Monday, September 28, 2015

Wind-Rider and the Ranger

a short story
(based on a dream)

I sauntered out of the woods... there was nowhere to be and no rush to get there - as I saw it that day... I look up and the clouds look like they want to let loose a storm, but it is just another grey day without rain... and it will stay like this forever.  I see a man in old brown biker gear tinkering around with an old motorbike...  converted to a wind-rider - it hovers a couple of feet above the ground and hauls ass... but he is broke down... or just making adjustmenst... he looks very much out of place... he turns his head slowly - the way old  soldiers do when they know there is no threat... and looks me up and down... his eyes squint and he, very most subtly, begins to shake his head but stops and just goes back to what he was doing... I move closer - slowly...  He speaks...

“You come down from that mountain?”
“A few days ago”
“Any water back there?”
“What got trapped in a small tank  a bit up the rock... nice bike”
“She’s nice when she runs...” he looks at me and I move even closer to inspect his machine... he looks at me as if I was very much out of place... he pauses for a bit and looks down at his tools and inspects them... is he looking for a particular piece, is he merely contemplating the idea of them? He does not seem to be in any particular hurry nor does he seem to have a care in the world... he simply just is... there... in the moment... he picks up his tools one by one and carefully wipes them down with a dark red bandana and lays them back down on an old but thick piece of grey cloth... he speaks -

“heading any where in particular?”
“The Legion Colonies... that is a long ways away...( he chuckles) you might die before you get there... “ he looks me up and down again... and tilts his head a bit in confusion...

“You Legion or Ranger... you gotta be a Ranger... ain’t no Legionnaire been around this part of the world since the crusades... you lost amigo?”
“Ranger don’t get lost...”
“Outcast... eh amigo... I got ya’...”

He has a manner and way about him, in his speech and demeanor that brings to mind Sam Elliot - he has an old rustic and friendly and familiar quality... I like him immediately.

“You’re Tejano?” I inquire.
“I was - a long time ago...” he stares into his rag of tools looking for a memory - “a long time ago...”
“Where is the closest town?” I ask, interrupting his thoughts.

he gestures with his thumb behind him

“300 miles back that way... but you don’t want to go there... the women can’t cook or fuck worth a damn... but the Muhammads will do you like you was a drunk goat... best you stay out of there Ranger...”

I look to my right - up the road and ask what is up that way...

“Two days ride on the wind is a trading town called Junktown... those girls can fuck... if you have food or water... but they’re nasty and filthy and carry disease... you just go along in the direction you was going... straight ahead for about a week... you’ll find an old militia stronghold... they got law there and if you have trade skills they may let you behind the wall... on the other side of that mountain... you’ll find the sea... eventually... don’t know how you’ll get to Patagonia...”

“A week, huh...” I rub my chin and mentally calculate my water supply...

He finally stands up... and he is just a few inches taller than me... he packs up his tools in a saddle  bag and turns to me

“Got anything to trade, Ranger?”

I think - there is rabbit jerky and berries and a little water and paper.. And ink... matches and lighters and oil... and hard candy...

“I got candy...”

His eyes light up and he smile for the first time... “well doggie... got a water bottle...”
I sit my rucksack down and open it up grab a bottle from the side pocket and reach deep down in the main pocket for a plastic bag of Christmas candy... I hold the bag up for him and he takes it like a child would... he tries to stay cool and calm... but he is just too excited about the sweets to care...

“Bring that bottle over here boy...” he walks to the back of the wind-rider... and uncovers a humidifier... what that is - what we call them... is a small machine that harvests the humidity in the air and converts it to drinkable water - it works while the wind-rider is in motion... can give you a couple of gallons a day... I hand him the bottle and he fills it up...  He smiles at me... “picked this up from some Japper... got the hell out of the country day before it all went to fuck...”

“What do you hear about Japan?” I ask him eager to know if they are still strong and free...
“Well... I hear tell many of them got wiped out... but there’s so many of them you can’t really tell... they’ve closed themselves off again... but they ain’t suffering...” my bottle is full and he hands it to me... I take a small drink... fresh and pure... and cool... I smile and he laughs... and does not wait any longer.  He opens up the bag and pulls out a piece of candy and drops it into his mouth... he lets out a loud laugh...

“A week, you say...” and I look to the mountain in front of me
“Yup...” he reaches into the inside pocket of his coat and pulls out a silver box, it looks like a cigarette container... he flips it open... it is a most curious little object... a compass like trinket that also tells time and the day of the week... he finds North and points me in the direction of the camp and asks - “you ain’t no half-breed is ya?”
“I’m afraid I just might be”
“Well... don’t get caught with one of their women...”

He sees me admiring his trinket and hands it to me... “got that from an old dragon...”

I inspect this little machine - compass, chronograph... it tells the month and day of the week - it is silver and gold and it can be used as a sun dial... the circular parts turn and the hands move... I am curious to know how it works... but the clouds thunder... it’s not the sky... he turns around in the direction of the Muhammads... they're coming... he grabs his compass from my hands and jumps on the wind-rider... “run into the woods boy!” and he hauls ass out of there... leaving me alone... I run to the mountain... I run all day... until my heart and legs can’t take any more... a set down and lean back on a tree... and think about that wonderful little trinket that I held in my hands... what did he call it... what was it... I close my eyes and try to take it apart in my mind to learn how it could possibly work... and I fell asleep in the still and quiet forest.
A Magical Wonderful Thing
housed in a silver box, the inside
is made of gold with copper and
mother of pearl


Simon said...

Wonderful storytelling, especially the vivid characters. I love this little snippet of the post-apocalypse and the ideas it inspires. I wonder what happened to the Wind-Rider and the Ranger? Maybe their paths will cross again further down the road.

Anonymous said...

The magical wonderful thing looks like a pandora's box. Pandora's boxes are magical but not wonderful.