In my pursuit to satisfy my urge to write, I often have attempted to write pretty much anything. Poetry. Fiction. Op/Ed stuff. Some diarist madness. I have experimented with lots of things. The only goal to this point has been to write as well as I can. I have no illusions about my writing. Well, maybe a few. But I will keep them to myself. That is where they belong. Suffice it to say I know I won't be on any best seller list in the near or far future. I have no discipline. I struggle too much getting my points just the way I want them. I am sure there are other issues lurking that I either fail to recognize or do not even know exist.
Anyway, what follows is a piece of fiction I began over 20 years ago. It is of interest only because I rediscovered it and decided to expand it. I have no idea if it is of any worth or interest to anyone but myself. Stop here if you do not want to read the beginning of another pulp post-Armageddon piece. But any input that is real and not patronizing would be most welcome. Does it have possibility? Should I shit-can it? With each word fought for, I have an ever increasing respect for the writers who do this for a living.
He should not have zig-zagged like that. Too predictable. He made it easy to take him out. One shot on a slight lead out to the left and down he went with his head well ventilated. As I ejected the smoking shell from the chamber, I could still hear the echo of the shot as it traveled the desolate concrete canyons downtown. I decided that Creeps were entirely too easy to hunt. Screw this shit. I am taking my old job back stalking live game for the lumber company. Sure the pay was not as good, but Jeez, shouldn't I enjoy what I do for a living.? Besides, stomping around the woods sure beat the stinking city prowl it took to do this job.
I picked up the spent shell, slung my rifle on my shoulder and left the tenement. Pleased that I nailed the Creep so close, I ran over and quickly claimed an ear. Sucking a few hits of Almo weed, I celled into headquarters to verify another kill and hope I was done for the day. Good, this kill filled the crew's daily. I pulled the beat up Jamis from under the stinking carpet in the alley. I retched as the fumes of old urine and dust enveloped me when I dropped the carpet to the ground. Rolling out onto the broken and heaved pavement and I noticed I had a flat tire. This was not good. A flat here right now could spell trouble. Friends of the recently departed would soon be bold enough to check out that gunshot.
I decided to ride the flat tire the 8 blocks it would take to get out of this sector of Deadtown. I took it easy. Bringing back the Jamis with a ruined tire and a toasted rim would mean a half week's pay. Riding up Eighth Avenue slower than was healthy, I kept my eyes on scan mode. I was not fast enough to catch the movements and peeks from the mass of demolition around me. But I knew they were there. Watching me. Sizing me up. I only had to make it to the barricades just south of Broadway, then I could stop and patch the tube.
Sweat trickled down my face and saturated my beard. Damn. I was not happy. This pace was leaving me wide open. So what if the Creeps were barely human and couldn't count to 10 to save their ass, they might just get lucky. I wanted to hammer, catch a higher gear. But the thought of buying a new tire kept me from opening her up. "Only four more blocks. Get a grip." And then it all went black.
"Oiler, Oiler, he wakee, wakee." Something was trying to separate me from my hair. I thrashed and struck blindly. A lucky hit made someone grunt. And then it all went black again.
It was the smell of shit and rotted roadkill that brought me to life. Hazy but coherent I laid still. A mental inventory was all I had. The dark was as oppressive as the smell. I slowly moved my hands. Bound tight. What about my legs? Good, not tight, just hobbled. I struggled to stand. At some point as I sought some purchase with my hands, they found something soft and disgusting. No light may be a good thing right now I thought. After floundering a few minutes, I finally struggled vertical. The exertion, the pain in my head and the smell crescendoed. I puked. Huge dry heaves crippled my stomach and the pain in my head screamed.
I wiped my face on my sleeve and suffered the last spasms from dry heaving. I stood silent long enough to check the only breaths I heard were mine. Still queasy and dazed, I slowly extended my legs to find the limits of my black cell. Again, something soft and slimy let me know I was not on solid ground. I stayed upright and tried to regain some control.
Figuring I was now a guest of the Creeps, I also knew it would not be long before they did what they did to unwanted Authentics. The thought of becoming the main attraction in a sandwich or the go to bits in a stew created some urgency on my part to figure out some alternatives and do it quick.
I was trussed up like a turkey but able to move. The dumasses had tied my hands in front. I couldn't see my hand in front of my face. I had been beat down some but everything seemed to work. And it stunk like the inside of a skunks ass. Other than that I was good to go.
I needed to find the wall. Sitting down in whatever was on the floor was not an option. Slowly with as much of a stride as the hobbles would allow, I picked a direction and went for it, one slow slide at a time. Wet softness slid over my Chuck Taylors. Wet warm softness.
My foot hit something solid. I extended my bound hands. Ah, good. A wall. I turned around and leaned into it. Finding the scavenged electrical wire that bound my legs, I worked an eternity to break free. Legs unbound, I followed the wall with my hands looking for a doorway. Locating a uniform crack, I traced it's line and then pushed. No, wouldn't budge.
"It's been eight hours Gravo since the Hick celled in."
A large man with one good eye turned toward the voice. "I know. Anyone still out?"
"No Gravo, everyone hit the shed a couple of hours ago. Only six kills between them."
The big man looked unhappy. His frown meant someone would catch Hell. He hated the idea of xenocide, but knew it was necessary for his own to survive on what little was left. He hated this tour of duty. He hated it even more when his boys did not meet the minimum dailies to keep the Creeps from overrunning their position and taking this part of Deadtown. There was still too much to reclaim here to give it up yet. Too much of the past just laying around for someone to pick up and use.
"Get a crew together. We have to make an attempt to find him. He is the best hunter we have. What is he, up to sixty kills now just this month?"
" Sixty-three Gravo, and yeah he is worth more than the rest of them hangin in the shed sucking up Almo weed. A good man who always brings back his casings and ears to go with them. Never seems to take more than one shot to bring down a Creep. Yeah, he's a keeper."
"But Gravo, the boys are not gonna want to head out so close to dark. Maybe we should....."
"NO Goddammit! You scare up three men and get them here right now. Make sure they have blades and sidearms. No rifles. Anyone gives you shit, tell em their contract says I can send them wherever they are needed. The subs are always lookin for more bodies to hump track and strip wire."
The smaller man hustled out and Gravo turned back to the map he seemed to spend everyday over. Locating the sector Hick's last call came from, he tried to envision just what escape route Hick would have used. His last communication indicated he was only a few blocks into the Creep territory Downtown. He would probably head straight up Eighth Avenue as fast as possible. Straight shot to the barricades near Broadway. He knew that is what he would do.
Three men showed up. Their body language indicated it was not because of eagerness but reluctant obedience. Gravo looked them over. "Toss the rifle Diddler. We are not hunting. This is a rescue mission. No kills unless we have to."
"Boss, the Hick is probably in a Creep stew right now. Why bother? He was a pain in the ass anyway. Never wanted to go out in pairs like we are supposed to. He got what he deserved."
Gravo fixed his good eye on the man. The man fell silent and seemed to get smaller.
"Okay, here's what we are going to do. Step on over and take a look."
The voice in the Background explaining it all
The World was not prepared for what came to them in the years following the Oil Wars. Desperate nations full of technology but short of munitions developed what they could to ensure their piece of an ever shrinking pie. No one knows who actually set loose the pathogen. Not one country would step up and take the blame. Per usual, the blame was always another country's fault, not their own. And while everyone focused on fixing blame for the pandemic, the pandemic surged, mutated and swept across the land, the seas, the continents.
The unstable pathogen, nicknamed "Dullard" by some talking head on the TV before the TV died a couple of years later, was supposed to incapacitate and not kill. Having been hurried through trials and not tested fully, it was set loose on the World. It did it's job well. Those directly hit became useless shells and would soon die. Either by their own hand or by those invading their turf.
Some of the afflicted attempted to to flee. Some made it. By that time the pathogen had proven to be contagious as it mingled with the various chemicals and DNA strands it came into contact with. The person to person conagion had changed. It could now only be passed from one generation to the next. With each new generation, more distance between what humans were and what they would become began to make an impact.
Quarantines, mass killings, and forced blood tests before fornication were installed as measures to deal with this new species evolving. The unaffected became known as Authentics and the new humans became "Creeps". In the meantime, cities emptied, governments fell apart, and anarchy took over.