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Twilight Children

Modified on 2012/01/05 20:08 by Kerrick Categorized as Books, Deathlands
   The historical, deconstructive and complex-dynamic-based approach to the future looks at an imbalance of the chronologically senior against the junior and predicts proactive hypotheses. Put more simply: one day the small number of kids are likely to try and slaughter the large number of the old.

   - Hope You All Die Before You Get Old
   Dave Lankhford
   Runcible Press, 1992

   As the companions arrive in a new gateway and recover from the jump, they realize that something's off - the walls of the chamber aren't perfectly fitted, and the whole thing looks like it's been hastily thrown together. Outside the gate, they find a cave hewn from the living rock and a tunnel. The tunnel leads to a control room - again, hastily assembled; there are only a handful of computers on rickety tables, cables hanging everywhere, and the door is a simple wooden construction.
   Outside, they find the cave is a couple hundred feet up the side of a canyon, with a trail leading down. The entire area is blanketed in a thick, acrid fog; the water is tainted, and they see creatures that are stranger than any mutation they've encountered before.
   Once at the bottom, they find a river. Michael dips a hand in and yanks it back, proclaiming "It's warm, it stings, and it's not water!". Right after that, he's attacked by a rat-fish creature that leaps out of the water, but he dodges and stomps on it after it lands on the ground, killing it.
   They follow the remains of a road along the river and come to a ghost town, a predark tourist attraction named Lonesome Gulch. The place is perfectly preserved, but completely abandoned (and it looks like no one's been there since skydark).
   While they're are looking around, a number of lizard-birds fly out of the mist to land on various buildings. The companions move to a store to take cover as more of them appear. It looks like they're trapped, but Dean finds a root cellar, and there are several bags of black powder lying around. JB rigs up a fuse, then they all pile into the cellar as Ryan opens the shutters, letting the birds in (though he's wounded in the process). The place blows up, killing many of the creatures and enabling the companions to make their escape. They run back to the gateway and jump out just as something large slithers its way down the tunnel toward them.
   The next jump takes them to the the redoubt in Lousiana where they met Jak. The area is now a wasteland - the swamps have drained, and the area is highly radioactive, so they jump again.
   This time, they end up in New Hampshire, near Lake Champlain. Ryan's wound is worse - he's been poisoned, and is unconscious. Michael, meanwhile, is affected by mild psychosis due to the triple jump on top of his being time trawled; he attacks Doc, thinking the old man is a demon, but Krysty clubs him down with her pistol.
   They head out into the redoubt, carrying Ryan and dragging Michael along. The place is undamaged, but completely cleared. They find a barracks and lay Ryan out on a bunk; Mildred has Dean sterilize a knife with fire, then she uses it to purge the wound of infection. Michael recovers enough to help hold Ryan down during the procedure.
   A couple days later, after Ryan has sufficiently recovered, they leave the redoubt to find themselves in Vermont. They make camp and catch some fish; Michael is sent to find some berries, but he wanders off and returns some time later saying he found a building. After eating, they go check it out; they find a dead stickie and the burned remains of a man. Since there are no signs of danger, they return to the camp to decide what to do next.
   As they're talking, a group of young men and women approach. They're looking for their friend, who went out hunting and never came back. Michael tells them of the body they found, so a couple go to look (it is indeed their friend). When they return, they take the companions along to their ville to report to their leader, Moses.
   As they walk into the ville, they're greeted with stares and outright hostility - especially Doc, the oldest of the group. None of the ville's inhabitants appears to be older than mid-20s. Moses' right-hand man, Jehu, welcomes the outlanders and says they're welcome for a few days.
   The next day, several smaller children are out gathering wood when they're attacked by stickies. The companions, along with Jehu, happen to be nearby; they kill the stickies, but not before several children are killed.
   As they spend more time in the ville, Michael becomes enamored with one of the girls, Dorothy. They go out to the woods alone and have sex; when they're walking back along the lakeshore, they come upon a bunch of cages, two of which hold men. Dorothy explains that one's a rapist, and the other ran from the ville to avoid being sacrificed on his 25th birthday. They beg him to kill them, but he holds off, mindful of Ryan's warning not to interfere in other folks' business.
   Meanwhile, near Seattle, Trader and Abe are sending out notes with any trader they can find. The notes are addressed to Ryan and his friends, telling them that Abe has found Trader, and that they'll be near Seattle for three months.
   The next day, the companions go out on a fishing expedition with some of the folks from the ville. They're nearly to the fishing ground when they're attacked by a gigantic pike that capsizes their boat. One of the villagers is killed, and Dorothy nearly drowns after being dragged under by netting, but Ryan and Jehu free her. They get back to the boat safely and return to Quindley empty-handed.
   Later, at lunch, it becomes apparent that Michael is going to remain behind when the companions leave. Ryan's fine with that - he plans to leave the next morning, but without telling Michael.
   That night, the villagers hold their sacrifice. The two men are bound into wicker men and set on fire. A band of stickies have coincidentally chosen this night to make an attack on the ville; a group assault the front gate, sacrificing themselves to distract the defenders from the real attack on the rear of the ville, from the lake. The stickies are driven off, but not before setting several buildings on fire and capturing many children, along with Dean, Mildred, and Doc.
   Moses (and by extension, the villagers) have no plans to rescue their people, so Ryan and the others wait till the early hours and steal a boat. They head to the stickie camp, kill most of the stickies, rescue their friends, and set the children free.
   Now that they're reunited, they have a choice - head straight to the redoubt, or stop by the ville. Michael wants to say goodbye to Dorothy, since they're going by anyway; since no one objects, they return to Quindley. Dorothy is serving Moses in his temple, so they head there.
   They find Moses has been taking advantage of Dorothy; Moses orders Jehu to gather the acolytes for a sacrifice of the outlanders, but Ryan kills the young man before he can go. Jehu knocks over a torch, setting the place on fire; the temple burns down, taking Moses with it. As the companions leave, the fire spreads, eventually razing the entire town.
   Michael convinces Dorothy to come with them, but she's scared of the mat-trans. When the process starts up, she panicks and leaves the chamber, getting disintegrated.
   Some time after the companions leave, one of the traders bearing Abe and Trader's notes comes by Quindley, finding it a burned-out ruin. He hasn't found the companions, and he's tired of looking, so he tosses his note into the lake and leaves.

DEATHLANDS, OUTLANDERS, EARTH BLOOD, and JAMES AXLER are all the property of Gold Eagle / Worldwide Library, and are used here strictly under Fair Use guidelines.
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