The charred earth loomed out before him, rolling grey death surrounding the burned out carcass of a gas station. It held quarter at an onramp—an entrance to the concrete serpent of the encampment forced by barbed wire walls and a trash metal gate.
He sighted them through the rusted window frame of the passenger seat, his rifle resting in the nook of the side mirror. The transport truck had been military and seen the years, the canvas flapped in the wind, long since scavenged. It sat loaded with shackled husks; sunken faces taking dust without care. Slavers gave him a special kind of emptiness in his gut—a thirst he relished unquenchable.
Shadows danced in the evening glow as a girl was wrenched from the truck and hauled screaming inside. His eye didn’t leave the scope as he fished his inner lining for a notebook. He flipped to a photo—she was still alive. He looked up. Have to wait until dark to move—this won’t be your last night.
He’d come into the region from the north scavenging; following an itch he couldn’t scratch. The town was small, a main stretch surrounded by farms—he hadn’t seen a beast for the last week’s trek so they didn’t have walls. The air was thick with burning wood, and from the inn’s balcony, past a field expanse of solar mechanization, the implements plodding along the rows of wheat, was a funeral—thick smoke carried up on eddies, ashen silk. Fire—good, precautions. He heard paper rustle against wood. A sketch of a girl had caught in the balcony—Missing, presumed dead, cash in hand for body.
He walked down to the desk. The innkeeper was portly, and flies stuck to his balding head in the stale air. He was kicked back reading a local distribution—some authority must be established in this region, circulated papers were rare.
The man grunted, didn’t look up.
“What’s happening across the way?”
“Funeral for the Sharpe’s girl.”
“How’d she go?”
He held up the sketch. “This girl?”
The innkeeper went back to his paper.
“Who did it?”
“They just found the body somewhere?
“Then how was it decided that she’s dead?”
“That’s not dead.”
The innkeeper looked up. “Boy, round here it’s dead.”
He walked to the funeral where few remained. They’d placed a simple wooden casket into the ground and lit a pyre. A fine dust had settled the area. He wiped it from a photo that’d been set up. The sketch didn’t do her justice.
The itch had begun to satiate.
“Sir, can I help you?”
“You can. “
He felt the fire in his gut, and the stragglers ambled closer.
“You put this to rest.”
“I’m going to find her.”
“There’s nothin’ to find but death.”
“Already met that.”
Ash rained down.
A whoop from the marauders brought him back. He saw the bottle land in silence, then the faint crash of glass. He watched as they filled themselves with hooch. Just a phantom of their stupor—that’s all I’ll be. He took a bite of jerky and checked his sidearm as the sun sank behind him. The air prickled his skin and he smiled. He liked the night; the blackness cut the clutter of everything.
The ESA’s new antenna testing facility, designed to emulate the silence of space for testing satellite antennas
why do people get so mad about puns? they’re literally the nicest kind of humor. they make nobody feel bad. it’s just clever. sometimes it’s original. learn to like puns. don’t let society run your life
Some may not admit it, but 99% of the anger people experience after a good pun comes from the fact that they didn’t think of it first.
I think the snapchats of my math teacher are the only thing I’ll be remembered for and I’m okay with that