Adam watched the almost brash motions of the Scavenger. He wondered who he was, amongst other things. The Scavenger had a certain oddity about him: the way his back arched, and his unusual and slenderness. The blackness of his skin, too, had an oddness to it.
Sitting quietly behind a wooden table that smelled of something stale, cluttered with groundnut shells and empty bottles, Adam watched the people around him. The bar was almost empty—the wooden tables were bare of activity, although the empty bottles on them spoke of recent business—a few tables, maybe two or three, were occupied by tired-looking men, either snoring on them or shaking the empty bottles against their lips for last drops.
The Scavenger was speaking to a large woman whom he called Sissy. She was big, and almost as tall as the slender man in front of her. She wore a colorful gown with a bright, orange scarf around her face which concealed a good portion of her face. Her wrists glistened with golden jewelries which rattled as she waved her arms about, and her fingers were endowed with sparkling rings, all ten of them.
She bawled with laughter, her hands on her heavy bosoms, as the Scavenger spoke in his loud voice. After a minute or two, he lowered his voice, leaned closer to Sissy and whispered something to her. Immediately, they both turned to Adam, who sat still and watched them.
“Two bottles,” the Scavenger gestured with two fingers raised, and grabbled the two bottles Sissy dropped on the counter. He walked over the creaking floor, skipping over some chipped boards, and pulled up a chair with his feet.
“Here,” he said and slid over a bottle to Adam. He dropped himself on the chair and opened the bottle with his teeth.
“Don’t expect me to open yours for you,” he said and took a long pull from the bottle, his throat moving as he did so.
Adam followed suit and put his teeth against the jagged bottle cap. It popped as he pulled it open, and released a thin gas that reminded him of the stale smell from the table. He watched the Scavenger as he dropped his now empty both and let out a loud burp.
“I take it that you won’t drink that, huh?” he asked, staring at the bottle in clasped in his arms. Adam remained silent, his thoughts straying once again. Remember, he willed his mind; think, and remember. There was nothing but a resounding silence in his head.
“You don’t talk much, do you?” the Scavenger asked and dug his hand into his jacket, his eyes on Adam as he searched its pockets. “Well, boy…I mean, Adam, you’ll find out quickly that I talk…a lot.”
He took out a square box from his jacket and tapped the end, letting out thin sticks wrapped in brown paper. His thin fingers clasped on one and drew it out. He replaced the box and put the stick between his lips, and then took, from his other pocket, a small, transparent cylinder which had a white liquid in it. Adam watched as he pressed the head of the glass and a thin flame burst out. The Scavenger drew the flame against the end of the stick on his lips and it glowed red as he took drew in sharply.
A thick cloud of strong-smelling smoke escaped from his lips and nostrils, and he sighed. The Scavenger’s eyes caught that of Adam, and he laughed.
“You learn that when you live in Eden, you have to take up vices: smoking, drinking, whoring, gambling; we all need the distraction.” He took another puff, the stick glowing red, and then pointed it to Adam, “you smoke?”
“No,” Adam said, still watching.
“Of course you don’t,” the Scavenger laughed. “But you’ll need to, very soon. The city, well, it does things to you.”
“What sort of things?”
The Scavenger took another puff, his eyelids closing slowly. “Bad things, strange things. You’ll find out soon.”
Loud voices rose from outside the bar; men shouting, and one yelling to stop. A single shot rang out as the voices faded past the bar.
“One of them will get killed tonight,” the Scavenger shrugged and dropped the smoked stick on a small plate on the table. “It’s a rough place, this one,” he bent his head to the side and spat. “The government, if you can call it one, doesn’t exist.”
Adam turned towards the door, where the voices had been, and then his eyes were back on the table. He reached for the bottle and drank from it.
“It’s bitter,” he said, after he placed the bottle on the table.
“It’s always bitter, and very illegal. Sissy here, she makes the best, but it’s all under the table, eh?”
Adam nodded, not really understanding.
“Now, it’s my turn to ask questions,” the Scavenger said and yawned lazily. “You say your name is Adam, eh?”
“I…yes, I think so,” he answered.
“They call me the Scavenger, but you don’t see me writing it up in my hand, do you?”
“What?” Adam asked, and followed the Scavenger’s finger pointing to his arm. “Oh, I don’t really know about this.”
“What about those dead guys at the crash site, anything about them?”
The Scavenger sighed and shook his head. “Any idea why you were in that truck, or why you were naked?”
Adam thought for a while. The more he thought, the more his mind clouded up. “I really don’t remember anything, except…” he paused, and the Scavenger leaned forward.
“Except what?”
“I remember I was in a strange room and…” he suddenly stopped talking and turned towards the front door as it opened. They both watched as a cloaked man slowly walked into the bar. The man turned towards them, his face concealed, and then walked over to a table at the far end. They followed him with their eyes as he stopped in front of a table and reached for the man resting on it and snoring loudly. The cloaked man threw him away and took his seat. He glanced once in their direction, and the Scavenger looked away, but not Adam who gazed on, as if locked in a telepathic conversation with the stranger.
“Sissy! You have a customer,” the Scavenger yelled and turned to Adam, “do you feel like drinking? I feel like another bottle.” “No,” Adam said, still looking at the stranger who’d already looked away. Something was not right about that stranger, he just couldn’t place his hand on it.
“Can we go now?” he asked the Scavenger.
“Go where?” the Scavenger asked and got up to his feet. He staggered towards Sissy who was serving the strange man. He threw his arm around the large woman’s waist and then waved his hand at the strange man. He laughed loud and then left when the stranger hardly reacted to him.
He was soon back at the table, a frown on his face. He remained quiet for a while, then he suddenly stood up and peered over at Adam.
“What is it?” Adam asked, shifted backwards.
“That’s odd,” the Scavenger muttered to himself, and then glanced at the strange man. He looked at Adam, still frowning. “You know, that strange man wears a black shirt.”
“Are there rules against black shirts in Eden?” Adam asked.
“No, no. Just listen. He wears a black shirt that has that same sign on it,” he said and pointed at the emblem on Adam’s trouser: the white star with a cross in it.
Adam gasped and looked up, feeling his heartbeat pick up. They both glanced towards the strange man’s table, but he was gone.
“We need to leave…” he began to say when a piercing scream echoed through the bar; it was Sissy.
“Get down!” the Scavenger yelled as a small orb, black and metallic, dropped on their table. It blasted off in a second, scattering the table. The lights went out, and the room was immediately covered in thick smoke.
Adam breathed heavily and groaned as he pulled out a long splinter stuck in his arm. He had no idea where the Scavenger was, and he could see nothing except the smoke. He crawled on his hand and knees, over broken glass and wood, straining his eyes to see through the curling smoke.
“I see you,” a voice suddenly called out, hissing through the smoke. “Give up, we only need you alive.”
A hand grabbed him and pulled him under a table, it was the Scavenger. “Shh,” he said and handed him a gun. He also had a gun clutched tightly in his hand, and his arm glistened with sweat as he listened quietly.
Slow footsteps crunched against the broken glass and stopped close to where they hid. The Scavenger turned to Adam and whispered, “ready?” Adam shook his head, but the Scavenger had already risen up. He stretched his hand into the smoke and fired six times, the flashes lighting up the room.
Adam gasped as he watched a dark figure come up from behind the Scavenger and hit him across the neck.
“Behind you!” he yelled and stood up. He stretched out his arm and squeezed the trigger. The figure quickly turned towards him and jumped to the side, dodging the shots.
“Nice try,” a voice came from behind him. Adam turned and swung his arm in a bid to hit the dark figure, but missed. The dark figure grabbed his arm and twisted it, Adam yelled and let go of the gun. He looked into the face of the dark figure as his cloak dropped. He gasped as he stared into the glowing green eyes of the leopard-man.
“You are a stubborn one,” the leopard man said as Ada, struggled to free himself.
“Let go,” he said and raised his free hand. The leopard man caught the blow and was about to say something when his ears flicked and he turned around. The Scavenger struck his face with a rod, loosening the leopard man’s grip on Adam who reached for the sheathed blade on the leopard-man’s belt.
Growling angrily, the leopard-man caught the Scavenger’s arm and bit it, digging his teeth deep and blood spewed out.
Adam watched the Scavenger cry out in pain. He withdrew the blade from the sheath and just as the leopard-man turned to face him, he plunged the blade into his throat. The leopard man threw his arm wildly in the air as he struggled to pull out the blade, gurgling as blood spurted out from the gash. Adam grunted and pushed it in deeper and the struggling ceased. He stood aside and watched he lifeless body drop to the ground.
Breathing heavily, Adam helped the Scavenger up.
“Right, so you’ve repaid your depth, but who the hell are you?”