June 12, 2189
I found it extremely
comforting that the first thing I saw when I came to was my brother
reaching down to pick me up. Considerably less comforting was the
second thing I saw - Jasper's rather mutilated body lying about 5 feet
The ride back to Blythe was a blur of jolting pain and miscellaneous snatches of coherence. From what I was able to glean, the blonde woman with my brother was Jasper's cousin Stark, who I vaguely remember arguing with about my gun and the needle in my arm. When Jasper, who had ridden off after the cavalry, came back with out the cavalry or his intestines, Stark had gone to Blythe found Harry, and thus I was rescued.
Harry drove us back home, to much muttering by Stark, who apparently was of the opinion I needed to be hospitalized. My rather blunt reason of "I hate hospitals" didn't hold much water with her, but I wasn't feeling quite up to a detailed explanation of my medical history. I'd let Harry deal with that.
The explanation was actually waiting at the front door. Dr. Claude Massey, arms crossed and grim-faced, took one look at my current condition and just sighed. A short battle about needles and sedation ensued after he and Harry had gotten me into bed, but it was more out of tradition, because at that moment, I couldn't have fought off a fairy.
The good doctor sewed me up, but without the usual running commentary on my injuries. When he finished, he gave me a long, unhappy look. "You have to find a different line of work."
Not having caught on to how serious he was, I shrugged. "Come on, Doc. It's not like I lost anything vital... well, except for Jasper..." The image of his crumpled body rushed back, and I barely contained the shudder that came with it. The kid had deserved better than getting killed trying to help me...
Claude's face screwed into this expression of shock and annoyance, and I belatedly realized just how cavalier my comment had sounded. Criminy. You'd think that after 30 years of patching me up, he'd realize I didn't mean it that way. My sedation-muddled attempts to explain myself only made it worse, and the doctor finally threw up his hands. "You have a death wish."
It was a moment before I realized what he meant, and I sputtered a denial. Really. If I had a death wish, I sure as heck would wish it upon someone else.
Harry came by not too long
after to borrow a shirt for Stark. He didn't say much, a sure sign he
was trying very hard not to scold me for ending up like this. I
almost asked him if he thought I had a death wish, but decided against
it. After what had just happen, that might just give him a coronary.
Instead, I told him to send Stark up.
Sedation does bad things to my manners, which I claim as my excuse for demanding the return of my gun as soon as she opened the door, instead of a more sociable greeting.
She handed it back empty, and after a moment's hesitation gave me the clip to. I loaded it, chambered a round, flipped the saftey on, and slid it under my pillow.
"Much better," I sighed happily as I gestured for her to take a seat. She looked about my age, though as conversation progressed, I found out she was about thirty years younger than I. It was the first of a series of things about me that she had a hard time dealing with, apparently.
I got the feeling that under different circumstances, we'd probably get along swimmingly, but I think our rather unique introduction wasn't the best for facilitating friendship. Neither was the fact that I was drugged to the gills and talking like a crazy person. I make a much better impression when not drugged and bleeding profusely.
She left some indeterminate time later, and I let the drugs pull me into sleep. Better that than face the deep and dirty introspection I knew I'd end up in if I stayed awake.
It was dark when I awoke
again. The wind moaned through the eaves, rattling the window frame. I
shivered, and only in small part due to cold. I pulled the down quilt
higher and tried to go back to sleep, but the wind's wails continued to
send shivers down my back. Hot chocolate, I thought to myself, fixes all
ills. Unfortunately, the fact that I couldn't even get out of bed because
I hurt so damned bad put the kibosh on that plan.
I was toying with the idea of waking Harry or Murray when I heard something scrabbling outside my door. The hair on the back of my neck went up as I tried to reach under my pillow for my gun, but my body was not cooperating. Then the door, door frame and part of the wall sort of caved in as nine-feet of Beholder made his entrance.
He grinned at me, dragging something in behind him. "I brought you a present," he chuckled, dropping Jasper's eviscerated body next to my bed. Genteely licking Jasper's blood off his claws, he commented, "I thought it awfully gallant of him, charging off like that to get help. So much for the great Cecily Greyfalcon. Can't even protect an innocent young man like this one." He nudged Jasper's body with one large foot, and it flopped obscenely over onto its back, empty eyes staring at me accusingly. "But what do you care? He probably just had a death wish. You can't be held responsible, can you? But you are responsible. You made a vow to protect poor souls like him from dark things like me. And look at you now - all hurt and helpless... No use to this poor boy, were you?"
My nerves practically snapping, all I wanted to do was leap out of the bed and rip the bastard's head off, but I couldn't move. I couldn't even breathe. I struggled to make my limbs work, even to move a finger, a sense of panic growing in me. And Hakthla could see it all.
Laughing gleefully, he reached towards me. "I thought I'd just go ahead and take your heart. It's not like you have any use for it..."
I was half-sitting up, pain
searing though me where I had pulled at the stitching, but the gun in my
hand was rock-steady, aimed on a place where nothing stood.
A dream. A bloody, thrice-damned to all hells dream. Taking a few deep breaths, I slowly pulled my shaking finger away from the trigger, noting that I had even turned off the safety. Gingerly, I laid back, trying to banish the image of Jasper's empty eyes staring at me. "I made a vow, all right," I muttered as I thumbed the pistol's saftey back on. "And here's another one. I am going to hunt you down and obliterate you, if it's the last thing I do."
As I drifted back to sleep some time later, I thought absently about my conversation with Claude earlier that day. If I didn't have a death wish before, I guess I have one now.