THE WANDERER

(REDUX)

VOLUME ONE

JULIA FOREVER


WARNING: The following work of fiction contains large amounts of profanity, obscenely large amounts of violence and gore and explicit depictions of sexuality. It also deals with mature issues and themes such as rape, racism and vigilante justice. Many of the characters possess political and moral views which some may find questionable or even offensive. The story also may make fun of the suffering of others and the disabled and may contain some homoeroticism.

The author of this story would like to remind the viewer that this is entirely a work of fiction and in no way does the author support the views and strategies used by all the characters. However, if you find this sort of content or subject matter offensive in any way it is strongly suggest that you stop reading immediately. Readers who continue reading acknowledge that they were notified of the content before hand and continued to read under their own discretion.


ONE

In the outer suburbs it was late afternoon. The sky was the brooding gray that comes between winter and spring. The world had just been freed from the icy grip of snow but the sun had yet to shine.

The street was quiet and devoid of life. The street was old; no white line defined its center. The surface was cracked and broken and the edges were riddled with pot holes. Thick brush encroached on either side. All the properties contained weathered and beaten homes their yards falling into disarray.

An old family sedan, slowly being eaten away by the rust sat at the road's edge. Its color had once been a very rich blue, but the sun had made it fade. Dust lay in a fine coat on between the backseat and rear window. In the passenger lay a series of notepads, some covered in hand writing impossible to decipher.

The world was silent and motionless. In some ways it was idyllic, peaceful and serene, like a corpse.

A gentle breeze ran down the road, its coolness could irritate the skin and make it turn red, but caused no real discomfort. The trees and brush on either side of the road rustled gently the caresses their leaves shared making only the slightest of sounds.

A few moments later the sound died down as the leaves resumed their peaceful slumber. The almost undetectable sound of horse hooves could be heard in the distance.

For a few moments the world continued to sit, empty and devoid of life. After a few moments the distinction of footfalls accompanying the hoof beats could be made.

At last, in the distance a dark silhouette appeared. Walking down the center of the road was a slender man of average height leading an old pastel colored mare by the reigns.

The man wore a long, dark gray woolen coat that went down past his knees. Under this coat he wore a dark gray hooded sweatshirt. Emblazoned upon it's chest was a large iron cross surrounded in black trim.

The man possessed dusky olive skin and his eyes were of a brown so dark they matched his pupils. He had long, thin, black wavy hair that fell to his shoulders. He wore tight, black leather pants. His feet wore black leather biker's boots that were dominated by large buckles and climbed up to his calves.

On his hands which were soft and delicate he wore a pair of black leather fingerless gloves. His face was similarly soft and delicate with all his features finely chiseled with a noble yet humble beauty.

However, one imperfection remained a long thin pale scar that ran from his right cheekbone to his jaw line.

His eyes scanned the area casually from behind a pair of round red-tinted glasses. His eyes looked as if they had once possessed much life, joy and love, but now they were cold, dead and quick.

He had dubbed the mare "Benny" after he'd discovered her on an abandoned farm. Unfortunately he did not know much about horse care or maintenance. Benny seemed to be at the end of her rope. Often her eyes would roll back up into her skull and she would push on as if without conscious thought. Occasionally white foam would drip form her lips and the man had long expected her to drop dead without as much as a murmur.

On his hips the man wore two holsters in each was a 9mm Beretta pistol, one black one nickel with ivory grip. In the middle of his belt, over the buckle a military combat knife sat snuggly in its holster.

The man suddenly stopped in mid stride as if he remembered something. His chin sank lower until his hood cast a long shadow over his eyes. He turned to his left and looked at many of the abandoned homes.

A moment of consideration passed. He raised his head and began to approach a dwelling.

At the edge of the property was an old fire hydrant where he kneeled and tethered Benny. He had seen few complete fire hydrants since the world had died. He had not expected to see anymore complete ones within the city limits. He assumed most had been destroyed during the riots. It seemed the old, rusty piece of garbage was one of the last of its kind.

The man took note of how the device had once been designed to serve man and now sat entirely useless after man kind had been destroyed. In a way it was the ultimate tribute to mankind's existence. The man smirked before dismissing the thoughts entirely.

The house was a small dwelling of maybe two bedrooms. It had not been well maintained in life but it was an acceptable home. A weed-ridden concrete path led to the front door. A shutter hung from its frame, attached by a single rusty hinge. The wood siding was rotten. Both entrances were guarded by a generic concrete stoop. The stoops stood as perfect sentries, their loyalty unfaltering beyond the end of humanity and towards the end of time.

He walked up the path slowly, almost methodically. Slowly he turned his thoughts over once or twice in his mind. He wondered who's home this had been. Had it been an elderly couple without children? Had it been a middle aged couple with teenage children? Teenagers would've been closer to his age. The man doubted he could consider anyone close to him again. He wondered if a group of close friends had frolicked in this yard during the middle of the night. Quietly hushing their voices as not to be heard by the neighbors. He wondered if some young couple had courted on this lawn while their companions were inside preoccupied. He wondered if they had shared silent, secret kisses under a starry night sky.

He stopped, crouched down and ran his palm over a wide berth of grass. He wondered if the couple had used a blanket, or if they had cuddled on the soft, welcoming grass. He stopped his hand in mid-caress. His eyes softened and for a split second a twinkle of emotion could be seen in his eyes. Or perhaps it was recollection, recollection of some deep emotion that had passed long ago. No matter what it was, it was still only a shadow, a cheap imitation of something greater. He remained still for a long time, as if savoring the memory. Then slowly, almost reluctantly he stood back up.

Calmly he rationalized he had no need for such foolishness. He was already too old to bother with such things.

He continued towards the side door. He did not know if the heavier inside door was locked. Without giving it much thought he reached for one of his pistols. Absent-mindedly he wondered what the building might contain. He wondered if he would find a group of rotting corpses, their faces bloated, blood dripping down the front of their clothing, eyes rolled back in their sockets, their skin covered in red oozing rashes, their clothes drenched with urine and feces and flies picking at their frozen faces.

He had heard stories of more gruesome encounters however. Tales had spoken of plague victims that had not died. Supposedly some had become horribly deformed with guts on the outside of their bodies. These deformities had also given them violent tempers and cravings for tender human flesh.

The man shook his head to disperse these thoughts. He believed them to be fables spun by more creative survivors to pass the time, but the doubt had been planted. He closed his hand around his pistol in a death grip. He leaned back on the heel of his left foot and with a kick of his right the door flew open sending splinters across the room.

The man poked his head inside the door which opened onto a kitchen. There were no electric lights, sunlight shone through dirty windowpanes. Peeled paint and rusty handles clung to the cupboards. A thin white lair of dried dish soap lay in the sink.

The man sighed a little mentally. The only thing that moved in the kitchen was some insects. No rotting corpse leapt at him from the shadows, its jaw hanging from its skull and intestines flowing from a hole in its abdomen.

The man inhaled deeply the air was stale but the scent of rotting flesh was absent. He let all his muscles relax; he had been far too tense lately. He hadn't seen another human being in three weeks.

The man chuckled quietly to himself, taking small comfort in the fact he found something amusing.

He turned around and leaned against the outside wall of the house. He reached inside his coat and withdrew a package of cigarettes and a silver Zippo. A certain proud elegance seemed to emanate from him he could've passed for a woman.

He put the cigarette in his mouth and lit it. It was a nasty habit he'd picked up in more stressful days. He sighed and took another drag, cigarettes were sparse these days. The threat of cancer did not concern him; he'd lost too much to deny himself the simple pleasure of a cigarette.

He suddenly heard a soft neigh coming from the front yard. With an impatient groan he marched toward the front.

A strong wind came up ruffling his clothes and tugging at his hair but he ignored it. When he reached the front yard Benny gave him an expectant look. Ironically it was the most intelligent look Benny had given him in days. Benny keeled over dead. A small smile passed the man's lips.

He was not smiling at death, he was smiling at how ironically difficult his situation had become. He smiled at the thought that no matter how bad things were, they would always inevitably get worse.

For a moment he felt like laughing his goddamn head off, laughing at fate, laughing at god, laughing at life, laughing at the entire world, laughing at himself or laughing at everything. He declined the idea after some consideration.

He calmly strode across the yard, already he knew there was nothing he could do. The man stood beside his deceased companion and slowly turned his gaze downward with an empty expression.

"Well, fuck." He thought out loud. Coolly the wind picked up as if in mocking response. The man was alone again, but then he always had been. In the darkness of his soul he smiled. Slowly, the smile spread to his face. The man smiled madly.


Author's note:

I began The Wanderer a long time ago around 2002 or 2003. Due to a lack of interest people took in the early stages I only got about halfway. However in early 2005 I sat down at the keyboard and began writing again.

I don't know whether the newfound determination came from a recently (At the time) failed relationship or whether it was the encroaching high school graduation that pushed me to finish it.

During the summer of 2005 I began planning to make The Wanderer into a script. (I had originally intended it to be a movie anyways.) In December of 2005 the first draft was complete; however it was far too long and I was repeatedly told by readers that the dialogue was horrendous. So around March I began revising the script and I just completed the revised first draft of The Wanderer screenplay just two days before writing this note.

I must admit however a great deal of material was cut from the revised screenplay, material that I still in a way care for. I also realize that people are much fonder of reading novels then actual screenplays so I have decided provide an all new epic length version of The Wanderer with a serial format of at least one chapter a month.

I don't know what keeps drawing me back to The Wanderer time and time again. It was the second novel I ever attempted to write. I think in some ways it was the best idea I could ever muster for story, in others I think I may have wrote too much of myself into the story and have been unable to let it go. On the other hand I think The Wanderer has the best ending I've come up with ever and have for a long time been searching for another ending so satisfying. In another way I think I've grown to love the characters more the more I've thought about them. I think I'll personally miss them when I finally stop writing about them. I of course know them more personally then anyone else has and shared in their emotions.

In some ways, I think this will truly be the last time I'm involved with The Wanderer (Unless the film actually gets made). That makes me sad somehow, like a child that has outgrown something he loved. So, I'd like this one to be even better then the first. I suppose I won't know how it turns out until it's all over, a few years from now.

I've heard people say that it's not the destination that's important it's the journey, but I always think a story needs an ending that justifies the end of the story itself.

I've decided to leave the original story published as well here on fiction press, just so if you like you can compare the two and see changes in style or tone; hopefully this new version will contain less angst and with any luck, better storytelling. I also hate to spoil it but the new version will contain the original ending so, if you really can't wait, you can go with the old version, although I hope you'll bear with me and see this thing through to the end, it's really my life's work (and as you may have guessed, I have trouble letting go of things.)

Sincerely,

Syntheticsoul

Tuesday, June 13 2006.

P.S. Please, Read and Review… I need affirmation to live. :(