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Rolling Thunder
(© Biswapriya Purkayastha)

Page 1

Grim Rippers MC, says the sign on the red brick wall, in large black letters on pale grey. The letters are stylised Gothic, set below the club logo of a hooded skull and crossed scythes. Itís evening, just after dusk, and the skull glows faintly luminous with phosphorescence.

"It might look cheesy," Iíd been warned, "but do not be tempted to laugh. Not even to yourself. There is nothing funny about these people." As though Iíd needed to be told that.

Itís a strange place to have an outlaw biker clubhouse, in this fairly upscale residential district with its tree-lined streets and neat houses with well-tended little gardens out front. Itís an especially strange place to find this particular kind of biker clubhouse. These streets were built with family cars in mind, modestly fashionable vehicles hushing by unobtrusively to work or shopping at the malls downtown. Nobody probably ever imagined theyíd echo to the pulsating beat of V-twin cruiser engines. But then thereís nothing usual about the people inside those walls. Nothing at all.

There are motorcycles parked in a double line on the small concrete court by the gate, along with a couple of pickup trucks. I glance at them, counting quickly; there are about fourteen or fifteen. Not a full house then, because some of these will be associatesí and prospectsí bikes, but still a fair number of the full-patch members will be here tonight. I can imagine them on the other side of the wall, and Iím sure a couple of sets of eyes are watching me at this moment, sizing me up, and more likely than not checking to make sure Iím the one they expect.

Despite my training, I feel my tension rising, and pause a moment to get myself under control; but not too much, not all the way to base-level calmness. Theyíll detect my nervousness, of course, and to some extent theyíll be expecting nervousness. Nervousness is normal under these circumstances. But theyíd react as suspiciously to outright anxiety as they would to a dead Ė if youíll forgive the pun Ė calm. Theyíre as sensitive to atmosphere as hunted wild animals, and they can be as dangerous as one of those wild animals when brought to bay.

Iím ready for my role, I tell myself, once again. I wonít screw up by making some stupid mistake. I repeat it quickly, so that I know itís true, and walk up to the gate.

The owner of one of the sets of eyes Iíd known were watching me steps out of a small wooden cubicle next to the gate. Heís a big man with a round hairless head, shining in the light pouring down on us from the floodlight on the gatepost. He crosses his beefy arms on his white T shirt and stares at me silently.

"Iím expected," I say after it becomes obvious heís not going to make the first move. "Iím..." for the briefest instant I have a shaft of panic when I canít remember my code name, but then it comes to me. "Bill," I tell him. "Bill Butcher. Roggy one-percenter invited me."

For a moment he doesnít react, his stony expressionless eyes gazing into mine. Then he holds out a hand. I fumble my ID through the wire mesh to him; he takes it without a word and disappears into the cubicle. After a couple of minutes, thereís a faint hum of an electric motor and the gate begins to slide open.

The big man reappears, and speaks for the first time. His voice is harsh and low, as if it is an effort for him to talk. Perhaps it is. "Roggy will be here later," he says. "Youíre to go in and wait."

"All right. What about my licence?"

He stares at me. "Youíll get it back when you leave. Rules of the house."

Iíd been coached to look out for any attempt to intimidate or dominate me, and to resist from the outset, but it seems counterproductive to raise a ruckus before even getting into the clubhouse. So I shrug, turn away and walk up the steps to the door, which looks very heavy, as though itís sheathed in metal under the wood. More likely than not it is.

Itís already opening, and another man appears. This oneís surprisingly small, barely up to my shoulder, and thin, almost spindly, which makes me instantly wary. His short stature means he must make up in other attributes what he lacks in centimetres. The club can pick and choose its members Ė it isnít hurting for candidates Ė and it recruits only the best. He grins up at me, a feral smile with a lot of tooth and little else.

[ Continue to page 2 ]

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Genre:Living Dead
Type:Medium length story
Rating:8.21 / 10
Rated By:39 users
Comments: 4 users
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