Story Time

Chapter One this week! I've only written several chapters, but I'll keep this going until I find something more interesting and less wall-of-text like to post. Feel free to leave ideas.

Chapter One: Chinook.
May 14, 2020, Somewhere in Northern Canada.

Chinook was like any other refugee town. Those who were able to escape the blasts and the resulting fallout were moved up north to these various “camps” set up by the joint forces of what was left of the United States and Canadian governments. The Mexican government refused to join in, afraid that if they harbored American refugees in their country, they would receive the same fate as their northern neighbors.
The camp was built around a small backwater town, out away from the rest of civilization, placed over a partially dormant volcanic spring in northern Canada. It was once a home for many fisherman and other mountain men who would gather during the fur seasons. Now, taken over by people from the states, it had become nothing more than a slum. The housing was made up of small pre-made shacks brought in by the government, and, despite them being few in number; the amount of survivors were able to completely occupy most of them. The dirty streets of the town were silent and empty, just like every other cold night. Despite the meager heat produced by the springs around the city, and the warm wind which the city was named for, the town was constantly under a sheet of snow. Although it was late spring, the temperatures were still below zero degrees, making it hard for people to venture out. One man was visible wandering though the flurries of snow. The man walked down the sidewalk, scanning the buildings with collar pushed up high against to shield his neck from the chilling wind.
“Damn these shitty directions” he muttered to himself, looking down at a small piece of crumpled paper. He continued down the street, looking up and down the barren bland storefronts, eventually turning down one of the alleyways to a door with a crude sign above it reading “Booze.”
“How blunt.” He thought to himself. As he walked through the door, the bartender looked up and nodded to him. One other man sat in the bar; he took a seat besides him.
“Haven’t seen you in here before, stranger.” said the man.
“I just moved here. One of my new neighbors told me about this place when he heard me asking around for a place to get my drink on” He smirked.
“Well it seems like he has good taste.” The man shifted and turned to him. “The name’s Brett. You?”
“Harold O’Leah. Friends, at least the ones who aren’t dead, call me Hank.” He motioned to the bartender to bring a drink. The bartender set down a short glass of pale brown liquid in front of him. He went back to polishing the other side of the counter.
“So why aren’t there many people here?” said Hank, picking up the glass. He held it to his lips and slowly took a sip. As soon as the whiskey hit that back of his throat he coughed and choked. The bartender eyed the two uneasily. “Bah, this tastes like piss.” He sputtered.
“That’s why…” Said Brett, motioning to the glass. “…there ain’t nobody here.”
The bartender slid down to the two men. “We ain’t got no good shipments in quite some time here ya’ see”
Brett continued “There’s pretty much no more good aged alcohol out there, ever since the ‘war’” He rolled his eyes. “That’s what you get when you only let this stuff sit in the barrel for only a month. Gets no flavor.”
Hank looked down at his drink and swirled it slowly in the cup.
“You want barrel-aged Jack? You’re better off just marinating it with a board, it couldn’t make it any worse.” Brett chuckled.
“Ya, I think I’ll pass. Well, at least anything to keep you from freezing out in those streets on a night like this.”
“Tell me about it,” said Brett. “Most of these temp houses they got us set up don’t have anything in the way of heating.”
“I used to live down right on the gulf coast of Texas.” Hank reminisced, “I should be on the beach right now soaking up rays. Oh how I miss the ocean.” He said melodramatically, spreading his weight out over the bar.
“You can always sun-bathe on the edge of some green, bubbling radioactive pool. That will give you some nice color.”
“Remind me to never come to you for life planning advice.” He sneered. “You actually believe in all that stuff too? Like the radioactive wastelands and all?” Brett pretended to ignore him. Hank quickly downed the last bit from his glass and motioned to the bartender again. “Hey you got any beer back there?”
“Just hard alcohol here bud, beer has too much o’ their precious water in it. They wouldn’t dream of making a brewery or nothing around here, or even shipping it in from somewhere, too bulky and expensive to transport around.”
“Come to think of it, these shipments you hear about. I’ve seen the trucks. Where exactly do they come from?” pondered Hank.
Brett stared at the bar for a second. “I suppose the North American Aid Front ships them in. You know, they set up these new-age Hoovervilles; I suppose they are the ones supplying them too. This post war government thing has at least something down. Who would have though, Canhucks and Yankees working together instead of just poking fun at each other?” Brett elbowed him playfully.
“All of these supplies though. You know damn well there’s nothing up north of here, and supposedly everything below the old Canada- U.S. border is baked.” Hank put his hands behind his head and stared up at the ceiling. “The trucks don’t even have the insignia of the NAAF.”
“Don’t bite—or over think—the hand that feeds you.”
“Ya I know, I know.” Brett said impatiently. “There’s just those things that make you wonder.”
“You’re new here, get a job with them, assuming you don’t already have one. I’ve seen several people drive off with them to go to god knows where. None of them have returned, none the less, you may find yourself an adventure.” Brett looked over at him, anticipating an answer.
“A truck driver? That doesn’t interest me. Back before the war all truck drivers were big sweaty guys who drove twelve hours a day listening to bad country music and flipping each other off.”
“You don’t know what could be waiting out there for you.” chuckled Brett. He got up and dropped some cash on the counter. “Go to one of the supply stations tomorrow, and go around back to look for one of the supervisors. You’ve got nothin’ to lose.”
“Yeah, whatever.” Mumbled Hank as he walked out the door.
Hank slowly finished another drink, and exited in the same manner. As he walked down the sidewalk he paused for a moment to let one of the large brown trucks drive by before walking across. As it went down the road towards the edge of town Hank followed it with his eyes, thinking to himself.

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