Note: I'd really like comments on this, since it's my first work posted here. Hope you review!

Before.

Wolves wandered around at night in search of prey.

It was the Wasteland, which has been called home by many, torn by a great war long ago. The weak die here, under blistering heat and against hunger and plague. The animals adapted, mutated to a point, as did the human beings. Society survived, kept alive by those strong to rule the masses.

Very few ventured out during the summer night; food was scarce among the animals: many died from hunger while those who did not hunted for meat. The human body was weak against what nature became.

But there were places; places where the wolves refuse to hunt and the prey refuse to hide. There were small areas in the wasteland plain, where a certain tree grows. The surface of that certain tree is covered by a light brown sludge, thick enough to be visible far away. The leaves stank of dead bodies, burning in the summer heat, and that was about it. It bore fruit, however, shaped like a small rubber ball and colored like the sand. No one knew its taste, not for a very long time.

Almost everyone knew why, and it was easy to understand.

Sometimes a bird would seek shelter, or a wolf would be lost from its pack. They would see the tree from a distance, the bird seeing the tree branches as a possible nest, the wolf seeing the fruit that fell to the ground. In their own purpose they will unknowingly head for the tree. Then what happens next will be very quick, like an attacking snake.

Around the tree, or below the ground around it, a pack of snakes live from the tree's benefit. They would burst from the soil, attacking the stray wolf in all directions. It is over in a few seconds, as the venom that evolved with them is near fatal, especially when at least ten snakes bite at the same time. The bird fares no better, since some of the snakes prefer the treetops as their home.

The snakes leave the dead bodies alone to rot under the sun; the tree, it's poison sap and fruit were enough for them. They ruled, their small kingdom in absolute power.

It was the law of the wasteland; an endless cycle that applies to all who lived.

-Ø-

-Samurai Fiction-

Whiplash

"Prologue"

-Ø-

The small town of Carbon was like every other town in the northern wastes. Any form of government was driven out long ago by gangs, who in turn, gathered enough power to rule the people. They made the laws, and the citizens followed like sheep, in fear of their safety. Those who didn't fear, had two possibilities.

The gangs who ruled didn't find out, or they do. The law was simple when they did find out: death, preferably seen by the public as an example. In Carbon, once a month, a number of prisoners would be hand picked to be executed through hanging, as a way of keeping the peace. It was custom, a rule imposed by the rulers of that small town.

During that summer, only one man was chosen to hang. His name was Janus, a young drifter that had just arrived in Carbon two days before. He managed, in such a short amount of time, to kill almost half of the men of the ruling gang. Many citizens have said he killed over forty men with his bare hands, against people who carried guns and were known murderers.

Those were rumors, muttered by the general population as they made their way to hangman's hill. The small hill, the small stage of execution overlooked the small town, a cluster of houses and small buildings located in the center of the northern waste. It was a wonder, for a town to survive so long amidst the area of the wasteland known for danger.

It was all because of the gang leader of Carbon, a short fat man who inherited a fortune, using it to assimilate the several gangs into one. He led the crowd of onlookers to the occasion, seated on a black horse. And behind him, behind the rest of the crowd, was young Leon.

Two guards led him through a rope tied to his neck; the same rope that he was to be hanged him. He walked barefoot, while his entire body was covered in bruises. His face said nothing, or rather, most of it was hidden by his hair, long silver threads that reached his shoulders dirtied by blood and dust.

They say, that there was a beautiful face underneath, covered by cuts and dirt.

It was near dawn; another custom- to hang the prisoner as the sun rose, to at least make the executed feel that there was some future ahead of this. Generally, most of the people who organized the hanging felt it was amusing to do the deed before the sun rose at all.

The sun was rising early though, as everyone reached the hill. A small stage was built on the edge, where the prisoner was hanged in front of the crowd. Janus stood in the center, where the trapdoor that would be opened when his neck is secured was. He waited, while the gang leader went up to him.

"Mr. Janus," the leader said, "I suppose you're finally looking forward to this, since I could tell what my men did to you the night before?"

There was no answer; Janus stared at the short man with dull, grey eyes.

The gang leader, feeling confident in thinking that his prisoner had given in, kept speaking. "I suppose you are wondering, why do we do this? It's only natural, for the strong to rule the weak, and when the weak decide to stand up, people like me make sure that they sit down, and make examples for the weak to obey. Honestly I—"

Janus spoke, in a quiet tone that interrupted the leader. "Hey, I have a question."

The leader frowned, but decided to give Janus his wish. "What is it then?"

"Isn't it custom to free the prisoner when the noose fails to kill them in three tries?" There was a tone in his voice, which gave a feeling that he knew the answer but was asking for confirmation. There was also confidence in his voice, which amused the gang leader.

"Of course," he smiled, showing all of his white teeth. "If you do manage to survive three straight times having your chickenshit neck broken." He finished with a laugh, punching Janus in the gut, who was already bound hand and foot in chains. The execution was ready.

For the first time Janus smiled, in a way that only a few people can. The smile of a true maniac: thirsty for blood.

"Good- By the third time I'm released from the noose, I'll kill the fucking hangman, those two damn guards, and then you…"

He was still smiling maniacally; there was one rule that everyone followed in the wasteland: The strong survive, they are able to rule the weak masses; and the weak will follow. Or they die, whatever happens first.

"Hang him!"

The trapdoor was lowered, as fast as a striking snake, and everything began. Like a cycle.

End

Note: I'd really like comments on this, since it's my first work posted here. Hope you review!