A Meeting of Souls – Installment #3
This is the third installment of A Meeting of Souls – A Tale from the Wasteland. The read the story from the beginning, start here.
If you enjoy this story and would like to own a copy of your very own, you can purchase it from Amazon/Kindle here and Barnes & Noble/Nook here. The e-book includes a full-color cover and a special, steamy, NSFW bonus chapter at the end of the story that won’t be included on the blog. Every romance needs a “happy ending,” right?
Zinara couldn’t remember when she’d been in deeper shit.
It had been hard, terribly hard, escaping from San Francisco and making her way to Wasteland City. When she’d set out to find it, she wasn’t even sure it really existed other than in half-whispered fairy tales told to frighten small children, but somehow she’d always known that if she could make it there, she’d be better off than staying in the Bay Area hiding from the roving gangs and police patrols.
A combination of luck, skill, and determination led her to the City, where she was surprised by a sense of safety and belonging. Although populated with every variety of thug, criminal, and ne’er-do-well, there was a kind of truce within the walls, insured by the ever-watchful Guards patrolling and manning the gate. One Guard in particular caught her eye when she first arrived. He was tall and well-muscled, with a handsome, chiseled face and a strong jaw. He had an air of calm confidence about him that she found reassuring. Here was a man you could trust to handle any emergency, any situation. Maybe she was being a fangirl, but Zinara just knew, somehow, that she could count on him to help her if she ever needed it.
The little Old World money she had left secured her a room in what passed as a respectable bunkhouse run by the Wasteland Communication Corp., but she soon figured out that caps were the real currency in Wasteland City. As day faded into night, she made her way to the Atomic Cafe in the hopes of picking up work as a dancer. Being slim, agile and still in possession of all of her teeth secured the deal, and she found herself shimmying and gyrating to the pounding rhythm of AHTCK playing on a huge stage nearby while the Cafe’s patrons hooted, catcalled and tossed back their drinks.
As she climbed down from her perch at the end of her shift, she was rewarded with a handful of caps and a bottle of beer from the head bartender. She pocketed the caps and took several long swallows from the bottle—beer was not her drink of choice, but it was cold and wet and exactly what she needed after hours of go-go dancing. She threaded her way through the crowd, sipping the beer and heading back to the bunkhouse, when a rough hand on her arm stopped her just outside the circle of light from the Cafe.
“Hello, darlin’. Leavin’ so soon?”
She turned to face the speaker, shrugging slightly to remove his hand from her arm. He was thin and barely as tall as she was, with long, greasy hair and a leer that set off all the alarms in her head. She swallowed her fear and turned to go.
“I was watchin’ you up there. You’re a real good dancer.” He stepped uncomfortably close and Zinara moved to the side, wanting to keep some distance between them.
“Thanks,” she said, glancing around. She decided that letting him know where she was sleeping was a bad idea and wondered if anyone at the Cafe would help her lose her admirer if she headed back there.
“A pretty girl like you is worth more than a handful of caps. How’d you like to earn some real money?” He’d sidled up next to her again and the stench of his grimy overcoat brought tears to her eyes. She blinked a couple of times to clear her vision and decided to head toward the gates for help. Maybe that Guard she’d seen earlier would be there.
“No, I’m good,” she said as she turned to go, almost losing her balance. Her vision was definitely blurry now and she felt hot and dizzy. She panicked as the man grabbed her by the elbow to keep her from falling. What was wrong with her? As her vision darkened and she lost consciousness she felt the beer bottle slip out of her hand. Her last thought was wondering whether it had been the Cafe bartender or the man who was hoisting her up into his arms who’d drugged her.