Today is release day for The Post-Apocalyptic Tourist’s Guide to Seattle. It is the sixth Episode of TPATG Series 1. Even though it is classified as a Novelette, it is just a few hundred words shy of being a Novella. To read more about the work that went into writing it, see my previous blog post.
This book is dedicated to my brothers, Ben, Tim, and Greg, for introducing me to Seattle. They made sure I stayed hydrated, well fed, and was given all the tours I could ever want. Thanks to them, my life in Seattle has been positively pre-apocalyptic.
My thanks to all those who pre-ordered. It is available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Click the cover image below to be directed to the Amazon purchase page.
Remember to check out the other books in the series, all of which were written by award-winning authors!
The Episode Blurb:
When the alien invasion ended, humanity strove to mend their broken world… until they remembered how much they enjoyed war. In Seattle, rival clans fight over territory and resources. Resh, the headsman of the Five Clan, has the power to conquer the entire city, but he has other ideas. He runs. Outside the city, far from responsibility and the risk of assassination, Resh comes across an abandoned hospital. Inside, he finds a young man climbing into a wheelchair. Suffering from a mysterious illness, the traveler makes him a deal he can’t refuse. But Resh takes on more than he bargained for. To help the traveler find the cure he’s after, Resh must return to a city filled with scheming and betrayal, and confront an organization with a terrifying agenda.
The Post-Apocalyptic Tourist’s Guide to Seattle
By Philip A Kramer
The building was abandoned. Trees and foliage grew unchecked along its perimeter, making it nearly impossible to see from the road.
Resh recognized the series of letters still visible on the partially collapsed awning. This was a Hospital. In Seattle, the W Clan made their home in one. It was a large network of buildings with hallways that stretched between them. This building was far smaller, rising just above the surrounding trees. Before the invasion, it might have looked welcoming. Now it could easily be a wolf’s den.
Resh looked back the way he had come. Night had already fallen, and he could make out a dim glow to the sky to the north, where thousands of Seattleites sat around their campfires. The city had been his home his entire life, but he was never going back. For weeks he’d been possessed by a singular urge to explore, to learn more of the world outside the city. The urge had become so strong; he had walked away from everything.
The same urge compelled him to carry on, to leave this building behind like all the others, but the needs of his body prevailed. He had walked until blisters formed on his feet, and continued to walk until those blisters burst. The muscles of his legs were knotted tight, and sharp stabs of pain radiated up his bones with every step.
If this Hospital was anything like the W Clan’s, it would have some beds inside.
Resh ducked under the sagging awning and through the shattered glass door of the building. He fished his lighter from his pack and flipped it open. By the meager light of its flame, he entered.
Most of the building had been picked clean of metal, but he found a few mattresses uninhabited by mice within a closet on the second floor. He collected branches from a tree sticking in through a shattered window and built a small fire one the ceramic tiles of a small shower in a bathroom. He stacked the small, thin mattresses on the floor beside the fire and fell asleep in moments.
He dreamed of familiar faces around familiar fires, until an unfamiliar sound woke him. He grappled in the dark for his knife, and his stiff muscles protested as he came to his feet.
The sound that had woken him repeated, a soft shuffling, the sound of disturbed leaves.
Resh rubbed the last vestiges of sleep from his eyes and brought out his lighter, sparking it into life.
The room beyond was quiet and empty, and Resh inched out into the hallway. The dim flame illuminated the dirty vinyl flooring at his feet, but the darkness thickened further down the hallway. The coating of dust and leaves that had covered the floor earlier was disturbed, brushed aside by something dragged across them. A long smear of blood confirmed what he suspected. This was a wolf’s den. A lone wolf he could deal with, and a new pelt and a week’s worth of meat would see him to the next settlement.
He held the knife out before him as he followed the faint sounds. When he rounded the corner at the end of the hallway, he saw a doorway that hadn’t been open before.
Placing his feet furtively, deliberately with every step, Resh entered the room. It was a supply closet, one he had given a cursory examination last night only to find nothing of use.
Unlike the night before, someone was in the room. It was not a wolf, but a man with shaggy, filthy hair and tattered clothes. Every inch of his exposed skin was red from excessive sun. His arms shook as he attempted to pull himself into one of the wheelchairs stored in the room. His legs did little to assist in this goal, dragging behind him like useless chunks of meat. He looked defenseless, with nothing more than a small pack on his back. It was a sad sight, one Resh did not care to watch.
Resh sheathed his knife, preparing to turn away, when a horrible possibility struck him. Could this man have been injured by something to the south? Resh did not want to end up like him, mauled by one of the mutated beasts rumored to roam the land outside the city. He could exchange a few words, learn of any troubles ahead, or even discover the best route down the coast.
The man finally pulled himself into the wheelchair and faced him. Behind the mop of disheveled hair, his eyes reflecting the flame of the lighter with a savage intensity. He didn’t look surprised to see him. Perhaps he was used to expecting the unexpected.
“It looks like you’ve seen better days,” Resh said, thinking some levity would ease the palpable tension.
The stolid features of the traveler transformed with a grin.
“Better days?” he asked with a grunt. His voice placed him as a young man, but his appearance suggested he’d fought hard for every single year. “I barely remember what those are.”
A moment later, the man’s face scrunched up in pain, as if he had only just become aware of his injuries. He lifted his hands from the armrests of the chair and looked at them. Blood oozed from ragged gashes along the flats of his palms to his elbows. His knees were large splotches of red beneath tattered jeans.
Resh had seen hundreds of men die in his thirty-six years, he’d had a hand in killing many of them, and he could tell when a man was near death. This man should have been dead already.
“Anything I should avoid down the road?” Resh gave the man’s wasted and bloodied frame a significant look. “Like whatever you got into?”
“My kind of trouble is…unique,” he said, his eyes looking distant, sad. “And mostly of my own making.”
It was a shame, Resh thought. Knowing what lay ahead might give him some sense of direction. It would be better than following this blind urge to walk into the unknown.
“Any information you have would be more than I’ve got. In exchange, I might have some water and a few bandages I can spare.”
The man dipped his head in agreement, with no small amount of gratitude in his eyes. He then lowered his hands to the wheels of the wheelchair, and winced as his hands encountered the metal bars.
Resh waited a few more seconds, frowning. The traveler tensed as Resh came forward and then moved out of sight behind him. Resh grabbed the handles of the wheel chair and pushed the man out of the room and back to the bathroom in which he had slept.
The traveler looked from one end of the small room to the other, taking in Resh’s scattered belongings. Resh had never been tidy, and even a night spent in the room made it look like he’d been there for years. In Seattle, he’d had someone to clean up for him, to arrange his things, and to cook him food. That was over now.
The traveler’s eyes strayed to the small tin pot of water Resh had set over the fire to sterilize. The water was cold now, the fire little more than ash and embers. The man’s dry, cracked lips parted as he accepted the small can from Resh, and guzzled it down.
When he spoke again, his voice had lost its raspy edge.
“Where are we? How far to Seattle?”
“Just a day by foot. Maybe two or three in the shape you’re in.” Resh sat on the toilet seat and reached into his pack for a spare shirt. “Where you coming from?”
The traveler watched warily as Resh took out his knife and proceeded to cut the shirt into strips.
“The east, from a place you’ve never heard of.”
“Any better out there?”
The traveler smiled wistfully.
“There are still barbarians and cannibals if that’s what you’re asking. But it was better in its own way. It was home.”
His hands paused in their task as he regarded the stranger. Resh had been a barbarian once, but he refrained from saying so. He’d left that life behind him. He no longer had a home, and he preferred it that way. Now the thought of home carried with it a sense of restlessness and revulsion. How could anyone stand to stay in one place for so long?
The man squinted at him.
Resh realized he’d been staring.
“Aren’t you going to ask me why I’ve come all this way? That seems to be everyone’s first question, usual right before they try to slit my throat and eat me or feed me to their pigs.”
Resh shrugged a shoulder.
“I won’t do any of those things,” Resh said. Unless you give me a reason to, he thought. “It’s none of my business, just as mine is none of yours.”
The man dipped his head in acquiescence.
Resh motioned for the man to lift his hands, and he complied hesitantly. He took his wrist and turned his hand palm up. He proceeded to rinse the wounds with water from his canteen and bandage them, ignoring the man’s curses and grunts of pain. He was not the charitable sort, but this man had information he wanted. If there was one thing he’d learned from his old life, it was the currency of favors.
Once he had both hands cleaned and bandaged, he turned his attention to his other injuries. Exposed bone jutted out from beneath the dirty mop of cloth and strips of skin of his knees.
“I don’t see any breaks.”
The traveler looked down at his legs and frowned.
“They aren’t broken. I can’t even feel them to be honest. They gave out yesterday.” He must have seen Resh’s look of confusion, for he added, “It’s a sickness, not contagious,” he clarified. “Still, I knew it would happen eventually.”
Resh was not reassured. He finished bandaging the man with the remaining cloth, and washed the blood from his hands with the last of the water.
“So why did you come here?”
“What happened to that being none of your business?”
“Guess I’m curious now. If you knew it would happen, shouldn’t you be at home, living out your days in peace or in the arms of a beautiful woman?”
The man looked to the ground as if he wished for nothing else, then he leaned back in the wheelchair and withdrew a crumpled piece of paper from his pocket. Resh took the proffered slip and unfolded it. Printed in neat, tiny letters, like the kind he’d seen on signs and in books, was a message, and a logo: a shield with some kind of slender tree on it. Above that, there were three S’s, one of the few letters he recognized.
“I can’t read. What does it say?”
“In short? You’re infected with a disease that will eventually kill you. For a cure, come to Seattle. Good luck.”
“Who’s it from?”
“Synapse Sentries of Seattle,” he said, the S’s coming out as disdainful hisses.
“Never heard of it.”
“No I suppose that would have been too much to hope for.”
“I suppose there isn’t immediate danger down the road then?”
“Oh there’s plenty of that,” he said, chuckling. He pulled his pack out from behind him and took out a worn leather book like the kind he’d seen in the old libraries. Most of those had been used for kindling.
“A journal of sorts. A travelogue.”
“Sort of. A recounting of my journey and the things I’ve learned along the way: People I’ve talked to, some history, and a lot of the troubles I’ve managed to live through. I’ve documented everything I’ve encountered since Louisville. I’d read some of it to you if you like, but there’s a lot.”
He flipped open the book to reveal a page with long squiggling lines. Resh squinted down at them. They were letters unlike anything he’d ever seen, not nearly as neat and small like those in books, but more elaborate and beautiful.
Resh had to have it. The man was incapable of putting up much of a fight. He could take the book by force, but what good would it be to him? He couldn’t read the words.
The man must have seen the desire in his gaze, for he closed the book and wagged it back and forth.
“If you help me find what I’m after. This cure. The book will be yours. You want to know the best places to visit? Avoid dangerous roads? This will tell you how. Get me what I need, and it is yours. It’s even worth something to the man who commissioned it if you return it to him.”
“I said I can’t read.”
“I will teach you. It could be days before we find it. That should be enough time. You’re not the first I’ve taught.”
Resh shifted uneasily. He had every reason to avoid returning to Seattle. Many of his former clansmen would like to see him dead, and that was the last thing that bothered him. Going back meant going in the wrong direction and losing several days. But if what this man said was true, it was a small sacrifice. Knowing where to go and what to avoid could save him weeks on the road and could save his life.
The decision was made, and a bargain was struck.
I hope you’ve enjoyed the free preview. For more, click here to purchase the book on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.