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Scavenging run

 
Engel's picture
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Zanesville outskirts, Sector 1

He selected a cheery Masquerade Waltz by Aram Khachaturian on his audio player, swaying lightly to the rhythm. Directional spotlights from above created a stage-like setting so he picked up a mocking waltz move, whisking around the elevator platform. Under his feet there was a crumby leyer of dust brought in from above so he danced his way down a short flight of stairs to the main level. Engel lifted up his goggles, cold dry air assaulting his face and helping him stay awake. There was something in the air, beside the normal oily workshop smell. His spotlight examined each of the empty garages. One contained a skeleton of a muscle car, picked clean down to the bare construction bones, rusting there like some metallic corpse. He did a little waltz spin carried away by the melody and was shocked when a shape of an armor clad figure came into view, frozen like a rabbit in the headlights just a few steps away from him, interrupted in a prowling stance.

He froze instantly, eyes wide in disbelief. In the darkness he could see a pair of angry eyes gleaming on an oily face, sizing him up, a long iron rebar in hand. Engel sheepishly raised his hand.

“Umm.. hello?” 

侵入者!” Came an unexpected reply and with that his stalker raised that makeshift weapon of his and advanced, face twisted with determination.

“Wait! Hold on! I didn’t mean to...”

But the assailant didn’t stop. Overhead rebar slash fell heavy on his shoulder, elastic rod biting like a whip through his jacket. The vicious swing was clearly meant for his head but Engel managed to jerk it away in the last moment, the force of the blow still crushing him down.

“Stop!” he yelled in pain, knowing all too well that the time for talking has passed or never really reached them in the first place.

He needed room to get back on his feet but the only “weapon” he had was his flashlight, so he pointed it at his stalker’s face. It was destroyed in a fraction of a second, pieces of plastic and glass exploding in his hand. He couldn’t roll away easily so he braced for impact and tried to protect his head. Sure enough, that steel rod fell over his forearm like a slab of searing iron, pain flooding his body. He kicked with his legs and managed to strike blind at something, giving him some room. Taking the chance he rolled away, shoulder numb and his arm feeling hotter with every heartbeat. Finally he used the momentum to stand up, teeth clenched, his attacker a pillar of stark shadows before him.

“Ok, ok... I speak a little bit of that language myself.” Engel spit through his teeth and defiantly stepped forward.

Immediately he was met with a shower of brutal swings but he ducked out of the way. His legs served him well even though his upper body hurt with each raspy breath. He kicked at his enemy every time he got the chance. A weak kick, more like a prod at any exposed joint, the technique was first developed by a dauntless Russian major when he foolishly tried to mix Cossack and Japanese fight moves. It laid in obscurity for decades. Without solid footing, most established unarmed fighting techniques melted away, finding it hard to deliver a powerful blow and this is when that ugly, patchwork, dance like martial art was resurrected and really benefited the initiated.

A savage swing knocked the helmet off his head as Engel ducked down and gently planted his knee at the opponents exposed hip, doing no damage but putting both of them off balance. Instinctively his opponent reached out to grab him and that’s when his arm got grappled. They both went down on the cold grill floor, Engel clutching his opponents arm and throwing his legs around for a better grip. With his back arched he pulled with all his might, ignoring bolts of pain shooting from his own injured shoulder and forearm.

痛い痛い!!” Came a yell from his subdued opponent but he was not interested in talking anymore. He pulled and pulled, always getting a better grip on the squirming arm. Yells turned into screams, intelligible in every language. Something cracked; first it was the armor's reinforced elbow joint and then something snapped deeper inside. It was over.

He let go of the mangled arm and immediately his enemy withdrew it, crying like a helpless baby. Engel exhaled, pain and fatigue overcoming him but it was no time to rest yet. He crawled over to the discarded rebar and used it as a cane to stand up. “When did it all go so terribly wrong for us?” he thought as he gazed over his shaking, powerless opponent, curled in a ball under his feet. We were supposed to rise as a unified human race, exploring and conquering space through a combined effort and the strength of our diversity. And here we are, muddled apes in the post apocalypse, still madly swinging makeshift clubs at each other’s face. Where did we go so terribly wrong?

Slowly he lifted the long bent rebar over his head, aimed it carefully and finally brought it down with a primal shriek.

 

 

Comments

Joe Spivey's picture

"Where did we go so terribly wrong?"

Joe rocked back on his chair, puffing heavily on the butt of his cigar while he appraised the forlorn looking man across the table who had asked the question before lolling forward into the pool of stale beer drying on the peeling table top. He blew out a long swirling cloud of blue smoke.

"Well," he started. Not even caring that the man was now unconcious. "It all started to go pants pretty much around the time we elected this orange haired numpty as president of the free world." Joe stood up and stubbed the remains of the cigar out in the beer next to the man's ear. "The rest was inevitable." Then he fastened his duster and walked out into the rain.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Hyle Troy's picture

Hyle skips past the pub window with a happy dance in her step. There is a ring of flowers in her ring curled hair, Her long floral skirt blowing in the breeze. In the top of her shopping bag can just be seen knitting pins and a ball of wool.

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

Joe Spivey's picture

*Shakes his head* Nah, couldn't have been.... Nah. *Continues homeward, following the lines on the road.*

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Veronica Volt's picture

Each crash of the metal bar, each scream, the heatbeat of the new post apocalypse mankind.

Subdane's picture

((I loved the fight scene, and the ending was great! especially coming from Engel. Awesome post! 



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