Author: David C. Nutt

“Breaking in was easy- you’re way behind the times old man.”
I nodded. “Could be. I never trusted all the high-tech solutions to everything. Only use that stuff when I have to.” My dogs growled. I hushed them.
My captor chuckled and pet my dogs. “You’re all right. Most of the old crows we corner start the shrieking or bellowing thing. Glad you didn’t.”
He was typical of our veterans’ off-grid community’s main problem: bored rich kids from enclaved families who think they’re badass. Come way out here to kill us, take our stuff, just for an extra night of clubbing. No authority would help us. We don’t count.
A heavy crackle of static came over his coms.
“Ian,” a voice said on the verge of laughter, “you gotta come see this.”
My captor, Ian, motioned with his energy weapon for us to go outside. I nodded. I took a cigar out of my humidor. “Mind if I smoke?”
“Go ahead, old man. It’s your funeral anyway. Bring your doggies too.” I lit up my cigar and whistled for my dogs to follow.
We went out into the compound. There were about twenty-five total, male and female, all copping what they thought was the badass marauder look- zinc paint, lots of leather, skin, tribal fetishes. Kind of cliché really.
“Check this out!” One of Ian’s crew pulled back a corner of the turf revealing a bed of sharpened bamboo stakes. Ian looked over at me. “What’s that supposed to do? Make us go on tippy toes?” Ian slapped his boots. “Gel-steel. Stop a round and energy weapons and not even make us stumble. Scotty, stomp that shit.”
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you, son.”
Scotty smiled a nasty smile. “I ain’t your kid old man.” He jumped onto my punji sticks… and straight through them to the eight-foot-deep pit lined with 36” carbon fiber spikes. Even though I couldn’t see, the sound was bad enough. The kid’s screams made the rest of his crew run over to the pit. I took several steps back.
A young lady on the opposite side of the pit looked up. “You are so dead Old Man!” With muscle-assisted armor, she easily cleared the pit… and into the second pit. That was my cue to turn on the sprinkler.
Enraged, Ian turned to me. “Think a little mud is gonna slow the rest of us down? Water? That all you got now?”
I shook my head. “Inhale.”
Ian looked puzzled. He sniffed. “Oh, excuse me. Crappy smelling water.” His bros and ghouls laughed. They didn’t get it.
I nodded. “Not water. Gasoline.” I flicked my cigar over Ian’s head. The fine mist of gasoline ignited immediately, and the screams of his crew made Ian recoil in horror. Some of his friends couldn’t take it and jumped in the pit finding death with Scotty and his girl a better alternative. Two of their vehicles collided while trying to get out of my compound. A third managed to clear the twelve-foot wall only to be hit by my ballista. It’s amazing what one can do when combining state-of-the-art targeting with ancient mechanical weapons. The kid in control crashed the ship. The resulting fireball was impressive.
Ian turned to me, tears of rage streaming down his face. Slowly he brought his pistol up. I whistled. My dogs did the rest.
I pulled out my old-fashioned smartphone and tapped it once. “Geezer to Base.”
“Base here. Go ahead Geeze.”
“Mission accomplished. Request clean up.”
I smiled. “Kickin’ it old school.”