The sun beat mercilessly upon the pavement turning the asphalt into a soft tar pitch. The rider pulled his bandana down and wiped the sweat from his brow.
He sat on his black hog and watched the trucks passing by. The hog was a huge monstrous machine decked in red chrome and looked every bit as menacing as the biker.
He sat on the bike dressed entirely in black from his weathered and scuffed boots, leather pants and jacket to his shirt and bandana. Dark shades kept the sunlight out of
He carried a knife in each boot, had one strapped to each calf and thigh. He also had a large bone handled knife tucked into the back of his pants with only the hilt visible.
Across his chest he wore a bandolier filled with silver bullets because he liked the idea of paranormal mischief.
He had two pistols tucked into the front hidden pockets of his jacket even though he did not have a concealed handgun license. Such things were of no consequence to him.
His face was as harsh as his body and bike were hard. This was a man no one in their right mind would dare cross. Every ounce of him screamed dangerous rebel.
Finally, the traffic died down on the desert highway. He had taken this route because desert highways tend to be dotted with dying towns and less travelled, but this one sure could have fooled him.
Towns were few and far between and the road seemed to be heavily travelled by eighteen wheelers.
He was riding to Utopia on a long road out of Eden headed toward who knows what. Towns to ransack, women to rape and plunder to be taken are what he hoped to find.
He rolled the big black hog onto the pavement and roared off down the road.
The wind whipping through his hair felt good and helped to dry the dampness of his shirt. His leather pants and jacket kept the sand particles and road debris from scouring his skin.
He opened the throttle and goosed the gas and the hog responded with a resounding roar and surge of speed.
Faster and faster he road down the now empty stretch of roadway with the sun at his back and miles of emptiness in front of him as the pavement dipped and climbed.
Occasionally he passed a small ghostly caravan drifting down the highway. Music blasted from his cycle into his wireless earpiece.
He loved the feel of the hills rolling under his wheels.
He spotted the intersection at the end of a steep decline and decided to run the sign. He leaned forward and gassed the hog speeding hungrily toward the horizon.
The semi appeared out of nowhere.
The rider slammed on his brakes and felt his heart thunder in his chest as he shot forward on a one-way collision course with the truck.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl and he could see every detail from the semi barreling down on him to the tiny specks of gravel pounding his face.
The last thing he heard was the sound of the truck’s horn blaring in his ears and the squealing of his brakes as he continued the long slow glide toward death.
Sirens screamed flashes of light burned his eyes.
“Hold him down! Gotta cut the pants off.”
Sounds of cloth being cut and torn pierced the haze clouding the rider’s mind. Dang! His leg is hooked by a piece of metal from the truck.”
The trucker stood next to the police officer, “I’m telling you, he sped up like he wanted to off himself. There was no way I could stop in time without jackknifing my rig. I veered off the road to miss him but he turned straight toward me.”
“Hang in there, buddy,” someone looked down at his face. He could see a halo around the person. “Hang in there.”
“We’re losing him!”
The rider found himself standing in front of two portals. One portal emanated light while the other pulsed with an oily blackness.
A spectral figure in white stood in front of the light while a black hooded thing graced the darkness. “You have lived a sin filled life Tango. You deserve to spend eternity in the void,” the fiend hissed.
“Every soul should get a second chance,” lightness spoke calmly. “Would you like a second chance, Tango?”
“Who are you?” Tango rasped, his voice sounding like sandpaper scratching over wood.
“Heaven or Hell, Tango. The choice is yours.”
Tango felt himself slipping backward and falling.
Searing pain shot through him. Electrical jolts raced through his body sending him into arc.
“We have a pulse, doctor!”
Tango tried to focus on the voice but the only thing he could see was a halo around a human shape.
“Angel?” he whispered and slid back into unconsciousness.
“Hey, tough guy,” the soft voice drew him to the surface.
He struggled to open his eyes.
“Easy now,” she whispered in his ear.
“Huh? Who are you?”
“Have you made your decision?”
“Huh?” he groaned. “Angel?”
“Not exactly,” she chuckled, her voice turning harsh and oily.
Her visage turned a horribly grotesque parody of a human. The skin blackened and peeled off until only bones remained.
A blood red hood covered the skeletal face, showing only demon red eyes.
He squinted at the figure hovering near him and saw the dark hood.
“No, go away.”
“So, you choose the second chance?” the soft voice was back.
He opened his eyes again and saw the halo surrounding the lightness.
“What?” he croaked.
“You chose a second chance,” the being replied.
“Your purpose now is to ride the roads of this country, rescuing those who need it. No more evil or law breaking. This is your last chance, Tango. Fail here and your soul will be consumed by all that is evil and you will spend eternity experiencing every vile thing you have ever done.”
Tango struggled to sit up. A wave of dizziness washed over him and he sank back down onto the bed as oblivion overcame him.
“So, you decided to wake up.” the voice sounded like a woman who had spent a lifetime drinking in bars.
He opened his eyes and squinted. Someone was sitting in the chair next to his bed.
“Who are you?”
“Bertha.” she leaned forward, reaching out to push a strand of hair back behind his ear.
She wore a black t-shirt under a faded denim jacket. Her hair was a mousy brown and reached to her shoulders. Her face was thin and her skin was weathered from a lifetime spent in the sun.
The only remarkable thing about her was her eyes. They were gray.
“Do I know you?” he rasped.
“Silly, of course you do,” she chuckled.
“I’m your wife.” Bertha leaned forward and kissed his brow.
“I don’t have a wife.”
“You do now.” She poured a glass of water and held it out to him.
“Sip it slow and easy.”
“I’m a lone rider.”
“Sugar, we’re all lone riders on this journey we call life.” Bertha leaned forward again, and kissed his cheek.
“Life. There was a Semi.” Tango scrunched his eyebrows, trying to remember.
“Sometimes we meet up and ride together. You and me? We been riding together a long time now.”
Bertha brushed a lock of hair from his face. She smiled lovingly at him.
“You barely missed that Semi and flew into the ditch. We caught up to you just as you rolled and hit your head on a rock.”
Bertha gave him another sip of water.
Tango struggled to sit up but the pain kept him prone. “Who is we?”
“The rest of the Heretics.” Bertha set the glass back down.
“Rest now. Heal. In time your memories will come back, that’s what the doctor said. In time,” she said.
The sun beat mercilessly upon the pavement turning the asphalt into a soft tar pitch.
The rider pulled his bandana down and wiped the sweat from his brow.
He sat on his black hog and watched the trucks passing by.
He was dressed entirely in black from his weathered and scuffed boots, leather pants and jacket to his shirt and bandana.
The back of his leather jacket bore a skull and cross bones buried under a giant white and silver crucifix. The sleeves had a red stripe with a white cross.
He carried no knives or pistols or chains. Weapons were of no consequence to him.
His only armament was a worn bible he kept nestled in one of the hidden pockets inside his jacket.
He could hear the rest of the Heretics roaring up the road behind him. Including him, they totaled six.
He looked over the land; up and down the road. What was he missing? This stretch of road had a familiar feel.
Something about this place looked made him wonder if he had been there before.
The sense of déjà vu was strong. Even so, he didn’t remember ever riding down this highway or town of Edna they had just left.
Up ahead was Utopia and he didn’t recall it either. He shook his head, wondering if his mind was still fuzzy from a lack of sleep.
Finally, the traffic died down on the desert highway. They had taken this route because desert highways tend to be dotted with dying towns and were less travelled.
This road and town sure fooled him. Towns were few and far between and the road seemed to be heavily travelled by eighteen wheelers.
They were riding to Utopia on a long road out of Eden. They were looking for lost souls, the abandoned, the abused, sick, dying and those in dire need of rescuing.
Tango sucked in a lungful of air and exhaled. The air felt clean and tasted good. He rolled the big black hog onto the pavement and roared off down the road.
It was a glorious day to be alive and running the roads with his friends.
Copyright © Traylor Grant 2018. All rights reserved.
The right of Traylor Grant to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by him in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. First published as a paperback by Traylor Grant US paperback Edition.
Grant, Traylor (2015-12-12), The Heretic, paperback. First publication
Second publication (2018-11-28), The Heretic, paperback.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this paperback book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to photocopying, recording or by information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
The Heretic is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, evens and incident either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.