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Old 04-17-2017, 05:19 PM   #138
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default This is my Boom Egg?

Cherry Bell and Chase Taylor step outside of the front central building of Manhanock Asylum. Taylor expected to see armed guards outside the main entrance, sharpshooters for the SRT team, but evidently, Warden Tyrrell had been in too much of a hurry to detail anyone off for overwatch. Taylor can spot a man outside the barracks some three football fields away, limping on a bad leg. He’s got a large rifle with a scope, but isn’t looking through it.

It’s after midnight and while the night is clear, it hasn’t snowed for almost two weeks, so the frozen ground is shades of brown. No chance that anyone with normal vision can spot two people walking from a thousand feet away. Cherry Bell doesn’t even glance in the direction of the barracks and Taylor doesn’t think it serves any purpose to tell her about the guard.

Whether it’s the shock of Dr. Cotton’s death, a sense of anti-climax or some side-effect of hypnotic suggestion that has upset Bell and caused her to abandon her usual flirtatious, airheaded act, it hasn’t altered her uncanny physical grace. While she seems stressed and tired, she still moves swiftly, with perfect assurance, almost soundlessly, like a predatory cat. She’s holding her assault rifle ready to engage any threat. By contrast, Taylor shuffles along with painful, leaden steps, with no weapon at the ready, appearing neither alert nor capable of much exertion.

As they move past the corner of the building they exited, they can see G Wing up ahead. Taylor clears his throat and speaks in a low voice. He doesn’t look at Bell and his voice is flat, uninflected.

Taylor: “Sherilyn… You okay?”
Bell: “I’m fine.”
Taylor: “Upstairs, ya done said you couldn’t recollect Dr. Cotton’s name. That really so?”
Bell: “I guess I can’t remember some things. Like who that dead guy was or why I was angry at him.”
Taylor: “Dr. Cotton were your doctor for the last five years or so. You don’t recollect nothin’ ‘bout him?”
Bell: “Not really.”
Taylor: “What about all that stuff he made you do? You don’t recollect none of it, neither?”
Bell: “I don’t really know, do I? If you want to know, do I remember him doing stuff like abusing me, [screwing] me, then no! I don’t remember anything like that. And I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. So maybe just stop asking! I’m really fine not knowing that stuff.”
Taylor: “I’ma talkin’ about him forcing you to use your powers on them guards. Do you recollect doing that?”
Bell: “Yeah, I guess I do. I just don’t remember him being there. I remember scenes… you know, with like, somebody else present, except I can’t see them clearly. This guy, I guess. When I try to remember better, I still can’t see him. He’s just like this shadow, standing behind me.”
Taylor: “What about today? You recollect today an’ all what’s happened?”
Bell: “Yeah, Chase. I don’t think I forgot anything except that nasty guy, probably because that’s what he wanted to happen.”
Taylor: “But you’s still clear on what to tell folk who ask about today an’ the rest o’ your stay here? So nobody is gonna figure out about your talents?”
Bell: “Yes! Damnit, Chase, I know better than to tell people anything about my [fornicating] mind-control powers! We already talked about it and I already agreed not to mention it!”
Taylor: “Ain’t that simple, Sherilyn. They’s gonna interview everybody an’ if’n you tell a story that don’t match what they hear from them others, well, they’s gonna be suspicious. You gonna have to go over your story with Doc Anderson an’ figure what everybody else will be saying, make sure you match up with that.”
Bell: “I’ve lied before, you know.”
Taylor: “Never ‘bout anything this important, Sherilyn. They is gonna be real suspicious an’ there’s a lot of guards who might could tell them stuff about you that’s gonna need to be explained.”
Bell: “Well, if you really want to help me, why dontcha do something about those guards, before they talk?”
Taylor: “Naw, Sherilyn. That ain’t gonna happen.”
Bell: “Oh, so you can kill some guy whose name I can’t recall so he won’t talk, but when I tell you about others who are a danger to me, you suddenly can’t help. [fornication], Chase, I thought you were a man!”
Taylor: “I guess I ain’t your idea of a man, then.”

They’ve reached the door on the G Wing building and Taylor uses a key from his guard keyring to open it. With Cherry Bell in the lead, they move through the lobby, into a central corridor and to the stairwell down to the cellar. When they’ve made it down the stairs and are confident that no threats are lurking down there, Taylor moves to the door that leads to the tunnels.

Taylor: “Sherilyn, you don’t like them tunnels all that much an’ you cain’t see down there like I can, ain’t that right?”
Bell: “I guess not.”
Taylor: “Would you happen to care one way or the other if’n them folks down there get hurt?”
Bell: “You know I don’t.”
Taylor: “Then I reckon you ain’t got much reason to be here. I only needed backup in case there were some guards on the way an’ there don’t seem to be any. Might could be a good idea if’n you when to Doc Anderson an’ them others, see about getting’ your story straight afore them Coasties or somebody else comes along asking questions. An' maybe get some rest.”

Cherry Bell looks at Taylor for a while, but if there was anything she wanted to say, she thinks better of it. Taylor, usually able to read every micro-expression of those he speaks with, does not seem to pay any attention to her.

Bell: “Fine. Sure. Whatever. Could have saved me the trip.”
Taylor: “You mind Doc Anderson real good an’ don’t underestimate them folks at Onyx Rain. Take care now, Sherilyn.”

Taylor walks into the darkened tunnels beyond the blast doors, still unarmed, stiff and tired. He’s heading for the Mens’ Room, where Bob the Orderly and the patient he was with, Cindy, were hiding before they met them earlier this evening. If they are lucky, Bob will still be there with the other oderlies and the low-security patients from I Wing. Cherry Bell watches him disappear into the darkness and then scoffs, turning away.

The tunnels are almost completely dark, but there’s enough dim light getting in somehow for Taylor to get around. Faint sounds indicate the presence of life in the tunnels, rats and insects and suchlike. There’s also a lingering odour Taylor will never ignore again, the acrid smell of rodent urine. Listening carefully for breathing or footsteps, Taylor reaches for his radio and flicks it over to Channel 16.

Taylor: “Bob? You there? I'ma coming to fetch y’all.”
Bob: “Who’s that?”

Taylor can hear Bob speaking less than a hundred feet away and a second or two of listening confirms that he’s surrounded by a crowd of people trying to be quiet. Taylor keeps walking as he talks into the radio.

Taylor: “It’s Chase Taylor. Warden Tyrrell ain’t in charge no more an’ it’s safe upstairs, but I reckon it ain’t so safe down here, nohow. I’m right around the corner, jes’ now.”

Through the fog of fatigue, Taylor can hear more than just the breathing of the people in the Mens’ Room. There is also a lot of tiny clicking or scratching sounds, what Taylor fears are probably extremely small claws hitting a stone surface as rats move around. He can even identify a mass of small creatures breathing in unison, no more than a hundred and fifty feet down a corridor. And they are moving toward them. As Taylor comes to the door, he can see Bob’s anxious face peering out.

Bob: “Thank God, it is you!”
Taylor: “I don’t wanna alarm nobody, but you get ever’body to that blast door right now!”
Bob: “Right. Okay, people, we’re leaving. Everybody grab their buddies and let’s walk, chop, chop!”

Taylor helps Bob and the other orderlies count off patients for some ten seconds, but listening to the ominous sounds of tiny paws and lungs moving closer, Taylor realises that the huge mass of rats he hears will be upon them well before they can walk to the blast door. He moves out into the corridor between the refugees and the rats. Looking back at the line of refugees, Taylor addresses Bob.

Taylor: “I’ma sorry to scare them, but you gotta make ‘em run, Bob. Run to that blast door an’ lock it after you when you get there.”
Bob: “But…”
Taylor: “There’s rats following. You want them rats to get out?”
Bob: “Then run with us. We can all make it!”
Taylor: “Ain’t no time to argue, Bob. You run an’ you save them folks!”

Taylor’s last command is delivered in more or less the same monotone voice he’s been speaking with since Dr. Cotton’s death, but it’s delivered with such absolute certainty of purpose that Robert quickly obeys without even stopping to wonder why. He shouts at the patients and other orderlies to run, get to the cellar doors as fast as they can. Only two of them have flashlights, the orderly leading them and Bob at the rear, but as it is a direct route down the corridor, they manage to get all the people shuffling in the same direction without leaving anyone behind.

Taylor moves in the opposite direction, toward the oncoming horde of rats. At first, he tries to convey non-aggression through his idea of rat body language, but when it becomes clear to him that the tide of black fur is going to rush past him, he jumps to block the first runners with a leg, stamping in front of them and frightening some of them back.

The corridor is not all that wide, but it’s wide enough so that the rats can pass if they are willing to take casualties and the horde regroups into a two-pronged formation. Reaching into his pocket, Taylor takes out the M67 grenade he recovered from the barrack kitchen. Lifting it up so that all the rats can see, Taylor takes another step toward the rats.

Taylor: “Listen up, you rat sons of biscuits! You lot know what this is? I’ll jes' bet you do.”
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Last edited by Icelander; 05-22-2017 at 04:54 AM.
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