Beamo’s Gold part 4
Beamo has a run-in with three Mutant Angels on an outlaw island in a great lake.
Bonehead and me led the Sawbird Gang out of the swamp onto a broader, packed-down dirt road winding north and then we pushed ahead in a tight diamond for eight straight hours. Miles slipped past like the days of your teens. Started feeling sorry. I had been running hot at the outlaws and at myself for getting snatched. Coming down from running-hot leaves a deep blue feeling in your bones. Everything that happened this year now seemed like kicks to the kidneys–the accident that took my dad’s life, breaking up with Des a few months later, even the big-rig find led directly to my current situation. But as I flew past the broad trees and the open tall grass prairie mounds with ancient buildings hidden neath, my old confidence grew. I knew what I was doing. It was just a time matter. Tee or Bonehead would make a mistake sooner or later.
When the Rock River County Militia sighted us nothing happened. They stayed back; Tee and Bonehead just ignored them. They escorted us out of their territory and we left them behind. About a mile later big black buzzards flew up from an even bigger, blacker dead thing when we rounded a sharp curve. I glanced back after almost running it over but the headless carcass was too far-gone for me to tell if it was man or beast.
We had to go the long way round the massive Dead Metro ruins on southern Migan Lake. Of course I knew the printed name of Dead Metro on the ancient maps was ‘C-h-i-c-a-g-o.’ What I worked out as sounding like Kheyekaygo. Whatever it sounded like, lethal nuuk poison was still leaking out from its derelict power plants. That was along with the other toxics flooding the whole region for the last eleven hundred years. Almost nobody knew why to keep two hundred miles from Dead Metro; they just knew it was nuuk cursed up there. Would be great to go in for a scavenge pedition someday. Maybe in a few thousand years the nuuk will dilute down.
We rolled up to the quay on the great lake two hundred seventy miles north of Dead Metro. White gulls over the rocky shore, hazy wavy air above the big whitecaps as far as the eyes could make out. Tee walked up to pay for a boarding pass at the well-guarded row of low buildings next to the quay. You could tell the wind never stopped on that lakeshore. Me, Tee, Bonehead, and Bonehead’s dollmoll Sass Hootie boarded a good-sized sailboat an hour later after they checked in their weapons. It was the last ship out to Mo’s Island for that day.
I enjoyed seeing Bonehead puke after the rolling waves throwing the ship up and down got to him. Tee almost puked too. I lived on a houseboat on the Missysip ever since I got back from my first jaunt west so the rolling and rocking didn’t bother me.
Sass covered her head in her raincoat and hung onto the inner railing to stay as far away from the roiling metallic blue water as possible. When I asked her why, she gave a scared smile and said, “This nuuk water splash on yous head make yous hair fall out!” She pointed at the closest sailor. His hair wasn’t totally gone but the bare patches were big. This used to be a pretty safe area of the great lake. Nuuk poison was still spreading out.
It made me a little edgy to see the land disappear behind us but soon enough a blurry strip appeared ahead. It grew until there was Mo’s Island and then we docked.
I set foot on the outlaw island for the first time. Like Sass I felt good getting off that ship floating on nuuk taminated great lake water and onto solid ground. Tee went to the tire shop inside the flimsy building three blocks in. I went with Bonehead and Sass to buy ammo and other things-that-go-boom at the open-air arms bazaar.
Now late afternoon as we all sashayed up and down the rows of weapon vendor kiosks and tables. The place was set up like a county fair. There was a midway with all the big vendors and side rows with specialty items and food stands. We mingled into a good-sized crowd of allied and rival cycle gang members. Big dusky men wearing turbans and sporting curved swords watched over every transaction.
Bonehead picked up a rocket-propelled grenade, held it between his legs, pointing at Sass. She shouted at him with a big smile on her warm round face, “Yous wishes at was yous’ package!”
“Ious can dream cant Ious?” He put down the RPG and went back to picking out throwing grenades and then bought two satchels of high plosives. Then he showed me the bayonet knife he bought that had a plosive charge in the handle. If you flipped a catch on the black handle of the knife there was a button to push that set off a small charge that would blow the knife blade into your enemy giving him a special surprise. All Sawbird Gang-bought weapons and ammo would be shipped over to wait for us on the mainland.
Four leather-clad dudes of an allied cycle gang called the Killer Fleas walked up and hugged Bonehead and then Sass; they started talking shop while I looked around for a chance to snatch a weapon without anyone noticing.
Through the thinning crowd cock-walked three Mutant Angels. All three were a head taller than most of the regular outlaws. Everyone gave way to those sadistic freaks sporting their self-mutilated faces. They were not really nuuk or geemo mutants, were descended from about the same mixed-up stock as us, but forty-plus generations of cruel selection out on the Great Plains made them something else. To my huge not-pleasure they walked straight up to me.
“Sayo-an-teal-howsi-haka-belona-corpsy-a-kreepin-a-ganhan,” the shortest, oldest one said. He was a sorcerer, had pink and black beads embedded in the skin of his entire naked body from shaved head to bare feet. I guess he was supposed to be channeling those thick, venom-bite lizards from the Wasteland. He also had a split tongue along with the standard MA chopped-off nose and lips to give his face that fashionable skull look.
Because they had no lips the MA lingo was spoken without pause, heavy with a rolling tongue pressing on teeth, all the words running together. Have to say I was kinda sorry they knew who I was. The translay something like: “You are the famous thief who snatches what belongs to the dead.”
The tallest spit out at me: “Sayo-an-guily-badgy-compara-coy-obuo-me-an-sa-rip-sayo-meat!”
He had six shiny, four-inch-long steel spikes embedded in his skull and wore a stitched layered jumpsuit of brine-soaked human skins from his hundred or more victims. His left arm had been replaced with a short sword at the elbow. He was one of their great berserkers; those hardcore dudes never took off their skins because they believed if they got shot the salted layers would close up the wound and prevent fection. He had three new bullet pucker holes in his jumpsuit where the wounds should have been fatal so I guess they had something. The only thing is the rankness from never bathing his body or washing his custom garment was pretty noticeable even from a distance.
Translay was: “You’re the badger who thinks you and your coyote bruhkus are cagey but this great bear will shred your meat.” The third MA who had his long hair plastered up high in an intricate pair of stag antlers started laughing, meaning he flicked his tongue far out and hissed: “La-la-la-la-alala.”
“The badger and the coyote run swiftly zigzagging down the mountainside but a great bear will only fall down if he tries to chase zigzagging the great bear can’t think zigzag either so he will try and then fall down the mountainside hard and then the badger and coyote will feast on him,” was the translay of what I said right back. I took a long breath. If only I could find a way to keep my tongue from lashing I might go far in life…
Bonehead was at my side now. He slipped out his heavy chain belt he ran through just two loops in his holey, grease-stained jeans. He started whipping the chain belt around with his left arm as he held his crotch with his right hand. He was more likely to hit me than them, so I moved back against a table displaying grenades. The turbaned guards dropped their curved swords for their submachine guns but were too afraid to do anything without their captain there to tell them what to do. The Killer Fleas dudes jumped far back and kept jumping back into the crowd.
The two haughtier nightmares started flailing around like giant brainsick kids who can’t sit still, working themselves up to attack us. The old sorcerer spewed complicated curses against myself and all my ancestors and future progeny. Didn’t seem like he could see any of us now, his eyes rolled back inside his head showing only the whites, burning at strange visions I couldn’t imagine.
Behind us clapping and cheering erupted. It was Mo the captain of the outlaw island. He was short man with an eye patch and a black beard. His giant golden eagle on a wheeled perch was right beside him eyeing us. The massive raptor was as tall as Mo. The feathered beast was trained to fly up and then dive down to kill outlaws who got out of line. Mo kept clapping, yelled, “Good show!”
No one’s eyes on me, so I slipped my hand down and pocketed a grenade. Mo offered extra presents to the MA freaks. It took some bargaining but they calmed down pretty quick. Staring at that giant eagle and the now confident guards with their submachine guns helped too.
Tee stepped out from a secret passageway in the wall behind Mo and the giant eagle. He waved us over. We walked away from the grenade table, darting glances back at the MA. Mo and Tee led us into the secret passage through the wall. It ran into a great room inside the largest building on the island.
Outside of the great room, Mo stopped me and shook my hand. “Great find, my friend, great find you made. Too bad my rep was out-bid by New Sing. Maybe we do business soon, yes?”