The Last White Man (Part 1)
Short fiction story by Mason Morrison. Dispatches from collapsed Tennessee.
By: Mason Morrison
I awoke in a daze; it was midnight and I had been camping in the remains of a Jamba Juice inside the long abandoned West Town mall in what used to be Knoxville, Tennessee. After the secession of 2045, Tennessee and the surrounding states had become the Free Republic of Robertson, named after the neo-Confederate lieutenant Max Robertson who’d [REDACTED] inside the headquarters of The New Socialist Front, [REDACTING] commandant XXX during the Bronx offensive of 2038. After the Republic’s forces were defeated by a battalion of NSF soldiers financed by Bain Capital in 2052, the state formerly known as Tennessee was where the first camps were built to house dissidents. The facilities were scuttled after NSF withdrew from the area in 2060 but the fences and building frames remain, rusted remnants of where tens of thousands of neo-Confederates were tortured and executed. I had driven by them on my way to the mall, making my way past the bullet casings and barbwire. My older brother Steven had died in a facility like this. I remembered the night I’d gotten news of the capture of his unit. I saw an NSF flag painted on the exterior wall of the ruins of one of the prison buildings, a symbol I had come to hate and fear since the inception of the organization in 2029 following the assassination of XXX.
I got slowly to my feet. My leg still ached dully where I had been ambushed and shot by an automated NSF drone three days ago while scrounging for rations and ammunition in an abandoned military encampment in the area formerly known as Cookesville. I had been careless and gone out during the day. The drones were solar powered due to the NSFs green energy policy and didn’t operate at night. Luckily, I managed to deploy one of my EMP grenades and while the drone was disabled, I made my escape in my old gas-powered Dodge Challenger which I’d salvaged from a demolition yard where vehicles that ran on fossil fuel were taken to be dismantled in accordance with the previously mentioned green energy policy. I removed the bullet and bandaged the wound after I’d arrived at the mall. I had some of my remaining rations and built a crude camp inside the Jamba Juice. The pain in my leg was intense. I reluctantly took half a tablet of Amednazol, a painkiller with natural ingredients that had been promoted by Joe Rogan shortly before he had been arrested and tried in front of a military tribunal for hosting a neo-Confederate sympathizer known only as SneedGroyper on his podcast in 2031. The pills were extremely hard to come by.
The painkillers worked fine but sapped my energy and gave me some bizarre dreams. It was during one of these dreams that I had first encountered the Demon. But I didn’t want to think about that now. I gathered my gear, a first aid kit, a halogen flashlight, several batteries, a sleeping bag, a 1911 handgun with only three bullets of standard 9mm ammo, an energy field scanner I’d used to detect drones, 4 tins of rations, a makeshift radio I used to tune into pirate bands and try to find anyone who was broadcasting, a hunting knife, a canteen, my three remaining EMP grenades, a canvas rucksack, a small tool kit, my grandfather’s watch, and a few tablets of Amednazol. All my belongings were precious to me and had been very difficult to find, especially after the NSF mandated weapon confiscations shortly after they seized power.
I walked through the mall's devasted skyway and tried to imagine what the place had looked like before the war had started. My father had told me stories of his childhood experiences going to malls, how glowing neon and concrete expanses had seemed to stretch on forever as a testament to 20th century capitalism and the promise of material wealth to all that entered its doors. But here was nothing but a cavernous husk where bullet holes lined the walls, store fronts had been smashed and broken glass covered the floor. A bomb had taken out a large portion of the ceiling, huge chunks of concrete and steel littered the floor below, exposed wires hung everywhere, any piece of metal had long since been stripped out of the building, the lower levels were flooded with ghastly brown water and moss had begun to grow on the walls. It stunk terribly.
I looked inside one of the shops as I passed, it had been burnt out by an incendiary grenade or Molotov cocktail God knows how long ago. I saw figures of obese, gender-neutral mannequins lying on the ground, the flames had contorted their plastic faces into hideous masks. Next to one of the mannequins laid a large banner with singe marks depicting a pretty white woman surrounded by leering blacks. I hadn’t been too familiar with this type of advertising as my parents forbade me and my brother from watching television. My father would tell us stories about how after the NSF was formed a splinter group of black mercenaries calling themselves the Independent African Coalition would go around to what few remaining white towns and villages there were and kidnap women and girls to be used as war brides, anyone who resisted was cut down by machetes or automatic gunfire. The police with their rainbow uniforms and cruisers just sat by and abetted it, their state-backed superiors in the upper echelons of law enforcement considered IAC to be off limits. I felt a twinge of anger thinking about it, and thinking about what had happened to my parents, but anger was just a waste of energy. I needed to be clear-headed, I needed to take time and prepare. My mission was just beginning. My name is Mason Morrison, I am 25 years old, born during the great American schism, and as far as I know, I’m the last white man in America.
I made my way towards the abandoned Kohl’s on the second floor of the mall. There was an exit back to the parking lot on the far side of the store. I had hoped no one would notice my Challenger parked outside, I had been losing blood quickly when I’d arrived at the mall and didn’t have time to properly hide the car. It had been retrofitted to run on ethanol, which was valuable, granted not as valuable as actual gas, which was a rarity since the Jamnagar oil refinery had been destroyed in a [REDACTED] from Kekistani separatists in 2035, but before then a nationwide adoption of nickel-manganese-cobalt batteries for cars had already been mandated. I had brokered a deal with some of the few remaining corn farmers operating in the outskirts of the Robertson Republic. They supplied me with ethanol, I supplied them with DVDs, electronics and salvaged GPUs I came across so they could mine Bitcoin. I noticed the store's sign had been destroyed by what looked like machine gun fire, only the “O” and a portion of the “L” remained. Vines growing from the smashed skylight above wrapped around what remained of the façade, they covered up what appeared to be pro NSF graffiti. More mannequins were scattered about, some wearing tattered remains of clothing, others had been shot full of holes or smashed to pieces.
As I entered the decimated store I could hear footsteps and voices…and what sounded like a woman yelling. The sounds drew closer from the opposite end of the store. I hid behind a smashed display case and carefully watched in the direction of where the voices were coming from. I could make out 5 figures drawing nearer, 4 Hispanic men and what appeared to be an Asian woman. One of the men had his hand clasped around the woman’s wrist and his arm locked around her neck, another man was fondling her breasts and laughing.
“My father already paid you!” The woman shouted; this prompted the group of assailants to laugh.
“Baby we ain’t interested in money!” shouted one of the men excitedly, “We just want your ass! And if your old man was wise, he’d let us take what we want, he knows the price of doing business!”
He produced a large knife out of his jacket and held the blade between her breasts. The woman yelled out and began frantically kicking at him. He backed off with a smile on his face, “Pablo! Time for this bitch to say goodnight!” The man to his left hit the woman in the head with the butt of his rifle, there was a sickening crack and she fell to the floor limp. All four men burst out laughing, the one with the knife kicked her in the stomach hard, she gasped in pain and began groaning.
“Alright sweet thing,” he began, “Time to get my money’s worth…” he knelt on her and rolled her over onto her back, she moaned in protest causing him to backhand her, the rest of the group howled with laughter. From behind the display case, I studied the men, the one kneeling over the woman had a knife, as did the man standing to his right, as for the two men behind him one held a revolver and the other an AR. I weighed my options, I only had three bullets left in my pistols clip, I had to get to my car, hopefully it was still in one piece, I needed to get the fuck away from here. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen something like this, it was a daily occurrence among those unfortunate enough to still call the Republic home, I hadn’t always chosen to intervene either, there had been times when I just couldn’t. And I knew the cost of showing my face to these men. The NSF had a bounty on anyone who looked like me, and they paid well. I shifted in my position and accidentally kicked a perfume bottle. It skittered across the floor and hit another display case with a pronounced thud, I froze.
“What the fuck was that!?” One of the men shouted, the guy with the AR began aiming it in my direction. The guy who was kneeling over the woman pointed his knife at the display case I was hiding behind said, “Pablo go check that out, I’m busy.” Then he turned his attention back to the semi-conscious woman, beginning to cut into her shirt with his knife.
I hit the forward assist of the rifle and began moving closer to my position, I couldn’t sneak back around, they’d spot me, and I knew there was no negotiating with these guys, I drew my 1911 out of its holster and flipped the safety off. From my position I could see a light fixture hanging down near where the group of guys were. Thinking quickly, I booted a nearby mannequin head from out behind the display case, it flew towards a pile of rusted display racks and made a loud crash. Pablo shouted and began firing towards where the head landed. Had to be quick now. I vaulted the display case and fired a bullet at the hanging light fixture, it exploded with a flash and a shower of sparks.
The men began screaming and Pablo was shielding his eyes. I raced towards him. the man with the revolver fired a shot at me, which went wide. Pablo gasped, his eyes grew wide, and he tried raising the rifle at me. I repositioned my free arm and closed the distance, I hit Pablo in the face as hard as I could with my elbow. A jet of blood sprayed out of his nose, I grabbed him by his collar and used him as a human shield. Revolver man fired another shot, closer this time. I threw Pablo’s heavy body as hard as I could at him. It hit him hard and he lost his footing and sprawled on the floor, his head hit the tile with a crack and the revolver flew out of his hand. Rico yelled out but before he could get to his feet I brought my knee into his face, knocking him backwards. As I did so I felt a knife slash my shoulder blade, there was a burst of pain, but I ignored it and wheeled around in time to block another arcing strike with my free arm, from my hip I fired one of my two remaining bullets into the bottom of his jaw, chunks of brain exploded out of the top of his head, and he collapsed in a heap.
“Hey white boy!” came a voice behind me, I turned around to face Rico, who had his arm around the woman’s neck and his knife close to her throat. “I don’t know where your bitch ass came from, but this shit is over now, imma carve this bitch up then imma bleed your monkey ass slow.” I aimed my 1911 at him, but I couldn’t get a clean shot. That was when I noticed the woman had a long shard of glass in her bloody right hand. Our eyes met and, with my gun still trained on Rico, I gave her the slightest nod. She brought the shard down into Rico’s thigh.
He bellowed and loosened his grip. The woman threw her head back and hit him in the face. Then, free of his grip, she ducked out of the way as I fired my last remaining bullet at Rico. It grazed the side of his neck. Rico brough his knife up and charged at me at full speed, I dropped the 1911 and brought my arms up to counter him. He swung the knife at my face. I maneuvered out of the way but could feel the wind of the blade as it slashed the air less than an inch away from my eye. He brought the knife back aiming for my neck, with my right forearm I blocked the strike and managed to get my right hand around his wrist, with my left hand I grabbed his elbow and managed to lock his arm, I brought my right knee into his stomach. Rico let out a woofing sound and began struggling against my arm bar. I twisted his wrist as hard as I could, there was a pop and a scream of pain from Rico as the knife fell from his hand and clattered to the floor.
Still holding his wrist, I brought my left arm around and got him in a head lock. I noticed there was an open section of the Kohl’s floor that was a long drop to the floor below. The safety railing had long been ripped out by scrappers. With all my strength and against his struggling and cursing I dragged Rico towards the opening. I felt his free hand reaching for the knife on my belt. I brought my knee up into his chest and in one motion threw him off the ledge. There was a scream and a loud splat as Rico’s body hit the concrete below, I peered over the edge to see him sprawled out. Before I could turn to check on the Asian girl, I heard the hammer of a run clicking back. To my right was revolver man. He was sneering and aiming his gun at me. “You know how many of you I killed back in the day?”
I slowly moved my left hand towards my knife, not taking my eyes off his gun, I measured the distance between us and slowly started positioning myself to lunge at him. Before I could make my move a shot rang out and revolver man’s head snapped to the side. With his last ounce of life, he squeezed the trigger of his revolver and fired a shot into the floor before collapsing. I wheeled around to see the Asian girl holding Pablo’s rifle with the barrel still smoking.
She lowered it and looked at me, “Those bastards…they did a job for my father…they gathered scrap steel for him…m-my father paid them, but they said it wasn’t enough…they grabbed me and clubbed him over the head…they dragged me here and I don’t know if my father is alive or dead.” I moved toward her, and she aimed the gun at me, I raised my hands.
“Hey,” I began, “I’m not gonna hurt you, you can lower that rifle. I just needed a place to stay for a little while, I’m going to be moving on…I can take you back to your father.”
“How do I know I can trust you?” She demanded, still aiming the rifle at me. “I haven’t seen any of your kind for years, I was told all white men were thieves and liars, I was told it was good you all died out.”
I took a step closer to her and she fired a round at my feet.
“Whoah! Relax!” I pleaded, “You were fed lies by the NSF, so was I, if I was really as bad as you think I would’ve just let those guys rape you.”
At this she lowered the rifle and glared at me, “Fuck the NSF” she said, “Those bastards raised our taxes, when we couldn’t pay, they took our home and forced us to live in this hell hole. They said my little brother was trans…they sent men to our home and…”
Tears began welling up in her eyes, she loosened her grip on the rifle, I took another step towards her, my arms still raised.
“Hey look,” I started, “I want to get those sons of bitches as badly as anyone, they took from me as well, and they said it was for the good of society. I lost so many people, people I loved…”
The girl dropped the gun and looked away from me, tears streaming down her face now. “I just don’t know what to do…” she began, I took off my jacket and slowly approached her, gently placing it over her shoulders. I looked her in the eye and said “You can start by telling me your name.” She wiped tears away from her face and met my gaze.
In a low voice she said “Sakura”.