Well a new year. Can’t say that 2015 was one of my best years. I had some high hopes that my writing would be more successful. I started last year with two screenplays written and actually got a short story published. This year I just managed to write one short story that was rejected. So I figured I might as well just post it here. I hope the new year will be much better than the last one.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
The old neighborhood was nearly unrecognizable. But then again a small yield nuclear explosion would do that to any neighborhood. Captain Jack Robbins took a small break from running to catch his breath. He surveyed the rubble strewn streets of Sacramento and shook his head. Old pleasant memories flooded his mind. Such a shame since the city was spared the worst from the big war.
He remembered that night long ago when some minor incident in the South China Sea ended up with every nation on Earth chucking nuclear, chemical and biological missiles at each other. The resulting chaos killed millions. Millions more died from the disruption of basic services like food, water and electricity. A year later and ninety percent of America’s population was dead.
Now international conflict had been replaced by more domestic conflicts. Dozens of two-bit dictatorships had sprung up. The largest was the Peoples Republic of California. Robbins was part of a task force that was assembled for a campaign against the secessionist state. The Federal Domestic Forces (DF) was a ramshackle force like everything else nowadays. It was still successful in the beginning against the poorly lead California militia. Robbins remembered the excitement of chasing after the broken rebels to Sacramento. He was looking forward to seeing his old home.
But fate was not looking down for a happy homecoming. The DF was formed using all sorts of scrounged military equipment. Most of its reliability suspect. The same could be said for its personnel. Conscripts with practically no training and in most case not even any basic education. The DF entered the city under the cover of artillery fire. One shell was an old nuclear artillery shell from the 1960’s. Ignoring the bright yellow radioactive sign on it one artillery man loaded it up and fired like any other shell. The small nuclear explosion destroyed half the DF forces in the city. The People’s Militia swooped down and mopped up the disorganized survivors.
Thank you American public education.
The sounds of a vehicle brought Robbins out of his reverie. He started to take off. He did not want to get taken prisoner. The People’s Militia was not too big on the Geneva Convention. As he ran down the street looking for a place to hide the sound of a dog’s growl brought him to a stop. There across the street was a big Doberman. Other growls revealed other dogs surrounding him. Robbins had respect for the wild dog packs that roamed the old cities. Once they were the pampered loved pets fed regularly for prepared cans or boxes. Now forced on their own they had banded together in packs and were in direct competition with their former masters for the dwindling sources of food. In many instances both humans and dogs found each other the only convenient source of food.
Robbins drew his knife. He had an M-16 but didn’t want to attract the Militia. He slowly backed up to the building next to him. He would hide out in there until it was safer to continue on. The Doberman that was obviously the pack leader could sense Robbins plan. He took off and launched himself at Robbins throat. Robbins didn’t survive this long by being slow. He thrust out his knife and caught the Doberman in the chest. It yelped and then abruptly died. Robbins slid the corpse off his knife as the other dogs stared at their leader’s death. He decided now was the time to duck into the building. He turned and opened the door.
Inside the building was full of dogs. They were packed into the big room and were staring at Robbins.
“Oh crap!” he yelled out. Knowing that stealth was secondary to his immediate survival, Robbins sheathed his knife and unsung the M-16. Before any of the dogs could react he let go into the pack at full auto. Bullets ripped through the dogs bodies. Many yelped and they all tried to run from the devastating fire. Most didn’t make it as Robbins emptied the clip. When the rifle clicked on an empty chamber the room was full of dead dogs.
He ejected an empty clip and slammed in a full one. Checking outside the dogs out there had taken off at the sound of gunfire. They had learned long ago to have respect for firearms. The sound of an approaching vehicle brought him back to more immediate concerns.
“Damn you God! What the hell did I do to you today?”
He took off down the street looking for a place to hide. An old army jeep came roaring around the corner with four men inside. They noticed him and let out a loud whoop. Robbins turned and fired at the oncoming jeep. His burst thudded into the two men in the front seat and the jeep swerved into a building. One of the men in back fell out and Robbins put a burst into him before he could get up. The other was still in the jeep as it crashed into the front and the roof caved in. He died screaming.
“Well that jeep isn’t going to do me any good.”
He took off while reloading his rifle. Another vehicle was approaching. Damn he was in a tight pickle. He racked his brain for a way out and decided to duck into an alley. He leaned against the wall in front of a window sill. That was when he heard the sound. A sinister rattle. He slowly turned and looked at the window sill. There was a coiled rattlesnake just inches from his face. Before he could react the snake struck. Its fangs clamped into his cheek. The fangs actually punctured his cheek and flooded his mouth with venom. Some of the vile tasting venom found its way down his throat while he spit the rest out. He grabbed the snake by its throat and ripped it off his cheek. He then proceeded to grind the snake’s head into the wall crushing it into a pulp and then dropped the lifeless carcass to the ground.
“Damn you God you worthless sack of shit! A rattlesnake on the window sill! What the fuck is that all about? I’m coming for you asshole! You hear me! I’m coming for you! There’s no place you can hide from me!
“Maybe we can help you meet him.” said a voice. Robbins turned around and saw a rifle butt coming toward his face then blackness.
“I think he’s coming around.”
Robbins could see slivers of light. Blurry shapes started to form and take more concrete shape.
“Yes I believe he is finally waking up. Wakey Wakey asshole.”
The forms took shape into five men dressed in fatigues. They had shoulder patches with a red star. In front of the star a grizzly bear was standing with a hammer in one paw and a sickle in another. It was the altered California flag for the People’s Republic.
“Yeah I think this turd is finally coming around.”
Robbins focused on the speaker. He was a big man with an even bigger beer belly clutching an AR-15. Next to him was a young teen with a face full of zits. On the other side of him was a bald man with bulging eyes. Next to him a buck toothed man. He kept bobbing up and down like he had to go to the bathroom.
“You killed my men.” stated the fifth one. He was a young man in his twenties. He wore a red beret with his uniform. The fatigue jacket was open and displaying a Che Guevara t-shirt. It was obvious that Che was a hero to the punk. He was trying to grow a beard like his hero but it was a pathetic little scraggly affair.
“They were assholes.” said Robbins.
Robbins got kicked in the stomach.
“They were my men. You’ll pay for that. What’s your name?”
“Your last name?”
“Jack Meoff.” said Che Guevara. The other guys started to laugh. Che still had a dumb look on his face. Slowly a light came on in his eyes and an angry frown formed. He planted another kick into Robbins stomach.
“You think you’re funny asshole. Well let’s see how funny you are when we string you up on that pole over there.”
Zit face and Bug Eyes each grabbed an arm and hauled him up. They then threw him against a hard metal surface. Robbins turned to look at what he was against. He then did a double take.
There before him was a genuine M-2 halftrack. It had a fresh coat of green paint. The white star insignia was crudely painted red but otherwise looked just as it must have back in World War II. He wondered where they got this old antique and how it was kept running. Surely these morons weren’t capable.
“Hey dickhead! What you looking at?” said Che.
Robbins turned his head at looked at him. “Admiring your halftrack.”
“This piece of junk. Can’t wait to get rid of it. Always breaking down.”
“Yeah I was wondering how you kept it running. Especially since you guys don’t look smart enough to dress yourselves.”
Che turned bright red in the face. “That’s it you old …”
He was cut off in mid-sentence as Robbins kicked out his foot into Che’s knee cap. There was a loud pop and Che collapsed to the ground. The others were taken by surprise and the two holding him loosened their grip. Robbins took advantage and pulled his right arm from Bug Eyes grasp. Then he swung around and planted a fist into Zit Face. His blow hit so hard it snapped Zit Face’s head back breaking his neck and killing him instantly. As the body fell Robbins grabbed up the knife in Zit Face belt. Then he turned to Bug Eyes who stood there with his mouth open and his eyes even more protruding. Robbins stabbed him in the heart and he collapsed dead.
Robbins then turned his attention to the others. Che was on the ground clutching his broken knee and screaming in pain. Buck Tooth was standing there in shock and looked like he really had to go to the bathroom. Beer Belly was the only one that kept his head and started to bring up his AR-15. He was the most immediate threat.
Robbins quick thinking came up with a plan. He threw the knife right in front of Beer Belly. It landed at his feet but was enough to distract him. As he looked down Robbins sprang at him. They both fell to the ground clutching the AR-15. Robbins kneed him in the groin which loosened his grip. Then he smacked him in the face with its butt. He was knocked unconscious.
Quickly he sprang up with the AR-15. Buck Tooth was finally starting to react. He was awkwardly fumbling for his rifle. Robbins didn’t give him a chance to unsling it. He pumped a burst into him. Then he turned to Che.
“Oooh God this hurts! You’re in trouble you bastard!”
“Is that a fact?”
“You can’t do this!”
“Why not! I’ll tell you why not! It violates my human rights!”
“Is that a fact?”
“Yeah you know and uh it is against the Geneva protocols or something like that. You know the rules of war.”
“You mean like when you were kicking me in the stomach when I was down.”
Che stopped rolling around and looked directly at Robbins. He was met with a cold stare.
“Or how about stringing me up.”
“Hey that was different.” a panicky tone to his voice.
“Yeah you are like a war criminal.”
“You’re a real savant in international law aren’t you?”
Robbins started to bring up the AR-15.
“Oh come on,” he whined. “I was just doing my job!”
“Well so am I.” He then fired off a shot. The bullet struck his forehead and blew his brains out. Robbins was kind of surprised that there was actually something in there. He then leaned the AR-15 on his rightt shoulder and surveyed the area.
“What a bunch of wimps,” he muttered to himself. He then walked over to the halftrack. A quick inspection and he got the engine started. The area was engulfed in a smoke cloud as the engine burned oil. He ground the gear shift into first and popped the clutch. Hopefully this old wreck would get him to the Nevada border and safety. He had a really bad day and was looking forward to a cold beer. After all this day couldn’t get any worse.
He was later to find out that it could.