The RV barreled down the sand-covered highway, the gunners tensed and ready to shoot if any neo-pterodactyls swooped down from the pea-green sky. The city was a speck on the horizon, but it was the first bit of civilization they’d seen in days. Dave Mustaine bit down on his cigar and stomped the gas pedal harder. “Hold on, boys,” he hollered.
It was the year 14 AC (“after crisis”). The world was still biting down on a belt, pouring whiskey on itself, and stitching up its scars with a chunk of sharpened spoon. AC London had just gotten running water again, AC New York had finally figured out a vaccine for the prolapse virus, AC Milan was mostly flooded but the radiation had given everyone gills just in time. AC Detroit looked more or less like BC Detroit.
As the RV reached the top of the hill and started going down the other side, Mustaine noticed a truck heading straight toward them! He slammed on the brakes, skidding for a quarter mile and coming to a stop right in front of the truck. “Why do people think that just because society has fallen that traffic laws don’t matter?” Mustaine muttered to himself. The lines on the pavement were clearly marked.
The truck stopped, and the driver got out. It was controversial musical artist Chris Brown. Brown spit onto the sizzling sidewalk and crossed him arms in front of him. Mustaine fumed. “I am gonna RIP Chris Brown a new asshole,” he told his passenger, Miley Cyrus.
“Mustaine! On your way to San Siro? I was just there. It’s a dump,” Brown said.
“Oh, is that why you left?” taunted Mustaine. “Sure it’s not because you’ve gotten kicked out of every crater you’ve tried sneaking into?”
“You’ll fit in just fine there,” retorted Brown. “Everyone there is a mutant with putrified genitalia.” He laughed.
“Get out of our way, Brown,” Mustaine grumbled.
“Why should I? What are you gonna do about it? You gonna shoot my truck?”
“I wouldn’t do that, if I were you,” warned Brown. “Unless you also want to kill your long lost wife who I coincidentally found wandering around AC Atlanta. She is in my truck now.”
Mustaine’s eyes widened. He hadn’t seen Mary Mulgrew since the crisis! They had met two weeks before it hit, in a restaurant called the Heart Attack Grill. Their connection had been instant. You know you’re in love if they don’t have any major personality disorders and their favorite Kanye West song is the same as your favorite Kanye West song. That was his entire criteria for love. It probably would have fizzled out after a month or two had the crisis not hit and the loss of her had made him romanticize her in his head the whole time.
Back then, she had seemed troubled. She would push him away, but then come running back, unable to resist his improvised piano synth love songs he’d play her over the phone. “Lose my number if you know what’s good for you,” she would say, before kissing him passionately.
The window of the truck rolled down, and there she was, half her face missing, but the other half as beautiful as the day he left it. “Forgive me, Dave,” she breathed in her raspy voice.
“Why are you with this guy?” Mustaine asked, his eyes suddenly full of tears.
“It’s my punishment for what I did. I brought about the crisis. I was so foolish back then.”
“So they’re forcing you to date Chris Brown? I know the government has been a bit strange since the fall of civilization, but that just seems to far.”
“They aren’t forcing me to date him, merely to be in his company, and that is still more cruel and extreme than I can bear.” Mustaine walked up to the window. Mary kissed him deeply, then whispered in his ear, “Let us get a hundred yards down the road, then shoot the gas tank.”
“If you love me, you will. End my suffering. It will be a relief.”
Mustaine nodded. He always knew it would come to something like this. He conceded the road to Brown, who, thinking he had won, drove off with a smirk.
At the command of their leader, the gunners took aim, and blew the car up.
No sooner had they done this than the sky turned blue, the stink of sulphur left the air, and Mustaine found himself on a crowded Amsterdam street. Had it all been a dream? Or had Mary Mulgrew actually been a time traveler whose existence caused a parallel apocalyptic timeline which was reset by her death?
It was the second thing.