Serial Saturday: Road Trip, Part 10

Israel felt himself beginning to doze off. He was exhausted, obviously, but part of it was that he felt safer than he had for a while. It wasn’t that he felt secure, exactly, but closer to it than he had in days. According to Lucien, there were wards placed around JT’s land, primitive ones made of bone that Lucien was fairly contemptuous of, and in nothing like the density at the home in Kaycee, but they were something. It was also a calming night, warm and moonlit, with crickets chirping in the fields all around. He should have been nervous, so far from people–JT’s nearest neighbor was almost half a mile off across a brushy field–but he wasn’t. Or no more nervous than anyone in the society was, pretty much full time, anyway. Even with a bright gibbous moon above them, he could see thousands of stars if he leaned back in the lawn chair that sat out in front of the trailer.

The aluminum door of the trailer slammed shut behind him. He was still staring up at the stars, but a moment later he heard the creak as JT sank into the chair next to him.

“Here,” she said. He glanced over to see the faint glimmer of moonlight on a beer can she was holding out to him. He took it and popped it open, hearing the echo of the hiss from JT’s chair.

“So,” he said after a sip. “Are you coming with me?”

“Ain’t decided yet,” JT replied after a moment.

Israel took a sip of his beer, and set the can on the ground next to his chair. JT didn’t make any further contributions to the conversation, and after a while he felt his eyelids sliding shut.

They snapped open some time later when a bright light washed through them. He blinked several times, then glanced to his left, seeing his Pontiac and JT’s pickup in the headlights of the new arrival, just before the light blinked out. The engine of the car shut off a moment later. Israel could just make out several doors opening on silent hinges in the moonlight.

JT’s driveway was mainly dirt and weeds, and everyone exiting the car shut the doors quietly, so everything played out with almost no noise. Three figures slowly came through the moonlight across the yard, spreading out slightly as they came; two men and a woman. Israel couldn’t make out any of their features, but he knew all of them.

For several seconds, the three stood, faceless silhouettes looking down at him and JT. Then there was a flicker of flame that briefly lit up Trevor’s angular face and thin beard. The light faded to the glow of a cigarette as Trevor flicked his lighter closed.

“Jane Temperance Quinn,” Bryce said from next to Trevor. “Of all the people to flee to, Israel.”

“We know you, Jane Quinn,” said Angela in her high-pitched, tremulous voice. “We know your works.”

“We know your mother, too,” Trevor said.

JT took a sip of her beer. “You three always talk like a fucking chorus?” she asked.

“You aren’t a real Blue Candle, Quinn,” Bryce said. “The rest of your society knows Israel is a disease. They know to leave him to the Ba’ahd’char now that he has disdained your protection. You may not be a true Candle, but you should know to stay away.”

JT turned her head toward Israel, the blond part of her hair bright in the moonlight. “You didn’t tell me you had Badgers tagging along after you,” she said.

Israel shrugged.

“What has he promised you, Jane?” Bryce asked. “What’s he told that you think is worth your life, worth the agony you’ll suffer?”

JT turned back to regard Bryce’s shadowy form, and took a sip of beer.

“You’ll scream until you have no voice,” Bryce said. You think you know what the Old Ones can do, but you don’t know the horrors you’ll experience. Just walk away, and maybe you’ll live a while longer.”

“I’ve heard a lot of shit from a lot of Badgers,” JT said. “But I can’t recall ever taking your orders.”

“She’s irrelevant,” Angela said. “Her mind is weak. She’ll snap at the first sight of the things you can call, Bryce. Like her mother.”

Next to him in the dark, JT took a long breath and released it through her nose.

The end of Trevor’s cigarette glowed brighter, then dropped away from his face. “We could take care of both of them right now,” he said. “End this nonsense.”

Out of the corner of his eye, Israel saw JT tilt her beer back, draining it, then set it down next to her chair. All three of the Ba’ahd’char facing them stiffened, and Israel glanced over at JT, starting himself. She was holding a shotgun, that he assumed must have been sitting next to her in the shadows since she brought out the beers. There had been no noise as she picked it up, no chambering of a round, but he suspected that was unnecessary.

“No,” JT said. “No, you really can’t finish it right now.”

Bryce’s grin glittered in the moonlight. “We don’t want to finish it now,” he said. “Trevor was just getting a bit over-enthusiastic. We want the T’chkhyala. You can’t tell us where it is if you’re dead, Israel.” His chin tilted up a bit. “Iyala G’hrad Tchitik,” he said.

Out of the corner of his eye, Israel saw JT raise her shotgun to her shoulder. “I figure I got about fifty-fifty odds of one of the society’s tame Sheriff’s deputies rolling up if I shoot you three. Even better odds of no one calling the cops at all. I hear one more word of Old Tongue I’m going to roll the dice.”

Israel was pleased to see that what Bryce had said had mainly just pissed JT off. A lot of people would have gotten very wobbly upon hearing those three words.

“We shall go,” Bryce said, his shadowy form making a small bow. “But the hounds are coming, Jane Temperance. You will have made a great many of the Ba’ahd’char happy by stepping away from the protection of the Blue Candles. There will be no repercussions, no matter what we do to you, if you side with Israel.”

He and the others backed away for a few steps, until all three were hard to make out, except for the glow of Trevor’s cigarette, then turned. In a few moments they had reached their car. Israel noticed absently as the door opened that they’d turn off the dome light, possibly just for the effect. The car started and backed out onto the road. A moment later, it had disappeared beyond a dip in the road.

JT had laid the shotgun across the arms of her lawn chair, and Israel had the impression she was staring thoughtfully into the night.

“Fuck it,” she said at last. “They got me curious now. We’ll leave first thing in the morning.” She leaned back and stretched her neck. “Where are you staying?”

“I was kind of hoping I could stay here for the night,” Israel replied. “Feels a bit safer than a hotel.”

Copyright © 2011 SM Williams

~ by smwilliams on June 11, 2011.