Thursday, January 19, 2012

New Beginning 918

Boone Dawson’s motorcycle rolled to a stop. He turned off the engine and gazed at the crooked sign in front of him. It had once belonged to a suburban shopping center. Now, it was covered in spray-painted letters.

“Hope City,” Boone read in a low voice. “What kind of fucking moron names their town Hope City?” Shaking his head, Boone turned the bike back on and maneuvered it carefully through an obstacle course of rubble. Twisted shards of metal, power poles, and old wooden planks littered the streets.

As Boone’s bike crawled it way toward the center of town, he spotted people huddled close together around small fires. Their clothes were ragged and covered in dirt. Their faces were devoid of hope. But all Boone cared about was what they were holding in their hands. He hadn’t eaten in days, and these people had no doubt found food among the rubble of this old Midwestern suburb.

The savory smell of canned meat filled Boone’s nostrils. He smiled. Canned meat. Boone hadn’t eaten canned meat in more than a year. Salivating, he dismounted from his bike and stepped deliberately toward the group. Rocks crunched beneath his heavy boots.

Memories of Sunday dinners at his grandparents' home flooded back. Potted meat food product. Pickled pig lips. Spam, of course. And on special occasions, pork brains in milk gravy.

To his surprise, the others welcomed him openly. Perhaps they recognized a kindred spirit; or safety in numbers. Boone joined them -- the six men and three women -- and crouched in front of the fire.

Gratefully, he took the offered portion, served up in the can that had kept it fresh for decades, and spooned some into his mouth. Moments later, he was retching the vile-tasting sludge onto the ground.

He couldn't understand how the others were enjoying this foul concoction, until he looked at the can.


Preferred by nine out of ten post-apocalyptic survivors.

Opening: Ryan Mueller.....Continuation: anon.


Evil Editor said...

Unchosen continuations:

The shotgun blast killed him before he'd gone three steps.

"Good shootin', Max!" shouted one of the women.

"Yeah." Max rolled Boone's body over. "I reckon we'll get a week's worth of meals from this one."


Boone eagerly accepted a portion of canned meat offered to him in a tin cup. He dumped a third of it into his mouth, chewed vigorously, then spat it out, spewing the slop over the fire. Soy, meat flavored soy. He pulled out his gun and said he was a carnivore. The folks around the fire didn't have real meat. They did have soy hot dog flavored marshmallows though. Boone put the gun to his temple.

--Wilkins MacQueen

Wilkins MacQueen said...

Hi Ryan,
Nice opening. Clear voice. Is this a short story or longer piece?

Only comment I have is perhaps specify the bike make. Hog, Kaw, the bike can define the character a bit and ground the reader into the mc.

Evil Editor said...

I don't see why he would turn off his motorcycle, read the sign, and turn it back on. I might zip through the first 3 paragraphs a bit faster, something like:

Boone Dawson maneuvered his Harley through an obstacle course of rubble: twisted shards of metal, power poles, and old wooden planks.
"Hope City," he said aloud. "Stupid name."

In the center of town people were huddled around small fires. Their clothes were ragged and covered in dirt, their faces devoid of hope. But all Boone cared about was what they were holding in their hands. He hadn’t eaten in days, and these people had food.

Also, I'd drop "smiled. Canned meat. Boone" from the last paragraph.

Ryan Mueller said...

Thanks for the comments. I intend this to be a longer piece, though right now it's not much longer than what I submitted. It's a post-apocalyptic novel with fantasy elements. I'm not quite sure where it's going yet, so I'm going to figure that out before writing more.

Anonymous said... wasteland...

You've been playing Fallout: New Vegas.

Ryan Mueller said...


Actually, I've never played Fallout: New Vegas or even watched anyone else play it. I actually had to go look it up when you mentioned it. Maybe Boone is just a good name for post-apocalyptic settings.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

Post-apocalyptically speaking: Okay. Things have deteriorated to the point where canned meat, something I haven't tasted since 1968 and haven't missed, is a prized delicacy.

Commodities that were once readily available-- things that require a well-organized manufacturing process-- are now almost impossible to get.

What's the Harley running on?

Anonymous said...

What's the Harley running on?

Because we all know that come the apocalypse, whatever the cause, all of the refined gasoline that already exists in the world and sits in storage containers and abandoned vehicles will magically evaporate.

Just ask Mad Max.


150 said...

So far, so typical. How can he tell the meat is canned by smelling it from a distance?

(AK: My family occasionally home-cans beef, and it is the BEST.)

Dave Fragments said...

TAke it from someone whose stomach and liver are so messed up that half the supermarket is poisonous food (me)...

If you really like it, you can smell it a mile away. Canned meet? There's an Underwood chicken salad I'd die if I ate and I just love it. Eat Caesar Salad and I check myself into a hospital kills me. French Onion soup in a restaurant I might sell my body on the street if I could have one bowl...

I'm with EE on the opening BTW. It's got too many words in it. Good Idea but too many words.

AlaskaRavenclaw said...

While I am loath to argue with anonymice, especially those whose eyes are in danger of rolling away:

I'm pretty damned sure the survivors are gonna use up all the gas before they use up all the canned meat, because last time I looked gas was a hell of a lot more popular than canned meat.

And there appear to be plenty of survivors, the apocalypse appears to have been a while back, and pre-apocalyptic commodities appear to have become scarce and prized. Therefore: plothole.

And "some other writer screwed it up this way before and got away with it" is a lousy excuse for screwing it up.

Evil Editor said...

In my experience, when there's a big snowstorm or hurricane predicted, people quickly descend on grocery stores and clean them out. This would happen ten-fold in apocalyptic times.

Gas stations did run low on gas back in the 70s, but presumably there are far fewer cars in working condition in apocalyptic times. Is gas being produced? Is food being grown? It's easier to hoard a lot of food than a lot of gas.

I can imagine either food or gas running low long before the other in a place like Hope City, depending on how many gas-using vehicles, gas stations, people, and food sources exist there.

Faceless Minion said...

If the author goes with a bit more tech before the apocalypse in that world, the motorcycle could be solar powered. Of course, that will affect what's available to the other survivors as well....

thunderdome said...

Okay, just heard the story about the gnomes in Alaska who almost ran out of gas. On balance, you northerners probably have more experience of post-apocalyptic wasteslands, and eating their own, than I do.

batgirl said...

My guess is that the canned-meat eaters will knock Boone off for the jerry-cans of gasoline he's presumably carrying with him to fuel his bike.

It does all seem a bit generic, at least to those of us who wasted our youth watching dubbed post-apoc flicks like Warriors of the Wasteland.
So, chop those unnecessary words and get to the plot faster, would be my advice.