look what we’ve got here” said the mountain man to his son “a walking sack
of jack”. The young boy edged closer to his father’s side and peered over
the ledge “I don’t like it Pa, no-one walks the pass unguided”.
do!” snapped the older man, imagining the time he would spend in the gaudy
houses of the nearest ville after ‘liberating’ the outlander of his
belongings. He stared hard at the stranger nonchalently walking through the
snowy pass, in particular the long-arm casually slung over his right shoulder
“this is gonna be easy pickings my boy, we’ll cut over through the outcrop
yonder a meet him head-on and surprise him”
boy went to say something, but looked at his fathers determined face and decided
to keep quiet.
hour later the boy and his father crouched in cover either side of the pass,
barely daring to breathe the older man peered around the boulder he was hiding
behind and saw the stranger strolling toward him still oblivious to the threat.
The man signalled to the boy by moving his index finger across his throat
and with almost perfect co-ordination the man and his son jumped down to the
floor of the pass where the stranger was walking, or had been walking.
he go” shouted the boy “He can’t have gone, we had him” replied the
older man, spiralling and looking around in panic. “I warned you Pa, I said
this wasn’t right” “just shut up and look, he can’t have gone far”.
drop the gun hillbilly” came a voice from above “and boy, lose that
knife”, the older man clung to the old musket in an attempt to look for the
stranger but he saw nothing, suddenly there was a loud bang and the snow near
his feet erupted, the old man loosened his grip of the musket almost at the same
time as he loosened his bowels.
deary me” exclaimed the strange voice “made a bit of a mess there”, the
old man and his son looked around trying to pinpoint where the stranger was
hiding. Then, form the tree-line a tall fair haired man stood and started to
walk toward them.
was the first time the pair had been able to see the man in any detail, they saw
he was wearing camouflage fatigue pants of a design they had never seen before,
a green weather-proof coat and black combat boots. Over the mans shoulder was a
large green rucksack of a military design with a sleeping-bag strapped to the
top, but it wasn’t the clothing as much as the weaponry that the man carried
that made the old man stare in wonder.
long-arm that the man carried was of a type he had never seen before, it was
compact, well-oiled and obviously well cared for, the stranger carried a pistol
in a holster on his right hip and a large combat knife on his left thigh, in
addition to this there was also a shotgun attached by a strap to the rucksack,
in short the man was a walking sec force.
you know” said the boy, snapping the older man from his wonder “Saw you
hours ago” replied the stranger “amateurs, stick to hunting marmots boy”.
stranger walked slowly toward the pair, pointing the strange gun in their
direction. The old man tensed his arm ready for any opportunity, ready to strike
for the throwing knife he carried strapped to his back.
passed before there was a movement on the treeline, the strangers head span
toward the noise and the old man made his move.
was a sharp crack, the boy looked at the stranger who stood impassively looking
back, both stared each other before the stranger mouthed the word “sorry”.
boy could barely look at his father, when he summoned up the courage he saw a
man on his back staring at the cloud filled sky, a hole existed where once his
left eye had been, a pool of blood trickled slowly form the back of his head in
the snow, lumps of grey jelly lay in small pieces across the floor.
should not have done that” said the stranger pointing the gun at the knife
that lay in the snow “Shit, I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
stranger gestured for the boy to move, they both stepped around the old man,
neither appreciating the irony of the situation – for although the old mans
body lay in what was once Canada, the blood from the bullethole had flowed
across the old border in to what was the United States of America – Moore had
come to Deathlands.
this” said the stranger, passing the open tin to the boy “What is it” said
the boy”, sniffing the strange item with caution “Its only corned beef, come
here” said the stranger and started to spoon the red food in to his mouth
“look, I’m not going to hurt you, just eat”
are you” said the boy, “the names Moore” said Moore
what are you”
a man travelling”
all those guns, I ain’t ever seen so many guns in my life”
is a dangerous world”
you talk strange – where you from”
ain’t heard of that ville”
because its an island, not a ville”
you get here, why are you here”
that a story” said Moore, thinking of the long sea voyage and the skirmishes
with pirates, mutie sea creatures and the cruellest element of all – the
weather. “and why am I here – well, to find someone”
exclaimed the boy “I might know them – if I can tell you where they are will
you let me free”
might, lots of people travel through the pass”
you rob them all?”
pretty poor in these parts – gotta eat some time”
looked thoughtfully at his boots, the guy I’m after is a big chap, travels
around with a group of men and women, only has one eye”
boy laughed “everyone’s heard of Ryan Cawdor”
do I find him” exclaimed Moore holding the gun to the boys head.
boy started to cry “I don’t know” he managed to utter, there are stories
of him across Deathlands – but I’ve never seen him myself”
got to find him” said Moore “I’ve come so far”
stuttered the boy “with all those guns you could buy Deathlands”
could you understand boy, how could you know what I know” said Moore standing
and picking up the rucksack “how would you ever understand the knowledge of
past generations of my family, teachings of the Totality Concept and all its
workings, I barley can grasp the knowledge myself – but I must find Cawdor,
before its too late.
this Moore walked off, eyeing the distant chem storm brewing in the East.
I must find him before its too later”
that Moore slung the rucksack across his shoulder and walked on down the pass,
stopping just once he turned and said “go boy, return to your home and tell
your mother that I am sincerely sorry, goodbye”
boy sat in silence, wondering perhaps if he should mention that Ryan Cawdor and
his friends had been in a nearby ville only four months before, he chose to stay
silent – he was alive and that was all that mattered.
Moore walked off in to the distance to continue his quest.
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