“You see, whenever I take anyone into the Jade I give them the same type of speech. When I first started doing trips and tours through it, I would write down what I was going to say in the hopes that nobody would be killed. My father fought the Unnamed when the drums were still sounding. He’d see them every night in their element with the streetlights glowing and everything. You know people see the Unnamed now as these towering shapes of dead leaves, but when the drum sounded they were like a bladed wind. You couldn’t outrun them. You could barely hide from them and their faceless hoods. Yet, people survived. They fought. They won. It’s all quite remarkable. But the monsters scarred our world in one long and green swipe. Every ecosystem on earth has been permanently changed, but none to the degree of the Jade,” Arthur said.
He was sitting at a round table on a maroon stool that was peeling apart like dead skin. The air smelled like sweaty clothes and gunpowder. They were in Walker’s Pub, which was the last real bar before Entry Point 451 into the Jade. There were low lights, no televisions, and a variety of news clippings from various points of human history framed above the liquor behind the bar. Arthur had older features. His face was sunken in from his endless consumption of cigarettes and vodka. His body was a frail echo of his weathered face. He was dressed in a light brown camo vest, which was creased with shotgun shells.
“So, I’m getting the same generic, back-in-my-day type of speech you give all your prospective customers, huh? This a staple of behavior of all guides in the Jade?” Sam said. He was tall, overweight, and all his teeth showed when he smiled. He had curly hair that was cut short so just a drab sat on his forehead like a single leaf on a tree. He was wearing a brown leather coat with a name tag clipped to it. Travelers who got this close to entering the Jade all had to wear them.
“It’s not exactly the same, sometimes if I like you I share more information, or I don’t,” Arthur replied.
“Right, okay, well, how far into the Jade until we see any of the Unnamed? I mean, other than their skeletons and stranglers, I haven’t actually watched one in their most, uh, competent state. I’ve watched the old videos saved from the drum, but nothing more. My friends and I are really excited to see them,” Sam said. He could tell his voice was getting higher the more excited he got.
“You’ll see them immediately. I mean right away, about 100 meters into the woods. They’re all along the path sitting in the undergrowth like abandoned statues. Now, you leave them alone, obviously. Don’t interact with them thinking they’re asleep or empty, I’ve lost some people that way,” Arthur replied. He swished the brown liquor in his glass to distract his memory. Sam sipped his beer nervously and pretended to clear his throat.
“Well, let me tell you a little bit about myself and my friends,” Sam said, awkwardly trying to change the subject.
“No, don’t tell me.”
“What? Why not? You don’t want to know your customers?”
Arthur shook his head.
“Easier to bury a nobody,” Arthur said.
He finished his drink.
“The Jade doesn’t care who you are.”
Arthur stood up.
“Neither does the Unnamed.”
If you enjoyed this story you can find more like it by clicking HERE, plus the actual series based around this apocalyptic universe is free to read in a generous sample HERE. Right now, I do have a special in my store where you can buy any two books for $25 (or three for $30) with free shipping, personalization, and my signature. The Greenland Diaries, or any book for that matter, are included in this combination. Click HERE to check out my store. You can also find it on Kindle HERE. Thank you for reading!