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Discussion Starter #1
Guys this is my first writing in a long time.

The style is a bit different. I can't tell if the story will interest y'all, or not. Pease let me know.

{And as comforting as it would be, to think that the writing muse had left me for good...

Please don't knock the story unless you really mean it.)



Rip didn’t really have any close friends, but some of his closer acquaintances, noting his propensity to try to sleep his problems away, had given him the sobriquet of “Rip”–in reference to “Rip Van Winkle”. Since he would later come to be called “Underhill”, the name “Rip Underhill” designates him as well as any other personal pronoun–better than most, actually.

Rip had once been young. He’d had a full head of hair back then. He’d also had an exceptionally hairy chest; arms; and legs. Once he’d taken a course in Athletic Training. They’d asked everyone to shave one leg halfway through the course, so that they could practice taping each other’s knees and ankles without lots of gratuitous hair pulling.

He hadn’t thought much about shaving the leg, but afterward he noticed the smoothness made everything feel annoyingly smooth and slick. Even a stiff scratchy pair of new jeans felt like sheerest silk against the bare leg. He’d gritted his teeth and endured for a couple weeks. Then he’d become used to the sensation, and forgot all about his shaved leg. One day, some indeterminate time later, he’d glanced at the leg in the shower, and had noticed that the hair had long since grown back..

One memory from the class stood out more than any other. He had been a Sophomore at Purdue then. He was shy anyway, and completely unused to meeting women his own age who were married. They’d paired him up with a girl with a big diamond on her ring finger, who he’d often heard talking about her husband. He was sure it was unintentional, but she kept running his toes and the ball of his foot across her chest as she taped his knees and ankles...

Ordinarily, that might not have been so risque, but Rip had been clowning around doing things with his feet–for no particular reason–since he was a small child. He could pick up a nickel or a quarter off the floor; turn the pages of a book; or stand on one foot and unlock the door, then grasp; turn; and open the door with the other foot. In ground work, in Judo, he often grasped the leg of his opponents Gi quite forcefully with his toes–though the surprise of it counted as much as the trifling leverage he could usually exert.

So to Rip, the effect was quite the same as if he’d have ended up somehow, with his hand in precisely the same position He’d struggled very hard–both to prevent lustful thoughts from claiming him; and to prevent a visitor from coming to embarrass him.

Now Rip was in his mid-fifties. His hair was thin up top–which caused him no end of discomfort. He had little hair on his arms and chest; and his legs were as smooth as those Girls in the Nair Short Shorts commercial. Of course the Girls legs weren’t the color of a piece of bransweiger though...

His Doctor assured him that both the hairlessness and the discoloration were the result of poor circulation. He didn’t really care one way or the other–but he wondered why he wasn’t suffering the silky leg syndrome–probably because he’d lost the hair gradually.

As for lustful thoughts and visitors...

Well that cute little co-ed was most likely a granny now; but if she had miraculously–or more likely, diabolically–appeared to Rip in all her former glory...Well, she’d be unlikely to stir up any inappropriate thoughts in Rip, and even more unlikely to cause a visitor.

Somewhere along the way, Rip had given up on life. He was just marking time, till this weary life was over, and he could go home. Yet early in what should have been the early fourth quarter of his life, something started to reassert itself in Rips spirit.

He went to tech school and got him a two-year degree in only three-and-a-half years. It was the hardest thing that he’d ever done. He was old. He worked forty or fifty hours in the factory every week; and took twelve credit hours every Fall and Spring semester; and usually six credit hours in the Summer. He knew that he’d be older than most of his fellow job seekers; and he was determined not to be only marginally qualified as well. He took almost every elective offered and several classes so far off his major, that he had to get special permission.

Working in Maintenance hadn’t been all that he hoped it would be, but for a couple years he’d been relatively prosperous–by Rip’s standard. Then all the years of getting by on the bare minimum of sleep possible; eating too much–partially trying to compensate for not sleeping; smoking heavily; and rarely getting any healthful exercise–Rip got to where he could no longer work.

But at some point late in his second year of prosperity, Rip had bought him a cutting edge, state-of-the art computer on a whim. It was his first computer. He had a different way of looking at some things. He’d seen little need for a computer–but he’d been totally unwilling to get one at all, till he could afford the very best. Then he used his state of the art computing center mainly to do word processing and to surf the internet.

He’d discovered Forums. He’d never known there was such a thing. He discovered Survival Forums. He knew what Survivalism was. He’d been a faithful reader of Mel Tappan; Ragnar Benson; Rick Fines; and even Jerry Pournelle and Robert Heinlein–the Science Fiction writers had contributed some valuable though pieces to the genre in the day.

Then while he’d been in the US Army–a thoroughly dysphoric experience that had him leaping into sleep’s velvety black embrace every second that he possibly could...

Well he’d passed his Army time much like a man in the embrace of a Malarial Fever, and when he got out a few months later, the Survivalist movement had packed up and moved away like a cheap Carnie. Mel Tappan was dead. “Survive” magazine had gone out of business–followed shortly by “Gung-Ho” and “Eagle”; and most of the other Gun magazines rarely if ever mentioned Survival–at least not the kind of Survival the Survivalists had been talking about. And somewhere along the way, Rip had lost interest.

But the Forums...

Rip took inventory of his survival arsenal. He was fairly well blessed with rifles: Three Enfields; Two 1903A1 Springfields; a 7X 57 Mauser; A .30-30 Marlin 336; and a 6.5 Carcano that someone had done a pretty good job of Bubbaizing into a Scout Rifle. He had less than 300 rifle cartridges altogether. Joy.

His handgun collection had went to hell in a handbasket since the fire and the burglary. He’d never had the will to try to build up his collection again. It was just too discouraging. Though he’d assembled his battery one piece at a time–for the most part–he thought of replacing it four or five pistols at once–or what was the point? Consequently he’d never begun.

Oh he had handguns–they just wouldn’t be much–for the most part–if he had to use them as survival tools. There were his Breaktops. He had thirteen H&R Breaktops: .22s; .32s–both five and six shot; and .38 S&Ws. He had four Iver Johnsons; two small caliber S&Ws; and an Enfield. He’d bought them busted but cheap. He’d lovingly restored them. He’d had most of them nickeled; but a couple were bright hard chromed; one black chromed; and one gold plated. They all had custom stocks: Mother of Pearl; Buffalo Horn; Stag; even one Ivory–commissioned well before the Ivory bahn sent the prices sky rocketing. He had parts on hand to build several more Breaktops, but he hadn’t built one for over twenty years.

The Breaktops–while certainly better than no weapon at all; were intended just for pretty.
He had two four inch Colt Police Positives in .32-20–and fervently wished now that they were in .38 Special. He had an old six inch; fixed sight; narrow- barreled ..38 Special; and a Ruger Blackhawk in .30 M-1 Carbine Caliber. Its barrel was seven and a half inches.

The Colts were nickeled with Mother of Pearl Grips; The Smith had Stag grips; and what the Gun traders called “An even patina, with some mild pitting. The Ruger, mores the pity, was still stock in every way.

He had more than enough ammo on hand to wear all of the pistols out–with the exception of the Ruger, and possibly the Smith and the Enfield–those having much more enduring designs.

Rip took his second year’s tax refund, and bought him a Bull-Barreled Ruger Mark II .22 LR Autopistol. The pistol came with two extra magazines, and he bought five more. He got an excellent deal on an old, very rough looking .357 Highway Patrolman. Someone had taken the time to have the big smith’s Barrel cut to five inches; Mag-Na-Ported; and round-butted. Then they’d carried it until almost all the blue was gone; and the round-butt K-frame Pachmayers were wore shiny and smooth. They had also worn the DA Trigger pull very smooth. Then he’d gotten a real deal on a second hand Double Barrel 28 Gauge.

He hadn’t been in a gunstore in several years , and he hadn’t bought a new Gun in over twenty. It had been well over twenty years since he’d been in that particular gunstore. The old owner had been a very unpleasant fellow, and not above trying to pass an occasional POS off on someone. Rip didn’t know the new clerk. He largely ignored the man, asa he painstakingly examined each of the used Guns. If the man wanted to sell Rip the Guns, he’d wait ‘till Rip had thoroughly checked them out. If not, Rip was perfectly willing to go elsewhere.

Rip had too much self-respect to haggle over prices, since he thought that it showed both boorishness and poor breeding. The clerk complemented Rip’s Knowledge of Guns, and told Rip that he was the new owner. Since Rip hadn’t tried to haggle, he offered him a huge discount on a reloading set for the 28 Gauge (Rip had never reloaded shotgun shells) and a fair supply of .22; .38; .357 and 28 Gauge Ammo and components.

Four months later, Rip was out of a job. The company offered Rip $4300 not to take his case to arbitration. Rip thought the company was unjustly dismissing him; but even had he been reinstated he could feel that his working days were numbered, so he took the settlement.

He made that money last a long time; but he did go back to the gunstore. He wanted a second .357, but didn’t see anything he liked. He hated the new Ruger GP’s and SP’s; He refused to accept the keyhole Smiths; had no use for Charter Arms; and felt that Taurus and Rossi revolvers lacked some indefinable something.He saw an old S&W 36 at a bargain price because the hammer spur was broken off. He preferred it spurless anyway. A very light touch with a die grinder would smooth the roughness. .45 Autos were largely out of his price range. He wouldn’t have one with a firing pin block as a gift, and his list of “Must-Have” modifications wasn’t inexpensive. There was however, a .45 Caliber Ruger Blackhawk Convertible at a giveaway price–which reminded him that he still had almost four thousand rounds odd .45 ACP Cartridges squirreled away. He also bought a used Marlin Bolt Action .22LR with a tubular magazine. Of course he added to his supply of ammo and components.

Rip couldn’t find another bargain Ruger Convertible; but he wasn’t going to fl happy ‘till he had a pair, so he ordered a new one. He discovered “Gunsamerica”; and gradually added another Ruger Mark II .22; another S&W 36; and a pair of six inch S&W 27s .357s (S&W’s Deluxe Version of the 28.) He also couldn’t resist adding a few Guns that he didn’t really need.

He’d also quit smoking; started dieting; and started going to the gym. He found that he could join a small hole-in-the-wall boxing gym, and the YMCA for what some of the new Super Gyms charged. He liked to swim and do the Aquasize classes at the Y, and their iron room was more than adequate. He wasn’t in good enough shape to actually box–and assuming that he could get into good enough shape sometime in the future, he’d best keep the fact to himself, if he wanted to keep his disability. What helped him get back into shape was pounding the heavy and light bags; skipping rope; doing sit-ups with a thirty pound medicine ball; shadow boxing; and sparring against the focus mitts; with the crazy Gym owner screaming at him, and encouraging him to go all out–as the man did for virtually everyone. He kept himself in marathon running shape, by running back and forth across the Gym.

About this time, two things happened that had a profound effect on Rip. First of all, the 2008 Presidential Campaign got started in earnest. Secondly, he went to Kentucky to visit his cousin. The campaign convinced Rip that total Societal Collapse was closer and more probable than ever. The meeting with his cousin took a bit longer to explain.

Rip’s cousin Mark had been twenty some odd years older than Rip. Mark’s son Matthew had been born on the same day as Rip. When Rip was a boy, Mark was always separating from his wife. He’d come and stay at Rip’s house, in Rip’s room. He’d get Matthew on weekends, and he’d take Rip and Matthew to the movies; or swimming; or fishing. Later when Matthew got old enough to hunt, whenever Matthew and Mark went on a fishing trip; Mark would include Rip, even when he wasn’t separated from his wife.

Rip liked Matthew, but it was Mark that he felt closest to. When Mark had died over fifteen years before, he felt like he’d lost an older brother. Mark and Matthew had spent the last few years estranged, and at the funeral, Rip had noted without rancor or judgement, that while tears flowed freely from his eyes, Matthew hadn’t shed a tear, or even seemed particularly disturbed.

Rip cried freely, whenever he felt the urge. Had anyone told him that crying was effeminate, he’d have called them a damned fool.

Matthew had inherited the small eighty-seven acre farm in Eastern Kentucky where Mark had dwelt for the last dozen years. Rip hadn’t meant to get out of touch. He was too short of real kin to deliberately discard anyone. When Rip had a job, they generally kept him busy and worn out. When he was laid-off, or between jobs, he generally was too short of money to make a road trip, even a two-and-a-half hour one. Then there was the pall his depression cast over he idea of doing most anything. Without really meaning to, he and Matthew Had become strangers.

He was more than a little intrigued when Matthew wrote and told him that he needed to see him, and sent a Postal Money Order in case Rip was too broke. Fat chance–if Matthew really needed to see him, he’d hitch-hike to Talega if he had to. Kin was kin.

*********** ******************************************************** **********

Rip pulled into Matthew’s drive about 1:00 AM. Matthew had the lights on, and when he heard Rip pull in, he rushed out to greet him.

“Don’t bother getting out”, Matthew told him genially. “ Let me get in my truck, and follow me.”

They only drove a short way along a dirt road, when Matthew halted in front of a stone outcrop. He hastily cut off his lights; got out of his truck; and frantically gestured for Rip to turn his lights off too. Matthew was doing something to the stone wall. Rip couldn’t see what. When he started to get out, Matthew hissed something venomous about Rip’s dome light. Rip closed his door as silently and quickly as he could.

Matthew swung a big section of the wall out. Rip concluded that it was some sort of faux stone–though he had no idea what it actually consisted of–Styrofoam; Plastic; Gunnite; Paper Machete’; or what. Matthew drove into the opening. Then he got out a penlight with a single red LED, and guided Rip’s truck into the bay beside his own. Rip had rolled down his window in the meantime.

“Stay in your truck ‘till I get the door closed, and turn a light on. Hell’s Belles and Cockleshells and Skeleton’s all in a row!!! You’d think that anyone with a grain of sense would have his courtesy light disconnected; but NOOOO!”

Rip was torn between the feeling that something unchancy was going on, and the urge to burst out laughing at Matthew using all of Mark’s old by-words. The wee malenky hairs on the back of his neck were standing up, and spasms of suppressed laughter were causing his abdominal muscles to cramp.

He compromised. He slipped his five inch .357 into his waistband, and pulled his shirt over it. When Matthew flipped the light switch, he stepped out of the truck with his .30-30 Carbine in hand. Only as he got clear of the truck and got the door closed did he fully realize what he was seeing.

They were in a combination garage/workshop. There were a couple other vehicles and several motorcycles inside; beaucoup lawn mowers and Roto-Tillers; Work tables with big vices; little vices; woodworking vices; drill presses; belt sanders; grinders; big Miller Multi-Welders; cutting torches; a well used Smithy Lathe-Mill Combo; and in one corner, a small, but very well equipped tool room. The tool room was locked behind chainlink. There was brightly shined green tile on the floor; and the machines looked unused. The combined area was big enough to hold a couple dozen pick-up trucks–and a School Bus or two.

With no real threat in sight, Rip gave way to a fit of hysterical giggling. Mark had taught them to laugh like that. He’d often went into all sorts of histrionics when he laughed–including sometimes falling to the floor; or laying on his back, and kicking his legs into the air hysterically.

Mark came up to embrace him. Rip hesitated. He knew that Matthew’d had a colostomy a couple years ago. He didn’t want to hurt him. Truth be told, he didn’t much want to burst a colostomy bag, and get excrement all over himself either. Matthew turned one side away from him.

“Bag’s on the far side. You don’t have to worry about hurtin’ me now” Matthew said.

Rip embraced Matthew with the same arm that held the Marlin at its balance point Matthew trapped Rip’s arm with a whizzer–but he didn’t pull it taut.

“Careless of you, to let me immobilize your Gun hand that way. You’re getting sloppy” Matthew chided him.

Rip showed him the big Smith and Wesson in his hand.

“Don’t think so” Rip told him, giving the three words the same odd cadence Mark had always given them, as he called someone’s bluff.

There was a tunnel leading from the underground garage to an underground house–if house was the proper word for it. It was huge.

“You know that stuff that you were always talking about–fallout shelters and stuff? Dad started working on this place over thirty years ago. He used to only be able to work on it a few odd weekends every now and again–with a few long and short weeks thrown in occasionally. When he moved down here, he started adding to it almost compulsively.”

Rip nodded. Mark had been a small time contractor, and a gifted brick layer. He could buy stuff in bulk; use leftover materials and salvage. Few others would have had the ability, or the finances to do it.

“Dad was always saying that if a man did his own work; worked hard; and bought his materials a little at a time–that he would soon have a structure that he couldn’t pay the taxes on. He never saw any sense in paying the government rent for something he’d made and owned. Me and you are the only ones alive who know about his place.”

Matthew paused momentarily. Rip felt that Matthew’s words, though freshly chosen as he went along, partook of the nature of ritual. There was no need to hurry. They had all the time they needed to complete the impromptu ceremony.

“At some point, the place was already far bigger than it ever needed to be–but laying bricks had always been a sort of compulsion for Dad. Then towards the end, making this place bigger and bigger became a sort of obsession too. Since I’ve moved here, adding cubic feet to this place has become a sort of obsession to me too.

“Yeah, I still lay some bricks almost every day. I’m not as fast as I once was, but there’s no schedule to keep down here. I’m my own boss, and if I need a day; or a week; or a month off–the work will wait.

“Do you remember how you told me that while you’d never really craved to be rich, that the one luxury you’d always craved was an indoor swimming pool? I built you one–it’s Olympic sized; and there’s a diving pool too. You’ll groove on how I figured out how to make it work without city water.

“There’s a firing range; a gym with a full-sized wrestling mat. That was a trip to move into position on my own. All kinda nice stuff. It makes me proud to be able to give it to you.”

“Give it to me?” Rip said in wonder.

“I’m dying. Doctor says that I may last a year. I’ve had a premonition. I’m going to live a little over three–but I’m going to be very weak soon. I just gotta few things to ask.

“Move in now. Keep the place secret. Try to continue to add to it throughout your life, and do your best to leave it to someone deserving when its your time...”

“I’m no brick layer” Rip protested.

“I have time to show you, before I get too weak, and I can get a lot more done, with you to help me in my weakness. No one expects you to lay anywhere near as much block as Dad and me. You will, quite properly, have other concerns.

“One other thing–we favor each other, now that we’re both in our fifties, more than ever. I’m going to outlive the Government–that’s a KNOWING, but after I’m gone, you’re to take my name, and impersonate me.”

“What on Earth for? And what if the Government don’t collapse, and I’m found out? I’m NOT going to have a colostomy!” Rip expostulated.

“Hallelujah! It’s a miracle!!! My colostomy is healed!!! Nah, I know for a fact that the government won’t be a factor by then; but just to ease your mind, I’ll leave a will giving everything to you.. By the way, I have never been finger printed,” Matthew said.

“That’s astonishing in this day and age–however, I have been–many times. And you still haven’t told me why.”

“Well, if we obliterate your finger prints with acid, they couldn’t prove that you’re not me.” Matthew said.

“I’ll pass. It comes to me, that I’ve always been a mere alter-ego of yours. That’s why I never allowed my finger prints to be taken as you. Now tell me why.”

“It is a long tangled story. If I told you now, you’d think that I was insane. Let me break it to you gradually–in my own time, and way. Let me ask you this though, why did The Phantom pull the same sort of scam?”

“The comic book character? To freak the squares, and make the local yokels think he was heap big Ju-Ju??? I guess...”


.....RVM45 :cool:


910 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Underhill: Chapter One

Chapter One

Rip walked through the forest leading a pack mule. He wondered how silently the mountain men and trappers of by-gone days could move. He knew that he made some noise. It couldn’t be heard more than twenty yards away and only very faintly then. He kept his eyes and ears–even his nose and the skin on the back of his neck–alert at all times. He meant to detect anyone inside his sound envelope before they saw him. Survival might very well depend on it.

In all probability, there had been Indian stalkers; Ninja; and Shaolin who could walk through knee-deep potato chips and not make a sound. Perhaps someone somewhere preserved such skill today. Nonetheless, Rip would have liked to see the stalker who could lead a mule; keep tight control of three Bloodhounds; and make reasonable time without making some sound–and even if he could, it wouldn’t have helped Rip’s situation anyway.

He drew himself back to the present moment. Living in the present did not come naturally to Rip. He liked to think about abstract ideas; plan future works of art and craft; or to take time to simply admire the aesthetic charms of nature. That wasn’t much of a plan in the modern feral world. He was starting to mentally chafe under the restraints.

Something was crashing through the bush towards Rip–and breaking more sticks and branches than a bear being chased by a large pack of hounds–though without the baying. He was astonished to see a child with long red hair tearing through the woods and bawling.

He snatched the child, and pulled her down. He stiffled her outcry by clamping a hand over her mouth.

“Hush child. I won’t hurt you–but others might. Catch your breath and tell me what’s wrong.”

He mentally took stock of his appearance–and old man in buckskins; with long white hair, and several bead and brass; antler; or bear claw necklaces. He carried a small rifle and there were two revolvers; a pistol; and a big Kukri knife on his gunbelt–two Smith and Wesson model 27 .357s and a Ruger bullbarreled .22 Semiauto, worn in a belly-button cross-draw position. Nothing too remarkable about that in today’s World, except that few were so well heeled.

Something about him must have inspired confidence in the girl though. She calmed herself and concentrated on catching her breath–much easier to do without Rip’s hand over her mouth.

“They are going to eat my dog” she sobbed

“Who is,” Rip asked.

“The Johnson brothers, Pete and me was fishing. They said that they’d been huntin’ all night, and hadn’t caught anything–but that was okay, cause Pete would feed them for a long time, At first I thought they were just bring mean, When they threatened to eat Pete the third time, I decided to leave. I still didn’t really think that they were serious, “till they took my rifle away from me; and started clubbing Pete over the head...”

The words had all came in a rushing torrent. Now they stopped abruptly and she resumed sobbing.

“In the future, when someone threatens you, assume they mean it and they have the means to carry it out. Drop them like a bad habit. Where do these Johnson brothers live? “

”What are you gonna do?”

“I imagine that it’s too late to save Pete; but we can give him a proper burial, and get your rifle back.”

“I Don’t think they’ll give you my rifle.”

“Didn’t intend on askin’.”

Rip’s rifle was a .223 bolt action. He’d made it himself, to be as light as possible. It only weighed five and a quarter pounds, and had a sixteen inch barrel. Rip’s arms and shoulders ached when he carried a full-sized rifle for long.

The short barreled ,223 was a screamer though, so he’d fitted a four inch modifier–a sound moderator that only attempted to muffle the blast somewhat–not eliminate it completely. Back in the day, if someone was going to deal with all the paperwork a silencer entailed, there was little sense in settling for mere muffling. Nowadays there was no law.

He did have a full-sized suppressor for the rifle though. He swapped it out on the small rifle.

They arrived at the Johnson cabin directly. Sure enough, they were turning what looked to be a really big dog on a spit.

Rip watched them for a few moments to get a feel for his clients. He drew a bead on one brother. He aimed and slowly squeezed. There was a fair amount of noise, of course–since the .223 was distinctly supersonic. However, with the muzzle blast muffled, there was no telling what quarter the Johnsons were being fired upon–and it wasn’t immediately recognizable as a gunshot–at least not to the dim-witted and alcohol and cannabis besotted Johnsons.

Rip got a second Johnson dead center through the sternum. The third brother was already diving for cover. Rip swung on the moving target and partly through luck, managed to send a 90 grain partitioned bullet through the man’s coccyx. The spalling bone fragments made a purre of the lower bowel.

He fell, and Rip shot him through the only target that he offered–through the middle of one thigh.

The fourth and last brother emptied a lever action into the surrounding woods. The third brother was thrashing around blindly on the ground, despite two severe wounds. Rip ignored him for the moment. He could be counted on to bleed out eventually, whereas the unwounded brother posed a much more serious potential threat.

Rip reloaded his rifle deliberately Then he lay flat and watched the fourth brother. He shouted a few times, trying to provoke Rip into answering aand giving away his position, or other info. Rip stayed silent. He really had nothing to say to the man. He hadn’t come to converse with him.

Finally the man’s nerves broke under the strain and he ran toward the log cabin. Rip managed to hit him once, high in the shoulder.

With the man in the house, Rip settled down to wait for night. It seemed a waste of perfectly good kerosene, but that was why he had a quantity–in case it became necessary to burn someone out. Rip didn’t intend to risk his hide when fire could be made to work for him.

The brother in the house chose to stay in the burning building until the smoke had half choked and blinded him. A casual headshot quickly settled him. The brother in the yard had long since bled out.

Rip used his Kukri to slash down four saplings. He ran the poles in the ground. Working quickly, he severed each brother’s head and stuck each one on the end of a sapling–running the shaft up through the spinal opening. It was highly unlikely to ever be an issue in those lawless times–but according to the current gentle custom, making no effort to hide what he’d done, largely acquitted him of any suspicion of wrongful death.

He got the dog carcass off the spit. He found the hide and the offal and buried them together, the regulation six feet deep. He noted that Pete had been a Rottweiler. He made a wood headstone for the dog, and carved his name deeply into the plank with a Buck folder. The wooden headstone wouldn’t last long, but even stone or brass would have worn away in time. The dog’s monument was probably far more that he could look forward to–no that he cared in the slightest.

“Can I take you home? “ He asked the little girl.

“You’ve burned my home, and killed my brothers” She answered matter of factly. Seeing the look on Rip’s face, she quickly added, “Not that they didn’t have it coming. They were a very bad sort.”

“What then?”

“I have heard of you. You’re the one they call ‘Underhill’. You are a mighty Warlock. You live under the ground, where you practice divers sorceries. They also say that you’re a Gun maker and that you have many dogs. I would be your apprentice.”

“I am not a Warlock and I don’t practice sorcery. It’s peckerwood superstitions like that that’s keeping y’all in the dark ages.”

“Weren’t you a man full grown, even before the fall? Can’t you command the mighty haint Electricity. Do you not take counsel with ancient talking and thinking machines? Don’t you make Guns from the raw elements? I would apprentice. I WILL apprentice.”

“Actually, I was a fairly old man when the fall came. Why God has spared me so long, I don’t know. I reiterate: I do, what I do. What I do is not magic or sorcery. How old are you, and what is your name?”

“I’m fourteen. My name is Jemima Puddleduck Johnson. Except for the times my brothers raped me, I am a virgin.”

She pulled out a small stag horn pipe and started tamping it full of tobacco.

“Tell me Jemima Puddleduck, is it the custom for fourteen year old girls to smoke pipes around hereabouts?”

“It isn’t the custom of most of them–but it is my custom,” She said determinedly.

“Whatever...” Rip said with a shrug.

He decided to let her tag along for awhile–since he had some errands to run before he could return home. Eventually, upon perceiving that her respect for dogs and Guns was almost as extreme as his own, he decided to try her as an apprentice.

.....RVM45 :cool:

Knocked Down But Up Again
5,579 Posts
That Jemima is my kind of girl. I would be very interested in hearing what else happens to her and to Underhill in this story. Keep it going, if you please, for it is my understanding that you are a sorcerer of words and do consort with the great and mighty haint Electricity.

68 Posts
Yeah well written....I'm interested in the story.....are we ment to use our imagination with the gap part..??anyway I like should get it published.:thumb:
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