A/N: Yet another new story that randomly popped into my brain a few months ago!
So, as it turns out, I have not been doing well mentally. Been trying to spend more time for myself, and namely getting stories done. Like this one in particular! I wrote this...somewhat as a way of self-healing, and of coping with some of the recent events that have been going on these past few weeks. But overall, just wrote it for fun. It's not tied into the Legatum or Tails Series; this is solely standalone. Most likely I do not plan on making any sequels, prequels, what-have-you based on this story. It's just a short novella of an idea I decided needed to come to fruition.
Premise is fairly simple. Three drifters from three different backgrounds roam through a post-apocalyptic world, all while trying to survive, trying to find meaning behind life, and trying to enjoy themselves without going insane.
Story contains swearing, death, some scenes of gore, and M/M sexual content and nudity.
As always, have fun reading the story. :)
"Okay, listen, listen. We can work this out. Trust me. I've found myself in this predicament far too many times," the wily, spiky-haired man said.
The gruff, dark-skinned man snorted as he pointed his gun at the skinner man. He blinked and said, "Know 'bout all ya drifters. Same shit, different day. Ya'd steal some dentures if ya could eat the food caught 'tween the teeth."
"While I can't disagree with your statement, how's about, uh…how's about we play a game?"
The gruff man scoffed. "Wot, like chess or some shit?"
"Not exactly," the skinnier man said.
The spiky-haired fellow murmured as he looked around the room he stood in. One of the walls had been blown out, exposing both humans to the desert vegetation outside. The floor was covered in rubble, with chunks of concrete and bricks scattered about and dirt smeared all over the tiles. The ceiling looked like it was about to fall down; both men were surprised that they were able to stand inside of what used to be an apartment complex without the floor or ceiling suddenly collapsing. The spiky-haired man rubbed his fingers together, squinting as he tried to find some kind of weapon he could use to take out the burly man in front of him.
"It's, err," the man said, slowly walking around in a circle. "It's a simple game—"
"Stay still," the gun-wielder barked.
The defenseless man stopped walking and grinned, his large, circular goggles shining from a glare of the sun. The giant man squinted a bit, trying to read the skinnier man's eyes, which were fully concealed behind the black-tinted goggles.
"What can I possibly do to you?"
Looking around the environment, the gruff man with the handgun examined the skinnier man. He noticed the weaponless human was shirtless, his tanned, filthy skin smothered in tattoos. He wore fingerless gloves that showed off his pointy nails and had an orange beard dangling from his chin. His spiky orange hair seemed to sprout from his scalp like grass, looking like a messy series of giant spikes protruding from his skull. The pointy ears and nose seemed larger than usual; the bulky man didn't know if it was because of the mutation or if he was just naturally born that way. Even though he had already searched him, the dark-skinned man kept wondering what the spiky-haired drifter was hiding in his baggy camouflage pants and oversized black boots.
"Empty yer pockets."
The spiky-haired man nodded. "As you wish."
Wordlessly, the skinny man dug into his front and back pockets, pulling out nothing but lint and some dirt.
The spiky-haired man grinned.
"Not for that."
The spiky-haired man frowned. He did as he was told, unzipping his pants and dropping them to the floor, showing off a pair of ratty dark gray plaid boxers with questionable stains on them. The man folded his arms and sniffed.
"You satisfied? Or would you like to cavity search me?"
The gruff man chuckled as he lowered his gun and set it into his right pocket. The spiky-haired man glared at the gun for a second before looking back up into his face.
"Dunno where yer funky arse has been. So then, drifter, wot's this game ya wanna play?"
"Well," the drifter said, grunting as he pulled his pants back up, "it's quite simple really."
The drifter slowly walked over to the tall individual, his boots softly clomping on the floor. He grinned again and chuckled as he showed off his nasty yellow teeth.
"Rock, Paper, Scissors!"
The burly resident scoffed again and waved a hand. "Get the fuck outta here."
"No, no, let's do it! It's not complicated. Won't take long. It's a fair game of chance—split evenly three ways. No way for any of us to cheat!"
"Wot's the terms?"
"Easy! Um…" The drifter murmured to himself as he looked around the room, taking note of the four jugs of water and the cans of beans stashed behind a fridge that no longer worked. He turned and spotted the shotgun leaning up against the corner—a shotgun that used to be his before this man took it from him. Then he looked outside the hole in the wall and chuckled, taking note of the black van parked outside with sheets of metal and barbed wire built around the vehicle's body.
"If I win, I get to take your handgun and your van!"
"Mighty high bargain. You ain't got shit to give me if I win."
"On the contrary! You got my shotgun, remember?"
"After I caught ya sneaking in tryin' to steal from me!"
The drifter held up his hands. "All right, all right. I am no liar, sir. Hehe, I did try to steal from you. And on that note, if you win? You get to keep my shotgun. And I'll throw in my clothes as well. Only thing worse than a man without a vehicle is a defenseless man. You get what I'm saying?"
The stocky man shrugged and snorted, balling his right hand into a fist and placing it into his left palm.
"Good!" the drifter said, repeating the same gesture.
"Let's do it."
The two men hit their fists against their hands three times. On the fourth time, the drifter made two fingers, while the big man made a fist.
"Mm. Rock beats scissors. Second round."
Both men hit their fists on their hands again three times. This time around, the drifter flattened his right hand, and the stout man made two fingers with his right hand. He chuckled and licked his lips.
The drifter shot forward like a snake, grabbing the taller man's fingers and breaking both of them in the time it took to blink. The large man shrieked as he stumbled and nearly fell on the floor. Before he even had time to react, the drifter sidled over to his side and removed the handgun from his pocket. Without even blinking, the drifter shot the sturdy man in his skull, not caring about the blood and brain fragments that erupted from his skull and got onto his chest. Once the body hit the floor, the drifter chuckled and twirled the gun around in his right hand.
"Gun beats scissors. Sorry bud," the drifter said with a smirk.
The drifter set the gun into his pocket before he snorted and grinned, looking at all of the supplies the gruff man had. He looked around the ruined apartment, finding a backpack and other containers to stuff the supplies into. Afterwards, he retrieved the shotgun again and exited the apartment, whistling to himself. Once outside, the drifter walked over to the man's former van, the keys jangling in his pocket. After unlocking all of the doors, he tossed the supplies inside before getting in and starting the engine. Fully secured, the drifter drove down the barren road, passing by the long stretches of sand and rocks scattered across the wasteland.
Another blazing hot day. Another day where he would spend most of his time cruising down the roads until he found another safe spot to hide at. But he would worry about that later. Right now was the time to sit back and relax as he got a good tan. The bearded man laid down on the flat surface of the van with the sunroof exposed so that the sun's rays would shine down on his body. He was only wearing shorts, underwear, and a pair of sunglasses at the moment, lying on his back with his hands behind his head and a pair of headphones on. The bearded man silently listened to the music playing from his battery-powered device, staring at the sun through the roof of the van. As he lied still, he heard something rumbling against the van, as though an animal bumped into the side of the vehicle. Before the man could even sit up, he saw something skitter onto the top of the van, blocking the sun's rays. Frowning, the man slowly sat up and looked at the creature on the sunroof. The beast snarled several times and banged a fist onto the glass multiple times, unable to break or even crack the fortified, bulletproof pane.
"Not another one," the bearded man groaned.
Lazily, the shirtless man stood up and removed his earbuds as the beast continued to bang on the glass. He walked over to a small locker and opened it up, retrieving a pump-action shotgun that was already loaded. Afterwards, he walked to the back of the van and opened up the rear doors, pointing the weapon outside. The creature resting on the top of the van snarled as it jumped backwards and landed on the ground. Scowling, the bearded man stared at the humanoid bug-like beast with two fingers and toes and claws sharp enough to effortlessly disembowel an animal. The skinny, bright green, yellow-eyed creature roared, showing off enough teeth to put a shark's mouth to shame. It leaped up into the air just as the man fired, blasting the beast backwards. After it collapsed onto the ground, the man hopped outside the van and walked up to the monster's head. The beast gurgled and coughed as it choked on its own blood, with several of its teeth broken and lying on the ground. The man casually aimed for the monster's head and fired again, blasting its skull apart. Sighing, the man turned and walked back into his van, closing the locking the back doors as he set his shotgun back on the floor.
"Figures," the man said, sighing again.
Lackadaisically, the man put on a sweaty T-shirt, a long, dusty blue jacket, and his black boots as he heard muffled growls from outside. He already knew what was coming and was irritated that he couldn't spend more time sunbathing. As the man set his battery-powered device into the glovebox and climbed over into the driver's seat, he heard skittering and snarls outside, and spotted no less than a dozen similar monsters gathering around the van. After turning on the engine, the man pressed his foot on the gas pedal and drove away, all while the monsters roared at him, unable to match their speed alongside the van. Grumbling, the bearded man kept driving down the road until he was in the clear, at which point he relaxed and drove in silence. Looking outside, the man could see nothing beside the roads except for a few boulders and cacti. Occasionally he'd come across a skeleton or two, or he'd see some wild birds feasting on the corpse of some human who had been killed by the monsters, but nothing of sentimental value. At least, not until he came upon a bent road indicator that had a barefooted man sitting next to it. The bearded man stopped his van and stammered before he rolled down his window.
The other man, a very portly fellow wearing a strange red football helmet and torn red shorts that poorly hung around his waist, wheezed as he looked up at the bearded man in the van. He said nothing and looked away.
"Hey dude, the hell you doing?"
Still no reply. Huffing, the bearded man opened the door of his van and approached the chubby man sitting on the ground. He didn't even have a weapon next to him and looked relatively harmless. Squinting, the bearded man stood in front of the chubby shirtless wanderer and exhaled.
"You, uh, you lost or something?"
The fat man shrugged.
"Looking for someone?"
The chubby man shrugged.
"Got a name?"
The chubby man didn't say anything. The bearded man looked at the pudgy man's helmet, seeing five tally marks etched into the hard plastic. Scratching his head, the bearded man coughed and pointed at his gray van with a thumb.
"You want a ride?"
Still silent, Five Strikes grunted as he stood up from the ground, wiping off his shorts and walking towards the van. He meandered his way to the passenger's side of the door, waiting for the bearded man to unlock it. Once he did, the bearded drifter got inside, while Five Strikes hopped up and sat in the torn passenger's seat. Afterwards, the bearded man started the van's engine and resumed driving down the street, traveling across the desert road with no visible landmarks in sight.
"So them bugs outside, only a couple miles out. Dont'cha think you should have a weapon?"
Five Strikes turned and looked at the bearded man. The bearded man could see that his eyes were almost completely red, with the pupils looking the wrong shade of color. The bearded drifter turned away for a moment, shortly before he flicked his eyes down at the man's burly left arm. He frowned once he saw various scars going along the veins that the man wasn't trying to hide. The bearded man cleared his throat and scratched his close-cut scalp with dirt on it. He let his nostrils flare for a moment and scowled. When he looked at Five Strike again, he could see that his bright skin was covered in stains, and he smelled like he hadn't showered in a few weeks, possibly months.
"Ain't a fan of hygiene by the smell of it. Or maybe you don't like water? Heh, all that toxic shit's in the oceans and lakes, last I heard."
Five Strikes still said nothing. He breathed heavily with the helmet still on, scratching at his pudge and picking his belly-button. He took a huge breath and exhaled, feeling himself loosening.
"Dude, you gotta say something. You ain't the first person I've met who thinks he's the strong silent type. What, some kind of childhood trauma? Someone do something to, err, 'upset' you? Maybe you wanna explain those marks on your arm, eh? Or would you—OH! OHHHHH, WHAT THE FUCK?!"
The bearded man looked at Five Strike's groin. He noticed that a wet stain had appeared on his shorts, and that a puddle was forming on the passenger's seat. Frustrated, the bearded man pulled over to the side of the road and stomped on the brakes, stopping the van in a matter of seconds.
"Fuck this—get out of my fuckin' car!"
Five Strikes blinked and looked around before saying, "This is a van," in a murmured, deep voice.
"The fuck does that gotta do with anything?!"
"I cannot exit a car that I am not inside of."
"Who the—whatever! You just pissed yourself in my fuckin' van!"
Five Strikes mumbled and rubbed his belly. "You enjoy the sound of your own voice."
"Don't change the subject! Why the hell did you just do that?!"
"My bladder was full."
"You could've told me to pull over! Jesus—gonna have to clean that now, get the smell out my van—you've any idea how hard it is to find air freshener? There was literally no point in doing that and you know it!"
Still scratching and rubbing his stomach, Five Strikes said, "I've always liked animals. Stallions in particular. Very large creatures. Carefree. Majestic. And vile."
"Horses ain't vile dude—you are."
"I remember taking a ride in a horse-drawn carriage. They trotted along the road—just as we are right now. And then they passed gas, right in my face. About an hour later, they lifted their tails and started to defecate onto the ground. The people around me—they just laughed. Meanwhile, the horses just kept on walking."
Five Strikes rolled his tongue around his mouth and blinked. "It's interesting. An animal passes gas and most humans react with laughter or indifference. Humans pass gas and most people respond with disgust or embarrassment."
"Animals don't do it on purpose or for the sake of annoying people. They—"
"Animals do whatever the fuck they want because they can or because it's instinctual. You sit here asking all these questions—why do I have this helmet, why don't I talk much, why did I micturate in my shorts. And you think because I'm human that there's some deeper philosophical meaning behind everything, when in reality the answer is very simple."
The bearded man turned away from Five Strikes and exhaled. He rubbed his forehead for a moment and shut his eyes.
"How much do you weigh?"
"Over two hundred and thirty pounds."
"I'm gonna assume I can't force you out my van."
"You can try."
The bearded drifter took his hand away from his head and grabbed the steering wheel. Grumbling, he started the engine back up and resumed driving down the road. After driving for a minute or two, the bearded drifter looked at Five Strikes and asked, "Where you want me to drop you off?"
Five Strikes shrugged. "I'll let you know when I see it."
Fucking fantastic. I just had to pick up a guy with no hygiene who's content with messing himself, the bearded man thought.
"You gonna shit yourself too?"
The bearded drifter only drove for another thirty seconds before he heard muffled sputtering coming from Five Strikes' behind. He immediately covered his nose with his shirt and swore to himself.
"Son of a bitch," the bearded man growled.
Five Strikes picked at his belly-button again and blinked.
"You'll understand soon enough. Once you understand what we humans are, life will make so much more sense."
The bearded drifter said nothing and continued driving, rolling down his window to try and air out the stench within the van.
She looked pretty. Very pretty. Then again, most women he saw nowadays looked nice. It was a shame that she was pinned underneath the car. The chubby drifter stood out in the middle of the road right next to the disheveled gas station. He listened to the wind blowing and felt sweat running down the back of his neck. As he took in some air, his chest inflated, moments before he let out a long breath muffled by his gasmask. The chubby drifter kept staring at the woman with her legs pinned beneath the overturned car, watching as she desperately reached out with a frail hand, scratching at the pavement. She looked up at the oversized drifter and murmured something, but the drifter couldn't understand her—nor did he care. He reached underneath his dirty white T-shirt with several sweat and dirt stains on it and scratched around his stomach, grunting and taking another breath. Bored with the dying woman, the burly, fat drifter walked over to the trunk of the car. He kicked at it several times and banged his humongous fists against the metal, expecting it to pop open with enough brute force. When his plan didn't work, he huffed and walked over to his motorcycle he had propped up against a telephone pole.
After digging into a sack he had straddled against the side of the bike, he removed a crowbar. Returning to the car, the fat drifter pried open the trunk with a metallic snap, watching as the trunk released its content onto the ground. But there was nothing inside of the trunk except for some clothes—none of which he could squeeze into. Huffing, the chubby man walked over to the dying woman, looking at the blonde hair covering part of her face. He crouched down and felt around her clothes, hoping to retrieve a gun or even a small knife he could use in the future. But she had nothing valuable. Standing up, the fat man stared at the woman as she coughed up some blood and whimpered in pain. Showing no hesitation, the man placed his booted left foot down on her neck and pressed down. It didn't take much. The drifter watched as the woman weakly tried to remove the boot from her throat, only to go limp thirty seconds later. The bugs would've found her. The pain would've been too great. Some other drifter would've had fun tearing her body apart while she was still alive. The drifter wouldn't have been able to save her anyway, so why bother?
After the woman ceased making noise, the drifter moved away from her corpse and headed into the gas station. As expected, the building was in ruins. Mildew and mold grew in corners of the floor, cobwebs were in the upper corners of the ceiling, dust was all over the counters, the shelves had toppled over, and all of the windows had been broken. Most annoyingly, there was no food around. The fat drifter heard his stomach grumble loudly and felt the vibrations deep within his pudge. He huffed again, hot breath blasting into his gasmask. The drifter looked all around the gas station, feeling around the walls for secret doors or hidden passageways leading to closets or pantries filled with food. When nothing worked, he used his crowbar to strike against the wall, praying that the brick and mortar would fall apart. To his surprise, it did, revealing a small area behind the bathrooms. The giant drifter peeked into the area and saw some bodies inside—three humans, all of whom had been there for so long that their bodies had decomposed. The drifter looked around and huffed, seeing nothing but corpses that were weak and scrawny.
Disappointed with his search, the giant drifter moved away from the area and growled, coming across nothing of value in the entire station. Still desperate to get some food, the fat drifter walked back outside and spotted the woman underneath the wrecked car. He looked at the bag filled with supplies on his motorcycle and grunted. Strolling over to the bag, he took out a frying pan and removed his flaying knife from his pocket. In only a half-hour, the drifter had built a fire and was cooking chunks of flesh and the other organs he was able to salvage. The drifter stared at the strips of flesh sizzling in the pan alongside the heart and part of the liver. He grunted as he removed his mask, revealing a horribly disfigured face. Struggling to breathe, the drifter stabbed a strip of flesh with his knife and tore the flesh off with his bare teeth. He sat still as he ate the human flesh strip by strip, giving time for the heart and liver to cook more thoroughly. Once he finished, he put out the fire and waited for the heart to cool, moments before he grabbed the heart with his bare hands and bit into it.
The chubby drifter took several deep breaths and wheezed as he kept eating, feeling various chest pains. He pushed through them all and continued to consume his meal, looking around the environment and checking to make sure no one was spying on him. But he was alone, as far as he could tell. The drifter was about to chomp down on more flesh when he coughed multiple times and felt his chest tightening again. Not taking chances, the man grabbed his gasmask and put it back on, huffing and waiting until his lungs and chest began to function properly. Afterwards, the drifter waited for a full minute before he looked at his left arm. He stared at the dark veins that seemed to be glowing black beneath his skin before he pulled up his shirt and looked at his chest. Pressing a hand just below his breasts, the drifter took another deep breath, nearly straining himself. Knowing the mask wasn't helping, he took it back off and shoveled the rest of the meat into his mouth, chewing on the flesh and swallowing with big gulps.
The drifter put his mask back on before he started coughing and walked back over to his motorcycle. He looked at the veins and arteries in his arms again and snorted, knowing he didn't have much time left. The drifter got back onto his bike and started up the engine, taking long breaths as he relaxed his heart and lungs, trying not to put too much strain on his internal organs. When the pain subsided, he drove onto the road, swerving his way past the car crash and out into the desert again.