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Wasteland

By , Richmond, IN
The sun's burning rays shined down on the scorched desert wasteland. A lone road strectched off to the horizon to the left and right, with a single building that said Ray's Rest-Stop in faded letters over the door sitting a few yards back from the road, like an imposing symbol of man in the scene otherwise overrun by nature's harsh desert landscape. The fuel pumps in front of the building had long been out of use, most likely ravaged by the harsh desert wind like the rest of the surroundings. Five miles down the road, a swirling dust cloud heralded the approach of a speeding vehicle, which was swerving across the road, attempting to avoid the numerous craters and potholes stretching across the road's otherwise smooth and symmetrical surface.

Pulling into the gravel lot in front of the rest-stop, the car's engine died down with a rumble, and all was still again. Then, several things happened at once. The driver door of the car swung open, and a large man of about thirty stepped out, taking a look around. At the same time, three men rose from a low wall running alongside the building, focusing the sights of their rifles on the driver of the car. Before the men had time to react, the man seemed to pull a small handgun out of his belt holster without moving, and then he flung his body to the far side of the car, away from the armed men's view. Two long minutes passed, and then one of the men behind the wall raised up enough to speak.



"Place the gun down and step over to where we can see you. We will not harm you unless you give us reason to. Just put the gun down."


The man behind the car slowly shifted positions, so he could see the location of the speaker through the driver side window. When he saw the barrells of the three rifles facing his direction over the low wall, he quickly drew back, nervously wiping a drop of sweat from his forehead. "I don't want an trouble, man, all I need is some food and fuel for the car. I'm not here to hurt anybody," he yelled out, while readying the gun to fire. "Just let me buy what I need, and I'll be off. I just don't want any trouble. There was a moment of silence as he watched the men with the rifles whispering to each other.


"If you put the gun away and step out where we can see you, with your hands up, we won't shoot. We don't want to kill you, but we can't trust anyone. There's been too many times where we've trusted travelers and all they want is to steal our supplies," one of them yelled out.


Another moment passed, and then the man by the car threw the gun near the wall, and he stepped from behind the car, his hands held away from his body as he walked over in front of the wall. "Look, I'm unarmed, I dont mean any trouble, just stop pointing those at me."


After a moment of hesitation, the three men with rifles lowered their guns and slowly walked to meet him. Stopping about five feet from each other, both parties looked each other over, noticing the hard look in all of their eyes. Shouldering his rifle, one man stepped forward and picked up the pistol on the ground, emptied the chamber and slipped the clip into his pocket, and then passed the gun back to its owner, who placed it in the waist of his pants. Glancing around once, he spoke up. "Look, my name's Chris Neilson. I left the city about an hour ago, and I was running low on fuel. I didn't see anyone here, so I figured I'd stop and get some. S***. I didn't know I'd get myself into a stand off."


"If you were in the city then you know how bad things have gotten. It's worse out here. We've been stuck in the diner for three days now. Every night there's an attack. You leave after dark, you won't be alive come morning. Our vehicle was stolen a while back, so we can't make it to safety before dark comes. And I don't like the idea of getting caught out in the open in the dark. As for the hostility we've shown you, well, we've had to fend off theives and worse since we got here. We can't take chances. My name's Dave by the way. This is Ben on my left, and Shawn on my right. There's others inside." he said, point to each man as he named them. "But you better stay here the night, and we can figure out what's going on with everyone else. But I'm gonna have to take your gun back if you're coming around the others. We have our families to protect."


Chris was silent for a second, seeming to consider the man's proposal, and then he handed over the pistol. Pocketing the gun, Dave turned and walked into diner, closely followed by the other two men. Sighing, Chris shrugged his shoulders and followed after them, swinging the door shut behind him.





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