Friday, January 27, 2012

Badlands Journal -- Part Two

Step, step, wheeze. Step, step, wheeze. The deader's feet scraped against the ground behind me. My muscles tensed, ready to spring, twitching with each footstep. Parts of me railed against lying here in the dust, waiting to be eaten, but Helgo's warning kept me in place; running away would assure my death. The skin on my neck itched where I imagine the deader's teeth would bite down. Still I waited.

The worst part of the waiting was Helgo playing AC/DC on the harmonica. The corpse-spinner stamped his feet in lieu of drums while the harmonica took up the rest of the song. It seemed most incongruous that my protector would be playing traditional songs of the Badlands while death plodded towards my unprotected back. I would have rather he drop the harmonica and use the shotgun at his feet, but damaging the valuable deader was out of the question. Maybe the shotgun was for me, I realized.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Badlands Journal -- Part One

Exerpt from The Cursed Treasure:  Poetics of Reclamation in the Badlands, by Nelson Conrad 

"While gasoline, high-carbon steel, canned food and other refined artifacts lure many to brave the dangers of the Badlands, it is the possibility of capturing a Deader that brings a gleam to the profiteer's eye. Creatures of the wastes, deaders appear from a distance to be human, though it soon becomes apparent they are little more than mindless animated corpses. The flesh is putrefied, consistent with an expired body of five to ten days. However, the decomposition is somehow arrested from progressing any further. It is unknown how long a deader can remain in this state, but several specimens have been in service for over fifteen years. The deaders, like the pavement of the Endless Highway, seem to be immune to the ravages of time.

The interesting part of the deader condition is that the energy that sustains the quasi-dead state can be harnessed. Necrological engineers have the ability to subdue deaders and bind them to necrodynamic engines, which in turn power our airships, generators, and other assorted machinery. The efficiency, energy output, and reliability of the dynamos are outmatched only by the rarity of their power source."

The college's operations office had assured me that my berth with Julius McMurtry's Expeditionary Reclaim and Salvage was the safest option for a trip into the Badlands.  Would I need to bring a gun? Why not at all the owner said with a smile. I was assured that all security precautions were taken to ensure my safety, and my status as noncombatant observer underwritten by a hefty chunk of my department's grant. One week into the trip, the click of his revolver's hammer told me my money's guarantee had run out.