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Authors: DMJ Aurini

Tags: #post-apocalyptic scifi, #post apocalyptic, #Science fiction, #Post-apocalyptic, #nuclear war, #apocalypse

As I Walk These Broken Roads

BOOK: As I Walk These Broken Roads
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As I Walk These

Broken Roads

A Novel by DMJ Aurini

As I Walk These Broken Roads
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author

s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright © 2012 by Davis M.J. Aurini

 

All Rights Reserved

ISBN-13: 978-1480121829

ISBN-10: 1480121827

BISAC: Fiction / Science Fiction / Military

For Josh, and all those broken roads we’ve travelled down.
Acknowledgments

This book never would have reached its present state without the support, encouragement, and most importantly the critiques of many people; both known to me in person and online. I can’t possibly hope to recall all of you who have helped me over the years, but know that you have my gratitude.

In particular I’d like to thank the No Mutants Allowed forum for giving me the inspiration to write this book in the first place, and the Rudius Media Messageboard for all the lessons, both in writing and in life, that I learned there; Tucker Max, Donika Miller, Ben Corman, Proser, Secret Agent Dan, and all the rest – I’m thinking of you guys right now.

My friends and family, of course, for putting up with my scribblings, but most of all I’d like to thank my best friend and confidant Chris Griffin for the encouragement, the whiskey, and the insight into the publishing industry he gave me. I couldn’t have done it without you, brother.

 

 

The sun bore down through rippling air. It was sinking ever closer to the horizon and its glare was blinding.
S
weat dripped down over his
goggles, beading down the lens and
vanishing. With each step his feet throbbed. There was no breeze and the road was silent,
except
for the ragged sound of his breathing and the endless creak of leather-on-wool from the duffel bag slung over his shoulder. In his hand was an assault rifle, gripped by the magazine housing. The sight of it ought to ward off any predators.

The highway he walked was cracked, bleached, and hard on
the
feet.  For most of the journey the soft embankments had been too steep to walk on and he

d been stuck with the blacktop. The heat of it rose up through the soles of his boots, burning with each step.

But his trek was nearing its end. Twenty-three kilometres ago he

d decided to go no further than Blackstock before packing it in for the night. Both Nestleton Station and Yelverton had lain in ruin, and from the looks of things Blackstock would too. Somewhere out here he

d find people, but where they were or how far he

d have to go were questions he didn

t know the answers to. He hoped his rations would hold out.

The land was hilly, with brush and scrub lining the road. Occasionally he

d pass the remains of a barbwire fence, rusted and fallen from decades of neglect.

A cold breeze began to blow, harbinger of the coming gloom. It whistled through the trees, stirred up dust devils, and crept into the folds of his jacket. It chilled his arms and neck, but left his back sweating. The road led through a valley, and as he neared its low point the sun disappeared behind the
slope
.  He pulled out his Datapad and tilted the olive
drab casing left and right until he could make out the screen. The GPS claimed he had only five hundred meters to go, but it was only picking up two satellites, so its predictions were questionable. He put it away, and leaned into the hill

s slope.

As he crested the rise an old highway sign came into view.
Village of Blackstock, Population 800
;
t
he Datapad had been
right
after all. Shading his eyes against the glare he saw a Victorian-style building down the road, stone walls with a red roof.  It looked like it had been ancient even before the war, but it wasn

t abandoned - over the door hung a wooden sign of recent manufacture, and in good repair. Red letters spelled out
Landfall

s Ale House
.


Damn,

he sighed,

You

re a sight for sore eyes.

Beyond the Ale House he could make out the rest of the town stretching off to the left along a pair of south-bound roads.
Most of the buildings were makeshift, shanties cobbled together fro
m recycled materials. A few pre
war places in decent repair could be spotted between them
.  On the closer side of town was a tan-brick building with a market set up in its parking lot; probably the centre of local governance. South of it were the various cobbled-together dwellings of the natives.  Stretching out west of the town were tilled fields and penned-in cattle. Milling about the area were men, women, and children; the sight of them filled him with relief, and a slight apprehension.

He unslung his duffle and went down to one knee. He popped out his rifle

s retaining pins and separated the upper and lower receivers, storing them in
the
duffle bag; he didn

t want to provoke the locals. But he left his pistol whe
re it was, holstered on his hip.
He didn

t want to use
it.

His knees cracked as he stood.
He ignored them, threw the bag over his shoulder, and staggered over to the ale house. He opened the door and stepped into a cool room smelling of stale beer and sawdust. His goggles depolarized and he surveyed the scene.

* * *

The stranger

s presence was announced by the screech of the door and a flash of sunlight. The patrons paused in their conversation, and Eddie leaned away from the bar, sizing
up
his new customer. In the doorway slouched a dark figure, silhouetted by the setting sun, resting on his back heel. After a moment he strolled in with a deliberate gait. Muted conversation resumed amongst the regulars.

The door swung shut and the man grew visible. Like most foreigners his face was naked, no tattoos at all. He was dressed in leather, chaps and jacket, with a black helmet and a set of eye-lenses – like one of the old riders, almost. Not a derelict, but no merchant, either. His movements were
self-assured
and he seemed relaxed. Eddie brushed away a lock of hair and gripped the bar with both hands.


Hi-ya there. You

re new in town, ai?

The man put down the duffel he was carrying and leaned one elbow on the bar.

Yeah, I guess I am.


Well then, welcome to Blackstock.

He glanced down, grabbed a rag and started wiping the bar. The muted conversation of the others was just a cover up for the fact that they were listening in; he was the youngest man present, but it was a Landfall

s job to suss out strangers. He kept his gaze steady.

So what

s your name then, stranger?

The question seemed to faze the
man;
it was a split second before he answered.

My name

s Wentworth.


Wentworth, ai?

he mulled it over.

Well I

m Eddie Landfall. What
can
I getcha?


I guess I

ll have a pitcher of whatever you guys brew up around here.


Sure thing, Wentworth,

he grabbed one of the steel pitchers from the shelf.

I don

t know where you

re from–

he moved back to the keg and started pouring,

but you won

t be disappointed wi
th Landfall

s Ale. Been brewing
for generations.

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Wentworth look about the room; the other patrons stole surreptitious glances when they thought he wasn

t looking.
Eddie
tapped off the keg and brought the pitcher
forward
.

So where ya from, Wentworth?


Out East. Heading W
est.

H
e put money on the counter.


Huh.  Ain

t never heard
of no one coming
from the East, before. Thought all those places were abandoned.


Yeah, they mostly are,

the stranger

s voice changed, swinging upwards in pitch,

Say, where

d you get the power for those lights?

He glanced towards the LEDs strung along the ceiling.


Y
ou like

em?  They

re new – a guy moved into town, a few months back, built us a gen
e
rat
o
r, works off of coal. 
But that ain
’t nothin’
.
We got an old sound system that another guy salvaged –
an old

record player
.

 
Now
with the generator,
we

ve got music, even when
Murphy
here don

t feel like playing.  We turn it on after sunset – it

s real chill; you oughta stick around. And there

s a pool table upstairs, if you play.


Nah, I

m not too good.
But
I think I

ll just head up there and rest my feet for a bit, if you don

t mind. Thank you.

 
He nodded and re-shouldered his bag, then with pitcher and
glass
in hand, he went up the stairs.  As soon as he was gone a fevered conversation broke out.

* * *

Relief sagged through his muscles as he left the locals behind. Seconds after his foot reached the second storey he heard a loud guffaw burst out. Anger tensed across his face. He dropped his duffel by the stairs, looking around for a place to sit.

The upstairs was divided off into two rooms; there was a pool room in the back, and an unmanned bar in the front. Along with the bar were a number of chairs and

c
ouches

recovered from the back
seats of ancient minivans.  On the building

s front wall was large bay window with cracked glass just barely staying in
the
frame. Wentworth took the seat nearest to it, setting
down his pitcher on the nearby
table
.  From his seat he could see out the window, and keep his eyes on the stairwell.  He poured a beer, lit a cigarette, and put his feet up.

He felt as if every blood vessel in his body had relaxed, and now the
blood was rushing to his lower half.  He was tempted to remove his boots but resisted the urge. He might need them.  The muscles of his back began un-knotting and his legs throbbed.  He put his jacket on the couch next to him,
ignored the smell from his armpits,
and for half the pitcher just sat there watching the sun go down.

It was some time before he remembered to take off his helmet.

* * *

Raxx flickered the flame of
the
acetylene torch along the broken axle.  With quick strokes he sealed the two pieces together, leaving hardly a mark.  He took a cigar from the pack sitting on a nearby table, and ran it under the
jet
. He
killed the torch
, and lifted his welding mask, blowing on the
cigar
to kill the flame. Putting
down the face shield, he smoked,
admiring his work.  It wasn

t perfect, but it was damn good – elegant.

He nodded, satisfied. It wasn

t the owner

s standards he was trying to live up to, but his own – Thomas could care less about how his donkey cart looked, but he
imagined that
his craft
could reach
tool-and-die perfection
one day, if he was attentive
.  He left the garage and sat on his barrel, leaning back against the wall to smoke his cigar and watch the sunset. Yeah, he

d earned this rest.

Through the gaps between the buildings he could see into the soya fields west of the city.  The farmers were finishing work for the day and heading back into town along the dirt tracks separating the different crops.  He waited until he saw Thomas then stood and waved his hand back and forth high above his head.


Thomas! She

s good to go!  Grab one of the donkeys!

he shouted.

The farmer waved back, and turned back towards the animal pens.  A while later he came around a corner leading an old mare on a rope.


Ai Raxx, you got my cart working now?

he
squinted
at Raxx under his baseball cap.


The joint and axl
e

s fixed.  I just need to set it
back into the joint.  It should

v
e
cooled off by now, just
give me
a sec.

 
Raxx went into his workshop to get the axle and, and brought it to the cart that h
ad been sitting there since the
morning. 
He and Thomas small talked while he slid the splined
ends
together, and tightened the bolts holding it in place.

That

ll do her; good as new!


Thanks lad, you always do good work.

Thomas shook Raxx

s hand and began strapping the donkey to the front of the cart.


Say,

said R
axx,

Did you see Connie working
the fields today?  I

m wondering
how
she

s fee
l
ing
.


Ai, I didn

t see her out in the nor
th field, so I guess no.  Give h
er a couple
days;
I

m sure she

ll be better.  Her Mam

s looking after her, so you shouldn

t worry.  Anywho, Gertrude and I better get this cart put away.  My bones are
a
bout ready for a lie-down.  You have a good night, Raxx.


Yeah, you too, Thomas.

They made their farewells and the farmer left.  With the day

s work done, and Connie still sick, Raxx had nothing else to do. He reached up and grabbed the handle of the garage door, pulling it down harder than was necessary. He watched it slide to the ground, listening to the sound of it and wondering if he ought to apply
some more
grease. He shook his head, consigning the problem to another day.

The wooden trim along the building

s main entrance was cracking. It wouldn

t affect the insulation, but it looked like shit. Not that it mattered anymore. He shook his head – to hell with th
at
problem
and to hell with the cleanup – he was heading down to Landfall

s for a pint. 

BOOK: As I Walk These Broken Roads
9.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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