Chapter 6 - Entry 1
April 29th cont.
Mary and Marley were waiting outside, both standing near Jake Brown’s van where he and Cleo were busying loading boxes and bags. It was Marley who spoke first, stepping forward while Mary’s eyes remained lowered to the ground.
“You don’t have to go fight them. Just fade. You’re not like, Rambo or something.”
I chuckled and put a hand on her shoulder. “I’m not going to go fight them Marley. I’m going to make sure they don’t get Maliqe’s body.” My hand squeezed her shoulder as I offered what I hoped was a reassuring smile. “’Sides. Rambo ain’t got nothin on me.”
“Why do you have to stop them from getting her body?” Mary asked softly.
“Cause you know as well as I do that the only reason they want it is to cut it up and figure out what made her different. You really think a military group trying to churn out what they consider super soldiers would be a good thing in a world under Martial Law?”
“Maybe they’re just looking for a cure.” She replied defensively.
“Yeah. Right. Cause Uncle Sam’s always got the little people’s best interest at heart.” I paused and took a deep breath, trying not to let anger swell. “Look. I don’t want them getting ahold of Maliqe. Period. Call it a sense of duty or just plain paranoia but whatever it is, that’s my goal. Get in. Make sure they don’t get her body. Get out.”
Both girls nodded and Mary was about to say something else when a second helicopter flew overhead. I glanced up and frowned at the big Coast Guard rig flying slowly towards town. In the distance I could see the lights of a third bird approaching.
“Time’s running out.”
I took hold of Marley’s shoulders and forced her to face me square, dipping my chin until her eyes locked with mine. “Listen. Maliqe made me promise to watch over you. I can’t do that now since staying here will just put you in more danger. So you gotta watch out for yourself now.”
“I don’t need anyone to babysit me,” She replied with a bit of heat.
I chuckled and nodded. “Good. Learn how to shoot. Figure out how to fight these things and keep your head down. They’re like the threat of hunger; only really dangerous when you don’t pay attention but easy enough to handle if you keep your wits about you. But always there. Understand?”
Marley nodded and gave me a hug. Mary hesitated, standing on the sidelines like a third wheel. A nice person would’ve let her off the hook. Unfortunately I was never considered nice.
“Take care of yourself Mary.” It was the best I could offer, still angry and bitter from the stupidity of her accidental betrayal. Without a word she nodded and walked quickly inside the building, lingering at its doorway long enough to have a last look before disappearing inside.
“Ruthless avenging Keres, daughters of Nix. Of all the Ills mankind may suffer, only Old Age and Death are unavoidable.” Cleo had filled the space left by Mary’s departing form and ended our goodbye with what I assumed to be some sort of mystical pagan crap.
She laughed and tilted her head, studying me for a moment before speaking again. “The Keres were death spirits. Unlike the mostly benevolent Valkyries, they didn’t choose what warriors died in battle. Instead they feasted on violence and the literal blood of those they killed.”
“Well that’s pleasant. I need to get rolling. You got a point in all this Cleo?”
If she was put off by my cold reception, Cleo didn’t let it show.
“If you truly cannot die, then generations will pass along stories of your deeds and in time those stories will become the legends and mythology of those who still survive. The Greeks had their Keres. In a hundred years, Jaeger may be a name whispered in fear. An evil spirit summoned to do battle against other evils.” She shrugged and placed a hand on my arm. “I only wish that I’d had more time to know you, Hunter. Good luck.”
“Yeah. Alrighty then. Thanks.” Weirdo. That last I didn’t say aloud but I thought it pretty hard.
On to more practical matters, Jake Brown and I spent a few minutes going over the supplies they’d loaded into the van. Most importantly my weaponry.
“You got six 50 cal rounds for the Desert Eagle. Make em count. Thing bucks like a pissed off mule. I set you up good on 9 mil for your handguns and the HKs. Filled the van’s tank and left four spare cans of diesel in the back. You got about a month’s worth of MREs. Gave you our extra water filter and put twenty gallons in milk jugs for you too. Wish there was more than I could do.”
“Me too,” I joked, slapping his shoulder. “I appreciate everything Jake. Take care of these folks. Monitor the CB at 11:11 and 22:22 each day for a week. I’ll use the handle Keres.”
“Will do. Give em hell.”
I grinned and climbed into the driver’s seat. “Will do.”
There was a crowd at the gate, waving goodbye as I slowly drove by. Hands slapped the van’s armored hide while cries of ‘Good luck’ filled the darkness. I headed north and drove around the lake, cutting west across a bridge that looked to be on its last legs. West Moodus was lit up like a Christmas tree as I headed south.
“Keres.” I muttered darkly before parking behind the burned out shell of a home just outside of town. The third helicopter, a little bird with News 9 in big letters on its side, flew by overhead.
“Ok Maliqe. Let’s have some fun.”