Myka watched from just inside the doorway. She’d brought the stranger water as requested and was supposed to return to her duties but something stopped her.
Travelers were not common but also not rare. They were a medium sized town that offered water and some protection thanks to MacPherson and his men. What was unique was that this stranger was a woman. A woman with short midnight hair and a lilting accent she’d never heard before. She sat alone, sipping her drink, not removing her sunglasses or pack from her back. Clearly she was waiting for something.
The woman motioned to the bartender for another drink and Myka was sent to the well once more. When she returned the bar was in chaos. The stranger was surrounded by MacPherson’s men who had weapons drawn. Several others lay unmoving on the ground. She watched in fascination as the stranger quickly and effortlessly took down each of the men, never taking off her pack or her sunglasses.
The woman turned to go but the cocking of guns from above froze her in place. More of MacPherson’s men lined the balcony, including the man himself.
“Bring her upstairs.”
Hours later Myka found herself carrying a tray of food to one of the guest room doors. She had been instructed by her mother that she was to provide dinner and any other sort of entertainment that the stranger required. MacPherson wanted her to join his crew but the woman had refused, saying she was on her way west to complete an important mission.
What exactly that was, they didn’t know. But if Myka could find out then she needed to as soon as possible. MacPherson had saved them from the wastelands, after her father had grown sick and died and her mother had gone blind. He valued them both with their skills with old texts and pre-war information. Myka had been a young girl and now she was a young woman, ready to be free of the prison this town had become.
“Thank you but I am not hungry,” the woman had said when Myka set the tray down.
“It’s not poisoned or drugged. You should eat.”
“Well that is certainly good to know,” the woman smirked. She looked much as she had before, short hair, lean and slightly tan from time on the road. The pack was missing as were the weapons she had carried. A dark leather jacket lay across the bed. The sunglasses were gone, revealing dark brown eyes.
“But that doesn’t change the fact that I am not hungry,” she paused, “but I’m sure you are. Go ahead and enjoy.” She slid the tray back to the other side of the small table.
Myka debated for a moment.
“It’s okay,” the woman spoke softly, “I won’t tell on you.”
“Thanks,” Myka quickly sat down across from the stranger and began to eat. It had been some time since she’d seen so much food.
They sat in silence while Myka ate. She kept her eyes on her plate while the stranger studied her.
“Thank you again,” Myka wiped her mouth with the towel on the tray.
“You are very welcome. I suppose MacPherson has bid you to stay the night with me as well?”
Myka blushed. She was intimately aware of what could happen between adults but had never met another so open about it.
“Yes,” she looked the stranger up and down slowly. “Would that be such a bad thing?”
The stranger smiled. “Under other circumstances, no, but I’m afraid that will not be happening tonight.”
Myka felt a bit sad at being turned down. “Well what should we do then? I have to be here till morning.”
“Let me tell you about a place of endless wonder.”
“What’s this?” Myka held up a dirty white box.
“Something from the past,” HG explained, pulling out a small chord from her pack. “Let me show you.”
With Myka’s help the pair had escaped the town and evaded MacPherson so far. They knew he was out there somewhere but with luck and time they could lose him in the wasteland. It hadn’t always been like this, Myka knew. Her earlier memories were from the time before, the last days. Before the bright white light filled the sky and the Earth was ripped away.
There was water and people everywhere. Green and fresh. Tall buildings and lights and books and everything was clean. Myka would have flashes from time to time of her very early days from before but only understood the after.
“Put these over your ears,” Myka accepted the device and with a touch of a button music filled her ears.
“This is amazing,” Myka’s eyes shimmered in the firelight. She’d never heard anything so beautiful. “What is it?”
Myka woke with a start. The fire was out and the sun was peaking up over the horizon. She quickly scanned the ruins they had sheltered in. HG was nowhere to be found.
Her green eyes landed on the precious pack. She sighed in relief. HG hadn’t disappeared into the night.
She stood and stretched, heading for the break in the wall they had slipped through the day before. HG had explained that this place once had been a source of power for the region, power that would last for a thousand years. Now it was just another reminder of what never would be again.
“Hey HG,” Myka slipped next to her companion.
“Good morning darling,” HG gave her a quick smile and turned back to the rising sun. Myka noticed how her sunglasses sat atop her head yet she didn’t look away from the glowing brightness. “MacPherson will be here soon. We should get moving.”
“I told you that you would not die here today,” HG spoke softly as Myka pressed her hands to the wound in her stomach. MacPherson had found them at the cannibal’s house. The shoot out had killed most of MacPherson’s men and the cannibals themselves.
MacPherson wanted a book that HG was carrying. Myka had heard of the book but all copies were thought lost in the fires that destroyed the Earth. Somehow HG had come across one in her travels and MacPherson wanted it for the power it contained.
“And you won’t either,” Myka pressed harder, willing the blood to stop flowing to no avail.
“Let’s go Myka,” Walter’s hand clamped down on her shoulder, pulling her away from HG.
Myka watched in the rearview mirror as HG’s prone form grew smaller in the distance.
“And how does the patient feel today,” Myka smiled as she pulled up a chair next to HG’s small bed.
“Much improved. Thank you.”
“Do you think you’re well enough to start? Mr. Nielson is quite eager to begin the transcription.”
HG took Myka’s hand in her own. “I believe so.”
Myka helped HG lay down the table in the transcription room, putting a pillow under her head. She had finally escaped MacPherson and returned to the destroyed farmhouse. After a frantic search she found HG a few miles down the road, still heading west to her destination. Thankfully the truck she’d liberated during her escape had extra fuel and they were able to make it to the Warehouse safely. The doctors were able to patch HG up and Myka had made sure she was comfortable while she healed.
“Are you sure you’re ready to do this today?” Myka’s voice was full of concern.
HG pulled their joined hands to her lips, kissing the back of Myka’s before settling down on the table.
“Genesis 1: In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.”
MacPherson sat down roughly at his desk, book in hand. He had barely made it back to the town alive and had lost most of his men. But as he broke the lock on the thick tome he knew it would be worth it. This book had been lost for so long but the power it contained would make him the most powerful man in the wastes.
“No,” he flipped from page to page frantically. “No, this can’t be.” He continued to turn page after page, unable to read a single one.
It was in Brail.
“Are you sure you won’t stay,” Mr. Nielson asked. “We could certainly use you around the Warehouse.”
“I need to save my mother,” Myka explained. “I can’t leave her with MacPherson.”
“And I now go where she goes,” HG replied, shaking Mr. Nielson’s hand.
He watched for a few minutes as the pair disappeared over a ridge and back into the ruins of what had been San Francisco.
“Godspeed and good luck,” he whispered.