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Götterdämmerung (part 8)

 
Joe Spivey's picture
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Miss Brown’s choice of time and place for their ‘meeting’ surprised Joe. He had expected, in fact he would have chosen, an out of the way place like a derelict roadside store with clear vision all around so that ambush or betrayal of any kind could be better detected. But no. In their brief communication the night before Joe heard the smile in her voice.

“Let’s do lunch. How about that nice little underground bar in Flag? The one that smells ever so slightly of damp from that dinky little pond. Shall we say twelve? No, make that One, I have a few things to do. Oh and if you are feeling a bit vulnerable then by all means bring along some of your friends… But I suspect you won’t want anyone overhearing what we have to discuss. Anyway, up to you. Toodles.”

So here he was. In the busiest part of town, an hour after noon, standing at the door of a crowded bar looking for, Her. That oh so familiar face which haunted his desk, his bureau and even his wallet. The familiar face that now housed a hideous cuckoo soul. And Joe was afraid. For his family, for Tukiko and for himself. Despite what she said about this being just a meeting and despite the men he had positioned above, there was still a very good chance he would become her prisoner, again.

Joe was approached by Marvin, glass collector and sometimes waiter.

“Hey Joe. There’s a lady waiting in a booth downstairs fer ya.”

Joe’s gaze swept the booths until he saw her. His surprise meter flickered at what she was wearing. He had to give it to Miss Brown, she could even make LifeNet fatigues look elegant.

“Thanks Marvin. And just so you know, she ain’t no lady.”

Joe made his way downstairs, looking all around for henchmen. Being in his line of business it was relatively easy to spot such from ‘joe public’. His surprise meter kicked again. As far as he could tell by the time he reached the booth, She was on her own.

“Hello Joseph.”

He slid into the seat opposite.

“What do you want?”

Miss Brown’s eyes glistened.

“Ohhhh, what don’t I want? Power. A world where the natural order allows clones to achieve their rightful supremacy. My own petting zoo? Where do I start?”

Joe had forgotten the teasing, the snarkiness. He sighed.

“What do you want from me in return for the safe return of Tukiko Troy?”

Miss Brown pouted.

“Such a mundane question, but oh well. If that’s all your domesticated little mind cares about.” Her expression changed to one of hard annoyance. “What I want, Joseph, is what you took from me. When I gave you power of attorney over my interests I didn’t expect you to steal them from me.”

She sat back and studied Joe’s face. The man who had been her underling so many years ago had always been hard to read. A poker face, they called it. But the thin trace of sweat beading Joseph’s upper lip told her all she needed to know. He was scared, or at the very least, worried. Miss Brown didn’t have a poker face. Her discovery showed on her own face in the broadest of smiles.

“For your doctor friend, Joseph, I want one million chips…”

Joe’s eyes widened fractionally and he held her own with his glare. But she wasn’t finished.

“Just some cash to set me up. I also understand from my caged little bird that you now own an ammunition factory. In these troubled times I imagine that is quite a profitable asset. So I’ll take that too, along with its associated warehouses of course.”

The cold dread of fear about what handing his factory over to the likes of Brown would mean for the kids that were employed there worked its way up from Joe’s stomach to squeeze his heart in an icy grip.

“That, dear Joseph,” she went on. “Should put you roughly back in the position you were in just before I took you under my wing and taught you how to thrive in this wasted land.” She placed her hands demurely one atop the other on her lap. “Do we have an agreement?”

Joe’s body betrayed him at last as the rising mix of anger and dread wound his muscles up so tightly that he shook. Miss Brown’s eyes blazed in triumph and the pout returned to her lips.

“Oh, look at you. All cross and upset. I’m being kind to you Joseph, really, I am. For what you did to me I should flay you alive, and the little doctor and your wife and your little human spawn. You put me in a hole to rot!”

The rising anger in her voice turned a few heads so Miss Brown dropped to a whisper.

“Sign those things over to me or I’ll show you just what I’m capable of and make you watch every second of it.”

Joe didn’t trust himself to speak. He knew from personal experience what she was capable of. He nodded, just the once. Miss Brown stood up. Joe stared at the empty seat, unable to look at her. She paused, looking disdainfully down at him.

“There’s a good boy, much more like the old Joseph.” She straightened her jacket. “Now then, I’ll go and give the good news to your doctor. Pay for the drink would you Joseph. I’ll be in touch.”

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Hyle Troy's picture

 

Hyle put down her binoculars and rubbed her eyes.

Huyy this is fucking useless.”

The morning had dragged by and nothing, Nada. The passage of time weighted heavily on Hyle as she thought about Tuki, holed up fuck knows where.

Ned paused from his watching and looked at the woman. “Sommat’ll show.” The went back to his surveillance.

 

Another half an hour dragged by until Ned exclaimed “’Ere.. wass’is?”

Hyle focussed again on the door of Diamond Lil’s. She recognised the two men who crossed the street and got into a black car and drove away at speed.

Those two tried to kill me.” Hyle was unsure whether or not it was frustration or plain old gut intuition, but somehow she got the feeling this was the key moment and she went with her gut.

Ned. Get one of the guys on that car”

Ned instantly keyed his radio. “Chuckles! Black car. Follow it!”

Come on Ned.!” Hyle was already dashing down the stairs.

Hyle already had the car moving as Ned slammed his door shut.


Which way?” Hyle barked.

Chuckles. Talk to me!”

The radio crackled “South. Towards Hope.” Hyle could hear the wind and Chuckles’ motorbike screaming in the background.


Whenever Hyle ordered a new car, the first specification was always ‘Fast’. The blue tonneau tore out of Flagstaff heading south. Ned found himself involuntarily clutching the handle on the doorframe.

 

They were hurtling past Hope Springs when they drew level with Chuckles on his bike. He pointed ahead. In the distance Hyle could see a cloud of dust, but to the right of the main road. The car had turned right and was heading up towards the old university.


At the Enforcer post, the sentry had to dive out of the way as Hyle tore past, smiling, politely wiggling her fingers. Ned sank down in his seat, expecting a hail of bullets which never came. Clearly Mayor Troy had influence in this part of the world.


Where the hell are they going?” Ned muttered the question. The dust cloud ahead must have taken the left fork before the university. “There nothing along there except radiation.”


A couple of kilometres past the university junction Hyle slowed the car and eventually stopped. Both she and Ned got out and scanned the horizon. Nothing. No dust cloud, no buildings. Hyle kicked the dust in frustration. It had just gone 13:45

Maybe Joe knows something. ‘Bout time we checked in anyway.” Ned suggested. Hyle tuned to Joe’s frequency.

When Joe answered, Hyle could hear the strain in his voice.

How is it?” Hyle asked.

I’m just met Brown.”

Where, when, what happened?”

Bunker bar, she’s just gone. What are you doing?”

Hyle explained what had happened and where she was. And Joe perked.

I’ll lay my Mums best teeth I know where she is keeping Tuki!”


Five minutes later, Hyle and Ned were laid on their stomachs peering through the grass into a crater and an old Lifenet facility. The black car was parked outside, the only sound was the hum of the building.


The metal doors opened and two men came out of the door, not the men they had tailed, different ones.

They must be changing shifts.” Hyle whispered. “How long before the guys get here?”

I’d give it ‘arf an hour Miss.”

Tell them to out of sight as best they can, Joe reckons Brown is on her way back here as we speak.”

Ned nodded. Below, the black car drove away. Ned and Hyle, now joined by Chuckles resumed their watch.


The rest of the guys arrived about 25 minutes later. After a lot of hushing and shushing there was a row of eyes looking down at the building, looking for entrances, cameras, and generally learning the lie of the land.

One of the chaps prodded Hyle’s shoulder. “Here’s your jacket, Miss. And a note.”

Tak,” Hyle slipped the jacket on then read the note, smirked, then ate the note. Ned looked on, puzzled, but humphed it off, shaking his head.


Not long after, a car pulled up outside the facility. Miss Brown arrived. Hyle watched. Brown looked pleased with herself as she dusted herself down then went inside.


It was time. Hyle put her plan into work.

Ned, when I go inside, get your guys as close the place as you can but for god sake keep out of sight. Then wait.”

Right!… Err… how are you going to get in?” Ned looked at Hyle.

Hyle looked back “I will knock, of course.”

What?”

Trust me, just wait for the signal then blow the doors. OK?

Right!” Ned paused again “Umm. What signal?”

Hyle’s face looked determined as she spoke. “Oh, you’ll know it.”


Ned watched from the rim of the crater as Hyle drove her car down the bank and parked it outside the door next to Brown’s car. He realised he was shaking his head as Hyle calmly walked up to the big doors and, just as she had said. Knocked.

 

Christ, she’s got some balls that one.” he muttered.

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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