Serial Saturday: Road Trip, Part 20

“That was impressive,” Laurent said. He took a few steps away and set her shotgun down on one of the easy chairs, then turned back, looking at her with what JT thought was a curious expression. It was hard to tell through the blurriness.

“That was your first time, obviously, and I can tell you it takes a while for the effects to ease,” Laurent said. His voice was muffled, and JT felt a wetness on her cheek. She managed to get a hand up to the side of her head and stared dully at the blood mixed with sweat on her fingertips for a moment.

“It’s worse to play it,” Laurent said. “He knew that. Or guessed it.” Laurent gestured as he spoke, and JT looked where he was pointing to see Israel, still curled in ball on the floor. Dead, for all she knew. She felt a bit like she ought to be dead herself, and wondered vaguely if something had happened in her skull that would kill her soon. Everything hurt so much that she almost wished she could just slide into unconsciousness, at the very least. But it wouldn’t do to be unconsciousness in the same room as the man now pacing back and forth across the room. Not that she wasn’t pretty much helpless anyway. But maybe she could get herself together, if she had a few minutes.

Laurent had paused over the corpse of the Old One. “As I say, impressive,” he said. “But inconvenient. I had a plan for this thing, and the T’chkhyala would have handled it.” He crouched near the corpse, and JT had to look away to avoid throwing up; just the thought of being that close to it hurt her to think about.

“Still, maybe for the best,” Laurent said. “The Sat’triaa, of all things. Not an easy thing to control, and I don’t find the T’chkhyala enjoyable to use, even now.”

“Even now?” croaked JT, somewhat surprised that her voice still worked. “You saying you didn’t just kill me with that thing?” She had an idea that she was talking too loudly, with her ears working as badly as they were.

“Hmm? No, not with that. You’ll recover, I imagine. You did better than Israel, the first time he heard it.”

“You played that thing for Israel?”

Laurent smiled. “Oh, it isn’t like I wanted to.”

JT let her head fall back against the table leg, and brushed more blood off her cheek. Her shirt was stuck to her back with sweat, or what she hoped was sweat.

“Lying fucker,” she muttered.

“Yeah,” Laurent agreed. He stepped over to where Israel lay curled on the floor and nudged him with his toe. “What do you think we should do with him?”

“I don’t fucking care anymore,” JT muttered. She felt like she should be angry at Israel, but her main concern at that moment was the fact that she didn’t even feel up to standing while a lunatic paced the room.

“So what did he tell you?” Laurent asked. “That we’d just be willing to give this up? That we were holding it for him?” He gestured with the flute as he talked, and JT winced as it got closer to his mouth.

“He didn’t tell me anything about you,” JT replied. “I think he might have actually forgotten about you, until we showed up.”

Laurent paused in his pacing and looked down at Israel. “Really?” he asked. “You think?”

“Fuck, I don’t know,” JT replied. “He never mentioned you, and he seemed surprised to see you. You heard him.”

“That’s true,” Laurent replied thoughtfully. She could barely hear him, when he quieted down like that–it was like she had cotton in her ears.

“How come your fucking ears aren’t bleeding?” she asked, as much to buy time against the look in his eye as anything. There was a bit of blood running down his chin, though, she noticed.

“I’ve adapted.”

“Yeah, I know how the Old Ones adapt people,” muttered JT.

Laurent went still. “What was that?” he asked, his voice almost too soft for JT’s clogged ears.

“The Old Ones change people, themselves and with the shit they leave lying around,” JT said. She got a hand on the floor, tested it to see if maybe she could push off and stand up. Not yet.

Laurent’s eyes widened, and he stalked forward. “I’m not like those things,” he said, much louder now. “Not something that gets twisted. I changed the Old One!” He stabbed at his own head with an index finger. “It’s in here, and I control it!”

He spun and took two steps to snatch JT’s shotgun from the chair where it lay as he shoved the flute into his pocket. “You dare to tell me that I’m one of those crawling, rotting things. I’ll make you crawl.” He stepped close, looming over JT, and held the barrel of the shotgun against her knee. JT winced as he squeezed the trigger, even though she knew the Winchester was empty.

Laurent gave the gun a curious look and racked the action, then held it against her knee again. “Oh,” he said, and giggled after pulling the trigger again. “It’s empty. Of course.” He turned, dropping the shotgun, and walked toward where Israel’s lay on the floor. “You’re still going to crawl, Jane Temperance,” he said cheerfully, bending to pick up the other shotgun.

JT tried to rise again, feeling the room lurch as she got half up, and falling again. She settled for reaching for her Winchester, where it lay a few feet off. Laurent giggled again as he approached, checking over shotgun he held.

“Now, now,” he said, and kicked the Winchester away. “I’m not going to kill you, not yet. I just want to focus your attention. Lie back and think of Christmas.”

“Christ, I didn’t mean anything by it,” JT said. She flopped onto her back. It was going to have to be the tomahawk. She could barely even sit up, so she didn’t know how it was going to work, but it was better than nothing. She was reaching under her shirt when Laurent suddenly stopped and stood stock-still, head cocked.

After a moment, JT thought she could hear the sound of an engine over the sound of pounding rain coming through the open door, then it stopped.

“More visitors yet,” Laurent said with a grin.

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams


~ by smwilliams on August 20, 2011.