The U.S. of After Chapter 18
This thrall is full of hate and lust and power mad pride. I did not have to do much leading.
I sat on the hill, the grass all burned and brown from the sun, overlooking the beautifully ruined town of McAlester. The animal man barked orders to twenty one hardened soldier-scavengers. A hundred more were in the city trying to scrounge up food and supplies. He was angry that his petty kingdom was on fire. His tirade gave me great pleasure. He sat on horseback, reminding me of a certain centurion I used to know back then, back on that horrible day. He was now focusing his rage at a dirty camouflaged trooper. The mounted captain’s mirrored shades reflected his men. Captain T. Clark Waldeburg made my job easy. The man drank evil and spat out destruction.
“Find the rest of the insurgents and put them to the sword!” he screamed, spittle flying from his parched mouth. “I will not tolerate insolence!”
The subordinate threw up a dirty hand, saluted, and then marched away on foot to order the exquisite deaths of the rest of the city dwellers. A battle unseen to my puppet commander had been waged in this small city and it had not turned out well for the enemy. They were gone now. The people were ours. I giggled at their suffering.
Another soldier approached and saluted. Captain Waldeburg adjusted his footing in the stirrups and nodded back.
“Report,” he said curtly.
“Sir,” shouted the scout. “Four individuals are heading south along the Indian Nation Turnpike to the river. I think they have one of ours with them. A deserter, sir.”
The fat captain ground his yellow teeth together.
“Send a detachment to follow them. — Any word about the wizard? Did we kill him this time?”
“No sir,” the scout’s brown eyes darted to the ground and then back at Waldeburg. “He escaped us again.”
Waldeburg, without warning, pulled his service revolver with the pearl handle from his leather hip holster and fired two rounds into the messenger’s throat. The young fool fell to the ground, squirming and gagging. It was exquisite.
“Raiders!” he growled. “Raiders report on the double!”
Four men who looked more like brown bears in uniform stepped slowly forward from the back of the group. One of them put his foot on the back of the dead soldier and spit on him. I joined in the laughter that followed. Captain Waldeburg put his service revolver away, its silver barrel still smoking.
“Find this traitor. I want his head for a soup!”
All four of the raiders, “Waldeburg’s Raiders”, spun on their heels and ran full speed toward their horses, one black as night, one pale as death, one red as glorious fire and one as grey as the smoke from the Captain’s gun. I decided to follow them. I had shivers thinking about what pleasurable pain they were about to unleash, and it made me salivate.