Jeurridam Ch. 06: The Corridor

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Brunette

HEAVEN:

The smell of sauteeing beef slices pulled in all the locals. A long line formed at the stand, everyone inline for the brine sauce burritos I’ve been making for this place. I sliced tabasco peppers and avocados for the orders. People waited patiently for their food, the wait being very worth it. I handed a wrapped burrito to a customer then another, moving the line along.

I enjoyed working at Sal’s Mohave Kitchen, it being something I desperately needed to free my idle mind. Every time I had nothing to do, all I could think about was how lonely I was. I was now eighteen and seeing the word very differently than the way I did when I was a mere kid. People found happiness with each other and worked for something better than struggling alone in this god forsaken desert. The issue I had was… I wasn’t particularly… straight.

I never really put much thought into what I was into until the day I tracked Beth down in the desert and saw she was with Zanir. It was when I learned of his sexuality, ridiculed him for it and saw it wasn’t a proper judge of character that I began to question myself. To think that I stood there thinking Zanir was disgusting for being a way he couldn’t control and to turn around and be the same way was like a kick in the stomach.

It explained why, despite never questioning my sexuality prior to the desert incident, I haven’t felt genuinely happy since I was a very young child. It seemed Zanir wasn’t very happy either, not until he left A99, met Galveston and fell in love. How lucky was he? He found a big wall of man to hold him at night and make him smile while I was struggling with coming to terms with that fact that… I’m gay.

It was why I got this job. I couldn’t stand seeing those two together. It wasn’t that they were affectionate because they weren’t. They didn’t kiss in front of everyone, or hug… They simply talked, related and smiled. That even made me sick! For my sanctity, I had to get from around them. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for them! I just wasn’t happy with my life at the moment and for their sake, for the respect of what they were forging, I had to leave.

This place didn’t help much though. I could see the local Merchant Clan boys playing sports a few hundred yards away. Most of them were so nice looking and well sculpted. I wondered were any of them going through a secret sexuality struggle the way I was. I wondered when one of the guys looked at me, did they think I was hot. Wait… Was I even considered attractive? I mean… every time I looked in the mirror I didn’t see anything I liked.

I was about five foot, eleven with dark honey colored skin. My hair was jet black and very, very curly, almost kinky. I had greenish-grey eyes with a strong brow. Sitting on the brow were two black eyebrows that were not too narrow but incredibly dense and fierce looking. Connecting to my brow ridge was a long, chiseled nose that spread out into rather plump, boyish cheeks. These cheeks gave way to a rather masculine chin covered in black fuzz. I was not remarkably well built or had anything special going for me. I was pudgy in a few places but still considered ‘skinny’… I don’t know, maybe it was the fact that I was of Mongoloid descent which is why I had a little extra juice in spaces. There was a brighter side to it… I was very soft to the touch. My brothers always said I felt like a girl and would wrestle me and shit.

I just… when you are trying to learn about yourself, about who you are, it’s frustrating when everyone seems to be further along than you. It made me not want to talk to anyone, only just to be to myself until I’m able to figure things out. But where would I start?

It got tiresome, freezing at the sight of every cute customer who wanted lunch. The subliminal pondering if ‘he could be the one’ was not only unrealistic, but plain stupid. These guys were straight and I probably was the only gay guy for miles around. No one else was like me in this valley… No one.

“Heaven!” An enthused voice said, snapping me out of my funk. Looking down out the shack window, it was Swish.

“Hey…” I said, not sharing the same enthusiasm. Swish really wasn’t a very interesting person… despite being one of the few rare gays here.

However, he had a strange change over the course of the past few weeks. He had become less talkative, much less talkative and more of a loner. Not only that but people have been surprised by how much attitude he’d been serving lately, especially June who often pushes Swish around.

“I want a dessert salad with nopals and dates.” He smiled.

“What about to drink?” I asked, writing down his order.

Someone opened the rear door. It was Darren, the deadbeat cook who was never on time for his shift.

“You’re late!” I snarled.

“Spare me the lip…” Darren said, walking to the long list of orders. All I did was roll my eyes.

“It’s ok.” Swish said. Lost, I had to regain my train of thought.

“Ok.” I responded, beginning to make him his casino şirketleri food.

“You know,” I said to Darren, “I’m gonna be off the clock like…soon.”

“How soon?” Darren asked, not pleased. I paused, stopping from massaging the roughage.

“Like two hours soon… I gotta pick up after your lazy ass so I can’t leave when I want to even if I tried…” I said, returning to mixing the salad, “I don’t get why Sal goes so easy on you anyways. I don’t want to pick up your slack…”

“Because Sal’s my uncle… This is guaranteed.” Darren said, confident in his position here. All I could do was sigh.

“Ah, nepotism…” I said.

“What?” Darren asked, unsure what I said.

“You’re as dense as the red rock under this shack aren’t you?” I asked, handing Swish his salad, “Here you go.”

“Dude,” Darren said, slamming a cabinet, “Why the fuck are you riding my dick so hard?”

“Because the dumb shit you do…er don’t do, has effects on others!! When you don’t do what you’re supposed to do, other people have to pick up after you. I’m one of those other people… I don’t like being one of those people and would like for you to pull your weight.” I said calmly.

“Wait, I’m sorry,” Darren said, “Isn’t my family name on this shack?”

“No,” I responded, “Sal’s name’s on this shack. You happen to be related to Sal and have nowhere near the pull as he. Don’t even pull that bullshit card on me.”

“Heaven…” Swish chuckled, reaching into his pocket.

“Mmm hmm?” I asked.

“What are you planning this weekend?” Swish asked.

“Forty eight hours of sleep.” I joked.

“You wanna go to the Mojave?” I asked. It caught me off guard.

“Mojave?”

“Yeah… To the desert to the north.” He said.

“Why?” I asked.

“Don’t you wanna get the fuck out of here for a while?” He smiled.

“Sure?” I responded, not quite sure what to make of his proposition.

“Good… Friday night, have your shit packed. You better not stand me up, Heaven…” He teased. He handed me his cash for his meal and walked off not even giving me the valid chance to respond.

I seriously hoped he wasn’t coming on to me. If so, I couldn’t complain but I couldn’t say I found his geeky demeanor attractive…or his geeky looks for the matter. He looked frail and always uncomfortable. Who’d want someone like that but beggars can’t be choosers I guess. He was a sweet guy and probably had many surprises. All he needed was a chance.

The very thought made the rest of the shift go by swiftly. I cleaned up the station, hanging up my apron.

“Alright, I’m off…” I said.

“You really going to the Mojave with that dude?” Darren asked.

“Yeah, why not?” I responded.

“I mean it’s a dangerous place! And you don’t look like you can handle your own out there.” He said, more concerned than I ever could care about him. It made me smile.

“You don’t fucking know me well, Darren… I’m not some little prancing, spoiled kid who knows nothing and expects the world to bend at the knees. No, that’s stupid. I know this desert…” I responded.

He looked out the window smiling.

“Just a moment,” He grinned, closing the shutters, “Heaven…” The boy turned to me, “Do not go to the Mojave…”

“Why?” I asked, growing upset.

“Its… Just don’t go.” He sighed, not being able to find a good reason.

“What would you have me to do then? Stay here, not have any fun, just be miserable? I need this escape…” I said.

“Why because you’re tired of me? Dude, going to the Mojave isn’t that worth it!” He argued back.

“There’s a lot more going on than just working at this shack, Darren. I want to get away from it completely, recharge!” I chuckled, this boy not knowing how truly agitated I was.

“Like what?” He asked, genuinely curious. I looked at him as though he were an idiot.

“You do realize,” I said walking to the door, “We’re not friends… I wouldn’t tell you if you were my shrink and it could make or break my mental state. That’s just… no.”

I left, beginning the long walk to the Merchant Flats. It was late in the afternoon, the air cool and the ruins particularly pretty. It was made even more beautiful by this MP3 player Beth got for me. She loaded it full of various music, probably the only thing that truly made me happy these days.

Beth had gotten a job as a sifter in The Outskirts. It was the perfect job for her. She got to salvage rare machines and pocket whatever she wanted all while getting her hands dirty. She often came home exhausted but happy. At least she found some joy. I still was searching for mine but I didn’t quite know where to begin looking.

I reached the Merchant Flats, entering the huge garage in the rear. There Beth, Zanir and Galveston worked on the Cyberlope which, quite frankly, I didn’t understand. The thing looked finished weeks ago but they kept doing shit to the insides. Now they were just waiting, I guess.

“Hey…” casino firmaları I said. All heads turned, Beth rushing down from the platform to hug me, “Eeew, I smell like hot beef…”

“So!” She laughed. I got her enthusiasm though. We hadn’t really seen each other since we got back from Sloan and it had been three days, “How’ve you been?”

“Managing.” I smiled, “I’m just tired of that idiot Darren at the shack. Thinks just because his uncle is Sal, I’m supposed to like him and shit and let him run over me and have to wipe his ass…”

“You should just find another job…” Beth suggested, leading me back up the platform.

“What can I do?” I asked.

“Well,” Beth smiled, “You are quite acrobatic… Zeek taught you all that flipping and stretching and shit. The thing is though, you can dance incredibly well compared to Zeek so maybe you can start a little hustle there?”

“See, I’d rather have a concrete income, not one that can fluctuate.” I sighed, sitting on one of the tables.

“Hey.” Zanir said, typing away on his computer.

“You still working on that Leer?” I asked.

“No,” He said, “I’m trying to find this movie but I just can’t find it…”

“Movie?” I asked.

“It’s an old Nollywood Movie from like seven hundred years ago. I forgot the name…” He said, very perplexed.

“Oh…” I responded, “So how far along are you?”

“The Leer is synthesizing itself. It’s gonna do the hard work for us.” He chuckled.

“Ok,” Galveston began, “My turrets are steadily going offline, one by one each night, further and further into the City of Rust…”

“Really?” Zanir asked shocked, “You think it’s the same vampire mech?”

“I’m not sure but that’s like three turrets covering very important areas. The three turrets that went offline cover the Acid Swamps which are a major quarantine zone. Plate mechs live in the Acid Swamp and the only thing that kept them there was the turrets. This is not good at all…” Galveston said.

“Have you tried hacking them or is their firewall too thick?” Zanir asked, Galveston now having his full attention.

“It’s not even that. It’s the fact that they charge at you when you get close. Can’t even get close enough to hack them.” Galveston responded, “Until, well… you came.”

“I’ve never heard of plate mechs before.” Zanir said, closing his laptop, “I’ll definitely need to get some scans on them…” He got to his feet, readying a small bag.

“Wait…” Galveston said, scrambling to his feet now, “We’re leaving right now?”

“Yeah,” Zanir said as though it were plainly obvious, “I really, really wanna see a new mech… see has it evolved on it’s own. I’m still on the fence about the vampire mechs changing.”

“Oooooh, ok. Like a field study.” Galveston smiled.

“GUYS!!” Someone screamed from the garage entrance.

June and Julio made there way into the garage with their analog buggies. June looked very upset. He rushed up the platform having some very big news.

“What’s up?” Galveston asked.

“I had a booze run up the valley. All my shit got stolen! There was like a huge blockade in the center stretch of the valley. Some fools claiming to be Revivalists swarmed us and took it. They probably were going to kill us if it wasn’t for how tough these buggies are. They took my fucking booze man…” June said, obviously upset.

“Wait,” Beth said becoming attentive, “Who took your booze?”

“I don’t know…some new bandito clan up north in the Mojave…” June said, very, very angry.

“Who were you running to?” Galveston asked.

“I had a run to Southern Utah… The Badlands…” June said.

“And where precisely did you run into these motherfuckers?” Zanir asked, drawing a curious look from everyone.

“The Corridor…”

“Lets go find these motherfuckers and see what they’re all about. We need to know who they are and who they affiliate with. Are they a sub band or are they a new upstart? We need information on them… and then we need to take them out!” Zanir said, shocking everyone.

“Why such…” Beth began, “Dedication?”

“Because Revivalists are no joke and are serious, SERIOUS people! They are the reason I’m doing all of this right here, trying to get to Labrador! They’re the reason my dad died! I need to know if these fools are real or fakers and if they know how real the Revivalists are! If they’re faking, we’re gonna burn them off the face of the earth without a trace…” Zanir said, full of angst.

“In the remote possibility that these fools are the real deal, what will we do?” June asked.

“I’m sorry but I’d have to leave immediately because they can stop everything I’ve worked hard for, undo all what my father forged. I’d have to make sure I was never here and not leave a trace… I probably already am leaving a trail.” Zanir said, thinking on it seriously.

These Revivalists must be quite the potent bunch of people. I was trying to remember who they were. The güvenilir casino name sounded very, very familiar.

“Who are they?” I asked.

“They’re the people that quarantined Sloan, and the Acid Swamps…” Galveston responded.

“That’s not good then…” A vaguely familiar voice said. We all turned and it was Galveston’s father, overhearing the entire conversation.

“I’m sorry Alistair, I may be short on my rent this month… my shit got stolen.” June said.

“That’s fine,” The wall of man said walking over to the table, “But you’re all conspiring to go after this band?”

“We’re going to investigate first and foremost, figure out who they are. If they are who they say they are then…” Zanir sighed, unable to finish. Drear spread across Galveston’s face.

“You’re leaving…” Alistair recalled, hearing Zanir say it moments ago, “And if they aren’t who they say they are…”

“We’re just gonna sweep them out of the way because they’re holding up trading on the Corridor.” Zanir responded.

“You think you can pull that off?” Alistair asked, skeptical for all the right reasons.

“I can definitely pull it off.” Zanir said confidently.

“Alright, just don’t bring a war back to my doorsteps…” Alistair responded, heading back towards the inventory warehouse.

“Can I come?” I asked.

“Sure.” Zanir responded.

“Wait, are we gonna go to the Acid Swamps?” Galveston asked.

“We may have to leave before then.” Zanir said, unsure how Galveston would take the news. He shrugged.

“Okay…” He responded, just fine with the news. As long as they were together, that was all that mattered. They gave a brief smile before the grind was on!

It was like preparing for war. Galveston wore ceramic body armor with clips for ammo and a small automatic weapon. Zanir wore this badass black zipper with clips for his floating blades as well as EMP cook bombs. He topped it off with a black beanie, pulling his hair out on each sides to it lay against his cheeks. It made him look like he had done this a thousand times over. He put on the gauntlet and the dozens of blades flew to and connected with his back.

Beth wore a black jumper with EMP weapons in every nook and crany. She had an extendable staff that could output a very powerful EMP if needed or give a debilitating shock. Not only that, but she had her faithful two sub-machine guns with underbarrel bayonets. She then strapped infrared goggles to the suit. June watched her as she prepared.

“You look so badass..” He said.

He wasn’t too bad himself. He was covered in smoke bombs, dry bombs, glass jaw bombs and even T-4 bombs. Wearing the same zipper as Zanir, he had a bladed compound bow on his back. The arrows were varied, some explosive, some poisonous and others producing an EMP. On his hips were two holsters, caressing dual machine pistols.

“Heaven…” Zanir said, reaching down to grab a massive chest from under the table. The tiny boy placed the extremely heavy chest on the table like it was nothing. He opened it, revealing a stash of weapons. He handed me a four and a half foot long, thirty pound shot gun, handling it like it was as light as a pistol. I had to grab it with two hands, the thing was massive, “You’re gonna be our shotgunner. Swish and I worked to build that thing a few weeks ago and tested it out! She’s automatic, can shoot two and a half rounds a second…and her names Kajuka…”

“Why Kajuka?” I asked, caressing the massive gun like she was a baby.

“Because,” Zanir said, “That’s the only word she knows how to say…” He brought his hands together as though he were shooting her, “Ka joo ka ka joo ka ka joo ka!”

“So not only do I have dual automatic sawed offs, I have a giant riot shotgun?” I asked, too enthused.

“You can handle that?” June asked. I looked at the gun, trying to figure it out.

“The kick doesn’t look so bad. It’s the automation mechanism that makes this gun look so big. It probably handles the heavy load for you. Its the dual sawed offs that try to break your wrists when shooting.” I smiled. June nodded in approval as Zanir brought me a box. He opened it, revealing it was chocked full of ammo.

“This is the Mega Slug,” He said pulling out a bullet the size of a banana, “It’s incredibly accurate, turning the shotgun into an anti mech rifle. It’s the same bullet that both Galveston and June use in those giant sniper rifles. This,” He pulled out a blue bullet shaped like a tiny can of soup, “Is an EMP in a Can. It’s exactly what it sounds like and can temporarily stun a mech or fry computers. This guy,” He pulled out another massive bullet, about the same size as the Mega Slug, “is called the MFB… Motha Fuckin’ Bitch! I’m kidding… It stands for Magnesium Fusion Blast! It’ll turn Kajuka into a grenade launcher… a grenade launcher that can can melt anything! Be careful with that… these rounds are the same rounds Big Daddy uses in his one-tens! You also have Bean Bag,” He said, pulling out a purplish-red slug, “Non lethal, and you have the Classic…” He pulled out the last bright red slug before closing the box.

Julio walked up the platform, too wearing a black jumpsuit. He looked like June’s distant twin, both having the same of everything.

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