Monday, April 3, 2017

Manus Inicere

     He threw his head back, rolled his eyes, and then sharply focused on the speaker whom he asked, “what? Not interested in excuses.” Shaking his manacled wrist and pointing his finger around the room, Adonis said, “well, look around. I don’t know where the fuck we are or how the fuck I got like this,” he shook the chains holding both wrists to the hospital bed. “So tell me. How the fuck am I supposed to care?”
     “How? How? This is your fault!” the irate pock-faced man yelled from his bed. “You set us up!”
     Tapping his keys on the bars, the guard grunted, “shut up, Gorrie.”
     “Wasn’t me, boss,” Gorrie called from his rack across the room.
     “Sure,” the guard nodded, “and, I’m a rainbow butterfly unicorn kitten. Shut your trap!”
     “Didn’t know animals could talk,” Gorrie muttered.
     “Didn’t know ‘shut up’ meant ‘keep talking.’ You want me to make my presence felt?” the guard yelled as he grabbed his crotch and shook his bulge at Gorrie.
     Knowing when to act was one of Gorrie’s talents. Knowing when to shut up was not. “Like a flea on a dog,” he mumbled.
     “WHAT?” the guard struggled to get his key in the lock. “What’d you say to me?”
     “Nothing, Officer Baker. I swear,” Gorrie pleaded as he squished himself into the furthest corner of the hospital bed. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
     “That’s what I thought! You little bitch!” Officer Baker smacked the steel with his keys, “don’t make me come in there.” He glared at Gorrie with the same contempt found on an attack dog waiting a kill order.
     Partially hidden under his covers, Gorrie looked ‘the scared child’ with his blankets pulled under his chin and his face obscured by a naked elbow. “I won’t, boss. I won’t,” Gorrie chanted.
     “That’s what I thought,” Officer Baker repeated. He dropped his hand, stepped back from the door, and then disappeared behind the wall to Gorrie’s right.
     As soon as he was gone from view, Gorrie stood up on the bed, grabbed his pecker and shook it vigorously, while mouthing, “feel this? Bitch!” He dropped back down, then looked at the other prisoners. “What?” he whispered.
     The acne scarred man with the broken knee stared across the room and over Adonis. When he had Gorrie’s undivided attention, he said, “‘wasn’t me, boss’?”
     “What? He’s gone, ain’t he?”
     “Well, there you go,” Gorrie interlaced his fingers over his head, and then pulled his hands down. He wriggled into his pillows and his hands, before rolling his head to the right, and whispering to Adonis, “I know who you are.”
     “Good for you,” Adonis hissed. He had lain as still as possible during the guard’s little tantrum. He might not know what happened between Points A and B, but he certainly knew better than to volunteer himself up as a practice bag for a nut job hoping to beat someone to death. How do these whacks even get hired? Half of them ought to be locked up. For just a moment he genuinely wondered if he could do something to change the hiring process. For just a moment. Then, he began struggling against the handcuffs.
     “Stop,” the calm, familiar voice ordered.
     “You,” Adonis countered, hitting his arms against the bed rails.
     “Stop or die,” the unperturbed Inquisitor ordered as he tried various keys in the lock.
     Freezing, Adonis stared. He lowered his hands and sunk back onto his pillow. Well. It was a good run old boy. He sighed. “What are you doing here?” Adonis asked.
     “I could ask you the same,” the Inquisitor stated. He jiggled the key and pushed on the steel bar above the lock. When he heard the click, he pulled the key out, and shoved the door aside. “You owe me.”
     “You owe us!” Gasoleo practically shouted.
     “Quiet!” the Inquisitor commanded.
     “As you can see, I was unexpectedly detained.”
     “Check’em,” the Inquisitor motioned to Jougs, who scrambled around an empty bed to investigate the other Misters. The Inquisitor asked, “should you be unexpectedly released?”
     “I’d honor the deal,” Adonis answered. He shoved his shoulders into the pillow and squirmed until he’d adjusted it.
     “With interest?”
     “In reason.”
     “Don’t trust him,” Gasoleo warned from his bed. “He had us followed.”
     “Both contracts in full. Plus, a tithe off the two,” the Inquisitor smiled. “Due now.”
     “The first contract remains outstanding,” Adonis objected, sitting upright a little too quickly. The world spun, his stomach sunk, and the Inquisitor became a vague black spot. He grabbed the bed rails and hung on.
     The Inquisitor laughed, “aye. And, thus it stays until I’m paid.”
     “Fine,” Adonis said waving one chained hand and rolling his eyes, “fine. Get me to Rainboy’s and you’ll get yours.”
     “Rainboy’s is out.”
     “What? That’s where my money...”
     “That’s where your crazy acolytes hole up waiting to handle your problems,” the Inquisitor shook Adonis’ blanket covered feet. “You pay and we have no problems. Understood?”
     “Yes,” Adonis hissed. “Those ‘acolytes,’ as you call them, are the keepers of my accounts.”
     “Report,” the Inquisitor commanded Jougs.
     “Butano’s out. Face busted. Broken ribs and fingers. Gasoleo’s got a broke knee.”
     “You’re kidding me.”
     “No way they’re crawling through,” Jougs stated, shrugged his shoulders as he glanced at the infirm men. “Maybe Gasoleo.”
     “Give them the choice,” the Inquistor authorized Jougs with a nod.
     “Alright,” Jougs said, turning towards the unconscious Butano.
     “The choice?” Adonis asked.
     “Do you want to die?”
     “What’s wrong with you?” Gorrie asked. He’d managed to keep quiet through so much of it. But somehow, spectating was not enough. He had to open his mouth. “I mean seriously? Do you really go around asking that?” Bobbing his head back and forth, Gorrie mouthed, “‘do you want to die.’”
     Gripping Gorrie’s throat, Vorant asked, “do you want to die?”
     “Oh. I see,” he choked out, nodding yes and saying, “no.”
     Forcing Gorrie to look across the room, Vorant said, “do you see?”
     The glint of the dagger flashed. The steady thrum of overhead florescent contrasted the not so gently burbling life stream of Butano. “I see. I see. I see,” Gorrie chanted as he nodded.
     “See quietly,” Vorant ordered, letting go of his throat.
     “Time,” the Inquisitor tapped his watch, and then circled his forefinger. He motioned to the doorway, “gentlemen, follow Mister Vorant,” as he watched Jougs clean the knife on Butano’s blanket and Gasoleo fall off the bed.
     Furiously shaking his handcuffs, Adonis growled, “I can’t follow him.”
     “Oh,” the Inquisitor snorted. He quickly flipped through the key ring, until he came to the handcuff key, which he promptly used to free Adonis. “Jougs,” the Inquisitor called, “go with.” Behind him, Jougs and Adonis disappeared; before him, Butano bled out and Gasoleo poured sweat as he hobbled from bed to bed. “Mister Gasoleo?”
     “Eh,” he picked his head up, stuck his neck out, and waited.
     “An honor, sir,” the Inquisitor slit the outstretched neck. He cleaned his knife on the nearest bedspread, and then walked out of the hospital room. Mister Gasoleo stumbled, bounced off Adonis’ bed, and then collapsed into a gurgling heap.
     Down the hallway, Adonis stared around Jougs. When the Inquisitor appeared alone, Adonis glanced at Jougs and then stared at a spot on the floor. Two gone. Killed their own. Oh, fuck me. Fuck me. Adonis held his tongue as they shuffled down a couple hallways and passed by three dead guards. They stopped in a short of hall and Adonis really had to hold his tongue. He silently watched as the duumviri removed the vent cover. After Vorant slid into the vent, Adonis stopped chewing his cheek and reevaluated his chances for survival. Through the various bends of the air ducts he continued with the reevaluation. At no point during the process did he feel 100% about their chances. He did however feel 100% better taking the chance on escape, than risking the certainty of death. Treason. He sighed. Have to get to the Monks before the news spreads. If I can convince them... Though lost in his thoughts, he recognized the section of tunnel when they dropped out of the duct nearest a bricked over door. It’d take some movement for him to really know where he was, but certain eras were notorious for using specific building materials. So, anyone who spent enough time exploring the tunnels could develop an ability to recognize the tunnel’s tells. Every chance he got, he contemplated the virtues of making a break for it. The thought never made it far, before necessity pushed it out of the way, causing him to focus on the next bit of tunnel. Heart of the Seven Faeries. The thought hit him and he exhaled. Of course. Never one to waste perfectly good irony, he laughed.
     “So. Uh. Where are we going?” Gorrie asked. He stole peeks over his shoulders, alternating with each step. “Uh. Where are we?”
     “Ask another question,” Jougs said.
     “What?” Gorrie asked. He was promptly thumped in the back by Jougs. “Ow.”
     “Gentlemen,” the Inquisitor intoned.
     They moved through the concrete halls with purpose. The collective click-clack of their footware slapping concrete worked like a metronome. Each walked on in silence, thoughts their own, their eyes darted everywhere. Adonis huddled into his entirely too thin hospital gown, held the back closed with one hand, and desperately regretted not locating his shoes. Vorant calculated distance to the naked guy. Jougs wondered if it was too late for Plan C. Gorrie feared for his life. And, the Inquisitor congratulated himself on possessing the skills required to pull off a regicide and jailbreak. After countless steps, they made it back to the Interrogation Room. The sound of the door opening jarred the sleeping cat who lay curled in the woman’s lap. As the door opened, the cat darted across the table, over the broken glass, and into the shadows next to the wall in the Observation Room.
     “How in Iphi’s High Heaven…?” the Inquisitor asked.
     “What the fuck?” Jougs and Vorant asked.
     Adonis and Gorrie stuck their heads in the doorway, but neither man understood why they’d be so upset over an unconscious woman.
     “Where’s the naked fella?” Jougs wondered.
     “We do not have time for this,” Adonis stated.
     It took restraint, but the Inquisitor did not punch Adonis. Instead, he pointed to the woman, “untie her.”
     “Oh come on, boss,” Jougs complained.
     “Untie her,” the Inquisitor repeated. He stuck his head out the door, checked up and down the hall, and then paced a few feet into the room. He tapped his foot, knocked his knuckles on the table, and exhaled heavily. His eyes kept returning to the Observation Room. Holding up a fist, he left the Interrogation Room and reappeared holding open the Observation Room door. Standing there quietly listening, the Inquisitor strained to hear and see, but the room was vacant. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, and closed the door. A moment later he stood in the Interrogation Room doorway, “let’s go.”

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