The army scout opened his eyes and looked around. He couldn’t see much from his prone position. His heart was pounding, forcing blood through his veins so hard he could hear the slush… slush… slush… sound throbbing through his head and neck. As he tried to move, he realized that he was lying on a slant, his head halfway down into the entrance of the underground way station.
Desperate for air, he gasped heavily, the hot, acrid air burning his throat and lungs as he inhaled. He coughed and the jerking motion made him realize that he was at least partially pinned down by something. Forcing his eyes open, he gazed up into the bloated afternoon sun, partially obscured by low flying clouds.
As he gazed upward, he began to remember what had happened. This collapsed structure he found himself in was the entrance to an underground way station ten miles outside of Nashville. He was on his way back to the capitol after a yearlong exploration of the northeastern states. He’d spent the day underground, protected by the gentle earth from the ravages of the cruel sun (not that he really needed it – when he was by himself, he traveled by day or by night as it suited him since he remained magically unaffected by the lethal radiation).
He remembered that it had been early in the evening. He was the last man climbing out of the dirt tunnel. His mind was filled with images of that dead world north of the Confederacy, of all those magnificent, ruined buildings and highways that would never be used by anyone ever again when the bomb went off, right over the center of the city.
Of course, it blinded him completely, and he staggered backwards and fell over something. Then a tremendous rush of searing hot plasma whooshed through, burning everything and collapsing the roof down on top of him.
The fact that the sun was shining now meant that it had been at least a day since that notable event – maybe several. But, once again, his unusual constitution had interfered to save him. He remembered his skin burning in the hot fiery wind, but it was healthy and tan now, and there was new stubble on his head where his hair had burnt off. That simple fact proved to him that the nuclear destruction of Nashville had been no dream.
He thought briefly of his mother, whom he’d not seen for a year or so. She had been living in Nashville, a consort to the President, Colonel Sattersby himself, so she was probably dead, along with the rest of them. He sighed with a deep sadness as he remembered her lessons on how to hide his unusual ability to heal quickly. Those lessons had stood him in good stead as an adult and a member of the Confederate Army, and now she was gone. He doubted that even she could survive being compressed into that crater that took up most of his view to the southwest despite her special healing abilities.
‘Go to the mountains,’ she’d told him when, at fourteen years of age, he’d been sent to military school with the other children his age. ‘If anything happens, go to the mountains in Colorado. You have friends there.’
There had been an image imprinted in his mind with those words. The image was bright in his mind even now. If there were any survivors in this mad world of death and destruction, they would be there.
He decided to travel by day despite the hot sun. In that manner, he could avoid any human survivors, as they would only appear at night to scavenge and hunt for sustenance. The sunlight played too harshly on their frail bodies for any of them to disturb his daylight travels.
It took almost four months to walk from Nashville to the mountains of Colorado. When the distant mountains became visible, radioactive craters that burned and sickened even his robust constitution seemed to completely surround the place where he knew he needed to go.
Circling around to the south, he discovered a freshwater sea that let him go around the radioactive areas, so he was able to swim along the poisonous landscape until it was behind him. Once on dry land again, he had to cross over the steep mountains, again discovering several nuke craters that he had to find a way around.
The obvious concentration of missile strikes told of a terrible war that had been fought here. Evidently others had known about this secret hideaway his mother had imprinted on his mind so many years ago, and had either tried to get in, or had attempted to destroy it completely.
At long last, he came to the entrance, or at least, within visual sighting of where it had once been. An intensely radioactive crater where he knew the entrance had been brought the finality of mankind’s destruction home to him.
He gave out a great cry, both physical and mental, desperately needing someone to answer him. For a brief instant, he was certain that he’d felt a response, a mental recognition of some sort. But it was just an echo of his grief bouncing off the mountain as did his voice.
Except for a few pathetic survivors hiding away underground, there was no one left anywhere. He could feel in his mind that no one lived inside that mountain. If anyone ever had, they were long gone by now, or they had died, there.
He watched the sun move down and cleave itself against the jagged edges of the land as it set behind the mountains. A deep purple cloud layer formed as the light disappeared, and swallowed up the few stars, the moon and the dancing lights of the aurora borealis as it swept from west to east.
He walked in the near darkness until he came to an abandoned house he had noticed earlier in the dead forest, and spent the night there, listening to the wind and a short rainstorm. There was the sound of crickets before the rain, but no coyotes or wolves. They were gone, too. Only the insects thrived in this radioactive wilderness.
The next morning, he left the way he had come – across the mountain and back to the inland sea. He camped on the shoreline against the shelter of a cliff face and stared out at the soothing, almost unnaturally calm body of water for many hours.
Dani awoke to the sounds of someone tramping along through the dry, dying forest. Lying perfectly still, she delicately reached out and mentally brushed the mind of the strange traveler. She clamped down hard on her emotions as she realized that the man walking by only a few yards away was like her – a lost soul searching with a great longing for whoever or whatever had been inside these mountains.
From Montreal, Dani had felt the violence and the mass killing that had occurred here several months earlier and had come to investigate. She had been orphaned for as long as she could remember, and owed no allegiance to those who had been sharing her living quarters in the last city on the continent.
Why had she come here? She distinctly remembered the powerful mind that had (only momentarily) invaded hers – one that she’d felt once before – before all the strangeness began in her life. The first time had been in a dance club in Montana; a girl she picked up and had sex with right out on the dance floor. The two girls’ minds had magically merged together so that she felt every touch, every erotic sensation in her sexual twin. The sex had gotten so intense that she distinctly remembered actually biting the dark girl’s hairless pussy and sucking her sweet, invigorating blood from the soft, torn folds of her vagina. Their mutual orgasms had been so intense that she passed out completely. When she awoke a few minutes later, the girl, and her companions, were gone.
Over the next few days, Dani had been sick and weak as (she determined this later) her body expelled all the candy she’d become addicted to. Almost a week later, she woke up drug-free and sane. She spent a long time trying to find that dark-haired girl again, even going so far as to stalk that slut-bod and her rich boyfriend who had accompanied the girl to the club that night. But she never found her, or found out who she was, and in a day where information on absolutely everything and everyone was available via the Internet, that was extremely frustrating. It was like the girl simply dropped out of existence.
After a time, she was forced to give up. The slut-bod’s career came to an abrupt termination with ‘Tootsie’ impaled on the wrong end of a suicide-programmed sex robot, leaving Dani with absolutely no leads as to the whereabouts of that ‘special’ girl.
During her long search, Dani had also discovered that she now was, more or less, a Supergirl, of sorts. Any injuries she incurred healed rapidly – almost instantaneously, in fact. After giving up her search, she experimented on herself quite dramatically and came to the conclusion that the only way she could be killed was by decapitation (which she didn’t try).
Over the next thirty years, she became very, very wealthy as Dani Dham – Super Spy. She sure gave that Tomlin Corporation a run for their money. She’d even gotten killed a few times, but that was of no consequence, of course, with her newfound powers.
However, that was all behind her, now, as was the civilization that had supported her in her exotic lifestyle. That mind she’d searched for decades earlier suddenly made itself known to her again – in its death throes high over these very mountains, protecting something that it desperately believed needed protecting.
Stealing one of the last working flitters, she made it from Montreal to Denver before the thing ran out of fuel. Waking up after the crash, she had to walk the rest of the way, and had spent the last two months searching through these mountains for some clue as to what had been here that was important enough for that mystery girl to be willing to die for.
Among other clues, she’d found the wrecked remains of a solar panel and followed the wiring as deep into the mountain beneath her as she could. She’d also found the collapsed two-mile long launch ramp that was obviously used to fire large vehicles into space. She figured that space was where everyone had gone – unless, of course, they were all dead and buried forever inside this mountain, which was just as likely, judging from all the radioactive craters surrounding this place.
The mountain people were either all gone or all dead or some of each. That didn’t seem to matter. They weren’t here. That mattered.
As the strange man who had no more trouble with the sun than she did walked further along, Dani decided to follow him. She didn’t have anything else to do, and his very existence intrigued her. She had thought that she alone, except for the dark girl she never found, was made the way she was. But she could feel in the stranger’s mind that he was like her. Not knowing if he would become friend or enemy, she was certain of one thing: others like her existed, which meant she was no longer alone.
Dani followed the stranger’s movements more with her mind than with her body, seeing no need to keep the traveler in visual range. She could feel where he was without having to see him. She felt his deep despair when he realized that his mission had failed, and there was no one here to find. She felt the half-formed thought of his mother’s people never knowing about her and her offspring, gone forever into the irretrievable past.
As she felt his mind sweep over the mountain longingly searching for an answer to his mental cry, she carefully quieted her own mind down so that he wouldn’t detect her. It was more than a little difficult to do, as she had a desperate need to confront this stranger face to face, or rather, mind to mind, and find out if he was truly the answer to what she had been searching for.
She followed him back to the inland sea and watched as he set up camp. He spent hours gazing out at the volcano that glowed on the far distant shore of that otherwise calm body of water. After a time, when the moon had set, he noticed, out on the water, the same odd phenomenon that Dani had noticed a month earlier – an eerie glow, almost spherical in shape, some distance from the shore where he now sat. Earlier, he’d believed it was a reflection of the moon off the water. But the moon was gone, now, and the ‘reflection’ was still there.
Dani watched in his mind as he drew out a pair of field glasses to better view the odd spherical shape. In the glasses, it seemed as insubstantial as it did from his normal viewing distance She watched as he created a working model in his mind to determine what could be causing the light. She was surprised that she hadn’t thought of that herself when he decided that the light was coming from beneath the water’s surface.
‘There must be a power source down there!’ she thought, suddenly excited. ‘Is it possible they built an underwater dome and are all hiding from the sun down there?’
The excitement gave her goosebumps as she remembered stories and Tri-d adventures in giant bubble domes built sometimes by sci-fi aliens and sometimes by wicked warmongers trying to take over the world from their hidden, underwater bases.
Then she noticed that the stranger wasn’t watching the sphere anymore – he was watching her! Although it was dark and she was certain that she couldn’t be seen, his mind was probing hers with a definite awareness that she was there.
Startled, she leaped halfway to her feet, then remembered that he was at least a half-mile away, and she could easily evade him if necessary. After all, she’d followed him for almost three days undetected, hadn’t she?
Over the next few minutes, Dani brought her fear back under control enough to seek with her mind, again. The stranger had noticed her. Of that, she was certain. But he hadn’t gotten up to come and seek her out. Was he expecting her to come to him?
If he was, then he might have a long wait. Maybe he felt he was just too comfortable to move right at the moment. Or maybe he was more interested in the ghostly sphere of light in the middle of that big lake. Or, maybe he just didn’t care. The people he’d come to find had either left or died. Maybe he was past caring who he found if that someone wasn’t who he’d been searching for.
The stranger’s obvious lack of interest in her was what made up her mind. If he wasn’t going to come to her, then she would have to go to him. Twenty minutes later, she stepped quietly into the circle of light from his campfire. He looked up, not seeming surprised to see her although she was the first human he’d seen for four months.
She looked at him, her mouth frozen shut in a flat, almost fearsome scowl, her nostrils flared as she tried to keep enough breath in her body so she didn’t faint, her legs weak and trembling at the sight of the first man she’d seen since leaving Montreal.
“Sit down,” he said, his voice quiet and sounding quite natural, just like she had just stepped away for a moment and had walked back into the room.
His voice, despite its quiet gentleness, jarred Dani’s senses so that she could move again. Awkwardly moving her head in more of a jerking motion than she would have liked, she looked around quickly, then sat down on a log across the fire from him.
“I’ve been watching you,” Dani said, breaking the silence.
She watched while he listened to her words, then waited for some kind of response. There wasn’t one coming. He just watched her, seeming idly curious.
“You’re looking for the people who were in the mountain,” she said, not knowing why she was throwing away her high cards now when she might need them later. “They’re gone.”
“I know,” he replied, quietly speaking the second phrase she’d ever heard him say.
But that didn’t matter. With her mental abilities, she only needed two sentences from him. Dani suddenly realized that she would stay with this man if he’d let her. After all, it wasn’t like he was the last…
But, he was. And so was she. And, she realized, neither of them had anywhere left to go. Almost as though their minds were somehow already interconnected, she got up and walked around the campfire to sit at his side even as he moved to make room so she could lie against his camping gear while nestled in his arms.
And she didn’t even know his name.
‘Jonathan,’ she distinctly heard in her mind.
‘How did you do that?’ she automatically thought back, then realized that she could do it, too.
He grinned and answered her verbally, “My mother taught me when I was a child. Where did you learn?”
Dani thought for a moment, realizing that this stranger – no longer a stranger, now – this person, man, this ‘Jonathan’, was following her every thought. It felt perfectly natural that he should do this. She felt herself putting her trust into him, and no alarms were going off in her head screaming about the inherent dangers of opening up like this…
She showed him images of the way life had been in the old days, before civilization realized it was dying as it ran headlong into its own insane desires and self-destructive needs, knowing that he had been born a son of the Confederacy long after the end of her world had come and gone.
Jonathon saw the exotic girl who Dani had made love to that night when her life changed forever. He didn’t recognize her, but the girl she had been with – an exotic blond beauty – had, except for the extremely lewd costume, the same general appearance of his own now-deceased mother.
Dani watched as Jonathan climbed out of his underground bunker just in time to be blinded and burnt by the nuclear explosion that killed his fellow travelers and the only family he knew, and brought a fiery end to the Confederacy. With mixed emotions, she viewed the end of his society, much the same as he had viewed the end of hers, some moments earlier.
Her eyes were closed, now, as she knew his were. They embraced in the night, softly kissing and holding each other tightly. The ghosts of their respective worlds would not play havoc in their dreams this night. This night, they would have each other, and they would share their dreams of each other with each other.
Dani moaned as a night-cooled hand worked its way beneath her heavy shirt and grasped her waist. She worked her own hands in under his jacket – as interested in finding out what was inside that jacket as she was in keeping warm. Jonathan chuckled and pulled his hand out from beneath her shirt to wrap his heavy army jacket around them both.
Snuggled down inside the tent of his jacket, Dani felt a contentment that had evaded her all her life flow gently throughout her entire being. She was sure her ‘Jonathan’ could feel how she felt, and that, somehow, didn’t frighten her, either.
Soon, her breasts and belly were bared to his, her pelvis rubbing against his hardness. Then his belt slipped through her fingers and off, and his fatigues were being worked down and out of their way, as hers had already been. At last, his hardness was pressed between her legs and sliding along a certain and well defined warm wetness.
As he slipped inside of her, Jonathan felt her shudder in the first of many orgasms she would have this evening. His mind had reveled in joy at his discovery of this treasure as she had stood across from him, front-lit by the campfire between them. And now, she was one with him – after having spoken only a few words to each other – and he was convinced that she was the one he was meant to find; perhaps not the treasure of his mother’s quest, but definitely the prize of his own.
He held her more tightly against him as he started to move in and out of her, feeling her body respond in a similar fashion as she began twisting her hips to increase the friction of the motion between them. Soon, she was striving for her second orgasm. Though he was aroused, Jonathan’s own body was only now beginning to tingle with the need to come inside her, and he knew he would last awhile, yet. He was in no hurry to end this sexual magic with the girl from his dreams.
They lay together for most of the night, neither of them sleeping as they explored each other’s minds. Jonathan was surprised as he lived through Dani’s wild youth and her dangerous drug years. He was also surprised that the abilities that he had taken for granted all his life could be passed to another with the exchange of that person’s life fluids. He was also stimulated and excited at Dani’s independent nature and her choice of careers once she realized she was immortal.
Dani was surprised at the mundane routine of life in the Confederacy, but was appalled at the second-class status of their women. All her life, Dani had been free and fiercely independent except for her four-year love affair with cocaine and her now-overdosed, long-dead boyfriend who had kept her in need of it. The fact that Confederate women were usually bonded to some male chaffed at that fierce independence deep inside her. She hoped this ‘Jonathan’ person wasn’t planning on enslaving her like that. She would hate to have to kill him after spending a night like this together.
‘Don’t worry,’ he thought into her mind. ‘I’ve no reason to return. The Confederacy is ended, now, and you are with me…’
She snuggled up tighter against him and squeezed her pelvis against his still-hard cock, moaning in pleasure to reward him for his thoughts regarding her. He’d already come twice inside her, and all the fluids leaking out down there made her itch terribly. But she wasn’t about to let go of him now. If possible, she was going to make love to this incredible man nonstop until the sun came up and warmed their tiny retreat. After that, well… we’ll see.
Dani was almost asleep, still gently making love to her new companion when the memory drifted across her mind, letting her know why what she was doing right now felt so familiar, so… right.
Many years before, as a child, she’d fallen in love with an ancient children’s story-song about two tribes; the mountain people, and the valley people who destroyed them. This – what she was doing right now – was her personal solution to the sad ending of that song. The last girl from the mountain lay with the last man from the valley, finally understanding the futility of the war between their peoples.
She could feel in Jonathan’s mind that he felt the same way; only the background story leading up to their tryst was different. He was the last Confederate soldier and she was the last Daughter of the North.
It didn’t really matter. They were each the last of their kind – or maybe the first…
Then she was asleep. In her dreams, she was still making love to him, slowly, passionately, endlessly…