The dust shot up from the back tire of the chopper creating a smokescreen that followed Alvarez wherever he went. Though any stealth benefits that might exist were cancelled out by the loud engine and blaring music. Alvarez had hooked up a old stereo to a small homemade generator that he fit onto the back of bike. "There's a bad moon on the rise!" The Hispanic rider sang along with the band at the top of his lungs. His light Wyoming accent might have created a pleasant sound had he been trying to. As it was the sound was more akin to a dying cow than it was to music. Luckily the only thing around to be tortured by the noise from his lungs was cacti and deaf dog keeping pace beside him.
Bad Luna. That's what I call her. I was stuck in Montana a couple of months before finding her. Pops had just passed on into whatever afterlife there may be. I hadn't eaten in two days but more importantly I missed the road. Nothing makes a man more nervous that being trapped and here I was trapped on unfamiliar ground. No more car. No more family. I was about an hour outside of Baker when I found her. A perfectly preserved Harley from 2037. She was a beauty. Best part? Her key was in the ignition. No clue how some other folks hadn't stumbled upon her long before me but I was taught to never look a gift horse in the mouth. Unfortunately I've had to do some modifications since then. Turns out the bike's original body wasn't intended to stand up against bullet fire. I've replaced every part of her except the handle bars. Those'll probably need replacements soon enough.
The song changed. And again. And again. An hour passed. The sun cooked the top of Alvarez's helmet. Sweat slowly drizzled down his face into his beard. The weight of his rifle dug into his shoulder. His butt cheeks were sore. He looked over at the dog that was barely keeping pace with the cruising bike. It was definitely time for a rest. He scanned the area ahead looking for a safe spot to pull off. Finding some decent high ground that a ways off the road Alvarez turned and headed in the direction. The bike wasn't meant for off-roading and it was clear it didn't handle it well. Regardless, with some careful maneuvering the drifter managed to make it to his destination. High ground wasn't always the best option when stopping. While low valleys would hide your campsite from prying eyes lighting a fire on high ground was like creating a beacon that said 'easy to rob!'. However Markus liked the view. This was a world of broken beauty and it was hard to sleep without seeing that first. Scanning the surrounding area with the scope on his rifle Markus concluded the biggest threats were a couple of coyotes and prairie chickens. He smirked.
The music came back on. Markus removed his jacket and shirt so he could feel the slowly cooling desert air against his skin. The music is turned up. His movements start small. Some minor head bobbing, a little sway in his hips, his rifle slung over his shoulder like a bindle. The evolution of his motion was quick. What started as small, self conscious head bobs rapidly became bad singing and pretending the rifle was a guitar. "I closed my eyes and I slipped away!" He rapidly stomped his foot against the ground, his head moving rapidly forward and backward as he strummed the stock of the rifle, all whilst singing along.
The old Mustang I traveled in while growing up had a pretty decent sound system but only had a CD player and mp3 port. CDs didn't survive the Fall. Hell, most didn't even survive the 2020s. Now I wasn't sure what an mp3 was, still don't fully understand the device, but we found one in the glove box of the old gal. After we fixed the Mustang up and got it running Pops charged the device and plugged it in. The song was Talk Dirty by Jason Derulo. It was the first time I'd ever heard music. I was eight at the time. It seems like most folks nowadays just don't feel inspired to play no more though there are some radio broadcasts that occasionally can be picked up throughout the remnants of the US. Pops and I picked up more music devices throughout the wastes. Some didn't fit the port so Pops would jury rig an adapter. Thinking back that probably wasn't the safest solution. Others were designed to be used wirelessly. Ended up tossing most of those. Somewhere along the way I picked up a taste for early rock and roll.
He was immersed in it. "Rolllin'! Rollin'! Rollin' on the river!" Hours had passed and night was setting in but the drifter showed no sign up stopping. Even the dog had joined in, bouncing around happily with the music. There was a small sound of sand rolling down a hill followed by the sound of something much larger rolling down a hill followed by a loud "Unf!" Markus immediately switched gears. He pressed the butt of the rifle against his shoulder before walking towards the sound. As he looked down he saw a young girl, no older than sixteen, covered in dust and swearing loudly as she brushed herself off. The barrel was trained on her. He said nothing as he stared intently down at her. Eventually the girl looked up to see the man staring down at his with a rifle. His eyes were devoid of emotion, as if he'd left a thousand bodies in his wake and didn't mind leaving one more. Slowly she lifted her hands as a sign of surrender. Her words were chosen carefully, they always were. Well except when they weren't. Which was more often than not if she was honest. Still this introduction needed to be quick and hold no ill intent or she'd be nothing but blood in the sand. So she spoke.
The key to surviving this world is simple. Look like you won't hesitate. So many folks look nervous holding a gun for the first time. Other folks get this crazy look in their eyes like they enjoy the killing. Nervous guy is gonna get shot because because there wasn't any reason not to. There was no chance that the nervous guy was gonna come out on top. Crazy eyes is gonna get shot instantly. Trying to deal with crazies is a high-risk low-reward scenario. You need a look that says "You aren't the first, you won't be the last and we can both get out of this alive if you're careful." It's a hard look to figure out and even harder to master. I picked it up when I was eleven. We were in a diner somewhere in Michigan. Our first dog had just died. Took a bullet for Pops. I was out back bury the dog while Pops scrounged up some grub. I heard a shot. Now I was tired, I was angry and I was in mourning. As I grabbed my rifle and headed inside the combination of these emotions showed on my face. The man had a gun to Pops head when I walked in. We seemed to be having quite the streak of bad luck at the time. He saw me from his peri-peraph-periph, damnit, he saw me out the corner of his eye. He went from confident killer to nervous guy real quick. I figured it was cause I was a kid. He began stuttering out words. "Ain't no-nobody got-otta get hurt now." Shot the man person in the foot. He yelped and fell to his knees. I stepped forward and knocked the gun from his hand, lifted the rifle's barrel to the man's ear. Then I hesitated. Didn't end up killing the man. We let him walk. Even let him have some of the food. Later Pops mentioned that my expression had even scared him.
I'm glad I figured out that look when I did. That moment stuck with me. Cause every time I look down my sights, every time I prepare to take some folk's life, I hesitate.
Edited by Censored69, 29 September 2014 - 11:26 AM.