Beamo’s Gold part 15
Beamo confronts his past.
Over at the fueling station, Bonehead was setting up one of the plosive charges, tamping it against the giant steel tank where he had busted open a valve to leak out gasoline. I filled my cycle with the wood alcohol from the other giant tank then pushed it away to follow the others. We were sneaking behind the MA base, away from their new macadam highway. It was open terrain that didn’t give much cover besides the occasional boulder or tree.
A challenge shout rang out from a Mutant Angel who crept up on us from their barracks. The Sawbird Gang and Major Kaim’s goons mounted up and the Zark cycle engines roared. As I was starting my cycle, Tee and Joro managed to shoot down the MA. We moved off, zigging and zagging around the big rocks and boulders. Four or five new MA started shooting at us from their barracks half a mile away.
I slumped down alongside my cycle opposite the direction the bullets were coming from. I heard Bonehead’s cycle zooming up fast behind and then the split-second flash of light before the three sternum-vibrating plosions went off. The multiple blast waves nearly knocked me over, shook the ground each time like I was a bug in a jar some cruel kid was shaking. Flaming debris and fuel rained down around us as we made our escape.
We weaved around the hills and then out onto the old Dezret highway. Had the Mutant Angels followed right off they would have caught us and we would have had a fight. They didn’t because those giant fuel tanks going off left them bewildered.
After hauling ass over twenty-five miles of broken highway, we ran into a huge wagon being pulled by two giant bullocks. Ten thralls and five Mutant Angels were coming back from a hunting trip on the Tana plains. The back of the cart was loaded down with giant slabs of butchered meat. We shot down the amazed-to-see-us MA on the cart without much trouble.
The thralls ran off to hide behind brush and rocks except for one. A tall gaunt figure said, “Go ‘head and shoot us too. MA will take it out on us anyway.”
We ignored him. Castrated thralls were supposed to be dead to us.
Chuckles took out his .50 caliber rifle. The giant bullocks were both eleven feet high at the shoulder, must of weighed ten tons, their pillar legs and massive bodies shaped like the illustrations of the elephant in those ancient nature books except that the head was a steer’s head with two horns facing forward and their massive black and white hides smooth not wrinkly. To my surprise and maybe his, Chuckles stayed all business and didn’t laugh after he delivered two precise headshots downing the yoked beasts.
As we took off again, the tall castrati thrall shouted after us with his high-pitched, powerful voice, “You ain’t no better!”
I turned my cycle around, pulled up closer and stopped. “Nelay?” I drew then wracked the slide on my .40 cal pistol. My voice did not have the strength I wanted it to have as I aimed at his heart. “Is your name Nelay Amus?” He just looked at me, his ragged clothes blowing in the Great Plains wind. The more I studied him the more my mind made the thrall Nelay. Then his lips formed my name. No sound came out but I knew he was trying to say it. I pulled the trigger. He fell straight back to the ground, wailing with that powerful castrati voice, released all of his suffering back to the world just like the blood exploding out of his heart.
A few miles later I led them off the old freeway. We were now on a wide, packed-down game trail the herds of geemo giants gouged into the Great Plains for hundreds of years. Soon I put us on a rough track MA choppers couldn’t handle and we slowed down to conserve fuel.
The sky above the grassy terrain was a humongous blue dome that made every other sky look like the inside of a tent. Made you feel like a tiny flea in the vastest of everything. As I rode the deepest blues hit me. Blues like I never felt before. Falling into a midnight blue pit that seemed impossible to climb out of. Like those ancient science books talk about black holes in outtaspace that have gravity with such a powerful grasp pulling down so hard even light cannot escape.
Truth was when I got running hot at someone or some situation, it would always play out and then there would be the blues. Not as bad as this though. Tried to convince myself that the other thralls wouldn’t get treated too badly since I shot my cousin. It didn’t work. I just kept recycling in my mind this question: Why did Nelay get caught twenty-one years ago and not me? He didn’t make it to his house but I made it to mine. He should have run with me. What if I had run with him? “You ain’t no better!”
Mile after mile of lush blond grass, meant to be grazed. The first great beast we rode past was a surprise. It was a woolly mammoth bull, thick black coat ready for winter. His two, fifteen-feet-long tusks corkscrewed out from each side of his trunk in opposite directions, each tusk ending up pointing to the other. The intelligent beast knew to keep his distance from us, veered off towards the Powder River.
Roofy was riding on the back of Sass Hootie’s cycle. I rode up next to them and pointed at the woolly mammoth right as it lifted its trunk and trumpeted. Roofy gushed out a smile, gave a cheer at her first view of the beast. Her getting to see one made me feel a little better.
I halted us at the south bank of the Yella River. When Tee rode up next to me, I told him we would have to cross here. Tee went off to order rafts be put together. When he returned he held his spyglass in one hand and his rifle in the other. He pointed at me and then at a ridge running above us fifty yards away. I lay my cycle down, cocked my rifle, and followed him through black clouds of gnats up to the high spot overlooking the golden river valley.
All around in the late afternoon sun marched great herds of wildlife. This was the northern range for the geemo wild cattle and these bull-led herds dominated. Groups of standard-sized, chestnut-colored bison and butternut-colored elk and particolored wild horses all kept close to the geemo cattle for protection. Striped pronghorn antelope, looking like little ground squirrels in the distance, darted about right under the bellies of the horned, black and red lowing hulks.
Down in the river, dangerous geemo razorbacks wallowed in the mud or rested in the water, like black islands sporting bright white tusks, surrounded by silver ripples reflecting the midday light. Shaggy necked, twenty-feet-tall, grey-white geemo goats lazily chewed leaves high up on the trees growing alongside the river. A herd of a dozen woolly mammoths including three stair-step blond calves, led by a wise old cow with an amber coat, grazed at a respectable distance between the giant cattle and the river.
“How will we get past those geemo boars all over in the river?” Tee put his spyglass down. He was nonplussed at this riot of wildlife.
“Geemo razorback boars aren’t the only issue,” I said then pointed. It took a minute for Tee to make out the russet-backed with cream belly grizz bear standing a quarter mile away watching the moving meat. Huge off-white wolves in a tight pack, all looking in the same direction, were not five yards away from the massive bear. “Our little .221 bullets couldn’t kill one of those grizz bears. Best to avoid conflict with it.”
“I want fresh meat for camp. Always wanted to try geemo veal. Me and you are going hunting.”
Maybe this was it. Bonehead surely told Tee about my oath to call them both out when the contract was done. Maybe he decided not to take a chance, do me in with a bullet to the back. I was ready; it wasn’t going to be that easy to take me out.