Here you are a new story, this time about a boy from Scrapbridge.
After getting out of his house Saul still had to cross several walkways and turn in countless bends and twists, go down a dozen ladders and wait in more than one queue to get to the lower part. The upper part of Scrapbridge was occupied by houses, generally smaller and more unstable the higher they were. They were attached to the remains of an old bridge by thick ropes, cords, wireframes and anything that did the trick to avoid the whole thing to crumble down. Series of walkways communicated the houses of a same level, and to get up or down to the next level you could use ramps, ladders scattered among the buildings or, if you were willing to pay for it, one of the manual lifts that could get you to the ground in no time. The stores and the houses of wealthier people were on the level immediately above ground, usually linked with clean and wide ramps. On the lowest part were the greenhouses, stables and working places, as well as some dens where you could gamble or have a drink.
At that time Chris would be working at his parents’ pigsty, so his visit would be brief; pigs only smelled good when they were cooked and crispy over a fire.
He made his way between some rusty shacks and, as usual, greeted “Good lord” Jack, who was lying on the floor, dead drunk as always, near the wells. Back in his days he had been a ganger and wandered through a good extension of the Wasteland, but he liked betting too much and his gang grew tired of him. He earned his nickname in a game of Fell the chieftain, in which, tipsy and with an unbeatable hand of cards, he bet everything he had but his underwear against a huge guy that had fought in the pits of Nowater. But at the end his hand was indeed beatable, and the only thing he could say in that very sorry moment was “Good lord I didn’t drink that last glass”.
Chris smiled when he saw him at the door. He had intense orange-hued hair and a turned-up nose that had nothing to envy from those of the animals in his care. He had just turned fifteen, but was so tall and skinny that almost everyone thought he was older.
– Hey’a – said with his perpetual smile -. Have you visited the junkers that just arrived? Trix told me they have been to Gleamingtowers and recovered a lot of stuff. They are Julius’ crew, and the man says he has something for you, one for your collection.
– Cut it, Trix is always spinning stories. The guy from that weird cult said he had some attention defference, or something.
– Sure’nough, but Bites was with him and nodded his head, and Bites is no phoney.
Saul didn’t know what to do first: jump for joy or smash his head against the door. He had been waiting a lot of time to get another one, but just last week he had blew all his savings in a quite-sharp knife for his raids outside the settlement walls. His mind started to spin on all the possibilities to get some bullets, and fast.
– You know if One Eye Gulf still needs people to go collecting to the hills? – Saul asked the boy.
– You nuts? That’s full of biters!
– Bah, they just some fur balls.
– Nope, they’re serious teeth with fur, fast, hungry and full of bitchiness. And they’re a lot.
– It’s me you are talking about – replied Saul, beating his own chest with his fist -. I manage. I know no overgrown martabbit is gonna chew me up.
Chris shrugged his shoulders.
– Yep, but I don’t know if they know.
Before going to talk with Gulf he dropped by Pact Square. The junkers had set up their stalls there, to show all the goods they wanted to sell. They were a strange bunch of people, with funny hats, baroque suits and those things you wear around your neck with a knot. And their weapons looked more like the machines used in the pumping station than real arms.
Chris had said the truth, Julius was there, standing in front of his stall, and he made a gesture for him to approach as soon as he saw him.
– Oh my, I am really glad to see thee, young Saul – he had that pompous tone and accent, typical of the junkers -. I reckon the message has been delivered that I hold something for thee.
The boy couldn’t do nothing but nod.
– It is in quite good condition, I might say – said Julius while he rummaged around the items he had in a box – . And if I am not mistaken, it is one that thou still do not have.
He finally pulled it out and took away the paper wrapped around it. When Saul saw it his eyes lit up. He had to get the bullets to buy it as soon as possible, he suddenly couldn’t wait a second. It was number 47, and indeed he didn’t have it yet. Among all the ruins of the cities of old, this was the greatest thing for him… a new issue of Zander Magazine.