The Scout

Chapter 12

By Dwayne MacInnes

The engine of the buggy purred as Scott prepared to drive out of the ghost town. Brent leaned over the driver's side.

"Look, I can take the kid back with us over the border."

Scott smiled and replied, "I don't think he'd go. Plus, I'm going to need him to I.D. his sister."

Brent slapped the roll cage and laughed, "Good luck to you."

Scott pulled the buggy back onto the pothole filled highway. The ride tended to be smoother as Scott was able to maneuver around debris better than he could in the Charger. Still Scott would have preferred the muscle car's thick skin to the smooth ride of the buggy.

As the buggy drove down the highway, Scott noticed that Sam sat hunched over working on something. "What are you doing there kiddo?" Scott asked.

Sam just shrugged his shoulders and responded in a small voice, "Nothing."

Scott returned his attention to driving. Sam was probably just thinking over his recent tragedies again and would like to spend some time alone. There was still a couple of hours of sun Scott figured.

Scott noticed that the wasteland was slowly giving way to grass. Here and there, clumps of tall yellow grass waved in the wind. More commonly however was the scrub grass that tenaciously clung low to the ground. Life was slowly returning to the blasted hard-packed wasteland.

The sun was starting to dip below the hills on the horizon and Scott figured it would be best if he found a place to set up camp. The boy and he could sleep under the stars. Everything would more than likely be all right as long as Scott kept his .30-06 rifle and his .357 Magnum ready.

The scout pulled the buggy off the road and parked it behind an old dilapidated barn at the base of low hill. Scott and Sam grabbed some blankets and a couple MREs. With the sun starting set and the barn between them and the old highway Scott figured it was safe enough to risk a small fire.

The two were comfortably eating their evening meal beside the low fire when Sam twisted his head toward the hill.

"Did you hear that?" the boy asked in surprise.

"Sorry, I guess you ears are better than mine. It is probably nothing," Scott replied before shoving another spoonful of mashed potatoes into his mouth.

Sam looked again towards the hill. This time Scott too thought he heard a low wail. The scout really wished he had his Charger now; the Geiger-counter would really help as an early warning against muties.

Scott picked up the hunting rifle and scrambled up the hill in the receding daylight. When he reached the top, he fell to his stomach and put the rifle to his cheek. The scout peered through the scope and surveyed in the direction he figured the wail came from.

It was not hard to locate the source of the noise. The only feature in the bleak landscape was an old twisted high-tension power tower. Near the top on the steel crossbars was a man; below him was a party of five humans furiously beating against the tower. The inhuman wails emanating from the people at the base left no doubt that Scott was looking at some muties.

"Damn," Scott cursed under his breath. Muties did not have to kill you by tearing you apart their radiation soaked bodies could do it if they got too close. If the man at the top had been quick enough, he may have put enough distance between himself and the muties to forestall him sharing their fate.

Scott prepared to fire on the first mutie when he cursed again a little louder.

"What is it?" Sam asked. Scott had forgotten about the boy who now sat next to him straining his young eyes to make out the forms near the tower.

"It's muties. They have a man trapped in that tower and if I shoot them, they will die near the base and the man will still be stuck up on top the tower. I don't think that man has weeks for the muties to decompose and the radiation to dissipate," Scott replied never taking his eyes off his target.

To make matters worse the sun was nearly behind the hills and Scott would lose his target once the light faded completely. Scott figured maybe he could fire the rifle and the muties may come towards him. It was definitely very unlikely, muties did not respond to firearms. They only tended to care about venting their insane rage on the living.

Scott took closer aim and was about to send a shot past the first mutie when suddenly the mutie turned towards the scout. Surprise stunned Scott for there was no way the mutie could know he was there. Scott had been silent and it was impossible for the mutie to see Scott unaided on top of the hill.

Then surprisingly the mutie let out a mournful wail and started towards the hill. His four irradiated companions also turned toward the hill and started to shamble towards it. The pain and rage filled cries sent a shiver through Scott's spine. The form of what had once been a man but now resembled a hotdog overcooked on the campfire made Scott's hair stand on end. The mutie had charred black skin; that cracked revealing the red and pink tender flesh underneath. He had pustules and blisters, which burst releasing its pent-up blood and pus all over his body. A milky film covered the mutie's left eye, but the rage and pain manifested itself in the right. As the abomination exhaled another wail between his blackened and cracked lips, two teeth bubbled out with bloody foam from his ruined mouth.

Then he heard it. Above the wails, Scott heard the noise of a boy yelling. Jumping to his feet Scott saw Sam at the base of the hill running towards the muties screaming to grab their attention. Without further thought, Scott brought the rifle to his shoulder and peered through the scope.

Sam was keeping his distance and drawing the monsters toward him. Scott did not know whether to be happy or angry with the lad. That was something to he would deal with later.

The blast of the .30-06 shattered the twilight. The first mutie's head exploded, the body stopped and stood still for a fraction of a second before it toppled backwards. Without missing a beat, Scott smoothly worked the rifle's bolt to eject the spent shell while it simultaneously chambered another cartridge. Within half a minute five radiated corpses littered the field between the hill and the tower.

The man in the tower worked his way back to earth and took a wide path around the corpses. He wore some faded denim jeans and a flannel coat that was patched in many places. His boots were worn and dusty. He met up with Sam and the two of them marched up the hill.

The stocky man was panting by the time he and the boy reached its top. The man's face burned dark by the relentless sun; his black hair matched the thick mustache on his round face. Scott was still fighting internally whether to rebuke or reward the boy and he was surprised when the stranger stuck out his hand.

"That was mighty fine shooting. I want to thank you and your son for saving me," the man said. Scott looked at Sam and the boy winked at the scout. "My name is Wade Benson. I was on my way back to Sturgis when my bike broke down. Those damn muties had me treed.

"Anyway, thanks. Your son says you are on your way to Sturgis to sign-up with the Anarchists."

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Douglas Gogerty published on September 26, 2007 7:01 PM.

"The Lost Wizard" - Dwanye the Rogue - Third and Final Tale was the previous entry in this blog.

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