“Post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior.”
“Nomad,” the man said to himself as he scratched at a piece of paper with the nub of a pencil.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t say nomad. Post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior.”
“What’s the difference?”
“It’s a pretty big difference.”
Roy Tinner was a balding man and refused to admit it. He sat on the town council and had volunteered long ago to interview any visitors that may wander into the gates of his fair town. Though small in stature, and more than a little heavyset, he viewed himself as the first and best line of defense the town of New Hope had against the threat of immigrants, idiots, and those that happened to be both.
“Fine, I’ll put nomadic warrior.”
“But, that’s not it. It’s post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior.”
Roy looked up from the handwritten form. “Look. You can’t have a time reference in your vocation.”
“Yes, I can.”
“Who does that? No one does that. Farmers don’t call themselves pre-winter harvesters. There’s no point. A farmer is a farmer whenever he’s a farmer. Same with a nomadic warrior or … whatever.”
“I’m not a farmer, good sir. I could have been a farmer. I could have been anything: a water purifier, gasoline refiner, scavenger, hunter, gatherer, post-apocalyptic dentist …
“But, I chose to be a post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior. And, in doing so, have mastered the skills necessary to survive the mutants, toxins, gangs, and other dangers in the wasteland. I can survive in the Great Western Wastes, the Poisoned Pacific Northwest, or Detroit.
“I have studied weaponology, mechanics, electronics, and engineering. I can weld and shoot straighter than most any man.
“I have studied psychology, strategy, and Dale Carnegie.
“It’s for all of these reasons and more that I ask you to, please, list my occupation as post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior.”
The apocalypse had bred a tremendous amount of and Roy Tinner had met his fair share. Many had genuinely gone crazy dealing with the devastation and loss of family and friends. Others had seen the world-ending event as a chance to start over, redefined themselves, and created a life they could never have achieved in a civilized society.
Some claimed to be celebrities; if they didn’t resemble the famous person they would claim that they had been disfigured by one of the many agents used in the warheads.
A few claimed to be royalty, declaring themselves kings or queens to vast swaths of land or states if not the country or continent.
The man who sat before him, however, was not trying to make such a claim. This nomad that sat before the councilman believed every word he had said. Etching on his duster was proof of countless days spent in the wasteland—the canvas was frayed by nights spent on rock and rough ground. Calloused hands told of a life of physical labor. A sharpness in the nomad’s eyes convinced the councilman that the man in front of him was not crazy.
Conviction, not pride, had prompted the man before him to request the title. The councilman could see that. Like the master mason or the decorated soldier, it was respect that this man was looking for. Respect, not for himself, but for the craft he studied. An acknowledgment to the dedication, the thousands of hours spent mastering the skills that defined his ilk was all he sought. The recognition was not only for himself, but also for others in his trade.
Raising a soiled handkerchief from the desk, the councilman dabbed at the sweat on his brow as he studied the man. Roy could respect the nomad for making a fuss over the entry on the form—but he didn’t have to.
Roy picked up the pencil and began to write, “Nomadic Warrior.”
“You can’t spell apocalyptic, can you?”
“Of course I can spell apocalyptic! We’ve all been living in a post-apocalyptic world for seven years now. You don’t think I’ve had to write apocalyptic over and over again?” He looked back to the paper and paused.
The councilman took a deep breath and scribbled furiously, “… alyptic nomadic …” he trailed off and finished writing the full occupation, curving the last few letters of ‘warrior’ up the edge of the page to fit.
“That’s up to you.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Well, not you per say. The town.”
“What are you talking about?”
“The first rule of being a post-apocalyptic nomadic warrior is that you don’t have a name. Eventually, the people I help will give me a nickname, never wanting to know the real me.”
“That’s okay. It makes writing the folklore easier.”
“No, it’s not. All post-apocalyptic nomadic warriors don’t have names.”
“Sure they do.”
“No, they don’t. Did the man with no name have a name? No, he didn’t. What’s-his-face didn’t have one either. Neither did the stranger.”
Before the apocalypse, Roy Tinner’s blood pressure had been high, a condition the doctors had attributed to overeating and overreacting to just about everything. Even though the doctors vaporized, melted, exploded, rotted, or had been eaten, like most of the world’s population, he felt it was best to behave as though his stress levels had not been reduced since the sweeping destruction of society and man.
Relaxing had never come easy to him, but he did his best to ease the muscles in his neck and smiled at the infuriating nomad. “Well, what should I write down?”
“Just leave it blank. You can fill it in later once I’m given a nickname.”
“I’m thinking of one right now,” the councilman muttered as he struck a line through the field on the form.
Wanna read more? Last Day to DOWNLOAD it for FREE!
Thanks for reading
Also, go back and check out the other Sweet Saturday Sample authors.