Chapter 4

            They emerged into the world of the Deathlands.

            January 20 2001, nuclear war erupted across the globe throwing the world into a twenty-five year winter. As the light slowly seeped back to the surface the world as we knew it was drastically changed. But the newly sculpted land was not all barren, and life began to crawl back. Some, the fortunate ones found stockpiles of weapons and gear, others stole and killed for it, but those who had the supplies and weapons held the power.

            The government gone and it was those people who took control, calling them selves; Baron, Master, King, Lord, Prince, General, or other dignified tittles they carved out their kingdoms.

            Men and women in poverty did what they had to for survival. Killing for food, selling their bodies, selling others bodies, and hunting the wilds of the Deathlands for a chance at a better life.

            This was no longer the country of the rich and free. It was the world of horror, mutations, slavery, torture, and pain. It now goes beyond the sayings “kill or be killed”, and “Survival of the fittest”.

            Central Oregon was now divided into four factions, Baron Shrader the leader of the Carnival controlled most of the north in what was once and still known as Felony Flats. South in the ruins of Old Bend a man by the name of John Driedric the 3rd gathers a small army of outcasts. To the east in Prineville, the aging son of an ex politician struggled to stay alive against the constant attacks from the north. And to the west lies uneasy peace as Michelle Rishara Cooper, baroness of the small villa known as Vanity struggles to keep her people from the upcoming war.


            Three hours after they left the Redoubt Maggy stopped them at the ruins of what used to be an old resort hotel. She had seen many of such sights along the ruined snaking trails that were once roads and highways, this one was no different. It stood on an embankment overlooking one of the many now nameless rivers. Once it had been a called the Fishi’n Stay Lodge. Not much of the old yellow paint was left on the weather warn walls, and even less of the windows were intact. As always there would not be anything worth salvaging, as it had been taken years ago.

            “We’re going to stay here.” Courtney asked, raising an eyebrow.

            “We’ve been in worse. Besides, I don’t think you want to sleep outside with the coyotes and….”

            “Jeremy, I quit being afraid of Coyotes years ago.” She stopped him

            “Ohh, Ok.”

            The four companions walked forward in unison and entered the hotel weapons drawn. Jeremy with Scott’s shotgun took the lead, while Maggy took the rear. The inn was not in bad shape. There was no running water and no heat, but the building itself was sturdy.

All four of them unanimously chose a room on the bottom floor. It was obviously well used after the war. A fire pit had been added along one wall. And three cots were pulled in already. And after finding the skeletal remains in four other rooms none of them wanted explore any further than safety demanded.

            Courtney went to the creek to gather water Jeremy gathered dry wood, and Maggy prepared some self heats, while Scott Went through the gear they had grabbed from the redoubt.

            They had very little survival gear. Only what his and the remains of Maggy’s pack contained to get through the two day trek to her home. Three blankets, eating utensils, some rope, one days food, and virtually no medical supplies.

            With weapons they almost stood on two feet, Scott And Maggy already had a full complement, but Jeremy and Courtney had nothing of their own. Now grateful that the clowns had stopped him from hiding the third pack he was able to outfit the other two with something. 

            Jeremy and Courtney returned lugging their loads, and bitching about the lack of room service. “Better than white coats hotel up on the mountain though.” Jeremy growled setting his load in front of the fire pit.

            Scott looked up from the table, his eyes showing the lack of energy that he felt. “Santa dropped off presents while you were out. He said to tell you He’s sorry about the last fifty years.” And he motioned toward the two lumps of wrapped cloth.

            Jeremy and Courtney walked swiftly toward the cot.

            “Little one is for you love.” Scott had a habit of changing his tone and accent, most of the time he did it for humor other times it had more of a purpose. Ether way it caused all three of them to stop and pause, bringing back a reminder of what once was. “Sorry.” Scott excused himself walking out quietly.

            All of them knew what had been lost, and they let him go, after a few minutes just like children on Christmas morning they tore the cloth away from the items wrapped within. Jeremy was the fastest; he opened the package to find a Barnett Crossbow, thirty bolts, a pair of blades, another USP 40 cal., two clips and fifty rounds of ammo.

            “Does this mean I have to give the 12 gauge back?” He frowned

            “What did you get?….. Courtney.”  Maggy asked almost forgetting the younger girls name.

            “Pistols.”  She smiled, stepping back so that the other two could see. On the cot in front of her was a S&W 38 cal. derringer with pearl grips, a small S&W 22 cal pistol, two thousand 22 rounds, ten 38’s, and a small black knife. “And A switch blade.”  Grinning.  


The rest of the evening was uneventful. Scott didn’t return for hours, which gave Maggy a chance to get to know her new companions. And get some info on him as well.

            “He wasn’t always like this, fuck none of us were.” His anger flaring momentarily. “Scott sometimes is like two people. He has this caring side that not, its like, like the perfect big brother or father and for a select few girls the perfect lover.” Grinning, as memories flood back to him. “And another side that now seems to have taken over. Way back when, him and I used to spar, full contact. And. He always said that I could beat him, but sometimes when he didn’t know I was looking. I could see it in his eyes. A wolf in shadow the Amok he used to talk about, something that he hid well enough to keep control. “ Pausing to take a drink of water. “I saw it a few times while we were fighting. He’d get hell O mad and ether just back off entirely or he’d. I don’t know, Scott was always strong, but this one time. I had hid arm leg locked, and I must’ve hurt him, because he went from kneeling on the ground to standing strait upright holding me out over the ground at shoulder length.” He took another drink “I saw it in his eyes then. I know that if we were to really go at it, if he got mad there is no way I’d win.”

            “What happened to him?”

            “I don’t know, when I was in the brig, I could sometimes hear him screaming, don’t know what it was, don’t think I want to. And I sure as hell am not going to ask him until he volunteers some information.” Tipping his cup toward the door Scott had exited. “That man carries many demons, and sometimes I think they are his strength.” “First time I’ve called him a man, but I guess we both are know.”


            Sometime after midnight Jeremy who was gazing outside and just enjoying the fact that he was no longer cooped up in the redoubt saw a flicker of light. As if by magic Scott’s solid face lit up. “Been a long time old man.” He said to himself, and walked to meet with his brother.

            He was still standing against a lamppost when Jeremy arrived. “Anything out here tonight?”

            “No.” Scott replied handing over one of the cigars

            “Thought you quit” motioning for his Zippo

            “Old habits die hard.”

            “Something you should know.” Jeremy started taking his first full puff. “Our families have control down here.”

            “What do?”

            “Remember when she was talking about there being barons and shit? She told me their names.”


            “Cooper, Driedric, and Shrader. Oh there is another one but I’ve never herd of him. Figures Travis Shrader would take power, but Cooper and John.”

            “John always wanted to control the world, maybe he got his chance.”

            “You know who she is?”

            “Yes, I do.” He said frankly 

            “We’re related to all of the power Old man, we might just yet be able to live a good life here.”

            “It means we have more troubles than we need. Travis always was a son of a bitch, Derek was paranoid enough that whatever I had with him probably was never passed down to his children, And It means that I have to deal with watching the one person I loved more than the world pass away of old age. Which still leaves Maggy, Every time I look at her I see two things, Her grandmother, and a grandchild that could have been my own.”

            He threw his cigar down and turned to walk back inside.

            “Keep walking away from me old man, and see what happens!” Jeremy challenged. Scott whirled demons flaring within his eyes. “I’m not afraid of you big brother, that still hasn’t changed.” Holding his ground. “But I don’t want to fight you either. Both our tempers are on crack, lets quit talking out our ass and work together.”

            Scott grinned bearing his teeth. Well aware that his hand was on the Defender behind his back. “Take care little brother. Your fears will come to greet you, just outside the light” And with that he snuck back into the inn.

            “Fuck!” Jeremy cursed, “Well that didn’t go so well, dumb ass” As the memories of Scott’s Screams flooded his brain. “Where did they hide my brother? And what creature took his place?” Together him and Scott were a great team. And they complemented each other’s skills. But if things didn’t go correctly they could become the worst of enemies. And frankly he needed Scott to help lead the group. And help protect his sister.


            The quartet continued on their journey after a small meal. Jeremy who was carrying the food in his pack pulled the two heaviest items out for breakfast. Each MRE weighed in at nearly two and a half pounds or more. And he had no intention of packing them the next forty miles to Maggy’s home. “Pack them in the gut not on the butt.” He cheerfully called out. Proud of his new quote, but secretly wishing he could have added a swear word or two into it.

            It was apparent after only a few minutes from the house that they were being followed. All four had varying abilities in reading tracks, but it was apparent even to the most novice of them. A rat was moving about the premises last night and it was as large or larger than a full sized dog.

            Upon a quick analysis with no time wasted, the creature followed their trail there, walked around the building a few times and then went back the way it came.

             “Courtney hon, are your pistols loaded?” Maggy asked


            “Is there a round in the chamber?”

            “No, but mike said…”

            “Don’t care love, different ruled for a different life. Now’s about a good time to chamber a round” Scott interrupted using his British accent to hide the fact that he was scolding her. And just for god measure he checked his own weapons, followed by the rest of the crew.

            Scott took point followed closely by Courtney; Maggy was at the rear where her UMP could be put to good use.


            They reached the outskirts of Sisters an old Baron less vill that used to be a major tourist attraction. It wasn’t any longer. The main strip comprised of six buildings and a few squats; a pawn shop, a bar, and a hotel lined one side, and on the other was a barn, what passed for a sec office, and a brig.

            “Steel horse, get caught, and go to jail.” Courtney interjected not at all happy about the cleanliness of the town

            “Trade goods, get drunk, and go to bed with whore” Jeremy countered attempting to get a smile out of her.

            “Sleep with whore, get your dick cut off and she steals you jack.” Maggy smiled

            “Do we stay here or push on?”

            “Be dark in an hour.” Maggy replied

            “All in favor?”

            “Eye times four” Jeremy smiled “Say what’s the legal limit here Maggy?”

            “The what!”

            “Good enough answer for me.” Out of the corner he spotted the creature. Small, black and white, and full of teeth. “Fuck” with a speed that only years of martial arts can develop he lashed out with his foot, catching the dog square in the ribs.

            With a yelp he diverted his attack and rushed into the hands of a now waiting Scott, He had handled dogs before, many times, even trained a few. So what he did came natural to him. Sliding an open hand under his jaw he curled his arm swiftly and then straitened it again. It looked quite simple, in fact it really was, at the end the small Border collie was laying on his back with Scott’s large hand at its throat.

            “Stop it.” He snapped using his mind with out thinking.

            Jeremy had seen Scott do this to his dogs at home and it didn’t surprise him, but when the dog stopped snapping his jaws and growling that was something new entirely.

            “Good boy.” Scott cooed petting the dog along the side of his face open hand in case the dog tried to bite again. Then he let the dog go and stood up.

            It was Jeremy who spoke first but as he took a step forward the dog scrambled in-between Scott’s legs bearing his teeth again. “Damn mutt. Only you would make friends with such an evil bearing brat.”

            “Made friends with you didn’t I?” He countered

            “Fuck you!” He yelled nearly laughing 

            “Look alive” Maggy called out “Let me talk to them” All of them including Courtney had there hands on cocked weapons.

            “Fuck you outlanders want in my town” A rugged half drunk voice called out from in the doorway of the barn

            “To stay on that side of the street, don’t want any trouble.”

            “Good, I’m Sec boss for Sisters, You outlanders lookin’ fer trouble you’ll find it at the end of Betsy.” He patted the barrel of his scattergun

            “We are going to trade for a dinner and a night and then travel on, and something like that would only cause needles bloodshed. The Umpire would take this town’s population down to zilch in a few minutes. Betsy or not.” She said pointing at her UMP. She had done this drill before, stand tall, look proud, and don’t back down. Follow those rules and more often than not you’d be left alone. Too week and people pick one you, too tough and then you end up trying backing your words.

            “Good, good. Old Hap will take your trade, if its good Alicia will cook you dinner and rent you room. If its good enough she’ll even bed you, man boy child or woman.” He smiled and then went back to his bottle.

            Maggy dragged all three of them with her to make the trade. It was a skill that they had to learn. And when they were done. Out of the thirty miscellaneous rounds Scott had picked up ten went to getting them dried foods and a few bits of survival gear. And five rounds all being 410 shotgun shells went too dinner, free drinks, and two rooms.

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