Friday, August 6, 2010

Chapter 17

The Team Departs

After the meeting at the planning table, the Dreadniks scattered.
Spencer departed to procure a bottle of Tullaxiffan, Bear and Dom volunteered to go get the syringes, while Wes, Woodrow, and Rak were sent off to get the raw meat with which they intended to sedate Braneegan’s gallanashes. Kitty and Corrina were already set for night watch duty that evening, so they just lounged around and did nothing. Edward and Kevin had a scouting expedition later, so they did the same (Kevin took the opportunity to take a long nap). Peggy and Mike got permission from Jon to go run down a few of the fourteen names and addresses on the pages they had ripped out of the phonebook earlier. Callie intended to go with them, but decided instead hang around with Jon.
She followed him up to the third floor, with its empty offices, dusty with disuse; up another set of stairs to an unlocked door, which they pushed through, to get to the roof.
“Wow, you can see far from here.” Callie said, squinting in the sunshine.
“Yeah, I like to come up here sometimes, and relax.” Jon said.
Callie walked to the edge and looked down. She noticed there was a ladder built into the side wall that could be used to climb down to the ground; it was painted the same color as the building.
“Funny, I never noticed this ladder until now,” she said, “The idiot who decided to paint it the same color as the building practically camouflaged it.”
“I was that idiot.” Jon said, joining her at the edge, “And that was the purpose.”
“Oops! Sorry!” Callie said.
“That’s okay. Most people don’t see it unless they know it’s there, or are really paying attention.” Jon said, “And that’s how we want it.”
He led her away from the edge, to a pair of lawn-chairs. A beach umbrella was set behind the chairs to shield both from the sun. Its top was pockmarked with bird droppings.
“Charming.” said Callie.
“We really ought to clean that every once and awhile.” Jon admitted.
They sat down.
“Can I ask you something?” Callie asked.
“Do you really think we’ll be able to get the wagon out of Braneegan’s place tonight?”
“If I didn’t think so, we wouldn’t be taking the risk.”
“You sound confident. Do your plans usually go off without a hitch?”
“No plan ever goes off without a hitch.” Jon replied, “Certainly not the complicated ones. The trick is to have people on the team who can improvise.”
“Don’t you ever get nervous?”
“I’m always nervous before a Febwith.” Jon said.

The two continued talking, unaware of the figure that arrived just then at the doorway behind them. It was Corrina, and she watched and
listened to the two of them chat with the cozy comfort of old friends…or lovers.
        It maddened her to no end.
        She herself was never able to even approximate the level of comfort these two had talking, and she knew Jon a hell of a lot better than Callie did. Yet, she was a mess whenever she tried to hold a conversation with him; a stuttering, stumbling mess. In her mind she sounded suave and self-assured; then she would open her mouth, and her voice would betray her, making her sound silly and immature. Childish, even.
        A hand grabbed Corrina’s shoulder.
        Startled, she whirled about, hand to her mouth to stifle a squeal.
        It was Kitty.
        “Dammit, Kitty!” Corrina whispered, as she closed the door, “You scared the hell out of me! Don’t do that again!”
        “Ooooh!” Kitty said, “Are we spying on someone?” She opened the door a crack and sneaked a look at Jon and Callie, “Oh… I see why you’re pissed off. That Callie chick is with your Jon.”
        “That Callie shank, you mean.”
        Kitty and Corrina walked down the stairs to the third floor, where they could talk without being overheard.
        “Where does that shank get off coming and taking Jon away from you?” Kitty said, “Who the shig does she think she is?”
        “It’s all that stupid Rak’s fault, Gods damn him!” Corrina said, “If he hadn’t brought them here, Jon would be that much closer to falling in love with me!”
        “Yeah!” said Kitty. She personally didn’t think Corrina had a snowball’s chance in hell with Jon, but she loved selling Corrina her own fantasy back at her, knowing that one day that dream would be punctured. The bigger the bubble, the bigger the boom when it burst; and that was something Kitty did not want to miss when it happened. She did this out of an innate cruelty, though she really did like Corrina and thought of her as a friend. It’s just that she loved melodrama; and she so loved mind games.
        “You have to help me Kitty!” Corrina begged, “You have to help me find a way to get rid of her!”
        “I don’t know, Cor. If you get rid of her, that’ll get Jon angry at you; then he’ll never fall in love with you.”
        Kitty was pleased at the trapped animal look in Corrina’s face. Corrina was faced with opposing problems she did not have the wherewithal to solve, and Kitty loved every minute of it.
        “C’mon, Cor. Let’s go to our room.”
        Kitty put her arm around Corrina’s shoulder like a good friend and led her down the stairs to the second floor, and their room. She looked forward to working on Corrina’s fears some more.
        Who knows? Kitty thought to herself, Pushed hard enough, Corrina might just freak out and kill the shank!
        She smiled at the thought, Wouldn’t THAT be fun!

        In five hours, Mike and Peggy checked out seven names on the list. The two Longstreets, they checked first. E. Longstreet turned out to be a man, while Liza Longstreet turned out to be a nice, if senile, old widow; who insisted on feeding them cookies and milk as she told them the same story, three times, about how her husband died.
        The five Shales they tried consisted of: two young single women who happened to be distant cousins living in the same building; a married couple; a young man whose name, Elizar, had been misspelled on the phonebook (as Eliza); and an actress who had changed her name from Shlak to Shale for her hoped-for career in films.
        When they finally made it back to the Wherehouse, exhausted and disappointed, it was already six in the afternoon. Edward and Kevin had already left to their scouting mission, and Spencer had already prepared the raw meat and syringes for the Febwith.
        “So how’d it go?” asked Jon. He and Callie were sitting alone at the eating table. The remains of supper were still being cleaned up.
        “It was a bust.” said Mike, dejected.
        “But we still have seven more names to go.” said Peggy.
        “Have you eaten yet?”
        “Yeah, we stopped at a place.” Peggy said.
        “Well, we leave in about an hour, so make sure and get some rest until then.” Jon said, “Both of you.”
       Peggy and Mike went upstairs, and into Peggy’s room. From the sounds, it’s doubtful those two ever got around to getting any rest.

An hour later, they all assembled in the main room; those who were leaving, and those who were to see them off.
“Okay, let’s double check.” Jon said, “We got the meat bags and the fishing pole. Rak, you have your lock picking tools at the ready?”
“Yessir.” Rak said. He held up what looked like a doctor’s black bag, and shook it; the things inside jingled and clinked.
“Wagon keys, Woodrow?”
Woodrow wiggled the keys in affirmation.
“I have my Tullaxafax shot, does everyone who’s supposed to have one, have one?”
“Got mine.” said Mike.
“Likewise.” said Callie.
“This is it then, people.” Jon said, “Let’s go!”
“Good luck!” Bear said to them as they left.
“Don’t get yourselves eaten!” Dom added.
“Take care of yourself, Mike.” Peggy said, and gave him a kiss.
The Febwith Team departed.

One by one, the Dreadniks left behind went up to their rooms. Kitty and Corrina, of course, had night watch duty, and were expected to stay up all night. Bear was the last to go. “Wake me when they get back.” she said, and went upstairs.
Later, when she thought she was alone (Kitty had wandered upstairs for a bit), Corrina went to the table where Spencer had prepared the stuff. The bottle of Tullaxiffan was still there, as was the plastic gallon of water which held the diluted amount. What was in the syringes Jon, Mike, and Callie had taken with them was drawn from this gallon. Beside it, was the box of syringes with needles Bear and Dom had acquired. The box was still mostly full. Corrina took one syringe from the box and removed the protective cap over the needle.
She filled it with Tullaxiffan; not from the diluted batch Spencer had mixed, but straight from the bottle. A killing dose. She recapped the needle.
She turned, and saw Kitty there, looking at her.
For an uncomfortable moment, the two looked across the room at each other without saying a word.
Then, Kitty smiled.
Corrina smiled back, and went upstairs to their room, where she hid the syringe for later.
“Just in case.” she whispered to herself, “Just in case…”


K said...

Despite having pegged Corrina as a mean girl, something not very difficult to do, I did feel just a little sorry for her...up till now. This willingness to "kill" Cassie is a bit uh, overkill. ;) But she isn't half as scary as Kitty. She has her sharp claws hidden well. Good chapter Laz.
Also, I'd like to bop everyone else over the head for not sensing this bit of craziness. I mean the evil vibes coming off Cor and Kit have got to be almost palpable.
And for goodness sakes! Mike and Peggy certainly haven't wasted a second, have they?
I'm enjoying this!
Hope you'll drop by H&T sometime. Thanks for adding me to your blogroll!

lazlo azavaar said...

Thanks for the comments, K! Yeah, I see Mike and Peggy's relationship as more pragmatic than Callie and Jon's, which is more traditionally romantic (if chaste). On the other matter, Corrina is indeed overboard, because Kitty knows how to feed her fears and stroke her ego. She is a true monster in a way Corrina isn't. As you say, she keeps her claws well hidden. The others have little conception how twisted that relationship can go.