“Where ya headed?” asked the store owner, his ugly mug grinning as though he knew something we didn’t. Information was precious however in these harsh and uncertain times so I answered vaguely “East” and left it at that.
The grin vanished and a scowl appeared in its place “What d’ya think you’ll find there? Happiness or something?”
“Or something sounds good to me” I quipped.
The scowl deepened, he didn’t appreciate my humour or the lack of information I seemed willing to share. I then remembered the reason we’d visited this run down shack in the first place “Hey handsome, you gonna sell us that converter we need or just ask dumb questions?”
With no gossip forthcoming he seemed done with us, as though the business transaction that had brought us here were of no importance now. It sure was important to us, without that part we wouldn’t be going any further into the ruined lands.
He rubbed his big square chin with one hand and eyed me suspiciously before answering “Yeah I got one…but it won’t do you no good see…”
I refrained from answering verbally but glared at him until he elaborated further. His eyes averted ours and became fixed on some random point just over my shoulder, as though some awful scene were being played out just for him. His voice wavered as he cautioned “Nothing good lives out that way…only devils and monsters! Slow suffering and death await to the east…y’all seem like good people…turn back while you still can!”
“Perhaps we’ve come to clean up this land…enough of the doom give us the part and we’ll be off!”
Whilst shaking his over-sized head disappointingly, the store owner ambled over to the far end of the counter and from a low shelf he retrieved a scuffed and worn metal suitcase. He slammed it on the counter with total disregard for the vital components that lay within.
I clicked open the catches to inspect the goods, our engineer Diaz nodded and began cursing in Spanish, a sure sign that the parts were good.
The store owner laughed himself silly as he held out a palm “That’ll be five thousand dollars and you have to cough up before you leave cuz I won’t be seeing you dumbasses ever again…not once the badlands have swallowed y’all up!” he doubled over in mirth at his own funny joke.
Upon straightening himself up he saw that only he had been laughing…once he could see past the barrel of my pistol! To say he looked surprised would be putting it mildly and he tried to speak but could only stutter.
“Just so you know old man…there ain’t nothing out there that’s as evil as we are so don’t you worry we’ll be fine!”
We were already headed for the door by the time his bullet riddled body hit the floor…you just can’t trust anyone these days!