By Sparky_Buzzsaw 0 Comments
The following story was my submission for a Fallout New Vegas writing competition. It took first place, and my brother's took second. I have no idea how many actual entries there were, but when I find out what kind of Fallout shwag I've won, I'll post it in the comments section below. In any case, this was the first piece of fan-fiction I've ever written, and it's more flash-fiction than an actual short story, so keep that in mind. Regardless, I hope you enjoy it.
The pain shot through his hip faster than old man Jasper had anticipated. He fell into the chair unceremoniously and with about as much grace as a flying oven. The bar was nearly empty, so at least he was spared some of the embarrassment. Then again, the bar rarely had anyone in it at all these days. It was the same with the rest of the dying Edsel Springs. The town had never been a popular tourist spot anyways, but once the springs disappeared, so had her residents. As irradiated as the water had been, at least there had been something. Now the town’s rusty purifier only occasionally spit out a thin gurgle of putrid smelling liquid.
Normie, the rail-thin bartender and owner of his self-named bar, hawked up a ball of spit and nodded in his direction. Jasper gave him a thin-lipped smile. “Any chance for some clean water today?”
Normie snorted. “Nope. Same as yesterday. Same as tomorrow, probably.”
“Whiskey, then.” Jasper sighed. He only had one bottle of water sacked away in his hovel, the tin shack he laughably called home. That wasn’t going to last him through the week, no matter how much he conserved. And as for trading, the only thing he owned was the flimsy little .32 strapped to his hip. He was loathe to part with that, but if it came down to it, steel wouldn’t keep him alive any longer than water. “You know anyone in town willing to trade?”
The bartender thought about it for a long moment. “Emma might. She’d probably be your best bet.”
At the mention of the wispy Emma, Jasper perked up. The woman might have turned a trick or two, but she was always kind to Jasper, and had once gave him a freebie on a birthday. She didn’t even seem to mind the pus-leaking radiation sores that dotted his body, either, like some of the old hags he’d knocked around with. “Any idea where she’s-“
Their conversation was cut short as something boomed in the distance. Normie muttered, “Gunfire. Fantastic.”
But old Jasper, once a soldier, knew better. “No. Something bigger. An explosion.” Another one, deafening and much, was much closer. A woman screams cut short quickly. Something roared indistinguishably. “Normie, get down behind the bar. The rest of you too.” He vaguely motioned towards the other two or three customers scattered in the bar. They did as he asked. Only a handful of residents of Edsel Springs had any real background in fighting, and these folks definitely didn’t. “Normie, you still have that shotgun behind the bar?”
Normie stared at him uncomprehendingly, and then snapped back to reality. “Yeah, you want it?” He reached under the bar and pulled out a surprisingly well-maintained long-barreled shotgun and a handful of shells. Six. Jasper swore under his breath. Not enough for any real trouble, but it’d have to do. His own gun only had a few measly bullets, and he wouldn’t trust it to fire any more than the shriveled thing in his pants.
He loaded a shell into the chamber, blew out a long breath, and limped to the door. He eased it open slightly. The screams had come from the south, where he could barely make out plumes of smoke and dust. Something out there was grunting laughter. Something definitely not human. He pushed open the door, and his worst fears were confirmed.
In the middle of the street stood a goliath of a monster, a super mutant. It held a long, crude hammer in one hand, and in the other, looking pitifully small, was something that could only be a rock or a grenade, and guessing from the bangs, Jasper knew a rock wasn’t his kind of luck. It brought the grenade up to its mouth and grasped the key with its teeth. Jasper had no time to think. Old instincts burned dully to life, and he swept the door open, rushed outside to the street and away from the bar as best he could, and brought the shotgun up to his shoulder.
The gun’s recoil made him stumble backwards, and the shot went comically high. The super mutant turned towards him. Jasper fumbled with another shell as fast as his arthritic hands would allow. The mutant hefted his hammer high into the air, bellowing a wordless war cry. Jasper’s second shot didn’t miss.
It was the mutant’s turn to stumble backwards, but his recovery was much swifter than that of the old mercenary. The torn flesh in the creature’s side seemed only to anger him, and the grotesque approximation of a man rushed at him with its red-tinged teeth bared. Jasper dropped the shotgun. No time to reload. He drew the small pistol from its holster and fired blindly into the monster. At least two shots hit point blank, and still nothing slowed the thing. It hit him with lumbering speed and knocked Jasper done. He felt something crunch in his chest. Blinding, consuming pain speared through his chest. Broken ribs, at least.
The mutant lifted him up by his scrawny neck with one meaty, leathery hand. It snorted and huffed. Jasper kicked at the thing feebly and beat at its hand wildly. The monster leaned in close as it tried to articulate the vague words it loved most. “You… die… now,” the super mutant growled.
Jasper had no witty comeback. He had no air left in his lungs to speak,, no one to help him. He had no savior angel that day in Edsel Springs. All Jasper had was the pin of the grenade he’d managed to snag from the monster as it had lifted him up. With the very last of his energy and his life, Jasper waved the key in front of the monster’s face. Mute horror dawned on the creature’s face.
And then the world erupted one last time.