(Sunshine and Syphilis) Chapter 1

Chapter 1

JaiJack City (Draft 2)

“Done…” I stood up and clapped my leather like hands together to clear off a day’s worth of dirt. In the past this was the time of day I would feel accomplished, I would go home, kiss my wife and rustle my son’s hair, you know, family man type shit. Today was not one of those days, it hasn’t been one of those days for a while now. But for now my day is at an end and I could finally go back to the office and polish off the recently opened bottle of hooch.

I bent over to tie my boot laces, a metal plate intertwined with the laces had a name inscribed on it. Names way back may have meant something for families, not anymore. In this case, the name on the boots matched the owner, “Ivan Rodriguez”. I am the head of the agriculture department in the Raider City of JaiJack. Let me tell you, this job is no joke. If I didn’t get the crops grown, I had some very angry brutish individuals pounding on my front door, shouting threats to my family and insults about my mother. Thankfully the system was simple really, grow crops, send them off to the slop house, and raiders come and stuff their faces after long day of plundering and shooting up near anything into their prodded veins.

My family and I were “recruited” to work for JaiJack about three years. Originally been farmers not far off in a family home where my grandparents moved to after the earth’s atmosphere cleared up after the “great collision”. Our family lived there for a number of years, growing just about anything that would take in the deserted soil. As a child I never knew much about the incident. My grandfather also refused to speak about it, all he would say, “It was so cold that if there was a polar opposite reaction to popcorn, we’d have miniature black holes everywhere.” Outside of that I do know it had something to do with a massive asteroid, billions dead, and something to do about repentance? At least that’s one of the signs read that my grandpa had above the mantel.

It was an enjoyable life, we grew potatoes, corn, and raised two headed chickens, unfortunately the chickens were only one-assed but the eggs were still a plenty. As a family everyone worked. If you weren’t helping on the farm, you were helping maintain the farmstead with cleaning, repairing, and cooking. We never left the property, outside of that were the Wastes, a dry and deprived land full of things that want to kill you, kill and eat you, or just eat you. The only thing I knew of outside of our farm was the city of JaiJack, we certainly had a number of pleasant visits by groups of raiders. For the most part they were looking for gasoline and coal. It’s a rarity to have it, so few would ever be able to power their homes or have the pleasure of driving a car.

My grandpa had made a deal with the raiders of JaiJack, we’ll give them a cut of the crops, and they’ll provide “protection”. Never really saw any of this protection, we had been attacked by other raider gangs, mutants, and blood thirsty crickets. Oh and remember when I said billions people died, it did not leave much room for terms of dating. Cousins were typically wed and all that fun biblical consummation would proceed along. I was lucky enough to meet my wife when one fateful day she ran to our farmstead for safety from said crickets. She never did tell me what happened to her family but over time she joined the family and somehow managed to fall for me and as I did for her. I guess until about a year ago JaiJack Raiders were content with that deal before they slaughtered my parents and grandparents and the rest of the family. After my wife, my son, and myself got picked up by the raiders, we were assigned jobs in the city and had to get by while we could.

JaiJack is a poor excuse for a city, more or less it’s shanty town plopped in the middle of a junk yard. The buildings were held together by any kind of wood, sheet metal, nails, or duct tape one could find. The city was surrounded by a massive circular wall made of broken vehicles. In the center of the city were the “Scrappers”, towers held together by better quality metal which still had the majority of paint still on it. Local government officials, paper pushers, and security drones were about the only things that lived in and around the Scrappers. The diamond in the rough was “Lucky Rays”, a dive bar favored by the workers of the city. Old Ray was one of the first recruited, he had a knack for making bath tub moon shine. Nearly everyone would go to Lucky Rays after a days work and attempt to get kidney failure in the hopes of escaping this shit hole.

I snapped myself out of my never ending existential crisis and figured it was time to meet up with my assistants. In reality my assistants were only a metal rake, a spade, and an unused book meant for writing down complaints and suggestions for better working conditions. I guess the book was some kind of sick joke from the previous mayor. I was certain if I had ever used that book it would have come around to bite me in my ass. For most of my time here I have managed to keep my mouth shut. Lately, since the new mayor has taken over I have been, let’s just say, very opinionated. So just like the end of every day, I scooped up my assistants, chucked them into the wheelbarrow and headed back towards my office.


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