Disclaimer: I do not own any part of The Postman, nor am I making any money off of this story. I do own some of the later characters and request that if you should happen to want to use her or anything that is of my own creation in any of your stories, to ask for my permission first. The excerpts are from the screenplay written by Brian Helgeland and Eric Roth (4 November 1996) and is based off the book by David Brin
P/L: What if Bandit #20 hadn't died? What kind of role would he play in the restoration of the United States of America? Well why don't you read and find out?
The Postman 11 January 2005
The last of the great cities died when the Postman was a child. Another victim of yet another war. The plagues followed. And the terrors. The living hid themselves away in tiny hamlets in hopes of surviving whatever new madness conspired to rob them of the little that remained. The Earth itself had fallen prey to chaos. For three years a dirty snow fell that even summer could not erase. The ocean was barren. Poisoned. Near death.
Shakespeare fell through the tall grass and into the clearing. He turned his back against the sound of the river behind him. Just then Bandit #20 stepped into the clearing, a satisfied grin on his face. It was the look of a young child who had just tattled on someone for cheating on a test. The two stared at each other for a moment, both panting slightly.
Then Shakespeare said, "Let me go. I don't want to be part of your Army."
Bandit #20 hesitated, running the possibility through his mind. Then the last part of what Shakespeare had said struck him as being funny. He gave a small laugh, giggling, "My army. I like the sound of that."
Shakespeare gestured with his knife at the unarmed conscript. He shook his head, seeing the look of greed returning to the kid's eyes. Shakespeare pleaded with him, "Don't."
His sweeping grin widening, Bandit #20 looked over his shoulder, yelling loudly, "I got him! Over –"
He didn't finish.
Shakespeare lunged forward, driving his knife into Bandit #20's gut. Bandit #20 blinked at Shakespeare in surprise.
"I'm sorry," Shakespeare spoke quietly, lowering Bandit #20 to the ground.
Sixteen long years passed before the great lungs started working again. The Postman said it was as if the ocean breathed a great sigh of relief…
Bandit #20 staggered towards the river's edge. Blood seeped between his fingers as he clutched the slit in his stomach. Hot tears ran down his face, hanging briefly on his chin before falling into the tall grass that he was wading through. Long streaks of blood were left on the plants, leaving a clear trail of the wounded. The pain was incredible. It would send jolts of sharp jabs from his lower abdomen all the way up to his chest. There the pain spread through his lungs and tightened around his esophagus.
Bandit #20 wanted nothing else other than for the pain to go away.
His feet sank into the wet sand. Bandit #20 came to a halt. His eyes traveled over the fast pace water that was snaking through the rugged land. Beyond the river's edge was a world unfamiliar to Bandit #20. Even if he somehow miraculously survived his wound he wouldn't be able to survive on his own. He would succumb to the elements faster than an execution.
There were the Holnists, Bandit #20 thought hopefully. But that would be ridiculous, he knew, going back to them. After all, they had wanted him to die in the first place. During the training they had hoped that he would have had a training accident or be so fatigued that he would have dropped dead. But no, he had survived and pushed on. And now, instead of impressing them with Shakespeare's capture, Bandit #20 had gotten himself seriously injured and had lost him. The Holnists would just kill him.
It would be their easy excuse for his death.
Maybe with some luck he could find Shakespeare. But then again, it was Shakespeare who had stabbed him in the first place. What would he want with a treacherous snake like him? Bandit #20 continued to sob; the pain was increasing and he was finding himself getting rather dizzy from the blood loss.
And what was it that Shakespeare had said to Woody? Something about wind and dying. Bandit #20 thought for a bit. The pondering was cut short by a sudden driving pain that tore through his stomach and sped through his chest. Bandit #20 dropped to his knees, crying out through jerky sobs.
A sudden spasm seized Bandit #20's spine and he collapsed on his back. The pain then began to subside, giving the young man a moment of calm. A strange sense of peace was drifting over him. Bandit #20 gazed at the sky above him. A lone cumulus cloud with zero vertical movement hovered perfectly in the placid sky. It wasn't going to rain (for now) and in fact, it was just clearing up.
The Postman's words flooded his mind. He had asked Bandit #20 to come with him; to leave the Holnists and escape to freedom. But Bandit #20 had foolishly declined, clinging to his foolhardy notion that he was actually a part of something grand, the Holists.
Holnists, what malarkey. The band of rugged thieves, murderers, and rapists loved their notorious reputation. There was nothing they loved more than harassing the peasant folks in their hamlets and robbing them of their riches. Of course, some Holnists didn't mind treating other members of the clan as horrible. In fact, Bandit #20 was the smallest and weakest one there so he was the target for most harassment.
The only one of them who had ever treated him decently was Shakespeare. Even after taking his cigarettes, eating his deceased mule, and ratting him out to General Bethlehem, Shakespeare still offered friendship and a chance to escape. No one, for the life of Bandit #20, had treated him with such humanity.
Bandit #20 knew that he had made a grave mistake, not accepting Shakespeare's offer. Now he would never get the chance to be a part of something. He would never get the chance to experience the freedom that Shakespeare had spoken of.
He closed his eyes, whispering the last words that Woody had repeated to Shakespeare, "Blow, wind. Come wrack. At least we'll die with the harness off our back."
Then Bandit #20 slipped into unconsciousness. He didn't hear the sound of a couple of Holnists approaching him. Not even the blood-curling screams of Idaho being eaten alive by the lions awoke him. The Holnists gave each other a grave look. Who knew just how close that lion was and if that lion was killing for food or for pleasure. They certainly didn't want to find out.
They regarded the still figure of Bandit #20. As far as the Holnists knew Bandit #20 was just like Idaho, deceased.
"Should we take him back?" the second Holnist inquired to the first.
"What for?" the first demanded, looking sharply at the second. "This lazy half-timer was going to have a training accident anyways. General Bethlehem could care less about the retrieval of such a lazy bastard like this one."
The second gave a short nod in agreement with the first.
The first laughed, "Looks like Shakespeare could fight after all. I bet if Shakespeare was one of us General Bethlehem would have sent him his personal thanks in getting rid of this boy."
"We can't leave him out here," the second stated, looking at Bandit #20 and feeling a tad bit of sympathy for the unlucky bastard.
"Then what do you suggest?" the first snapped. "How would you like to be the one to carry his corpse all the way up that hill, across that broken bridge, and then personally deliver it to General Bethlehem?" The second looked perplexed. "The General will just have us toss the kid over the cliff anyways."
The second waited a beat, then asked, "So what do we do then?"
"We'll do the good General a favor," the first replied, pushing Bandit #20 into the river with his foot. For a moment Bandit #20 stayed unmoving against the current. Then he proceeded to drift into the open water.
The two Holnists watched as Bandit was carried downstream. It wasn't long before Bandit #20 had vanished from sight. Either his body had sunk below the water or the current was exceptionally swift that day. It didn't matter though. The two Holnists were eager to get away from the lion's hunting ground. They quit the area, heading back to the other Holnists across the river.
But what those Holnists didn't know was that there was a small, thriving hamlet just a few miles down stream who were unknowingly going to intercept their discharged soldier. And from there, a new, unsuspecting hero would be awakened.