There is something about being pistol whipped that puts a guy in a bad mood, especially if the guy doing the whipping is Randall. I swear this guy use to get into fights with broken glass for fun; to be exact it was Creepers. Randall use to make a quick buck in bare knuckle fights against multiple Creepers. What kind of nutcase would fight those things for money; ironically the guy’s lunacy is the exact reason why Hyde uses him as his muscle. Out of the corner of my eye I can see Dyami being held down by some random scum. Probably got hired this morning, by night Randall will most likely throw him over the wall. I feel bad for Dyami; the guy is just standing on him with one foot. However, there really is not much I can do at the moment. Especially with a firearm pointed at my face.
“Boss wants to see you.” Randall says.
“Well that is a problem because I don’t want to see him.” I say, probably not the best of ideas at the moment. Once again I feel the sting of the pistol across my face. I can feel the warm blood drip from my mouth.
“Well since you asked so nicely I guess I can make time.” I say.
“Good, let’s go, you.” Randall says pointing at the hired goon, “Get the little one.”
With that Dyami is scooped up and flung over the shoulder very much as one would a sack. Within minutes we are standing in front of Hyde. Edmond Hyde, self proclaimed mayor, master of Haven. Fat, short, and balding, there is not much else one can say about him. He sits behind his desk; the contents of my bag have been spilled upon it. Apparently privately means nothing to Hyde. I really shouldn’t be surprised at this; Hyde has been stealing from the people for years. The only person exempt from his policy of what is yours is mine, and what is mine is mine is Nevada. For some reason I think Hyde fears Nevada, even know he has never made a play for power. It disgusts me to watch as Hyde pushes my stuff with his fat little fingers. This man has been getting fat off of people dying for years.
“You know the rules Riley.” He pauses for a moment, “Or did you think now that you have friends in the brotherhood you could do as you please.”
“There not my friends.” I say.
“I am going to make this simple, what did they want?” Hyde asks.
I want to tell him to go to hell, but I can’t not with Dyami involved. If I make one bad move we both will be Creeper food. I have to give him something if we are going to make it out of this alive. “They were looking for rebels.” I say leaving out most of the truth, “I was picked up as a guide.” Luckily for me Hyde is not that smart, he buys it. Hyde turns his attention to the contents of my bag, reflective glass, and a book, the book!
“Ok, here is what I am going to do, since I am such a nice guy.” He says, “I am going to take the lot in exchange for your lives. I mean after all you did break the rules by not reporting and all, but hey I like you.”
My eyes draw to the book, “The book is not for trade.” I say.
“What, I make the deals here; I say what are for trade not you.” Hyde says. He signals for Randall to clear the table. I bite my lip, if only Dyami wasn’t here, I have had it with this guy. People die; he gets fat that is the way it is in Haven.
“Get out of here before I change my mind.” Hyde Says.
Within moments we are once again out on the streets of having, it is late. I can’t sleep, too worked up; only place open this time of night is Nevada’s. “Who was that.” Dyami asks.
“Edmond Hyde, he runs this place.” I say.
“Is he always like that?”
“Only when you break his rules, most of the time he keeps to himself.” I say.
Dyami no longer walks behind me; instead he now walks to my right. I take it as a sign that he is starting to see himself as more of an equal then a servant. “Why was that book so important?” Dyami asks.
I pause, “Not important, just didn’t want him to have it.”
It is much easier to navigate the streets of Haven at night; mostly this is due to the fact that the streets are empty. Haven at night reminds me of the Settle ruins. It is peaceful, besides the rusted out metal shacks and dirt pathways. Haven could pace for any normal town at night. It is the people that mark it have what it is. I have of death and despair, people in Haven don’t live. They survive for as long as they can hold on. This is the life we live out here a life completely different than the one I lived yesterday. Man, I am not looking forward to the cleansing powder. Hopefully if the people do decide on a Brotherhood take over they bring showers.
Before we know it we are standing in front of Nevada’s. The old Brick building is almost completely intact. Only one section of the roof has been replaced by metal sheeting. Three years ago the roof fell in one night, five girls died, Nevada simple said it was a shame, lost a lot of good product that night. It must be horrible to be thought of as nothing more than a product to be sold. Nevada’s place was once the guest house of the mansion that Hyde now resides in. I am sure Nevada picked the place because of the extra rooms he provided. I have never really been interested in what Nevada has to sell but after tonight, I could at least use a drink.
The place itself is rather modestly decorated. Along the back wall runs a bar with various homemade liquors. Tables a spread out across the room and girls who are barely dressed wonder around soliciting their wares. For a price they will make all your dreams come true they tell you, what about their dreams, is this they had in mind for themselves when they were children. Though I guess I can’t judge, I would do the same if I could, if it meant never going hungry, never having to set foot in the Wastes. We remove our masks and sling them down upon the bar.
“Hey Barkeep, two!” I say.
He takes a moment looking over Dyami, “Ok, any kid who is willing to drink this crap has got to have had it rough, so who am I to complain.” The bartender pours to shoots of a clear liquid and slides them before us. Even out here in Haven most people don’t like to give alcohol to kids, but as he said out in a world where just trying to stay alive is common place, having it rough is a whole other level. Not like anyone in Haven would complain about the kid slamming back a few.
Dyami takes his glass and downs the shot in one go almost immediately his eyes water up and he begins to gag, “Are you trying to kill me? Dyami asks.
I have to laugh, “No, just put hair on your chest.” I say.
Dyami manages to steady himself upon his stool. “How is that suppose to put hair on my chest?” He asks, “What is it anyway, Waste Dog piss.”
“It’s called moonshine, it’s an old recipe.” The bartender says.
I take my shot letting the burn make is way down my throat, my eyes tear a little, but nothing one would notice. I still remember the first time I ever had moonshine, I ran into the streets and puked for about ten minutes. I didn’t feel right in the gut for a whole day after that. I try not to laugh at the kid; he took it better than I did.
I place my glass down on the counter and signal for another one, “How about you kid?” I ask.
Dyami pauses for a moment and against his better judgment turns to me and with a smile says, “Sure.”
“So this is your life?” Dyami asks.
“Use to be, not anymore, tomorrow I gotta start figuring out what I am going to do with the Brotherhood.” I say.
I feel the warmth of her breath as she speaks, “Why don’t’ you forget about the Brotherhood tonight and come on upstairs.” I know that voice, I don’t even have to turn around.
“Velvet Star.” I say.
Velvet moves into my sight as she leans against the bar, she has ditched her Brotherhood uniform and replaced it with a dirty sleeveless shirt and torn brown work pants. Looking over Velvet it become clear that she knows how to blend in, become one of the crowds. If I didn't know any better I would say she was here for years.
“In the flesh.” She says with a smile, “You really should come upstairs; we would love to have a chat with you.” With that I know she means Fiona.
“I will be right back.” I say to Dyami, “Oh, and behave yourself.”
“You too.” Dyami says.
With that I allow Velvet to lead me up the stairs and into one of the side rooms. Once we enter I can see Fiona, she sits across from the door, her feet rest upon a table. Her strawberry hair falls across her eyes; I had almost forgetting how pretty she was, especially in the dim light of the room. Her eyes meet mine briefly then glance towards Velvet, as if checking to see if she had been caught.
“Well, look who it is, are we back from our date with the Brotherhood.” Fiona says.
“Oh that is no way to talk to mister dreamy is it.” Velvet says.
Fiona shits her position to hide her face as it turns red. I get the feeling this wasn’t the first time I was brought up. I have to admire Velvet’s out in the open way of things.
“You said you wanted to talk?” I ask.
“Yeah, what happened on the Stalker?” Velvet asks, “Being that you are not dead, they want something.”
“They want me to find the rebels.” I say, I can tell they know I am talking about them, “That and help bring them here. As to the reason for wanting to expand they didn’t say.”
“That sounds like Kazimir, always leaving the fine details out.” Velvet says.
“Speaking of the fine details, what is this I hear about you two starting a rebellion?” I ask, “I am sure the Brotherhood is not clean, but they gotta be better then living out here.”
Velvet turns to Fiona checking to see if it is clear to talk about, it is obvious it is something they don’t wish to talk about. Perhaps if they could trust me more, “I am going to use the search for you to give me the time to see what the people here want.”
“It won’t matter, if the Brotherhood wants something they will take it.” Fiona says, “The question is how you fit into the picture.”
Damn, I didn’t intent to change the subject on myself, but she brings up a good point. How exactly am do I fit into Kazimir’s plan.
“Ok, it is clear that we need to figure out what is going on, but in order for that to happen we need to be able to trust each other.” I say, “I told you my side, I need to know yours.”
“Fine” Fiona says, “We were ordered into the Lower Eden to clear out some protesters.” She continues, “As you know the Brotherhood uses slaves, after spending time with them you probably know them as the servant class.
I nod in recognition.
“Anyway as I was saying, we were ordered in to put down a protest, which is pretty common, when we arrived it was children, most of them couldn’t have been older then fourteen. Standard procedure for minors is apprehending.” Fiona says, “Then we got the order, exterminate, I didn’t join up to kill children.”
“You don’t have to continue if you don’t want to.” I say.
Velvet picks up, “forty two people died that day, and it was the last straw.” She goes on, “We organized a bombing of one of the factories. We were betrayed and got out before the found us.”
My attention focused on Velvet I catch out of the corner of my eye Fiona wiping her eyes. Moments later she retreats further into the shadows of the room. Honestly I believe this is the first sign of compassion I have seen since I met her. It is strange all along I couldn’t figure out why anyone would rebel against the Brotherhood, why anyone would give up a lush and comfortable life for the Wastes and now I had that answer. They were just like us out here in the Wastes. They were fighting for survival, for hope.
“I should go check on Dyami, we can continue tomorrow.” I say.
“That sounds like a good idea, it is late, and we are not going to figure things out now.” Velvet says.
I say goodbye and make my way to the door, only I can’t help but ask one more questions, “You guys, aren’t working here are you?”
“You wish.” Fiona responds.
Upon arriving back downstairs it becomes clear that maybe I shouldn’t have left Dyami alone. By the time I return he has polished off an entire bottle of moonshine and is currently dancing on one of the table signing some sort of drinking song, probably learned it from the girls.
“Did you have a good time?” Dyami asks as I enter the room.
“Let’s go.” I say.
“Yes sir!” Dyami says as he stumbles off the table.
Heading back to my place we talk of unimportant things, I have to say it is nice to have someone to talk to. I have spent most of my time in this world alone, trying to survive. At the same time there is this pit in my stomach, a feeling of despair. I should leave the kid; let him out into the world. This is the world we live in; people watch themselves and themselves only. Only I can’t do it, this kid reminds me to much of myself at his age. He is all alone in this world with no one to watch over him. That is why I can’t cut him loose, that is why I have a sinking feeling in my gut, I can’t help but wonder how I am going to keep both of us alive and at the end of the day I don’t know if I can.