Alone on Earth (Signal Bend Series Volume 4)(8)

By: Susan Fanetti

grandparents had lived here until they died, within days of each other. His father had joined the Navy right

out of high school and had never moved back home. Bart’s family—parents, brother, sister, and him—had

moved around a lot, finally settling in Kansas City after his father left the service, when Bart was in middle

school. From the time he was twelve until his second year of college, Bart had spent summers in Signal

Bend, helping out on the farm. In high school and college, he’d hung around the clubhouse. He knew these

guys. And they knew him. Wyatt had taught him to ride, and Hav had helped him rebuild an old

shovelhead. His first Harley. He didn’t ride that beauty now, but sometimes he’d go out into the bay it was

stored in and pet it a little. His baby.

After he graduated from the University of Kansas, he’d gotten a straight job in K.C., writing code.

Living at home with his folks. He’d fucking hated it. God, he’d hated it. He’d hated the people, he’d hated

how everything was covered in grey carpet, he’d hated it all. All of it. He’d never been so miserable in his

entire fucking life.

One day, about a year into that hell, while he was sitting in a staff meeting, not listening to some

midlevel fuck droning on about some midlevel policy change, wondering how the universe had managed to

allow writing fucking code, which to Bart had always been like having a magic key to everything, to be so

unbelievably boring, he heard the roar of a Harley. They were seven stories up and locked behind a bank of

stiflingly grey windows, the kind that didn’t open so you couldn’t throw yourself out, but he could hear that

roar like the bike was in the room with him. Nothing else sounded like a Harley. When he was younger,

he’d dallied briefly with the European racing bikes, the Ducatis and BMWs, but then he’d found somebody

online offering the dismembered bones of a ’67 Harley Electro Glide for $200. He’d hauled the parts to

Signal Bend that summer, the summer right before his senior year of high school, and Hav had helped him

build it. It was Harleys from then on.

Which was good, because the Horde didn’t ride anything but.

On that grey day in that grey room, hearing that bright, fiery, ferocious sound, that red-hot sound, Bart

just stood up and walked out. He said nothing. He went to his workstation and grabbed his coat and nothing

else, and he walked out, knowing full well that he was fucking any chance he’d have to get another straight

job like this. And he didn’t care. The next morning, he was on his shovelhead, all the belongings he cared

about in his studded leather saddlebags or in the pack on his back. He headed for Signal Bend. Hav

sponsored him, and he was a Prospect within the week. That was seven years ago. With the exception of a

15-month stint inside for computer fraud, he’d been settled in Signal Bend and with the Horde since.

So he wasn’t an outsider. But he wasn’t quite one of them, either. He hadn’t experienced the deep

decline of the town in any direct way. He’d known his folks were keeping his grandparents afloat, and he

knew most of the farmland his Gramps had owned had been sold off to an agricorp, but not until Gramps

was too infirm to work it. So he’d been no more than a witness to the losses, not a victim. That, if nothing

else, set him apart. He wasn’t fighting for his home the way everybody else was.

But until the shootout that had garnered so much attention from outside the town, no one had treated

him like he was not fully one of them. In fact, going to prison for the club tended to have a cementing

effect—which was good, because his blood family had more or less washed their hands of him over that.

When the town was in decline, he was just one of the guys. He had skills the others didn’t, and he had

interests they considered “citified,” but he felt like he fit in pretty well.

It was the resurgence of the town that had drawn the distinction most clearly. He lived in the twenty-first

century. Signal Bend had been stuck somewhere around 1960. In the past two years, they’d been yanked

forward into the present. And Bart had done a lot of the yanking. Or, more accurately, the Horde had done