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FICTION: POST-APOCALYPTIC SCI-FI SET IN SF, PART 6

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The Spike

(Begin at the beginning of the story here)

A titch later we’re drying off by a burn barrel, pretty high up on the cliff face, and the Seertlekimmie is telling me about the harvests. The rays and octopus are coming in more and more, but landin’ a whale’s getting tah be like finding an honest politician.

The kelp trawlers are pulling in a good harvest and barely any repairs are needed on Gunther’s new tackle system — just as long as the ropes get oil regular. That Gunther,” says the Seertlekimmie. “Don’t you dare tell him, but he’s better than me at rigging these days.”

How’s the bosharkin’ season been?”

Fine. Sometimes I think we can hunt the Whiteys forever. Seems to be more an’ more each year. But, hey, how was last night?”

I tell him about the fancy-pantsers and their rude offer to take me to Yerba Buena.

Sounds like Insiders,” he said. “From the Big Spike. Bright-lighters.”

What?”

The big spike on the horizon. You seen it.”

Well, sure. There’s one like it down by Catalina, too. Folks call it the Lonely Mountain.”

Call it what you want. We used to call it the Big Spike. There’s people that live in it. Hundreds and hundreds of people. More people than you ever seen. I used tah have some family that lived in there. Reckon I still do. Used tah keep in touch, but it ain’t been that way for a long, long time. See, you and me? We’re on the same team out here. They ain’t.”

Old-timer, you got my grey-matter all akimbo. What’re you talkin’ ‘bout, teams that used to visit?”

Ok. Look: when I was young, real young — still shittin’ my britches and cryin’ at a skinned knee — my father’s cousin’s cousin – or some such – came tah visit us one time. He didn’t dress like any of us. He wore what you’re harpin’ bout, clean clothes without patches and all just one or two colors. He didn’t know how to fly or fish or lash or bake or brew. He thought our water tasted dirty – an’ kelp was blech to him!”

Never had kelp?”

Couldn’t polish a plate of it! An’ he had this shiny, black stone he kept tappin’ on all the time before and after dinner. Like part mirror, part torch. Think’ Pa might’ve told him to put it down an’ eat. That’s about all I remember. Muh folks told me he was from the Big Spike. It’s over twenty miles from here, past the Great Dunes and the boulders and the salvage pits, up the dry shore.”

And you got family in there?”

I guess so. Guess we all prolly do in a way. Folks say that a long time ago, before I was born — shoot, before my parents were born — folks started building this giant roof over their whole town. Some folks didn’t want to have nothing to do with it and started moving out here. Mostly boshers and farmers. A few kiteros, hippies, Burners. My grandaddy’s’s family moved out here but his uncle’s family stayed inside the spike. The families used to keep in touch, but it was harder and harder to visit and things just kept getting weirder and weirder – didn’t have nothin’ to talk about after a while.”

Huhm.”

That’s the history of the bar and the town, you know. They say that when they started building the Spike, he wouldn’t have it. Old Tarbad said his bar had spent almost two hundred years in the sun and rain and he figgered it was good for another couple hundred. Didn’t want to live in no damn tin can, neither. He picked up and moved the whole damn thing, brick, mortar, timber and booze all out to Devil’s Teeth – founded the city, really. There’d been a couple of buildings and a few settlers here before, but without the Shamrock, I don’t think we’d all be here elsewise. Started the music festival and made the first truce with the Mechers — those damn peanut farmers. Got trade rolling between here and Catalina and Arcadia.”

The sun hangs low as we make our way up to the Seertlekimmie’s overlook. It’s a strange chateau lashed to a group of boulders on the edge of the cliffs.

I haven’t seen any insiders in a long minute. What’d these guys want with you?”

Not sure. I was pretty drunk. Suds kept the beer flowin’ pretty steady while I was playin’.”

Yeah. Yer gut still bothrin’ you when you sing?”

Yeah, but only when I sing real strong. And after a few pints I can’t even tell.”

Huh. You know Deska might know about the spike, too. Her great-grandpa was one of the founders of Devil’s Teeth. Used to give me cranberries, back when we still had cranberries. He used to rail about how he’d be damned if he’d be trapped inside some bubble. Lord he was old. Bout as dusty-bound as I am now, maybe older.”

What do you suppose they want from me?”

Probably the same thing everyone wants from you – them fancy words you got floatin’ ‘round in your noggin. Oh, shit! Look! Gunthers got your shark coming up! Bet you’re glad you went out now! Eatin’ good tonight!”

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Sam Devine

Sam Devine

Sam Devine is drawn to art, bikes, song and drink like the proverbial moth to the moth-heroin. He plays music, tends bar, and makes silly animations. In addition to writing for BrokeAssStuart.com he's appeared in several publications, including MotoSpirit, SF Bay Guardian, Motorcyclist magazine, SF Weekly, and The Kiteboarder. Check him out at SamDevine.com