Deathlands 35 - Bitter Fruit by James Axler

By James Axler

Escaping from a marauding gang, Cawdor and his band emerge from a gateway into an idyllic Druidic neighborhood, simply to benefit that underneath its Eden-like floor lies a perilous undercurrent of dissension.

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Twin tracks only a couple inches apart threaded across the center of the tunnel, hanging from occasional braces from the ceiling. The drone hung from one track like a dead crow with one foot latched around a power line. The fire fed on the circuitry inside the mechanical sentry. A pall of gray blue smoke whipped against the ceiling, then began to drop toward the bottom of the tunnel. Knowing the illumination from the fire wasn't going to last long, Krysty pushed herself to her feet. The tracks hanging from the ceiling were powered, and the power had to be coming from somewhere.

The other muties froze and dropped to their knees in benediction. They laid their arms down, then pressed their hands and faces flat into the sand before them, prostrating themselves. The shimmering movement was a cloud around the suspended man, who fought against whatever held him at the same time he verbally offered himself up to it. Skin broke open along his midsection, partially blurred by the shimmer. Then blood poured out in heaving gouts, followed by the snaky length of the man's intestines spilling out onto the dry sand.

When she'd first entered the complex, Krysty had figured the former military installation was going to be a bust. Maybe a few things would be worth salvaging, but nothing that would change their lives. The first few levels had been a washout. On the surface, there was nothing but death. None of the power had worked, though the rumors had hinted at nuclear-powered levels somewhere below ground. But now she and Doc had reached an area where a powered door still worked. It was a situation that lent itself to caution.

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