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Then There Were Three (part 10)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Tukiko called ahead and was eventually put in contact with Dr. Ducas at the orphanage. She brought him up to date with the situation and arranged to meet him there.

Joe noticed the kerfuffle going on outside the dining hall. The Union bigwig who had led the invasion of his factory yesterday was standing outside the store room which his people had taken over, and was giving rapid fire instructions to some of his minions. Something was up, Joe thought. He hoped it wasn’t more cases of typhoid and pushed away a disturbing picture of his little daughter Anneka that had been creeping into his thoughts lately. It was bad enough the uncaring disease seemed to have settled on the orphanage and its inmates. The idea of it touching his family left an uncomfortable feeling in the pit of his stomach. He got back to work; it was a distraction from the things he couldn’t control. Twenty minutes later, however, there was another kerfuffle in the hallway.

This one got Joe’s attention partly because of the ginger head bouncing up and down trying to see through the small window in the dining room door, but mainly because of Tukiko’s unmistakable voice just out of sight behind.

Doctor Troy gave the three kids strict instructions to stay in the car. She wouldn’t be long, she told them. Finny, Casper and Onetooth looked at each other, then bundled out of the car and Followed the Missus doctor lady into the building.

Upstairs, Dr, Ducas had assembled his team. Besides himself, there was a pathology technician, who was just so glad to be getting away from looking at fecal smears for a while, and four Union patrolmen who didn’t care where they were or what they were doing as long as they got paid for it. Into this, Doctor Troy arrived, followed a few seconds later by the thunder of feet as Finny and company joined her. The glare the young doctor gave them had about as much affect on the three orphans as a summer rain shower. They’d been glared at by the best, by people who had real threats to back up the glare. They just smiled at Tukiko with the standard look of ignorant innocence they were still young enough to get away with. When the missus doctor lady turned back to the other grown-ups, Finny turned her attention to trying to see if anyone she knew was in the dining hall so that she could make them aware that she was out here doing grown-up stuff with the doctors.

Doctor Troy brought Onetooth to the attention of Dr. Ducas with a smile and two gently but firmly placed hands on the little boy’s shoulders.

“Onetooth, here, has kindly agreed to show us where the patient has spent a lot of his time prior to being infected. Apparently, it is somewhere secret that they go to play together.”

Dr. Ducas, however, wasn’t smiling.

“Very good Doctor, Troy, was it? So good of you to bring the boy to us. Well take over now and you can get back to your patient.”

The smile stayed fixed on Tuki’s face.

“You don’t understand Doctor, I’m coming too.”

“I’m afraid that won’t be possible, Doctor. We have a large enough team as it is and I’d hate for such a pretty girl to be put into any unnecessary danger of infection.”

Tuki took a breath to let the Union doctor know just what she thought of that when Finny piped up.

“Me too! I’m coming.”

Casper was quick to join in.

“If Finn’s going then I’m coming as well.”

Both Dr. Ducas and Doctor Troy voiced the same opinion.

“Out of the question.”

Finny jabbed Onetooth on the arm.

“Tell ‘em.”

Onetooth rubbed his arm.

“If Finn an’ Casp don’t come then I’m not gonna show you.”

Just then the dining room door opened.

Joe had quietly crossed the dining and had stood out of sight of those outside. He’d heard all he needed to know. Now he turned to the little six year old who had been bullied by the other members of Joe’s team into asking him if they could have a rest. The look on her face told Joe the familiar story, he had that effect on kids. Being careful not to smile, he passed her the piece of paper with all the names on it.

“Here. You’re in charge. Tell ‘em I said so and they better not slack off.”

The he pushed through the door to make his presence felt on the other side. The look on the little girl’s face was priceless. She turned to go back to the others with a grin way too evil for her cute chubby cheeks.

“And if you think I’m letting my employees out of my sight to go with you and your Union goons,” Joe said, letting the door swing shut behind him. “You’ve got another think coming, matey-boy.”

The whining pleas of “But the quarantine!” coming from Dr. Ducas as the ensemble stamped downstairs to the waiting vehicles fell on very deaf ears.

Joe and Tuki climbed into the front seat of his battered green tonneau and the three kids scrambled over them into the large free space at the back.

“Right, shortstuff.” Joe said, starting the car. “Where to?”

A large part of New Flagstaff had been almost totally destroyed in The Fall and the rubble of what was left had lost its stark image of devastation under the soft green blanket of a century or so of vegetation slowly claiming back the land. What remained now were rows of little hills with maybe the odd ivy-covered wall or rusted steel frame to remind anyone of what had once been there. It was also an area not frequented by the locals.

Besides the flora reclaiming what had once been its untouched wilderness, the local fauna had moved back in too, to take advantage of the high weeds and ferns that were always the first things to grow after man’s buildings came tumbling down. Take a look at any bulldozed site in your own neighborhood that has been left for a year or two and you will know what I mean. Now the area was home to an enormous population of birds, insects, rodents, and the predators that fed on them… and the bigger, nastier predators that fed on them.

It was through this terrain that the three vehicles bounced and weaved as they followed Onetooth’s less than certain directions. Eventually, though, the new bruises they would all have were rewarded.

“We’re here!” Onetooth shouted, and the cars came to a thankful stop in a place indistinguishable from all the other humps and clumps of tangled undergrowth they hand driven over, around and on one occasion through to get wherever here was.

Comments

Canni Belle's picture

(( "You have another think coming" .. I love that... go Joe!))

One minute your calm, the next your shooting someone in the face, then your doing your chickendance. If that is not chaos I dont know what is - Aiid

Veronica Volt's picture

Where did the car go? over there! *follows the story*



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