Zombies and Loathing 15: Not Careful Enough
(See Table of Contents for previous installments)
I had been so careful.
So fucking careful.
My mind raced through my movements since I got to New Bunker. Every person I had spoken to. Every accent I had affected, every disguise I had adorned. Had it all been for nothing?
A terrible lump works its way into my throat and for once, I am speechless.
The fat disgusting little man in front of me grins and licks his lips. The way his beady little eyes narrow on me disturbingly makes me think of how he must look at whatever vile creation he thinks of as food.
“You’re speechless. Good. I was hoping we could move forward without dealing with your patented quips and commentary.”
Even as the lump subsides I decide it’s most prudent to keep my smart mouth shut. It’s all about getting a read on your opponent. The smarm and defiance that worked against my benefactor wouldn’t be nearly as effective here against the Banker. Although, I must admit, I am getting quite fed up of people identifying me by name. I suppose there’s some solace in the fact that my mother never called me ‘St-Brigid’ but still, it’s not like there’s any active government registry these days. Our pseudonyms are as good as our identities.
My first reason for staying quiet, Pruitt, jabs me from behind. Right in the kidneys.
“Boss is talking to you.”
I grip my back in pain. Right. The stims. Fucking with my sense of timing. How long had I zoned out? Pure, military grade my fucking ass.
“As I was saying, I control Conroy’s stockpiles. As you saw coming in earlier today, we have amassed quite the substantial little horde. And it’s all a great, big, secret. Even from some of Vincent’s closest allies. Vincent’s gotten greedy, very greedy. He’s been squeezing every little bit of surplus from all his different “businesses”. The pit bosses, the gatekeepers, the managers of the bars and the casinos all of them paying steeper and steeper tithes to King Vincent. I’m willing to bet that if we leaked some choice footage to just the right people, nobody would be able to keep those people from taking out their bloody wrath on poor Mr. Conroy.”
Hold on a tick. Hold it right there. Did that fat bastard just say “choice footage”? He can’t be serious. Whatever the details are of his plan that most certainly means that he’s going to have to actually film the stockpiles to leak the footage. That means it will exist in a format that can be copied. Copied and redistributed.
My head spins. That footage could be a kill stroke to Conroy, just as The Banker believes. But, with a wider distribution, it could tear down the entire decaying structure of this twisted, dying city. Imagine the upheaval, the revolts in the congested, filthy streets when every person in New Bunker found out that they were living on top of a stockpile of food and supplies that could keep this entire population comfortable for years.
The myth that the city was “barely getting by” would be shattered. The chokehold that the elusive promise of wealth has over the desperate would be destroyed.
It would be chaos and madness. The city would fall, and its wealth would be redistributed by rule of anarchy.
It would not be without its casualties of course. But we live in a post-Bomb world. There’s no clean way to do this. Giving the rule back to the people is a messy business without exception. Play this one right and the whole rotten house of cards comes down.
“And you want me since if anything goes wrong, you can’t be linked to the leak?”
The pudgy little man licked his lips and turned my stomach.
“Precisely, you’ve been publicly announcing your intentions in that pithy little newsletter of yours for weeks. If you reveal yourself to the right person, it already all lines up. You’ve already basically spelt out what you’re going to do to anyone paying attention to your inane ramblings, I’m just providing the means.”
Fat fuck had a point.
And it’s not like I have a choice.
The next 48 hours come and go in a blur.
I’m never alone. The Banker’s goons are glued to me for every second.
They force me to type a declaration of my intentions. I won’t bother sharing it with you now, you’ve probably read it already. It was everywhere. A simple announcement of the “leak” had the city buzzing. By the end of the day the only thing on people’s minds were what exactly I was going to tell them.
Was I full of shit? Or was this what I had been planning all along?
The leak is already planned. This is a roller-coaster and I’m just a passenger. My name inextricably tied to it without my consent and without my endorsement.
They go through the casinos. It was all so easy. There aren’t many functional television screens in the Wastes, and those that exists have dozens, if not hundreds of eyes on them at all times. At several points across the city whatever trash was being shown on screen was replaced with footage that looked to be filmed on a hidden camera of the stockpiles beneath the city.
It spread like wildfire.
Conroy was withholding from them. The starving city was perched atop a treasure trove of goods. Food, medicine, weapons. The common person knew there was a wealthy elite in New Bunker, but the footage multiplied that expectation a thousand fold.
The first act violence occurred no less than an hour after the leak. I could take little pleasure in the fact that it was one of Pruitt’s “officers” who was the victim. Authority figures don’t do well in an angry population hell bent on revolution. The poor fool grabbed and beaten to death by a mob of people wanting answers and not knowing where to look.
By nightfall the city was chaos. Semi-organized packs of vandals ripping the makeshift buildings to shreds, looking for access to the stockpiles beneath the city.
Everyone was waiting for word from Conroy, but none came.
His city was tearing itself to shreds before his very eyes and it seemed like he was content to just watch it burn.