Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Nine Tenths: 3rd Installment

“Do we look like thieves to you?” Garret asked. It was a rhetorical question. One scan of the three travelers showed them to be in remarkably good shape save for the lifeless limb hanging on the younger man. “You have a Watcher with you. She’s strong enough to keep herself and the others with you hidden. I need to see her.”

The boy was genuinely puzzled and offered a reply. “ I don’t even know what a Watcher …,”

Garret cut him off before he could finish opening his hand and gazing at the gun on the boy’s lap. The boy turned the handle of the gun towards his interrogator and willingly gave him the weapon back. “Time is short for both of us, son. You have one among you that can read minds, dream of things that happen days later, things like that, right?”

This time the boys eyes looked toward the ground as he spoke and the tell was obvious to everyone in the room. “No. No, we don’t”

Garrett had to keep himself from smiling the wry smile that had a knack for making everyone in the room nervous. “You really can’t lie for shit, but I respect you for looking after your own. Now, normally I’m a fair man…um…what’s your name.”

The boy replied almost instinctively, “Kevin”, then put his hand to his mouth; an embarrassing afterthought.

Garret leaned in and put the gun into its holster. “Kevin, I’m a fair man, when I have the time, but right now I have eight minutes. Eight minutes doesn’t give a man time to be fair. In eight minutes the things you have been hiding from will be here, and without your friend’s gifts we, you me, my friends and yours, will die.”

Garret was looking the young man in the eyes; eyes that still had hope even if it believed it remote. The boy sighed and returned Garret’s stare as he hesitantly opened his mouth, painfully searching for the words to betray his own sister. He was spared the humiliation as a low moan filled the room. It sounded inside their heads and a million miles away at the same time. It could have come from a child or a mad animal but either way, it sought to disorient it’s audience, displacing itself like a ventriloquist’s stage trick. Joe tilted his head and brought a small vial of yellow brown liquid out from inside of his overcoat. He raced to a nearby window, it’s stained glass long broken and replaced with the ugly black rot of old wood. He winced as he shifted his weight to stand on the tips of his toes bringing the small glass to catch the moonlight. “ Five minutes, brother. They’re making good time tonight!”

Garret looked down at his watch, shook his head and turned toward the now empty pew. “That went well. “ He could see the outline of the boy racing down the hall, back towards the safety of the basement retreat. The teen was so thin that his clothes hung off of him as though they weighed more than he did. Chris thought he resembled a marionette, almost defying gravity as if the air itself supported his frame. One thing was for sure though, he was quicker than the three had given him credit for and they were almost out of time.

The vial had begun to pulsate an unearthly green when the moonlight had struck it but the glow now subsided as Joe gave it toss, caught it, and swung it into his inner pocket in one deft movement. He threw his thumb over his shoulder, gesturing to the hallway and said, “I’ll go get him, he’s just scared.

Garret shook his head disapprovingly and grabbed the twin pistols from his belt. “No time. We make our stand now.” He was worried, but he had lived worried ever since the incident. It was one thing to know that death is the wild card in the race, it was another to hear the pounding of his cleats against the track every waking moment of your life. Garret chased off his fear and uncertainty with routine as he checked the clips of the 9 mms. Death was moving to the inside and gaining on him. He looked up at Joe who was doing his best with one arm and whistled between his teeth to get his attention. “ I don’t suppose our neighbors downstairs had any brownbottle on them, did they.”

Joe hung his head, he knew what was next. “If I asked, I can’t remember. After the boobytrapped door and the smell that came with it, I sorta lost focus...” He was remaining calm, but the thought of what lay ahead twisted his stomach and churned his nerves.

“That’s too bad.” Joe was as tough as any 22 year old could be, but everyone had their limits, and endorphins could only get you so far. He stepped toward the younger man, still checking the clips, his head down, but steady. Joe took a deep breath and turned towards the window. Somehow he knew if he saw the man do what he had to do, he would learn to hate him. Pain was often a catalyst for hate in Joe’s world and he didn’t want to hate this man. Joe managed a false grin and a half-chuckle, “Guess we best get it done then, eh?”

Garret put his pistols away and put a hand on Joe’s shoulder. “I guess we best.”

A voice blasted from the back of the room and both men turned as the boy named Kevin entered, a young girl with a cream colored nightgown to his left, an older boy in his late teens to his right, and a man presumably in his sixties trailing a few paces behind the group. “Jesus Christ!!! Is that a bone coming outta his arm?”

Garret glared out the boy and nodded, “Yes.”

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