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Authors: Arthur Bradley

Madness Rules - 04 (8 page)

BOOK: Madness Rules - 04
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He led them through the shop and into the small parts store. A waist-high counter was stacked full of boxes with names like Bosch, Holly, and Champion. Behind the counter were six tall shelves, most of them empty except for a few gray plastic bins. He poked around a bit, finding an assortment of car parts… spark plugs, hoses, brake pads. Great for a hobbyist wanting to build a homemade dune buggy but not much use for a post-apocalyptic traveler who hopped from car to car.

Just inside the door sat the two small gas cans he had seen from the window. He checked them. Empty. He was about to toss one to Samantha when he caught movement coming up from behind her.

“Down!” he shouted, swinging his shotgun in her direction.

Samantha dropped to her knees, fumbling to get the rifle off her shoulder.

A dark-haired woman in her early twenties hurried in through the door. She wore blue jeans and a skin tight white t-shirt with the words “Got Milk” screen printed on the front. The shirt was so thin that Tanner had trouble pulling his eyes away from the enormous nipples protruding beneath. From the worried look on the woman’s face, she was in some kind of trouble.

Tanner lowered his shotgun as Samantha scrambled over to him.

“Help me,” the woman gasped, rushing toward them.

“Easy there,” he said, holding his hand out to act as a barrier. “What’s going on?”

She never slowed her advance, and Tanner was unsure of exactly what to do. Before he knew it, she was at him, hands and breasts pressing firmly against his chest.

“Please,” she begged, “help me.”

“Help you what?”

“Help me,” Nipples repeated, pulling at his shirt. Her eyes were wide with panic, but there was an odd smile tickling the corners of her mouth.

“Lady, I don’t know what kind of crazy you’re selling, but we’re not buying.” He turned to Samantha. “Grab one of those gas cans, and let’s get out of here.”

She did as instructed, never taking her eyes or her rifle off the strange woman.

Tanner heard the quick patter of footsteps coming from outside the building. He stepped over to the window and saw two men darting away.

“You’ve got to save me,” Nipples said, pulling at his arm. “They’re after me.”

Tanner tightened his grip on the shotgun. Something didn’t feel right.

“Step the hell away from me,” he said, stiff-arming her back a few steps.

“Fine,” she spat, “be like that.” Without another word, she whirled around and marched out of the building, like she had just caught her husband in bed with their babysitter.

“What was that all about?” asked Samantha.

He shook his head. “I’m not sure yet. Sit tight while I check it out.”

As Tanner stepped out of the small repair shop, he saw Nipples hurrying toward an old yellow taxi cab that had pulled up alongside the store. The same two men he had seen running away were sitting in the front seat. He glanced over at the flatbed truck. His and Samantha’s packs were both missing.

“Hold it!” he shouted, bringing the shotgun up to his shoulder.

Nipples glanced back but continued running.

He squeezed the trigger, sending a load of buckshot over her head.

“Next one will be in your butt!”

She stopped, looking back and forth between him and the men in the taxi. Before she could make up her mind, the car sped away, heading south on Wilcox Road.

Tanner heard Samantha coming up from behind him.

“What’s going on?”

“Damn thieves stole our packs.”

Samantha looked over at the truck and then back at the woman who stood in the parking lot with her arms crossed.

“They’re just backpacks,” she said, putting a calming hand on Tanner’s arm.

“No,” he said, “they were more than that. They were everything we had in this godforsaken world.” He walked toward the woman, letting the shotgun slowly lower. “Darlin’, you got some explaining to do.”

When he got to within a few feet, the woman puffed up like she was about to proclaim her innocence. By the time Tanner realized that she had something in her hand, it was too late. The blade licked against his side, cutting through his shirt and opening a small gash along his side. Thankfully, the knife slid off his ribs, never penetrating deeper than the skin.

Tanner instinctively struck out, hitting her in the face with his left fist. The blow was more of a reactionary pop than a full-powered punch, but it caught her squarely in the eye, and she went down hard.

Samantha walked up next to him and touched the unconscious woman with her foot. When she didn’t move, Samantha turned to Tanner and shook her head.

“What?” he said. “She started it.”

 

 

 

 

 

Samantha stood watch over the unconscious woman like she was guarding a prisoner of war. They had dragged Nipples into the parts room, but she had yet to stir.

“Are you sure you didn’t kill her?”

“Is her chest moving?” he asked, taking a second look through the boxes of parts for anything that might be useful.

“I’m not really sure,” she said. “It’s so big it’s hard to tell.”

Tanner laughed. “Trust me, she’s alive.”

“What are we going to do with her?”

“Aha,” he said, holding up a thick roll of duct tape.

“What’s that for?”

“Taping her up.”

“Why would we do that?”

“Because they’ll be coming back for her.”

“What makes you think that?”

Tanner walked over, rolled the woman onto her belly, and secured her hands and feet.

“Because,” he said, “women like this don’t get left behind. Not for long, anyway.”

The look on Samantha’s face told him that she didn’t understand.

“Trust me,” he said. “They’ll be back.”

She shrugged. “Even if that’s true, shouldn’t we get out of here? We don’t need another fight.”

“We’re not leaving until they bring back our supplies.”

“They might come with a whole army.”

“Nah. These guys are thieves, not fighters.”

The woman moaned and rolled onto her side. She blinked a few times before her eyes finally remained open.

“Where am I?”

“You’re our prisoner,” Samantha said in a tone that was very matter of fact.

She struggled to free her hands.

“Untie me!”

Samantha said nothing.

Nipples looked up at her and squinted.

“Listen, girl. You better help me get free. Right now! I mean it.”

Samantha looked over at Tanner.

“She’s not very nice, is she?”

“Nope.”

“You have no right to keep me here!”

“Hush,” he said, leaning down and helping her to sit up. “You’re lucky I didn’t snap your neck after slicing me the way you did.” He rubbed his fingers across the small cut, which was already starting to scab over.

“You came at me with a gun. What was I supposed to do?”

“Don’t play the injured party, darlin’. It won’t win you any points with me. Truth is I like you better for having taken a shot at me.” He grinned. “Shows you got a little spirit in you.”

“Come on,” she said, her voice softening, “this is silly. You’re fine. It was barely a scratch. Let me go, and we’ll forget this whole thing ever happened.”

“Can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because your friends took our packs. You’re staying with us until they bring them back.”

“They weren’t my—”

“Save it,” he said, holding up a hand. “On the other hand, go ahead. Who knows? You could be an incredible liar. Give it a try. We’re game, right, Sam?”

She nodded. “Sure. I love a good story.”

Nipples sighed. “Fine. You caught me, and I’m sorry. Is that what you want to hear?”

“I don’t care if you’re sorry or not. I just want my beer back.”

Samantha spun around. “Your what?”

“My gear. I said I want my gear back.”

She squinted at him but said nothing.

“So that’s it? You’re just going to keep me here tied up like a hog?”

“Looks that way.”

“And there’s nothing I can say that will convince you to let me go?”

“Nope. I’m very hard to convince of anything.” He nodded toward Samantha. “Ask her. She’ll tell you.”

“Oh, that’s very true,” she said. “He’s like a giant boulder.”

Tanner cut his eyes at her.

“A boulder?”

She shrugged. “They’re immovable, right?”

“Anyway,” he said, turning back to Nipples, “you sit tight. You’ll be all right once we get our stuff back.”

She stared off for a moment as she worked something out in her mind.

“Send the girl out so we can talk in private, grownup to grownup.”

“Sam can hear anything you have to say.”

Nipples shook her head. “If you want your stuff back, do as I say.”

Tanner was about to argue the point when Samantha spoke up.

“I’ll go out and check on the cats you scared away. It’ll be dark soon, and they shouldn’t be out on their own.”

He shrugged. “Okay, but be careful. If you see anything you don’t like, skedaddle back here or fire off a shot.”

“I’ll be fine,” she said, turning to leave.

And for the first time, Tanner realized that she probably would be fine. Samantha was more capable of dealing with trouble than most people he knew, both in and out of prison. When he heard her begin to call for the cats outside, he turned back and squatted down next to the woman.

“Okay, darlin’, let’s hear it.”

She smiled. “Untie me first.”

“Not a chance.”

“What am I going to do to a big man like you?”

“Oh, I’m sure you could do plenty to a man,” he said, grinning.

“Exactly,” she said, winking her good eye.

“Ah,” he said, “so that’s it. A little honey to make things better?”

She ran her tongue around her lips.

“Would that really be so bad?”

Nipples was an attractive, albeit deceitful, young woman. It didn’t hurt that she could survive a shipwreck by simply rolling onto her back. He recognized that taking a deal like the one she was offering was terribly immoral. Then again, he thought, morality was often overrated during an apocalypse.

“I have been known to crave a little honey from time to time,” he said, sliding her around and removing the tape.

Nipples pulled her hands free and began rubbing her wrists. When they had finally returned to their normal color, she reached up, gently cupped his face, and kissed him on the lips. It was a long passionate kiss that probed every corner of his mouth.

“Come on, big fellow,” she said, pulling his body onto hers. “Let’s see if we can make this right.”

CHAPTER

6

Executive Order 16662

 

Temporary Revocation of the War Powers Resolution

 

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Congressional Body, and as the appointed President of the United States, the following is hereby ordered:

Section 1. Revocation of War Powers Resolution. (a) The War Powers Resolution of 1973 shall hereby be revoked. (b) The revocation is designed to help safeguard the nation from enemies, both foreign and domestic, and to ensure the nation’s survival following the outbreak of the Superpox-99 virus.

Section 2. Transfer of Powers. (a) The President shall hereby have the authority to conduct military operations, both within the United States as well as beyond its borders, without the consent of the Congressional Body. (b) The President shall have no limitations on the scope or duration of such military actions. (c) The Congressional Body shall work with the President in an advisory role to ensure that the interests of the nation are properly considered.

Section 3. Expiration Term. (a) This revocation of the War Powers Resolution shall expire 180 days from the date of issue. (b) Any future extensions of the revocation shall require unanimous consensus of the President, Vice President, Secretary of Defense, and Secretary of Homeland Security.

 

 

Executive Order 16663

 

Issuance of New National Currency

 

By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Congressional Body, and as the appointed President of the United States, the following is hereby ordered:

Section 1. Complete Devaluation of the United States Dollar. (a) The United States dollar shall no longer be the official currency of the United States, and as such, it shall no longer be guaranteed by the U.S. government. (b) All dollars, both in and out of circulation, shall hereby be devalued and considered to be without financial worth.

Section 2. Establishment of a New National Currency. (a) The United States shall adopt the international gold-backed credit as its new currency. (b) The gold-backed credit shall be guaranteed with national gold reserves. (c) Such reserves shall be subject to inspection and verification by international currency monitors. (d) The currency shall remain fixed in value such that one thousand credits shall equal one ounce of 24-carat gold. (e) Gold-backed credits shall be redeemable for their equivalent in gold and will proudly display the words, “Payable to Bearer on Demand.” (f) The new currency shall be produced solely by the United States Mint and other approved international treasuries.

BOOK: Madness Rules - 04
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