Steal Tomorrow Extra: Second Chances

AUTHOR'S NOTE: This flash fiction piece is an origins story about how Jay Gallard was allowed to join the Regents. It contains no spoilers, and it contains links to relevant supplemental information, where appropriate. This is also a Three Word Wednesday post. Please to go the Three Word Wednesday site for more fun!

He had been a source of contention since the night he was brought in, intoxicated and incoherent. Doc had insisted on treating him and Mundo wasn’t prepared to argue with one of the only kids in the city who knew a thing or two about medicine. Having a doctor and a clinic gave Mundo status among the other gang leaders in the post-pandemic city, so the stranger had been allowed to stay. But now he was well.

Mundo motioned Doc toward a chair, but the young doctor ignored him and remained standing. Alex, the guard leader, sat down and glared at Doc with an expression almost as stern as Mundo’s own.

“If you’re afraid to tell him, I'll do it,” Alex said. “Me and my team will throw him out if he won’t go willingly.”

“We should let him stay. He seems like an okay guy,” Doc said.

“He’s a Kevork,” Mundo said. “He’s a member of the most violent gang in the city.”

“He says he’s done with random violence and wants to join us.”

Alex rolled his eyes. “We’d have to be crazy to believe anything someone from that group of thugs says. He’s just biding his time.”

Mundo agreed. “If we let him stay, sooner or later something will turn up stolen or someone will end up dead.” At the look of frustration on Doc’s face, he softened his tone. “You did a good deed helping him detox, and if he goes out there and acts more civilized, we can take this up again in a few months. I’m always willing to negotiate.”

“Without the protection of a group, no one can be civilized out in the city,” Doc said. “He’ll have to scavenge in order to eat. He’ll get in fights over food and shelter. Then you’ll say he’s not peaceful enough for our group, even though we have people on our forage team who aren't any better.”

Alex sat up straight. “That’s not fair.”

“But he has a point.” Mundo frowned in thought. “Why not put him on our forage team? He has experience killing and stealing. Our supplies are ebbing fast and we need a stockpile for winter. An aggressive scavenger would be an asset and if he gets killed out there…”

“Just another dead Kevork,” Alex finished for him. “Good riddance.”

Doc wiped his glasses on his dingy lab coat, then shoved them back on his nose. “I can’t believe you can talk about a human being this way. Jay Gallard is a person, not a gang affiliation.”

“Your job is to think about individuals; mine is to think about the group.” Mundo glanced at Alex for confirmation. “He can stay on as a forager, contingent upon good behavior. That’s our offer, and if he doesn’t like it, he leaves. Today.”

“You want me to tell him?” Alex said. “It’s dangerous to piss off a Kevork.”

Doc shook his head. “He’s not dangerous. You’ll see.”

After he was gone, Alex turned to Mundo. “Do you really think that was wise? I mean, me and my team can handle him if he gets out of line, but….”

“Keep an eye on him, but try not to be too obvious. If he’s really not ready to be one of us, we’ll know it pretty quick. Then at least no one can say we don’t give people a chance.”

“Our survival is at stake. Giving second chances is a little reckless, don’t you think?”

Mundo stood up, signaling that the meeting was over. “As long as we take precautions and protect our own, we'll be okay. Second chances is what the end of the world is all about.”

Related Story: On the Bridge


Thomma Lyn said...

Excellently done, my friend, and I love the last line. :)

Dee Martin said...

Oh man, I had to go read On The Bridge too and nearly cried! Again, love getting these little insights into Steal Tomorrow!

Jay R. Thurston said...

This post pandemic world always lays the groundwork for an interesting story! Another entertaining glimpse into the bigger picture!

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

@Jay: That's a big reason why I like this genre. It's fun to take away the rules and see how characters react. It's even more interesting to do this with young characters who haven't yet bought into a particular "life script." When all possibilities are up for grabs, what happens? The answers vary from the conventional to the bizarre, depending on the character.

pia said...

I too love the last line. I had to read it a few times!

Thom Gabrukiewicz said...

Great ending. I am so liking this string of posts from you. Creative, dark, but sprinkled every now and again with hope.

gautami tripathy said...

Love the ending.


Timothy P. Remp said...

Well written, interesting read and very creative!


Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Yep, killer last line. And I like how there's doubt about Galahad early on; we miss that in the book but knowing what happens in the book lends this a super-sharp edge. Nicely done, as always!

Alice Audrey said...

Susan's right. Having read - or in my case still reading - the book gives this even more depth.

Julia Phillips Smith said...

Super tight and very tense. Love it! Personally, I think Mundo's logic is pretty solid.

Julie said...

'Second chances is what the end of the world is all about' - I like that!

You have used some very tightly connected dialogue in this episode, and moved it along at a good pace.

I am envious ...

Tumblewords: said...

Excellent! I'm reading the book and enjoying it immensely! Thank you...