Paradise is on old interstate eighty, we would have hit it on our way to Colorado Springs if I hadn’t been distracted by the Invincible slaughtering the tree village of the mole people and cancelled that road trip. From the outside it looks very unimpressive (depending on what you find impressive I suppose). The core of Paradise appears to be a Chevron station/Subway that was once across the street from another gas station with something attached to it. Radiating out from that like poisoned veins from an infected wound are scrap-buildings, shanties, and tents.
I swear I saw some cardboard in the mix on some of the rigged together buildings. How is that possible? When did cardboard manufacturing come to an end? Decades ago at least right? It rains every day now, how can there be any cardboard left? How long does cardboard last anyway, even if it doesn’t get wet? I should have paid more attention when we went on a field trip to that box factory in fourth grade.
The perimeter was surrounded (can you surround a perimeter? Do you create a perimeter?) by big ugly hunks of jagged chain that I assume are the spike strips of the day intermixed with pits and big things that looked like jacks for giant children that Martialla called anti-tank obstacles. Maybe I did see something like that in a D-Day movie. In my unprofessional opinion this is a better defensive set-up than the walls I see at other places. I think you could smash through those walls easily if you get one of the junkmobiles of the day up to speed and slam into it. What does Paradise have that’s so much more important to protect?
For the first time in a long time, we smelled gas. Gasoline gas not the bio-sludge they use as fuel in everything we’ve seen so far. But the question is, even if they have gasoline in there, what difference does it make if all vehicles run on fermented vegetable oil now? The only thing I can figure is this. The vehicles of the day are pretty slow compared to what I’m used to. J-Lo is a fast machine and I don’t think she goes much more than forty miles per hour pedal to the floor. There’s no speedometers so I don’t know for sure but I’m pretty confident in that figure. From what I’ve observed, most vehicles manage more like thirty topping out. I’ve assumed so far that’s because they’re pieces of shit made by idiots, but maybe it’s because of the fuel. Maybe it doesn’t burn as good or whatever fuel does. I didn’t pay much attention in chemistry class.
So, if these Paradise people have a gas source maybe they have better/faster vehicles. The only problem with this theory is that I didn’t see any vehicles. No vehicles were allowed inside so there’s a big impromptu parking lot of junk heaps outside the defensive perimeter but those belong to visitors. I’ve never said perimeter so much in my life. Inside I didn’t see any vehicles at all. There were a lot of buildings big enough to hide them I guess.
Maybe that’s why we were told that if we wanted to get a force together to fight the Invincible we should start with these people. Maybe they have the good “armor” of the day. Or maybe it was just because they have a lot of guns. Good guns too, not the plastic toys of the CHiPs or a blunderbuss MacGyvered out of a stop sign, some mud, and some chewing gum (there is no chewing gum but you know what I mean) but legit assault rifles that looked like they were from our day. How long do guns last if you take care of them? Forever? Could you still fire a musket if it was in good shape?
There are two gaps in the razor-perimeter (I’m not saying that word again) where supplicants come to supplicate themselves for potential entry. If they have any weapons worth taking, the guards take them. And I don’t mean for safekeeping, I mean they take them. If they have any trade goods they’re let in after being humiliated and abused to whatever extent the guards want. I saw a lot of sex acts performed in just the hour or so that Martialla and I watched from a good distance away. Clearly these are the kind of assholes that enjoy their jobs. A lot of people were turned away, even after the guards fucked with them. I knew going in that Paradise was going to be an ironic name, but I didn’t realize that it would be the most miserable shithole we’ve come across so far. Good joke post-apocalypse.
I glanced over at Martialla “I’m not thrilled about going down there.”
She snorted “What, you’re not interested in getting railed by that one that looks like a wart that came to life? What would be thrilling is if we went down there and jammed one of those Dragon’s Teeth up the collective asses of those guards.”
“I like the sentiment but I’m pretty sure that would be impossible.”
“We’d have to sharpen the end first.”
“Of course.” I sighed halfway theatrically “We’re pilgrims in an unholy land here, Mar.”
She nodded “Good flick.”
I frowned “What?”
She frowned back “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade? You just said Sean Connery’s pilgrims line.”
I shrugged “Indiana Jones? Never heard of it.”
She rolled her eyes “Shut up, that’s like saying you’ve never heard of Jaws, it’s one of the biggest movie trilogies of all times.”
I scoffed “What the hell kind of name is Indiana Jones? Was Nebraska Everyman already taken?” I stopped her rebuttal with a raised hand “What about this idea? What if we entice the Invincible to attack this place? That way we have one of those inciting incidents for everyone else like the Germans bombing Harbor Island and hopefully all these assholes get murdered. It’s a win win.”
She crossed her arms crossly “Now you’re just trying to upset me. That might be a good idea if we knew why it was recommended that we needed these people to kickstart our army. And if there was a good way to get the Invincible to come here, they seem specifically to be nipping at the outer edges. How exactly would you entice them to come here even if it was a good idea?”
“I’ve had good luck with mooning before.”
She raised an eyebrow “Good luck with inciting what?”