Barren Ground: Part 1, The Driver

I’m trying out something new with this story, so if you like it, then yay! If you don’t, however, please bear with the next two parts and I assure you I will be coming back to the posts you all know and love.

A thick, heavy rain began to pour on Billy as he was under the hood of the car. His wife, Katrina, shouted over the drops. “Bill! Just stop fucking with it and get in the car. You’re getting soaked! AAA is on their way and they’ll take a look at it.”

“AAA doesn’t repair, Kat!” Billy replied.

“They do minor stuff.” She said, opening the door and getting inside. Just then, off in the distance, a bright pair of headlights beamed through the rain. The roar of tires rolling across the pavement became louder as the car approached, but descended as the driver slowed and pulled onto the shoulder in front of the couple. Billy’s headlights would have lit the driver well, had they been on. Instead a dark silhouette was all that was seen stepping out of the driver’s seat. The only detail that was visible was that the individual was bald. An umbrella exploded above the dark figure as he walked toward Billy.

“Car trouble?” The driver asked.

“Yeah, I can’t figure out what’s wrong with it.” Billy replied, spitting rainwater into the air.

“How about I take a look?”

“Be my guest.” Billy beckoned to the open engine as the driver handed him his umbrella, bending down into the engine, overlooking every inch. He seemed to be quite absorbed in his own thoughts, because the sound of Katrina’s voice caused him to jump so hard that he smashed his head on the open hood, “Do you want me to try starting it?”

“Jesus!” The driver screamed, rubbing his head and looking at Billy, “I thought it was just you!”
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Wash it Away

“Man, I tell ya; all these people back here have all this money and they go out and try to feed us this crap all the time? I mean, we’re people too, and we gotta eat. I ain’t never asked for nothin’ from nobody, you know? People offer me money or somethin’ like that I turn it down.” I nod. “But these bastards here think they’re something special and they can just treat us like garbage all the time. Well that’s bullshit! I work my ass off to get by, and Goddamn it I get by, you know? Not like these lazy fucks around here.” I scoop a sporkful of white rice, covered in chicken gravy and peas, into my mouth and nod again.

“I got a family, you know? I try to make sure they’re all taken care of and I look out for ‘em. ‘Cause family’s what’s important, you know?” I scoff, and quickly disguise it as a cough so as not to encourage a separate rant. “People these days, man. They just don’t know what they’re doin’, you know?” I nod again, glancing at his plate. He’s scraped it almost empty and is still scooping any last bits of gravy off of it. It’d be easier if you just licked it, I think. He stands.

His hoodie is hardly worth wearing. I’m sure it’s supposed to be black, but dried mud stains almost the entire thing, and there are holes riddled throughout it. His zipper is halfway up on the front left, and the right side is barely hanging onto the cloth. I want to grab it and rip it off, but I remain seated. I think he’s an amateur; new to the game. I’ve learned my lesson a long time ago that even in the worst situations, it was always crucial to look as not homeless as possible.
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Atlantic City, 2060

Chapter 1

Oil and blood don’t mix very well. It did, however, make for a strange, layered puddle that inched toward me. I closed my eyes and turned my head to face the darkness above me. The cold cement I felt beneath me kept getting colder, and yet I couldn’t help but smile. That smile soon turned to a chuckle.  I did manage to prolong a war between man and machine, I thought, a real life John Connor, cut down in his prime. Wouldn’t Dad be proud? I was hoping for a light at the end of the tunnel, but it all just kept getting dimmer. I welcomed it, though. It was fitting and justified, given the poor choices I had made. Grave ones. If it weren’t for that damned Ivan Rechtmer, this whole thing wouldn’t even have happened.

I found the rumors about death to be true as I flashed back to the first time I heard his name. My father walking in with a newspaper in his hand, slamming it down on the table. “They don’t know what the fuck they’re doing over there!” He’d scream to my mother.  Never at her, just to her. She’d just stand in the kitchen with her back turned and roll her eyes.

The 12 year old me wanted to know, though, “Who doesn’t know what the fuck they’re doing?”

“Don’t swear dear,” my mother said, “those are big people words.”

“Here, see for yourself!” Dad said as he tossed the paper to me. While in the air, It unfolded and different sections scattered on the floor. I saw the one he was referring to on the front page. A man with sleek blond hair and wood grain glasses was shaking hands with the President. Above the picture a headline read:

AN ARTIFICIAL AGE BEGINS

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