The Red Hand Part 9
by Shane MIgliavacca
Part Nine Breakfast With Mr. White
I stare out through the bars of my cell window at the night sky. The stars in the sky are particularly bright tonight. Somewhere out there, I like to think one of those is Earth's star. That life there is going on like normal, people going about their lives. I’m sure Mom is getting on with hers even though everything I've learned so far tells me it was never as normal as I thought. Other dimensional gods, super powered offspring, a clockwork man and painting to another world, all there lurking about behind the scenes, and now I'm here on the planet of lizard people. The man in white, he's working with those blue lizards. There's some kind of work going on in the middle of the deserted city, I can hear them going at it day and night. There's another type of lizard I've glimpsed here as well, orange skinned ones. Haven't been able to get a read on them, but they seem less inclined for work or fighting. Maybe they're the brains of the lizard people.
I haven't seen the man in white since they stuck me in here, a lizard guard brings me food and water. I have no doubt that Mr. White is Hagen with a new hand. I haven't seen his "Boy" since he attacked me. Hopefully I'll never see it again. My thoughts turn frequently to my friends I wonder if Tenth and Maebh made it. I hope they did.
I get up from the window and go over to my cell door. The musty smell hits my nostrils. If I'm not near the window getting fresh air, the cell stinks. In the far corner there's a hole in the floor that serves as my bathroom. I wonder where it leads, it's too small to fit into. Some poor lizard bastard probably has to clean it. I can hope anyway. I walk past the thin mat on the floor that serves as my bed. There's no sheet covering it, but at least they let me have the fur bedding I was carrying. The cell door is made of stone and metal. There's a small barred window at its center. I try the door for the millionth time since they locked me in here, hoping the thing is so old that pounding on it will make it break. No luck. Whoever made it, made it well. I'm stuck here. I peek out the bars. The hallway is empty, just me here. The lizards who built this place made it so the cells were high up in this place, instead of being locked away underground in a dungeon. Makes sense. If I did manage to get out, I have a hell of a ways down to go before I got to the ground. There's another problem being so high up, the lizards don't use stairs. Instead they climb. This building was built with a central shaft. Kind of like an elevator shaft. And they climb up and down it. I was carried up here on the back of one of the blue guys. Staring at the other building I've noticed what look like rests on the sides of them. I think they crawl on the outside of their buildings as well.
I go back to the window taking a deep breath, I try the bars of the windows. Much like the doors, I am hoping I can break something. Crawling down the building is better than rotting away in here. But the bars like the door don't cooperate. I haven't been able to sleep much. Between the stink and the uncomfortable mat, besides I'm too worked up by this mess. Instead I pace back and forth, like a tiger in a cage.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Back and forth.
Finally after a while of this I feel fatigue creep into me. I go over to the mat, curl up and let sleep overcome me.
I wake up the next morning and start all over again. I'm staring out the window listing to the sounds of whatever their working on when I hear them coming. The door opens and its two blue lizards instead of just one, one bigger male and one female about my size. They motion for me to follow them. The pair flank me as we walk down the hall. I have no doubt if I tried to run for it they'd be on me like flies on shit. All I can do is go wherever it is they're taking me.
I look at the female lizard. She's not as pretty or graceful as Tenth. More rough looking.
"Got any Taylor Shift CD's in this joint?" I ask her.
No response. She doesn't even seem pissed by my dumb question. These guys are going to be harder to annoy then Tenth. They take me to the central shaft. The female helps me climb up on the big guy and we go upwards. Damn, was hoping we'd head down, closer to the ground. Then maybe I would try something. I close my eyes and hang on tight not wanting to look down. I made that mistake when they brought me up here. The shaft seemed bottomless. I listen to the sound of their claws as they climb.
The thought that goes through my head is that they're going to throw me off the side of this building. It's a crazy thought but I can't shake it. No, they still want me to spill what I know. I think they're hoping the solitary treatment will get me to talk. We reach the top of the building. To my non-surprise Mr. White is there waiting there for me.
"I thought you might enjoy some sun and fresh air." He says, ever the gracious host.
There's a strong breeze and the air is a bit colder up here. I hug myself to keep warm. Mr. White doesn't seem to notice at all.
"Besides that cell is so limiting. I thought you might like spending some time up here today."
I go over to the edge of the roof. The view from here is quite something. The ancient city stretching out in every direction. The first thing I look for is where the sounds of working have been coming from. I don't see anything on this side. Before I can go to the other side my host ushers me over to a small table. I wonder which one of these poor bastards had to carry that up here? On the table are a number of covered metal dishes.
"Breakfast under the sun." He says.
The table is low enough to the ground that we sit cross-legged on the roof. My two guards stay. Standing off to the side watching us. Making sure we play nice. Mr. White takes the covers off the dishes. There's more of a spread then the other meals I've been getting to eat.
"Did you like the books I sent you?" He asks.
I pick up a plate and look over the dishes. There's a big selection of things that look like fruits. I recognize those sweet ones the old woman gave us.
Mr. White points to one of the dishes. Big red hunks of meat sitting in some kind of sauce. "Puhm meat. Quite delicious."
It certainly looks good. I dig in. If he wanted to poison me he could make his two friends here force it into my mouth. I eat in silence for a bit. Watching him. Ever since our first meeting he terrifies me. He stopped that metal rod I threw at him with a simple gesture. And then he sicced his "Boy" on me. So I'm surprised by the fact I'm able to keep it together. Sitting here like to friends catching up on lost time.
"How do you find the food here? I find it quite superior to human food." He says.
I cut into a piece of meat on my plate. It smells great, makes me think of Christmas dinners. Not the ones me and mom had. No, more like the ones you see on all those made for TV holiday films. The meat tastes like pork to me. I wonder what kind of beast it came from. Then again the creatures I've seen here so far maybe I don't want to know. I notice he just sits there, watching me and not eating. I wonder if that mask comes off and what it's hiding? When I first met him he smelled of rotting meat and blood. I'm thankful for the breeze. It's blowing that smell away. I don't think I could eat otherwise.
"It's good. Especially after having to scrounge up roots and stuff growing in caves to eat," I say lying. He doesn't buy it of course. But the more I bullshit him the further Maebh and Tenth get away from him.
"I have a bit of a problem Serena. I'd really hoped you could help me." He says. "See, I'm looking for something very important. I thought you might know something about it."
I nod as he talks, chewing on a piece of meat. He means the stone hand that Maebh told me about, she said it had great power. Also that it could corrupt the user. Does he think I know where it is?
"I'd really hoped spending all that time in the cell would help your memory perhaps?"
He looks at me. Expecting some kind of answer to come from my lips. Instead I just shrug.
"There's nothing to say. You’re the first person I've met on the dust bowl. Really."
"Where did you happen to get the clothes you’re wearing? The stuff you were carrying?"
He's got me there. I can't readily come up with a lie for that. He's caught me, just like mom would.
"I found them."
"I think not. See my scouts saw you and your friend. You killed one or your friend did. But the other made it back. Did you forget about him? He told me about you. I sent more scouts out, they found the cave."
I don't answer. What is there to say?
"I could threaten to throw you off this building. Perhaps I could have my homunculus have some more fun with you. But what good would that do? You would just keep on lying to me. No. I have something better. Tell me where the old woman is headed and I'll send you to Earth, that cesspool you call home. Deal?"
Home? Could he? Most likely he could get me home. Whatever is going on between him and the old woman, it's none of my business. Neither is what's going on between Tenth's people and the blue lizard people. All I have to do is tell him they're headed to Tenth's people. Done and done. Then go home. After a month this place would be a distant memory. After a year it'd be a half remembered dream. I never wanted to be here in the first place, but Tenth and Maebh are my friends. Right? What Mr. White has planned they'll more than likely be hurt. They'd never go down without a fight.
Deal or fight.
"And what if I didn't...Take your deal." I ask.
He thinks for a moment before answering me. "I'll torture the old woman and your other friend in front of you. Making sure they know every agony they suffer is due to you. Then I'll throw you back in that cell till you rot. You can spend the rest of you miserable existence thinking about their deaths. Sound like a fair deal now?" He sets his hands on the table. Looking me in the eye.
I grab the fork I'd been using for breakfast. I must take Mr. White by surprise. I'm able to stab him in the hand and he lets out a shriek of pain. I pull the fork out and make a run for the side of the roof, the two blue lizards hot on my heels. I get to the edge as they close in. I turn and face them.
"Back off! I'll fork you fuckers!"
I hear it in my head, a voice.
I turn and look over the edge at the city below me.
DO IT! JUMP!
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