A Meeting of Souls – Final Installment
This is the final installment of A Meeting of Souls – A Tale from the Wasteland. The read the story from the beginning, start here.
If you enjoyed 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?
Out of the corner of his eye, Lash saw Chilli tug Zinara toward the gates, but he kept his attention on the two men in the buggy. He was surprised to see the man he’d pulled off Zinara at the slaver camp jump out and start toward him. He’d left him for dead last night, but apparently it hadn’t stuck. Lash watched his partner climb out as well but hang back. His shoulder twinged as he recognized the man who’d shot him yesterday.
“You stole somethin’ that belongs to me.”
“I don’t think so,” Lash countered.
“I’ve got the paperwork to prove it.” Arnie reached into his overcoat and produced a folded up piece of paper which he shook open and held up for Lash to read. As he did so, Bud took the opportunity to move slowly but steadily closer. Lash recognized the tactic: one tried to draw his attention while the other sought a position of advantage. They’d been partners for a long time and it showed. Predators through and through.
“That’s not mine. I didn’t sign any contract,” Zinara called from the gate.
“The lady says that’s not her signature. If she says she didn’t sign it, she didn’t sign it,” Lash said, pivoting and throwing one whip sideways, neatly cutting the paper in two. There was a restrained Oooooh from the gathering crowd.
“You sonofabitch!” Arnie growled, taking a step toward Lash.
“I wouldn’t,” Zinara called from the gate, stepping into the open with the shotgun braced against her hip and pointed at Arnie.
Lash swore under his breath but kept his attention on the two men in front of him. After what she’d been through, he couldn’t really blame her for wanting to make sure the bastard was really dead this time, but he didn’t need her trying to be a hero right now. The slavers saw the distraction and made their move.
Out of the corner of his eye, Lash saw Bud draw his flintlock. As he turned to address the threat, Arnie produced a huge Bowie knife and sprang. Lash’s whip snaked out, cracked, wrapped around Arnie’s wrist—
Bud came around the front of the buggy, leveling his pistol—
The knife flew from Arnie’s hand, sticking itself into the sand—
The shotgun BOOMED, the full load catching Bud in the center of his flak vest. He reflexively fired his flintlock impotently into the sky as he fell back against the buggy, his hands frantically feeling his chest for the gaping wound he expected would be there. At the same time, Zinara staggered back from the shotgun’s recoil.
Lash struck out with his other whip and caught Arnie across the cheek, a fresh line of blood welling up where the whip had torn his flesh. He yelped as Lash closed the distance, wrapped a whip around his neck, and threw him to the ground. His blood boiling, Lash felt around in the sand until he found Arnie’s Bowie knife. Imagining the vile things the slaver had planned for Zinara, he raised the knife and tensed to strike—
“Hold it!” Lash didn’t even have to turn to know that the Captain and a full complement of Guards were moving toward them, weapons drawn. As the Guards surrounded them, Lash forced himself to relax. The cavalry had arrived. Lash would pay dearly for getting them out of bed at this hour, but he was grateful for the backup. He stood up and let Arnie slowly rise to his feet.
“Bitch!” Bud cried feebly when he’d finally caught his breath. The front of his flak vest was shredded; blood oozed from a dozen spots where lead shot had penetrated his skin. His empty flintlock lay useless at his side.
The Captain strode up to stand beside Lash, facing the two men. “An assault on the Guard is a bannable offense. You two are no longer welcome in Wasteland City. Disappear. Don’t come back.”
“We got an exclusive right to recruit here, and he’s interfering with it,” Arnie whined.
“Your boss and I are going to have a meeting about that very soon. In the meantime….” He inclined his head toward Tank and Ryno. “Get them out of here.” The two big Guards grabbed the slavers and half-marched, half-dragged them to the outskirts of the tent city surrounding the walls, with Hydra and Gilmortar following behind, weapons at the ready.
“Isn’t that Rust-Eye’s buggy?” the Captain said, already knowing the answer. He shaded his eyes as he watched the Guards head back toward the gate and he gestured for the rookie Guard, Thumper, to move the vehicle inside the walls to await retrieval from its rightful owner.
“Looks like it,” Lash replied. He coiled his whips as he and the Captain headed back toward the bike.
“You’d better be right about this, LeSabre. If my ass is on the line …”
“She’s telling the truth.” He saw Zinara hurrying toward him and he pulled her close. She snaked one arm up around his neck and tilted her head up to kiss him.
“My hero,” she murmured. He pulled back slightly to check her expression and was relieved to see a mixture of amusement and admiration.
“Bastards kidnapped you and shot me. They had it coming,” he said.
“Sergeant,” the Captain began, interrupting. “I expect to see you at your post at 0700. Tomorrow.” There was a glimmer of a smile behind the Captain’s stern expression and as Zinara mouthed “Thank you,” he nodded to her and headed back to the wall, barking orders at the guards as Chilli trailed behind him.
“I’ll be there,” Lash called after him, turning his attention back to the girl in his arms.
“Lash, huh?” she said, smiling up at him.
“Yeah. And you are …?”
“Zinara,” she said against his lips.
“Nice to meet you,” he whispered, as they kissed, slowly at first and then deeper.
When the kiss ended, Lash straddled his bike and started it, gesturing for Zinara to climb on. She laid his shotgun jauntily across her shoulders and snuggled against his back.
“You hungry?” he asked.
“Chilli makes the best breakfast in town. And if you like coffee….”
Zinara squeezed him gently and he urged the bike forward, passing through the gates and into the City. The Captain had given him the day off. Surely they could find some way to pass the time.
Thanks to the organizers, volunteer staff and participants of Wasteland Weekend VI (2015), without whom the original spark of this story would never have happened. Special thanks to everyone in the original Wastelander Central Facebook thread (http://tinyurl.com/wwadventure) who responded so enthusiastically to the story. And extra-special thanks to everyone who contributed ideas. See you in the Wasteland!
LC Feeney spent a good portion of her childhood reading books under the covers with a flashlight way past her bedtime, finding the worlds of high fantasy, science fiction, and later, post apocalyptic romance preferable to her own. She started writing her own stories at the age of seven and has been known to leap out of bed in the middle of the night to jot down the plot ideas that come to her in her dreams. She’s only recently been introduced to Wasteland Weekend, but now she’s a convert.
She lives in Southern California and is married to an extremely patient computer programmer who indulges her love of science fiction, fantasy, and chocolate.
Currently a federal law enforcement officer, Curtis Gropp has had a long and varied employment history, including stints as editor of a reptile magazine, proofreader, and advertising copywriter. He has been writing as a hobby since elementary school. He has written numerous short stories and several feature-length screenplays, and is working on a novel. (Aren’t we all?) He lives in Huntington Beach, California, with his wife Lisa, their son Logan, their Rottweiler Jaxson, and Logan’s bearded dragon Jazz Hands.
He participates in Wasteland Weekend every year without fail.