Chapter 1:

End of Oasis: Part 1

End of Oasis

The Earth. It was a cut above the rest of the rocks dubbed planets rotating and cycling throughout space. Afforded the miracle and curse of life. Humans, Animals, and vegetation. The monsters of life, and water was their Victor Frankenstein. These miracles of existence would stand the test of time for numerous years. Evolving and changing over time. But their rein over the planet would soon become forfeit due to what has been called by man “The Expanse” an unnatural planetary phenomenon where the Earth’s core would begin to grow allowing its magma to seep through the planet’s crust, soaking up and evaporating the mass majority of its H20. Leaving the inhabitants of this once luscious land with no more of life’s nectar to sustain them, including the salty sea. Leaving nary an Oasis left in this land over the course of the last thirty years. Bookmark here

The soles of a young girls’ feet rest sunken in the sand. Knees bent, and arms stretched forth. Her dirty, blonde hair obscuring her face but not obstructing her gaze. A gaze that rests squarely on a wet patch of mud that she finds herself kneeling in front of. This sloppy section of earth however to her, appeared supple.Bookmark here

The girl covered in rags and in dirt. Her blue eyes stuck out like a mirage in and endless wasteland, with the dry cracks in her lips and skin comparative to one. And the vast desert surrounding her being of the more literal definition. She swipes her finger through it like chocolate pudding, making contact with the mud as a fair bit of it clings to her finger, soaking into her skin. She holds the speck of muddy moisture close to her chest before slowly raising her finger up into her mouth.Bookmark here

A teenage boy approaches sluggishly from behind her. Emerging from scrap, and vehicle wreckage. He wears rags that almost appear to be cut from the same cloth as she, and a sling of salvage slung over his shoulder. Barefoot with cracks and craters in his skin, feet, and toenails. Short, brown hair as well as eyes green like swamp water. He kneels next to the girl in a catcher’s position when he notices the finger she sucks on like a mothers’ tit, he then connects the dots back to the puddle of mud.Bookmark here

“Ah Geez…” The boy says annoyed. “You can’t eat that you know?”Bookmark here

The girl ignores him.Bookmark here

“Un-Be-Lievable…” He says while scratching the back of his head. Flakes of dry, dead skin and dandruff being excavated with each scratch.Bookmark here

Off in the distance upon a hilltop of rocks and sand stand the silhouettes of several adult figures. Nearly eclipsing the sun they look down at the two adolescents. They let off a loud whistle, gaining the boy’s attention. The boy grabs the girl’s wrist and begins leading her over to the silhouettes, her neck swiveled and gaze set. Still looking at the one and only patch of moisture for miles. Mesmerized by it, as sloppy as it may be.Bookmark here

“Come on Beverly, we’ve got water back at camp.” The boy said. A hint of doubt in his eyes after saying so.Bookmark here

As the boy and girl ran, tracks in the sand appeared behind them. The group they were running toward wearing slings on their backs like that of the boys. They began walking away, as the setting sun becomes somewhat eclipsed by their figures, from a certain angle.Bookmark here

10 YEARS LATERBookmark here

Raging fire, enraged further by the hurling of alcohol into its bowels. Screaming, leather-clad madmen drinking and singing. Sitting around on dusty old logs and in the back of rusted out pick-up trucks. Tents pitched in lines illuminated by a soft glow. The shadows of people making love as savage men smash together pints of ale. Standing in the bed of one of these trucks, a man spews flames from a makeshift flamethrower out over the heads of other bikers and leather wearing warriors, his most distinct feature, an eyepatch over his left eye.Bookmark here

A young man, sitting perched up on his motorcycle looks over his shoulder as a drunk, sloth of a man carrying a beaten up and dirty flask of whiskey stumbling past him. Kicking up sand as he drags his feet, taking sips of booze as he stumbles and mumbles. The young man groans, taking out his canteen and holding it up over his mouth. Tilting it very slowly until one lone drop of water drips onto out his tongue.Bookmark here

“Willy?”Bookmark here

The young man’s green eyes redirect their attention to a young blonde woman calmly walking toward him and calling out, hands clasped behind her back as she walked with a playful look on her face.Bookmark here

“Still calling me Willy huh, Beverly?”Bookmark here

“Uh huh” she chuckled. “-I like Willy. Will is so boring. Why be one syllable when you could be two?”Bookmark here

Will graced his dry tongue with one last droplet of water. Beverly took a seat behind him on his bike, kicking her feet in the sand. Will hands her the canteen with the unspoken agreement that she will take one, and only one drop of water. But not attempting to hand her the water until he put the cap back on. A precaution done in the fear of spilling any in the crossing from hand to hand. She takes her drop before ritualistically repeating the same process before handing it back to him.Bookmark here

“Are you not going to join in the fun?” She asked him with a whisper in his ear and a hand on his shoulder.Bookmark here

“What are we celebrating? The fact that we’re out of water or the fact that we’re almost out of booze?” He said with a hint of cynicism in his voice.Bookmark here

“Both I reckon.”Bookmark here

Will starts the engine to his motorcycle. A CB77 with a body spray painted black, and pleather seats that are torn with chunks of cushion popping out. Black smoke spewing in intervals from the exhaust. The whole machine being held together by hose clamps, bungee straps, and rusty old fittings. The eighth wonder of the world is the fact that it still runs. A steel gas pipe with a 90-degree fitting threaded on, sitting in a leathered holster. He pulls a pair of goggles over his eyes then motions for Beverly to get off.Bookmark here

“Wait… Why’re you starting up your bike?”Bookmark here

“I can’t just sit here, and drink, and fuck away my worries away. Between everyone burning through the all the water, burning through all the booze… the last thing I need to do is burn the midnight oil. I’m going out to look for water.”Bookmark here

“Well can I go with?”Bookmark here

Will pauses in thought for a moment. He does not really feel he needs her to go with. Especially since she could be a distraction. But he isn’t unaware of the fact that he is doing this as a distraction. He looks back toward the camp full of people partying and drinking away. Dancing around bonfires. He relents and hands her a pair of goggles as smile stretches across her face. Will spins out, thrashing sand into the air, and heading north.Bookmark here

Minutes later the two of them blaze across the desert, making great haste. Their hair flowing backwards as if it were trying to go in the opposite direction. As they bounce and the motorcycle jitters, Will’s pipe rolls around in its holster. Beverly, holding onto Will very tightly. They drove fast making good pace, but the vast emptiness unfolding before created the illusion that no progress was being made.Bookmark here

“I’m curious Willy… why have you seemed so out there lately?”Bookmark here

“Out there?” He questioned.Bookmark here

“You know, out here I guess. Like you’re not with us, not with me.”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what to say. I’m not comfortable waiting for death. I’ve done too much, and we’ve come too far to just drink ourselves away until we’re gone.”Bookmark here

“I see.” Beverly held him but now with a loosened grip. She pressed her head into his back and listens to his heartbeat. “It’s just sad. You should really live again before it’s too late.”Bookmark here

Will ignored that last question. After all how could he spend his last days celebrating his life, when his body and clothing tell a story not worth celebrating. His slim physique with skin stretched around his bones, scarred, and toned. Blood-stained stonewashed jeans, and a battle-torn leather jacket. Muscle memory that tells unspeakable tales, and eyes with visions of one’s past burned into the retinas. He could still feel the first time he gripped a blunt weapon, and yet to unsee the blur of its motion in his peripherals. He tried to swallow those thoughts along with his saliva. But it will always bubble back up to the top.Bookmark here

After having driven around for a little while longer the pair happen upon a road. Caked in coarse sand and stone. Mostly only recognizable from it’s flat and narrow shape. Will pulls out a stick of rebar and ties a piece of cloth to it. He thrusts it into the ground like a stake, revs the engine and continues driving. Driving by road signs with worn faces whose information is lost to time.Bookmark here

“This is good. We haven’t seen a new road in weeks.” Will reminded her. “This little trip might actually lead to something.”Bookmark here

“That’s great Willy, but shouldn’t we wait for daylight?”Bookmark here

“What? No, there is no point. Everybody would be too hung over to help out anyway. Plus we have the cover of night.” He said.Bookmark here

“But it’s so hard to see anything…”Bookmark here

“I can see just fine.” Will whispered with conviction.Bookmark here

As the road droned on, a dark shadowy shape began to form on the horizon. A squared geometrical shape of civilizations past. A building with a sign out front. Set atop a column to attract eyes from far away. It read Peyote’s Gas Station. A smirk swiftly smeared across Will’s face, even as the wind hit it and his short black hair vibrated aggressively.Bookmark here

“Well will you looky there.”Bookmark here

The Motorcycle stopped right out front, engine sputtering and headlight jittering. Will shut off the engine and kicked out the kickstand with gusto. The two of them removed their goggles and Will grabbed his steel pipe and placed a Vietnam War era GI Flashlight on his jacket. He turns it on illuminating a few feet in front of him. Beverly pulled a 38. Special with two rounds in it from behind her jean shorts and placed it around her midriff. She places the bottom of her dirty white tank top behind the handle for ease of access.Bookmark here

Will gets up to the door and tries to peak inside, but the door is so smudged up and dirty that virtually nothing can be seen. He wipes away some of the dust from the outside to no avail. He opens the door as it chimes catching him off guard as he stops in place. He stands listening for any signs of life but nothing. He sighs relief as he enters Peyote’s Gas Station with Beverly following right behind him.Bookmark here

His first few steps were taken with caution. He peaked around every corner and kept his eyes focused. As the shine from his flashlight cast upon bare bones empty shelves and showed the particles and dust mites floating through the air he and Beverly treaded lightly. Peg hooks were rusted, and the air was thin as paper. The doors to all the freezers almost looked as if they were fogged up but the lack of moisture would make that impossible. The only groceries left that could be seen from a glance were old cartons of Milk sitting in those freezers that neither Will nor Beverly would dare investigate.Bookmark here

Beverly looked around the gas station with discontent. As Will walked through, swiping dust off shelves with his index finger and then rubbing it off with his thumb. Beverly backed away slowly until reaching the front door.Bookmark here

“I’m going to search around outside for a bit.” She told him.Bookmark here

“Okay, I’ll only be a few minutes. Place seems pretty barren.” Will then opened the cash register. “People still saw the need for cash, even in all this.” Will slowly shut it afterward.Bookmark here

Beverly walked back to the Bike, dipping her hand into a sling attached to the vehicle pulling from it a flask with a small amount of liquor in it. She unthreaded the top of the flask and lifted it into the air to take a sip when she catches a glimpse of something peculiar. Off in the sky could be seen a faint trail of smoke, exposed by the light of the moon behind it. She slowly lowered her flask with surprise in her face. She started walking towards the source which could not be more than a quarter mile behind Peyote’s Gas Station.Bookmark here

Will opened the door to the back room as it creaked and squeaked. He kept shining his light revealing floating particles and more empty shelves. Darkness surrounds the narrow space his GI Flashlight is capable of illuminating. He then discovers in the corner a duffle bag. As he approached it with anticipation, he feels uneasy. He looks over his shoulder into the darkness behind him to reaffirm that he was safe. He looks back down at the bag and unzips the zipper, revealing the contents. His face lights up. Several basic medical supplies lay inside such as gauze, and antiseptic. Also a bottle of wine, and a gallon jug of water. Will’s eyes then widen in shock. The duffle bag sat there, clean, and kempt with the dust on the ground beneath it disturbed by the bag’s presence.Bookmark here

Outside as Beverly approached the source of the smoke, what was in it began to take shape. A charred corpse black like tar lay in the sand, shriveled as if it were a dead insect. She immediately pulled out her 38. Special and aimed it out into the darkness. Gasping and breathing hard she had a few passing thoughts. Who? Why? And where are they now? She turned heel and instantly started to run back to Will. A shadow in the distance watches from behind the dunes.Bookmark here

A steel shelf falls over, startling Will as he makes a complete 360 degree turn in almost an instant as a scraggly man wrapped in rags thrusts a rusty blade towards his gut. Will grabs the man’s hand equipped with the blade as he slashes forward his steel pipe as the man does the same. As the two struggle another man dressed in similar rags emerges from the darkness to help his friend, coming at the preoccupied Will with a club. But he is interrupted when Beverly bursts through the door, gun in hand.Bookmark here

“Hold it!” She says, keeping the gun trained on the second man.Bookmark here

The second man drops his club as Will and the first man in rags struggle with each other, kicking up dirt in the process. Will knocks the blade from the man’s hand, disarming him and they began to grapple. After a brief struggle, Will overtakes the man. He grabs his pipe and raises it to bludgeon the man if he makes any sudden moves.Bookmark here

“Why’d you kill the person outside?” Beverly demands. “Who was that!?” They seemed shocked, matched by the shocked expression across Will’s face while he breathes heavily.Bookmark here

“Wh-what…” Will says.Bookmark here

“Ask them Willy! A corpse, outside burnt like a fucking marshmallow!” Beverly yells as she pulls back the hammer on her 38, preparing to fire if only a split-second is afforded.Bookmark here

“Us! We thought that was your people who did that to us!” The man said.Bookmark here

“Bull shit!” Will screamed as he raised his steel pipe to gain more potential momentum.Bookmark here

“We mean it! We didn’t kill him!” The first man said.Bookmark here

“It’s true. Colin was our friend… they tortured him and burned him alive, and all we could do was watch from a distance.” The second man chimed in.Bookmark here

“Who tortured him? Why?!”Bookmark here

“They call themselves the Metallic Order. They wear armor forged in steel and iron, and fight with machetes and firearms.” The second man told them.Bookmark here

“But why were they torturing your friend? There has to be a reason!” asked Will.Bookmark here

“No reason! They’re nuts, I swear!” Said the first man, pinned to the floor.Bookmark here

It was in this moment that Will started to really get angry and impatient. He was seeing nothing but red as veins popped in his forehead and looked as if they were about to burst like a leaky pipe. Will held the man to the floor with his pipe as he fumbled for the man’s knife with his other hand, gripping it with conviction. He held the knife up to the man’s throat as it began to tear the first layer of his skin.Bookmark here

“I… don’t… believe you” Will whispered angrily.Bookmark here

The man held a petrified look in his eyes with them almost appearing as if they were shivering. He could feel a warm droplet of blood sliding and wrapping it’s way around the nape of his neck.Bookmark here

“Water! Its water they were after!” The frightened man proclaimed.Bookmark here

Will looked down at the jug of water he pulled from the duffle bag. Although it would no doubt be a god send in helping to keep a small group of people going for about a week’s time it would hardly seem worth the trouble for a group called the Metallic Order to spend torturing and burning somebody in such an exaggerated fashion.Bookmark here

“Where is this water? Is it a cache… or… or some sort of aquifer?” Will pondered.Bookmark here

“Its and Oasis! It’s quite a ways south from here…” the second man said. “But there’s no point in looking for it. It’s only a matter of time before the Metallic Order find us there.”Bookmark here

Will looked at them with a piercing stare for a while. But after a few harsh moments he softened up a bit and put on a smile. A smile that he was simply wearing other than owning but still entirely pulling off. He pulled the knife away from the man’s neck and tucked it back behind his jeans.Bookmark here

A few minutes later as the two men, wrapped in old rags exited Peyote’s Gas Station they were met with a cold welcome. Will had been waiting outside for their arrival and as the second man came into Will’s view he was smacked square in the face by Will’s steel pipe knocking him unconscious. The second covering his face in shock then had kneecap bashed in bringing him to the ground as Will continues to bash his brains in. With his breathing heavy, Will then proceeds to walk back over to his unconscious friend to finish him off as well.Bookmark here

“Will… Willy was that really necessary?”Bookmark here

“Get real Beverly, they were lying to us. We came from the south, they clearly did not want to clue us in to where this water is, and now that their gone. Their group will never see us coming.”Bookmark here

“What about the Metallic Order?” Beverly asked.Bookmark here

“The Metallic Order?” Will laughs off that statement while performing air quotes with his fingers at the same time. “Just another lie… the important part is the water. And I believe they have it too, considering they somehow have a whole jug of it laying around.”Bookmark here

Will, and Beverly jump on his CB77 and begin to take off. In the distance sat a cloaked figure. The figure, adorning rusty body parts from old vehicles that were cut and reformed to comfortably fit the human body. Their figure is very petite, and they appear fast and nimble. Lastly they wore a faceplate made up of welded pieces of iron in the shape of the top half of a skull with jagged teeth. They stood up and headed towards their own motorbike.Bookmark here

Dirt was kicking up as Will and Beverly rode back to his marker, the rebar with the cloth on it. After that he followed the tracks from his bike back to camp where it seems as if the party had died down. The two passed through on motorbike as other members of their group who were still awake looked on. They stopped in front of a large tent, made up of tarps and used railroad ties.Bookmark here

“What are you going to say to him?” Beverly asked.Bookmark here

Will pulled his goggles from over his eyes as he looked at the boss’s tent.Bookmark here

“I’m going to tell him that it’s not over yet…”Bookmark here

Inside the tent a large muscular man sat, drinking whiskey in a lawn chair. He sat there like a king, despite the view seeming less than royal. But he owned that attitude and wore it on his sleeve. His hair was incredibly short, no longer than a quarter of an inch. With scars on his wrinkled forehead. He remained relaxed even as the engine of a motorcycle roared from outside his tent. And only moments later Will burst through the front of his tent.Bookmark here

“What the hell are you doing here kid?” The man asked, annoyed.Bookmark here

“Rash! Catch.”Bookmark here

Will threw a bottle of wine at Rash as he caught it, holding it with a firm grip. He looked at the wine and smiled and he started to sit up. Will then walked up to him and pulled the jug of water from the bag and set it down on a folding table. The water caught Rash’s eye even more as he sat up even further.Bookmark here

“What, this your secret stash?”Bookmark here

“No. I found it out on the road earlier.”Bookmark here

“So.” Rash responded unimpressed.Bookmark here

“I also found some people. People who claimed to know about a decent sized body of water to the south of here. An Oasis.”Bookmark here

“Oh… they’re lying, we came from the south.” Rash reminded him.Bookmark here

“Yeah they’re lying about where because they don’t want us to find it. But the water itself… I mean the evidence for its existence is right there in that jug. Wouldn’t you agree?”Bookmark here

Rash looked over at the jug and smirked.Bookmark here

“Well it is a hefty amount for a few people to just carry around on their person.”Bookmark here

Rash looked down at the bottle of wine. Looking into the glass, he spotted his own reflection. What he saw was someone different from the last time he’d had the opportunity to look at himself in the mirror. Sure his physique was good but compared to several months prior he was malnourished as all hell, and his eyes appeared sunken and tired. He had planned to go quietly but seeing the look of determination smeared all over Will’s face reignited something within him. The Warriors instinct. A will to go down, but to go down fighting.Bookmark here

“Tell me William. Is Beverly outside?”Bookmark here

“Yes sir.”Bookmark here

“Beverly!” Rash yelled out, demanding her presence.Bookmark here

“Yes sir…?” Beverly said hesitantly as she entered the tent.Bookmark here

Rash got up and grabbed the jug of water. “William and I are going to head north in the morning and see if we can find this so-called Oasis. At the same time I want you to distribute this water as best you can to the rest of the camp as they await our arrival.” Rash then walked up to her and handed her the water, entrusting her with it. “It would appear as if we’re not dead yet.” He said somberly.Bookmark here

Beverly held the jug in her arms, she felt the cool sensation against her skin. She could not help but be a bit bashful. But she also felt a sense of pleasure from it. That pleasure motivating her as it motivates both Will, and Rash. “Yes sir.” Beverly then said with much more confidence than prior.Bookmark here

Rash and Will exited his tent with immense gusto. Rash who had been slowly giving up on the struggle seemed to have found his second wind.Bookmark here

“I’ve got to say William, I rolled my eyes when I heard your motorcycle speeding off into the night. Reminded me of an angry teenager lashing out, but damn it I’d be lying if I said I’m not inspired.” Rash slammed his hand down on a metal oil drum outside of the tent of his lieutenant, summoning him forth.Bookmark here

“S-sir!?” A skinny, boney individual burst from his tent, stumbling over himself as he felt to the ground. He lay there with confusion on his face, piss in his pants, and alcohol in his blood. “You called for me?”Bookmark here

“Seth, listen up. I need you to gas up the vehicles, arm the men. The women and the children.” Rash said sternly.Bookmark here

“Women a-and and chil-children?” Seth said, nervously slurring his words.Bookmark here

Rash’s gaze grew sharp as he looked down at the man. “Women. And Children.” He said slowly and even more firmly than before.Bookmark here

It was not long after that William had laid down in his tent. Rash had more business to attend to and more devout members of their group to inform of the situation. They had experienced so much stagnation and struggle for what felt like so long now. But now there’s hope. Something to fight for. Wrong or right, it is about survival. That’s all it’s been about. When the chips were thrown down, morality had been tossed out the window. After all, you can’t have your baby and your bath water. Not in this reality. You must choose, and innocence isn’t the easiest choice in the world. Not in this one...

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