A Tense Encounter
Their movement was swift through the streets. She was pleased.
It was going to be a testing early evening for them, the young ones.
Afternoon rain had given way to a balmy dusk. Although the sun was sinking fast, there was still plenty of light to be seen by and the neon lights of limbs ‘n’ things had barely begun to flicker.
The frothy puddles in the street made it all the harder to keep quiet.
Although you made less of a splash, it was more of a dull slop in the city runoff. But needs must when you have to go scavenge.
So far so good.
Her band moved in the shadows of a ruined pumping station, ancient by todays reckoning. On the far side of the street, remarkably a bar and pleasure pod still had their eclectic clientele coming, and even occasionally, going.
There wasn’t much left this close to the docks.
Too many buildings still bore the scars of neglect from the time maintenance was banned by the Mega Corps. The HAB’s crumbled and folded like the re-fab plastuck they were. No matter how bad they get, they still shine in an array of colours, based on what the company was de-cycling that day. The habs were now home to a few packs of stray fleshies, the real dreggs and some rats. Both seemed able to eek out a meager living off the other. No one knows which has the upper hand, but both groups are sure it is them. One day the whole area will be de-cycled, but for now it remains claimed neither by the city’s inland residents, nor those who ‘lived’ on the water.
‘No wonder’ she thought, looking round. The open bar proved a very welcome distraction when you didn’t want to be seen.
The gang used the shifting patrons as cover and slipped off the Main Street and into a series of interlocking ruins.
These led to the slag heap .
A familiar trail for this old hand!
Her kids would learn it soon enough.
Yes, they were doing well so far. For some this was only their second trip out. She was just about to afford a slight grin, not that she would let them see it.
Suddenly her hairs were on end and her neck bristled. Was that a noise she heard? No? Surely no one else was out this early in the evening.
Too much light.
Too much risk.
She was on point, and motioned to the others to hold still. They waited. Some of the young lads behind her remained relaxed. The eldest felt the tension though.
Something wasn’t right.
She was able to creep further forward under the lengthening shadows maintaining an implacable watch.
A sound for sure. Perhaps just a stray dog. Hopefully, just a stray dog.
Right arm went to sword, left to pistol. The others behind, realising their predicament for the first time, reached for what improvised weapons they had been afforded from the gang’s stash. One shakily held a knife. Two had a couple of nails. One had something that looked like it was used at the pods, but still worked for beating people.
Sweat beaded, and the air ran thick with fear, as the young kids braced themselves for the unknown.
They said the stories never truly captured the horror.
And rising mystically from the ruins, there he was. Clearly the leader of another gang. Well over 6 feet.
Imposing, built like an armoured bus. Hand on his own sword as he rose, rather brazenly she thought, from his hiding place amongst the rubble.
She remained in the shadows, but no longer tried to hide. Hopefully the boys remembered what she had taught them. This could be awful.
“What are you doing out here?” She challenged, bringing all her usual cockiness and bravado to the tone. Rule 1: Never betray your feelings, especially fear.
“Ha ha”, the man’s voice struck a smooth baritone.
She was momentarily struck by the beautiful ebony of his skin in the fetid glow of the ruins. The ripple of the muscle. ‘Oh my’ she wondered, as something deep within, she thought was forgotten, stirred.
Then the thought was gone. That’s what gets you killed out here. She chided herself.
He went on “only one reason to be heading through these ruins. Off to the slag heap are we?”
“And what is it to you?” She immediately snapped back. If she knew anything, it’s that she wouldn’t be bullied by anyone.
“Wait, say again” the man asked. This caught her off guard.
“What is it to you” more generous than aggressive now.
“Ah! Wait, Big Momma?” There seemed genuine warmth in the man’s tone now.
“And what is it to you if it is?” Her tone remained hard. It was how you survived.
“Everything” he stated seriously.
‘Oh boy’ she thought. She thought she caught him relaxing, and against reason stepped out from the shadows.
“Yes, I’m Big Momma. And what’s it to you tall one?”
‘Tall one?!’ Was that really the best she could come up with?! Damn why did he have to be attractive. In a place like this. She shook the thought off. A bit mixed up there, “What are you getting at?”
Now he did relax though. Hand was withdrawn from hilt, and he motioned to a few hidden gang members who now had made themselves visible to do the same.
‘Well, at least I’ll live a few more minutes’ she thought.
He touched his finger tips to his forehead.
“Err, ok...” she was really unsure.
“It is an ancient greeting, passed down to us from the old times” he explained.
“Ok, I usually start with ‘hi’, I’ll be honest” she was still tense.
“So, Big Momma, you live up to your reputation” he motioned.
And there she was. Barely topping 5” and skinny as anything. However slight she appeared, she was ripped with muscle over every inch, and the scars to show she’d earned it.
“You are known to us. You look after the children when no one else will.”
“Someone has to stop them being de-cycled.”
“Ha! Maybe, maybe not in a place like this” he paused. Then smiled. “Then it is fine. The slag heap is yours this evening.”
And with that, gave what appeared to be a slight bow. She was so taken with shock she walked away unsure it had happened.
Still, got away with another one. Lived another day. If they just got home safe tonight, it looked like they could restock nicely too.
‘It’s a funny old place this one’ she mused, as she led the younglings once more to their destination.
By Rik Holden
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, locales, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
(C) 2020 Richard Holden, Digital Taxidermy – Storytime Collective
All rights reserved.
This story or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
A life in the week of Digital Taxidermy
Genuinely shocking stuff
So as you should all be aware by now our Spool tower Kickstarter has been released and quite frankly exceeded our expectations within the first week.
This is firstly AMAZING!!
Secondly it is causing a huge amount of work to be built up as we work through the 5 unlocked stretch goals with a 6th on the horizon.
Now each backer will be receiving on top of their pledge the turn table, Radar Dice Tower, Kashyyk themed treehouse/dice tower, Greeblies and an observatory tower topper.
So here are some examples of what we have been doing about all of this.
We have also made quite a splash this last week, we have been noticed by a couple of bloggers out there and seen a few recommendation posts around the web. This is great to see and makes all our efforts worthwhile. We are glad that this project resonates with so many people.
Check the articles and video’s out:
Did you ever wonder who we were and how we look on camera?
If you ever thought…who are these mysterious mongers of dystopian delight?
Well we have the solution.
We recorded some footage last time we got together on the fly and it has just been edited and uploaded.
The Slag Heap
We did already have this up our sleeve to continue bringing weekly fiction and more.
Todays story – A tense encounter - takes place across a city and introduces a new location, ‘The Slag Heap’. It is a pre-grenerated area of waste, a junk yard on the scales of whole city blocks. Have a look and see if this is the right franchise for your crew to get involved with.
So that’s about all the flag waving we have for you this week, so without further ado we present another work of flash fiction by Mr Rik Holden.