Beamo’s Gold part 6
Beamo gets his stuff back but Tee loses Soosey.
When the sky opened its cloudy, bloodshot eye, we were camped on the edge of Goofy Ridge Metro. This was the last county nation going north on the Missysip. These eight thousand Goofy Ridge citizens were the poorest and the sickest. A lot of them came here to escape debt prison or failure to pay taxes got them kicked out of their home county nation or they had to get away from some bad personal situation.
Over at the closest log cabin to our camp, I saw an old man lift up his nightshirt and shi in his own front yard. These citizens didn’t even have outhouses.
Mutant Angel night attacks out here were constant. Every family in this county slept with their firearms. We hiked uphill fully armed to the main gate. The small metro was ringed with a partially burnt, thirty-feet-tall log wall reinforced with iron plates. We broke our fast in a big warehouse diner called Last Chicken Kitchen. All the citizens’ glances and stares were either desperate or hostile. Even the young people looked dirty and broken down.
As we were breaking camp before the call to ride went out, Tee walked out of his tent with his arm around Soosey Journ. He saw her over to her cycle and then he gave her back her Ak. Her rifle was special, its blue beech stock decorated with painted flowers and a happy face. She hugged him, and then they smooched for a long time. Finally the call to ride went out and we mounted up.
The red sky cleared as we headed downhill away from Goofy Ridge Metro to the wooden plank ferry. Across the wide river grey swallows flitted and dived after juicy bugs. It took two crossings to get us all over to the west riverbank. Nobody used this ferry anymore except for the Goofy Ridge County Militia and a few scavenge men who weren’t afraid to take extreme chances–like me.
I was on the second run to get across. After we landed and rolled off, about thirty-five Zark men on cycles screamed down the northeast-facing hill after us. They were the largest posse of bounty hunters I ever saw. We all took off except for Soosey Journ. Her bike stalled. She got it moving, and then it stalled out again.
“Hey you shi-hole phuukers! Don’t leave me!” She got off her cycle firing her Ak and ran for it. Her ponytail waving like a blond flag behind her head as she long-legged it. She stopped, turned and fired again. Dropped the closest bounty hunter bearing down on her.
Tee didn’t halt us. We kept riding northwest to the top of the steep river bluff by the tree line. The rumble from the MA cycles hit a full minute before we spotted them. Two hundred fifty choppers appeared over the ridge of the northeast-facing hill and they roared down behind the posse. The quaking from the Two-Fifty kept up as the bounty hunters scattered. Most of them got cut down. The MA use longer barrel R-rifles, which have a slightly better range than our Aks. Their gasoline-powered choppers are faster too. In that open ground on the floodplain Zark off-road cycles couldn’t compete.
Bonehead positioned us in erosion ruts in front of the tree line by a game trail he found at the crest of our bluff. I crouched down in my rut, took deep breaths, revving up to make the battle music that ran inside my head when I had to fight. The filched plosive grenade from Mo’s Island tucked inside my jacket but I didn’t want to use it now.
Tee argued with Major Kaim but I only caught Kaim saying: “If she hadn’t been armed she would’ve been in custody and they could have gotten away!” Tee cussed and stormed back to his cycle.
Four dozen Mutant Angels tore up the bluff hill after us since all the other victims were spoken for. Sixteen wounded bounty hunters were already tied up on the collapsible metal pole-wracks the MA murderers always hauled around. The torturers cut off the bounty hunter’s clothes and went to work on those helpless bastards with their scalpel-thin skinning knives. They are expert at skinning you alive. Worst agony in the world when you’re completely skinned and still breathing, is my understanding. Takes a long time to die, too.
Tee walked up and down the line. He eyeballed me hard then tossed me my custom Ak with two paw-mags. In my peripheral I saw Little Bit give her brother Tee a grateful nod. She cocked her rifle, crouched down in her rut, and took aim.
When the MA freaks got in range, Tee shouted, “Burn ‘em!”
Bullets buzzed by my head like enraged wasps. Their R-rifle muzzle flashes bloomed like flowers of orange fire as they came at us, weaving back and forth up the steep hill. We laid down well-aimed bursts that dropped half of them. I downed one pointy-headed skull-face, shot him right through the black and scarlet wrap covering his face. Aimed at the one right next to him, squeezed my smooth trigger, but he didn’t go down. He spun around with the rest of the survivor MAs who thought better. The shooting was over for us before I could really get the battle music going in my head. I picked up my binnocs from the pile of my stuff Tee dumped on the ground and focused in on the remaining action.
Chuckles had his fifty-cal sniper rifle out. The acne-faced kid kept firing after they were long out of range for us. Each MA he shot in the back or head caused the scrawny psycho to laugh out loud.
Two of Major Kaim’s goons had sniper rifles and they methodically picked off fleeing Mutant Angels as well.
Tee ordered Chuckles to help out Soosey who by some miracle was not caught yet. She had taken cover in a low ditch with bulrushes about three quarters of a mile downhill. The girl was still shooting in a controlled way, but twenty plus Mutant Angels were now belly crawling closer and closer to her. The ones who got a good look at her had stopped shooting. A ploosh young girl was too much of a prize to damage with a bullet.
I pivoted my binnocs over to the tortured bounty hunters. It suddenly got quieter. All the MA cycle engines shut off at once. Only rifle blasting now was Soosey’s and it wasn’t controlled fire any more. The skinned mens’ not-human screams echoed out. Made my neck hairs stand up. They were no longer men, just yowling hunks of slick-red, butchered meat.
Soosey’s Ak quit. I scanned over and watched the spike-headed, sword-armed MA I met on Mo’s Island dive right on top of her. She tried to run through the mud but he caught her easy.
“You better shoot her now,” I said loud enough for everyone to hear.
Chuckles stopped firing, looked over at Tee. Tee couldn’t bring himself to give the order to shoot her. His jaw set hard in his face. He slammed the butt of his rifle into the hillside with a killer’s glint in his eyes then made for his cycle.
“We ride!” Tee shouted.
Major Kaim’s goons put away their two scoped sharpshooter rifles. I pointed at Kaim and then at the tortured bounty hunters down on the floodplain.
“You gonna just leave ‘em?” I asked.
His hazel eyes told me he was willing to let the Mutant Angels have their fun to give us some time to make our getaway. The mission came first. The gold came first.
I ran to the pile of my weapons and ammo on the ground in front of my cycle. I got it all packed into my cycle panniers pronto and then followed them up the narrow game trail where the MA choppers couldn’t go. Behind us, Soosey’s screams merged with the tortured bounty hunters’.