loneliness, a peace that would slowly die, along with the rest of the world and all of its affairs. Thus began the calamity that was their lives, the grey flowing mass that could be described as their existence. Some days it pushed forwards, most days it grinded to a halt. It was silent as the animals in a forest stricken with predators, but it embraced its new dawn, the very dawn that would choke the earth.
The tick was followed by the sound of footsteps. Boots crunched on the gravel that was once foundations to massive skyscrapers, now a pathetic shadow of what they once were. The figures treaded lightly on the rubble, moving quickly across the shaded path. The city was dotted with abandoned buildings, most of which were now reduced to a pile of rubble, but the ones that were intact provided haven for the many animals that lived there, and they provided shelter for the now obsolete machine that was humanity. This landscape had been created in the blood forge that is nuclear warfare, forever scorched by the fires of human “ascension”.
“Do I remember when the missiles hit? Yeah. Do I want to remember? No, but it’s something nobody can really forget. I lost pretty much everything then. It’s a hard thing to describe. One second being a rich kid, with pretty much everything a guy could want, then the next second everything is suddenly ripped away and incinerated, and you’re left with the clothes you were wearing and whatever you happened to be holding in your hand, these two moments separated only by a big flash and a loud boom. Everyone that didn’t get vaporized remembers when the missiles hit. I was different back then. Fidgety, nervous, socially awkward. Now look at me.”
It was me and Kansas then. Not the state, this is post war, mind you. Back then he was the only trust worthy guy in a sea of scum. Everyone looked out for themselves. Hell, some guys would trade their mother for a month of rations. We looked out for each other, it was easier that way. He was a solid guy. Didn’t talk too much, but when he did, you better damn well listen because he knew what he was talking about better than any guy in the country did. It was me and Kansas. We’d just come out of the barren and into a trader town. When I say town, I really mean city. It wasn’t bustling with people, but they had fortified the center, and that’s what mattered. We had come for supplies, although that much should be obvious. I got stuck with the measly job of grabbing some ammo. Everyone had guns, and the poor bastards that didn’t were either dead, or worse. Now getting ammunition isn’t a bad job, it’s just tedious, since we have to do it almost every damn time we come into town. The only good thing about it is you can rip off the traders. You can get armor piercing ammo, FMJ, even pre war goodies like tracers; the guys selling the stuff don’t know the difference.
For myself, I traded a pre-war watch for a few boxes of .45’s and some 338 Lapua Magnum and a box of 7.62x51mm NATO ammunition. The 338 is for doing the heavy lifting with, and the 7.62 is for hunting and plinking. Plinking? I would hardly call plinking a waste of ammo. If you don’t keep your marksmanship sharp as a razor, the shot you just missed could mean your life. For Nathan, I bought a few boxes of 7.62x59 for his Nagant. The .45’s are for both of us. 1911’s, the best damn pistols ever made in my opinion, I wouldn’t go anywhere without one on my hip. Well, I keep mine in my jacket. If I had the thing on my hip, it’d be gone due to some pickpocket. Kansas had told me to meet him outside the town, so that’s where I headed to next.
I found him after a couple minutes of searching. He was talking to two well dressed fellows, one looking to be in his sixties, the other looked like he was barely out of college, but they were obviously very nervous. The young one opened his mouth first. Started spouting crap about lost “merchandise”. Slavers. Not very abundant up here in the north east, not very accepted up here either, but they were here none the less. I almost shot them right there and then, but Kansas led me away and said “No thanks.” Lucky bastards. The idea of not being free to me is a sort of blasphemy, now I’m not a religious guy, but when someone starts denying others of their rights, that’s when shit starts going down. That’s one of my qualities I kept from my days before the war. I’ve been a free man since I was born. Never really liked authority, and I never will. I don’t respect too many people, and I sure as hell don’t like being told I owe someone respect. If I owe you respect, I’ll respect you. If I don’t, then I won’t respect you. Respect is earned, simple as that.
Kansas had purchased a few gallons of water and an old twelve pack of soda. The cans were worn, all silver now, but it was soda alright, he had already begun to drink a can when he tossed me one. I took a sip and it reminded me of the days when I had a family, and friends. I had a home then. Now it was just me, Kansas, and this donkey cart.
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The Home of the Brave : The Sketch ChroniclesScience Fiction
Two boys, thrown into the world that has become of America, fight for their survival with only each other and their skills.