The Historian moved among the people and took his place at the Sacred Center where everyone gathered once every seven nights to hear his recounting of the past. From the youngest to the oldest among those in the crowd, the Historian’s words were important. His words were verbal threads that connected the past to the present, and quite possibly could give hope for a better future.
As the Historian took a sip from a glass of water, the ancient man—some say he was over a hundred years old—sat down upon his wooden chair and began to speak. He always started in a soft voice. But by the recounting’s end, his voice always rose to a passionate crescendo, driven by the purpose that what he was passing on to the next generation mattered.
The Historian spoke after the crowd had settled down. “Let me tell you about the history of Ryan Kensington.” he began.
Ryan Kensington, the only survivor of an attack upon his settlement weeks before by Imperius and his Desert Rats, didn’t almost see the two road gang members arguing in front of the car with the hood opened stopped along a stretch of road which led to Hell Road to the north.
Ryan quickly took out his pistol and quietly made his way to the dead tree which stood less than a hundred feet from the where the two were arguing.
Ryan scanned the area. The two men both had crossbows and hand axes strapped to their lower backs. Although the two men were covered in body markings and piercings, the brown two-door muscle car wasn’t similarly marked. Normally, Ryan knew, cars belonging to the infamous road gangs who plagued the vast, arid Wasteland, had markings that matched those of the gangs who owned them.
One particular road gang Ryan was after was the Desert Rats. Led by Imperius, a deranged and bloodthirsty warlord, the Desert Rats had laid claim to a large stretch of land that included the settlement of New Beginnings where he and his family lived.
In New Beginnings, Ryan served as a lawman in the settlement he and the others founded together. It was a peaceful place where several family groups struggled to survive in an unforgiving and too-often, dangerous world. Together they formed a community of sorts, happily isolated, wary of outsiders and change, fearful of the stories told by their elders.
The elders told stories of a tyrant ruler who ignored global warming. When food and water became scarce on a global scale, people began to rise against their rulers. Eventually, as the elders’ stories go, missiles began raining from the sky and cratering the earth. Instead of a nuclear winter, the Earth suffered through a nuclear summer further warming the world, causing the oceans to dry up. It took less than fifty years for the Earth to turn into a desert world.
For those who managed to survive, the world became a dangerous place to live. Animals that survived the cataclysmic change underwent their own changes. Many mutant strains began to appear in animals, turning them into monstrous top predators feared by travelers.
Many people also began to change. Many children were being born with genetic mutations caused by living near or eating animals and plants near the Deadlands—regions devastated by nuclear fallouts. Many survivors banded together to form ruthless road gangs led by warlords. Many mutants turned into merciless scavengers with meaty breath and teeth filed into points.
It was during a routine patrol outside of the settlement when the Desert Rats attacked New Beginnings. Imperius led the attack on the settlement. His Desert Rats showed no mercy, even to the ones who begged for it. When Ryan arrived in his car, he too was attacked. Outnumbered, Ryan was beaten and left for dead.
When he awoke the next day, Ryan saw the devastation brought on by Imperius. No one in the settlement was spared. The Desert Rats had also taken everything of value.
Ryan spent an entire day burying the dead, including his family. The next day, he left New Beginning and headed east, following the tracks left behind by the Desert Rats.
For nearly two weeks, Ryan traveled across the Wasteland. He managed to find the necessary equipment, food and water, and even a pistol with ammunition amidst the wreckage and ruined buildings he came upon.
Looking at the muscle car, Ryan couldn’t believe his luck. All he needed to do was get past the two road gang members.
Taking aim, Ryan shot the closest man through the skull. Blood and brain matter sprayed all over the engine block and the other gang member who stood in disbelief.
The man leaped to the side of the car for cover just as Ryan took another shot, missing the man. Just then another gang member, carrying a crossbow, appeared from behind a large boulder where he looked like he may have been relieving himself.
The second man wore a leather vest and had body marking all over his arms and neck. The man cussed at Ryan and pulled the trigger. Ryan heard the crossbow’s bolt tear through the air near him.
Ryan shot the man, striking him in the chest. He fell to the ground, dead.
To Ryan’s surprise, the man behind the car drew a knife and rushed at him rather than run away. The last of the road gang member tried to slice Ryan open at the stomach, but Ryan was too quick for him.
Ryan pointed the gun at the man’s stomach and fired. At point blank range, Ryan’s powerful gun blew a hole through the man and sent him flying back a few feet. The man was dead before he even struck the ground.
Ryan quickly made his way to the car and searched the area for any other road gang members. Satisfied that he was alone, Ryan searched through the vehicle and then searched the gang members for anything of value.
He then checked under the car’s hood, found what the problem was, and got the car started.
Before leaving, he took the road gangs’ bodies and hid them. He then got back back into the car and drove off.
After driving an hour headed north, the car’s engine suddenly died. The car came to a complete stop a few hundred feet from a pile of wrecked vehicles.
He tried to turn the engine over but it wouldn’t. He looked at the gas gauge. It indicated he still had a half tank of fuel left. But he realized that gauge hadn’t moved at all during the past two hours he had been driving.
He cursed at his luck, and stepped out of the car.
Taking out his gun, he looked around. At least a dozen vehicles blocked the road ahead. Most were nothing more than rusting pieces of junk.
Ryan strapped on his backpack and took out the gas can from the trunk. He then began walking to the nearest vehicle.
After nearly an hour, Ryan had found several items worth trading but no gas.
At the end of the road, he spotted a sign half buried along the side of the road.
Another sign pointed to a gas station, or what may be left of it, about two kilometers away.
Ryan was worried about leaving the car he just found behind. But he knew he couldn’t move it around the roadblock on his own. He realized he would have to hike to the gas station. With most of the day gone, Ryan knew he probably only had a few hours of daylight left.
He would have to seek shelter when night fell. Darkness brought along a different kind of danger in the Wasteland. When the sun disappeared over the western horizon, the nocturnals—as everyone called them—came out to hunt.
No one was safe then.
But just as he was about to follow the road, he heard a loud buzzing sound coming from the sand dunes to the east.
Turning towards the sound, Ryan spotted two large swarms of wasps quickly flying towards him.
He gripped the empty gas can tightly and ran back to the car.
Before he reached the car, the swarms of stinging wasps covered him and his car in a blanket of wings and stingers.
He felt several wasps—each the size of his forefinger—sting him as he desperately tried to shut the car door.
For nearly three hours, Ryan suffered in the sweltering car. He drank an entire’s day worth of water to keep himself from passing out.
When the swarm finally left his car and him behind, Ryan carefully opened the car door and stepped back outside. After making sure it was safe, Ryan followed the road north towards the gas station. There, he found only a gallon of gas.
When he returned nearly an hour later, Ryan was horrified to discover his car missing.
Luckily, whoever took his car left tracks he could easily follow. The tracks led him to an old shop standing inside a gated compound. The place looked like a junkyard.
Ryan waited till nightfall then climbed over the fence, then stealthily made his way to a window set high above one side of the stone building. When he tried to get a view while standing on an empty oil drum, he slipped and fell.
The noise attracted the people inside the shop.
Two men—typical road bandits by the looks of them—attacked Ryan who took them both down. Before Ryan could get the third bandit inside, the man had driven off in a tow truck.
However, Ryan found his car inside the shop. Fortunately, the bandits had only removed his tires.
Ryan placed the tires back on the car, gathered some supplies he found, and left the shop before the third man could return with more bandits.
Ryan drove off and made his way north along Hell Road.