Monday, September 3, 2012

Rue: Perdido Part 2

Lookin' Up From Six Feet Down

For the first time in weeks, my optimism wasn’t entirely misplaced. There was no trouble getting past the guards at the gates. There were no guards at the gates. There were no gates. The sign at the main entrance lay in splinters on the ground as blood dribbled out of the guardhouses in sticky streams.

“That certainly makes this easy.”

“Easy? What’s easy about this? People are dead!”

“True enough.”

“Aren’t you going to pull over and look in on them?”

“No. Amy’s already done that job for us. There’s no point in inspecting extra dead bodies right now.”

“Why not? Don’t they deserve equal treatment? Don’t they deserve…”

“Mr. Hatter, Rick, please. This is something that you need to understand. They are corporate employees. The only people with jurisdiction in this city to touch them are their corporate sponsors. We’re here to trespass into a war zone to try and determine the details of you and your family’s death. I’d prefer not to head back to work in four days with East Fredricksburg wanting me dead for being here.”


“I understand your concern. We need to take things one step at a time. Once we get in here, we’re going to have to abandon the car and get inside the visitor’s center if it’s still standing. I don’t see the Corps spending unnecessary resources building something new when that would work just fine as a base. From there, we may be able to figure out where you were buried. This isn’t what I’m about Rick. I don’t wage wars. I’m a cop and I try to figure things out.”

Hatter nodded and was silent. Amy stared at me from the passenger seat. I downed two more packs of Pro-Tabs and drove through the gateless entrance and tried not to look at the guardhouses where bodies were lying. Amy had whispered their conditions into my ear. The guards had been left in pieces, torn apart by claw and tooth. It was worse than the mess the Fiddlers had made.

As we passed into Perdido, I realized that the war that was being fought here had long left the realm of the living. The narrow cobblestone road that wove between the reptilian ridges of tombstones around us lolled before us like a tongue. The graves to either side of us had been excavated. Some were old holes, some looked fresh.

But every single one of them was empty.

“Doesn’t look like you’re the only one having trouble sleeping Rick. Rick? Rick?”

He had brought his knees up to his chest and was shivering in the back seat. His face that had been so deathly had grown ever more pale. Dark rings were slathered around his eyes as he turned his porkpie hat over and over in his hands.

“These things aren’t supposed to be real. They aren’t supposed to happen.”

“A lot of things happen that aren’t supposed to.”

“That’s not what I mean!”

He was shouting and his words rang through my ears, ricocheting wildly around the car.

“Rick, calm down.”

“Calm down? How in the hell can I be calm? I’m a youth minister on my days off Mr. Chadwick! When I had days off anyway. I taught everyone about the world working in mysterious ways, about the grace of God, about…”

I stomped on the brakes and the car ground to a halt.

“Stop. You’re talking about something completely different here Rick and it’s time you got familiar with it.”

“Morgan, don’t be so hard on him.”

Amy’s hand touched my arm. It was cold. So cold. Cold as she always was. Cold as she would always be.

“No, he needs to hear this. Rick, whether this fits your concept of reality or not, it’s happening. If you have faith in whatever you believe in, you go right ahead and find ways to explain it as such. I’ve got no problem with that. But I don’t want to hear any damned nonsense about this not being possible. It’s possible and it’s happening. No one thought The Second Salvo would really fall. No one thought the Sleepers or Judges could exist. No one thought Morelli would turn his nephew loose on the city to rape and kill whenever the kid asked. This isn’t about what people expected. This is about what is. Plain and simple. You wanted to be mayor of this place, right? To help clean it up? Then keep your eyes open. You may be able to do something useful yet.”

Rick was nodding, his entire lanky frame still shaking. He was terrified and I was yelling at him. It wasn’t right but it was what was needed.

“Morgan! Someone’s alive!”

I swiveled in my seat and looked out the front window to see the headlights illuminate a guard wearing an East Fredricksburg uniform limping out of the smog towards us.

“Rick, you stay in the car. Amy, let’s go see what’s going on here.”

The guard was in a standard blue jumpsuit and had three bullet holes in his right leg. He was dripping blood as he stumbled towards us. There were days that I wished I carried a service pistol.

Today was one of them.

“You alright?”

The guard nodded and kept stumbling forward.

“I’ll survive. Who’re you?”

“Detective Morgan Chadwick. We’re here investigating several murders. What’s going on here?”

“Same shit, different day, detective. I assume you know about the friction between us and West Worthington down here? Of course you do, otherwise you wouldn’t be keeping your distance.”

I nodded.

“I know enough. Visitor’s center still standing? I need some information about a specific plot. Didn’t really intend to get caught up in Corp politics.”

He cackled and nodded in return.

“Yeah, yeah I got you. It’s just up the road a ways. I can show you how to get there. Any chance you can help me bandage up my leg before I bleed out though?”

I heard a door slam behind me and tried to contain my wince. Why hadn’t you just stayed in the car Rick?

“What’s going on Mr. Chadwick?”

“Just helping out one of the guards Rick. Go ahead and get back in the car.”

I could tell he was fidgeting with his hat. He was just standing there fidgeting with his hat. C’mon Rick, get back into the car.

“Who’s the stiff?”

“Who says he’s a stiff?”

“I do.”

“Why do you say that?”

“I can smell him from here.”

I sighed and nodded, motioning to the car.

“Yeah, he’s a stiff. Now get over here so I can bandage up your leg. Amy, toss me the bandages.”

The guard was almost to Amy and I when Rick spoke. I could’ve slapped him.

“We didn’t bring any bandages did we?”

“Sure we did. Amy, toss them to me.”

The guard had stopped walking, barely turning his head to look over his shoulder at me.

“What kind of bandages you got detective?”

Amy’s hand fluttered and her ring was airborne.

“Silver ones.”

The guard sprouted razors from his mouth, claws from his fingertips, and fur from everywhere else as he spun. My left caught Amy’s ring as I swung for the werewolf with my right. He slipped to the side, claws slicing for my stomach. I caught his wrist and jerked him toward me. His jaws snapped hungrily for my throat as he crashed into me. I staggered backwards and fell, the werewolf falling with me.

His jaws were around my throat as I hit the ground. He hesitated to close them and I knew why. The cold silver of Amy’s ring was ever so slightly touching his spine at the back of his neck. I could smell the little hairs burning on the back of his neck.


Mumbled words of agreement came out of jaws that held my throat. Amy was standing there, shaking her head.

Rick had fainted again.

Maybe that optimism HAD been unwarranted.

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