The wars had ruined everything. Civilization had changed and it was not likely anything that resembled civilization would ever return.
Major Kent, having just crossed the wasteland south of Birmingham, Alabama, couldn’t believe his luck as he approached the small town. Many of the buildings stood undamaged and the massive water tower appeared to be intact as well. If he could find water he might be able to make it to the Gulf Coast. He hoped he could find food as well, but in the aftermath of the conflict, food was scarce. Especially if there were survivors. He saw smoke rising near the center of town and decided to go there.
Smoke usually meant people. He had seen a few during his journey, but not many. He unbuckled the scabbard holding his long sword and made ready.
“Who are you and what are you doing here,” a deep voice with a southern drawl called out to him from behind a dilapidated barn.
“I’m Major Robert Kent, People’s Army. I am on a scouting mission,” he lied. If the folks around here thought he might lead others to their haven, he might survive a fight.
“Ain’t no such thing as a People’s Army—what are you doing here?”
He feared he might be facing a firearm and would be left to defend himself with nothing but the sword he’d taken from a dead man a few weeks before. “I am telling you the truth. Who’s in charge ?”
“We got a mayor, He used to be a lawyer, but he’s in charge now, I guess. He makes all the rules. Get out in front of me so I can see you. Go into the town where you see the smoke. There’s more of us, so no tricks, you hear?”
Kent moved forward, but took a look behind to see the man with the voice. He carried a digging fork and Kent knew he’d have little trouble with him he had to fight. It was the others he worried about.
The gathering in the town square showed the Major what he faced. A few shabbily dressed people, not many, but he could see a couple of women and one child. All of them looked hungry.
“Hello,” he waved his hand into the air as he approached. “I am Major Kent of the People’s Army.”
His greeting softened the atmosphere as far as he could tell. The small gathering of people moved closer to him.
“What are you doing in these parts?” The question came from a man dressed with a coat and tie and who sat at a table that had been setup in the town square. Kent guessed he was the mayor.
“Right now I am foraging for food. It is very difficult to find food out in the badlands. I was sent on a scouting mission. The rest of my unit is only a few hours behind me. They should be here soon.”
“And how do we know you are not bandits out to steal everything we have and kill us to boot?”
“I promise that is not the case. May I rest until they arrive? I will not interfere with you in any way.”
“You may stay if you sign this document.” The man showed the Major a piece of paper.”
“I get to read it first?”
“Yes. Then sign it. It provides us with the basis for taking everything you own if we want it or if you commit a crime. I assure you it is perfectly legal. We do things properly in this town.
“My ex-wife had an attorney like you. Sign everything away, no rights, no recourse for me.”
“Sign it now or I will instruct these law abiding citizens to seize your property anyway. Your rights can be voided by entering our town without permission.” He pulled a revolver from a drawer in the desk and laid it on the tabletop.
Kent moved forward and looked at the scraggly group and then back toward the lawyer. He stepped closer to the table and with a swift movement drew the sword, swung hard, and lopped the man’s head off. The crowd drew away and the people whispered among themselves.
Kent turned to face the group and said, “I see you’ve got the fire already lit. Who’s hungry? I just killed a pig.”
Author Bio: Dave hides out in the woods behind the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Tennessee. They haven’t found the camouflaged hose that I snaked through the security fence. I connected the hose to one of those big Maple barrels stored in the barrel warehouse where the Whiskey ages, and thanks to gravity, a continuous supply of the elixir flows down the hill and directly to my house.
Image by Karen Blaha