Let’s see how our amnesiac villain’s plans of going to lunch with his enemy’s sidekick and betraying himself go this time.
If this is you:
Then, lucky for you, there’s more to the story.
14 more parts, actually.
So catch up and you might not be so confused.
But if this is you:
Then you’re obviously an accustomed reader of this already.
Yep. Another cliffhanger for another week, guys. Sorry.
But, anyway, enjoy part 15!
The best way to get a good night’s sleep is to clear your conscience right beforehand. I can tell you, it worked brilliantly for me.
When I woke up, it felt like I’d slept a year. My eyes actually opened of their own accord and I didn’t feel glued to the bed.
Pale, bluish light shone through the sheer curtains and Lucius sat on his perch near the bed with his beak tucked under his wing and his eyes closed. The quiet buzzed in my ears.
I took in a breath and stretched, kicking off the blanket. This would be nice. A day where I actually felt like doing something for once. I sat up, stretched my arms out and yawned. My gaze fell on the little, silver flip phone on the nightstand and I picked it up, pulling the screen open.
7:12am, it read.
Sleeping within the hours that most civilized humans do gave me a nice feeling inside. It almost made me feel like a civilized human myself. I chuckled.
A tiny bubble with an envelope popped up on the side of the screen. Text Message, it informed me. I clicked on it.
Dallas’s name popped up and, underneath it, the words: “Hey, I’m really sorry, but I don’t have the money for lunch. Could we meet at the park nearby? I can bring sandwiches, if you want.”
He was so politely pathetic. I shook my head and punched in a reply.
“Don’t worry about it. I’ll pick up the tab. See you then.”
I stood from the bed, sticking the phone in my jeans pocket and grabbing my jacket. The sleeve still felt stiff from blood. It wasn’t too visible against the black, I guess. But still, I decided to get a rag and try and clean it up before I left.
I pulled it on over my shoulders and slipped my arms in the sleeves, then opened the door and slipped out. I walked down the short, dark hallway and stopped. Dishes clinked around and a smell of vanilla and cigarette smoke filled the air.
At least a couple of my gang were earlier risers than I than I thought.
I stuck one of my hands in a pocket and walked towards the bakery area.
Roy and Liza sat, cross-legged on the floor across from each other and were aggressively slamming down playing cards and quietly swearing at each other every now and then. A half-burned cigarette sat, smoldering, next to Roy’s knee and a bit of a cloud was in the air around him.
I assumed that the kitchen noises were Bad News. And that the smell was cake.
Hey, I’m not complaining.
“Spit!” Roy’s voice split the silence and echoed off the cement walls and floor. He stuck his hands straight up in the air and laughed triumphantly.
Liza stuck her tongue out at him and started scooping up the cards. “I’ve half a mind to take you up on that offer . . .”
Roy laughed again.
Liza began sorting out the cards. “Rematch. This time we play for that bottle in the fridge.”
I walked up behind Roy and gave a piece of his hair a tug. “What’s the game?”
He jumped, “Ow!” The scowl went away as he saw me, “Oh. Hi.”
“G’morning,” Liza greeted, not looking up from her card-sorting, “Want in on a game of Spit?”
“I’m good, thanks.”
Bad News leaned over the counter, his eyes barely peeking over the edge of his sunglasses. “Breakfast is ready whenever you are, guys.”
Liza shoved all the rest of the cards over to Roy. “Be a gentleman and sort the rest of the cards. Thanks.” She hopped up to the counter and grinned down at him. I sat down next to her.
Roy huffed, but finished sorting before joining us at the counter.
“Here you go,” News pushed plates of chocolate cake and ice cream across the counter. “If anyone wants any milk, we’ve got a little bit left.”
And just like that, I’d found my loophole.
I poked at my cake and scooped up a bite, “Yeah, about that . . . I was thinking about going on a grocery run this afternoon. We’re running out of a few things, right?” Oh please let this work . . .
“Totally,” Liza took a bite of her own cake. “Pick up some duct tape while you’re out.”
“Will do,” I nodded, letting out my breath. I looked up at News.
He’d stopped, mid-ice-cream-scoop, and was looking at me. I saw myself reflected in his sunglasses. He couldn’t properly search my soul with sunglasses on, right?
Bad News turned away from me and finished scooping the ice cream onto Roy’s plate. “I’ll come with you.”
I choked on my cake. Shaking my head, I tried to get my voice back. “No really . . .” I coughed, “it’s fine. You can stay.”
“No,” News said pleasantly, scooting Roy his plate. “I can come.” There was a rare, threatening undertone in his voice. I suddenly got the feeling that if I didn’t bring him, bad luck would ensue quite quickly.
I watched his back as he dished up more cake, hoping infuse him with a desire to stay behind.
He turned back around and smiled at me, “So, what time are we leaving?”
Blast everything . . . I wasn’t getting out of this. Could I dump him by the road? No . . . Slipping away wouldn’t work either. He’d follow in that monster truck of his and I would join the ranks of roadkill.
Out of the hundreds of ideas cycling through in those few seconds, sneaking away from him in the grocery store sounded the best.
I swallowed. “How about twelve?”
Hopefully an hour and a half would be enough time to shake this grizzly bear off my tail.
I opened the driver’s side door and slid into my seat, refusing to look over at the passenger side. The car jolted as Bad News dropped into the shotgun seat. I waited until the movement stopped.
“Buckled?” I asked, almost killing myself with the effort to sound amiable.
“Yup.” He moved in his seat a bit more and there was a faint click.
I jammed the keys in the ignition and my keychain robot bumped against the wheel. Its tiny whisk spun and the worn out voice chip activated again.
“Exterminate!” it screeched.
I’ll tell you, I felt like doing just that. Only the odds seemed just slightly better for News exterminating me.
I wrenched the wheel to the side and we tore out of the parking lot. Wind threw my hair into disarray and Bad News put a hand on his hat. In a few minutes, we were on the freeway.
I took in a deep breath and adjusted my grip on the steering wheel. Just a matter of minutes before he’d unmask me. Call out my ridiculous cover-up of a “grocery run”. I swallowed and looked over at him.
He just watched the road.
I followed suit. I was the one driving, after all.
Change the subject. Keep any thought of Dallas or my memory loss from entering his mind.
“Sooo . . .” I drawled, “What flavors of ice cream are you thinking? I have a little cooler in the back we can put them in.”
Bad News was looking through my CDs when I glanced at him. He didn’t answer.
“’Cuz . . . I mean . . . I brought a good bit of money from our stock. We can get like at least three.” My voice cracked a little and I winced. This was starting to sound like just what it was: A pathetic kiss-up attempt.
News ignored me, shoved a CD in the player and crossed his tree-trunk arms over his chest.
I shut up and concentrated on the meaning of nouns.
We got halfway through verbs when Bad News reached over and turned down the volume slightly.
Oh no. Here it comes. He’s going to ask what I’m actually doing.
I mentally stockpiled my different stories of what this trip actually was to and hoped to high heaven that he believed one of them.
He shifted to look at me.
I kept looking at the road and the steering wheel. My hands were starting to shake. I held the wheel tighter and saw the bone in my knuckles.
News twisted his mouth to a sideways slant and sighed. “You’re going to tell Dallas your plans, aren’t you?”
I froze. Any arguments or excuses I had vaporized immediately.
“I . . . uh . . . well . . . no, I just thought I might . . . um . . . go into town and get some things. Maybe if he was there or something I could . . . run into him . . . but it would be an accident, I’m sure. I mean . . .”
It was like all my explanations had been tossed through a blender and I was just spewing random, nonsensical pieces of the worst ones.
I clamped my mouth shut and swallowed. I was ruined. He knew. He was going to tell everyone else. I’d be killed by my own gang, the bomb-plan would go forward anyway and people would still die.
My hands were shaking, even from their clamped position on the steering wheel.
Just kill me now, News. I’m finished.
Bad News leaned back in his seat and pushed his fedora back, “Dude . . . “ he sounded almost like a disappointed father. If disappointed fathers called people “dude”. He didn’t look ready to kill me
He sighed, “You still don’t have your memory back, do you?”
I shook my head numbly.
News rubbed at his nose, “You’ve had problems before. I’ve humored the whole crisis-thing. You had some ice cream. We made another strike or so. And you pulled through and were fine.”
“Fine” as in back to killing people.
“But this . . .” he continued, “ . . . is going far enough. We need to get your memory back before you do something like this.”
I looked sideways at him. He looked like he was trying to get his tie into some complicated knot.
“Seriously, man.” News dropped his tie back onto his chest and met my eyes. “This is your life goal, practically. You’ve been working on this for years. For your own good, I’m not letting you throw it away because of some little memory-lapse.”
I looked down at the disk player and watched the words scroll past the screen. Adjectives. That was a weird word.
Bad News hit a button and the disc player turned off.
“We’re getting your memory back,” he informed me.
I snorted, “Just like that, huh?”
He shrugged, “I have something I think might work. Since nothing else really seemed to.”
“Sounds good. I have an opening around two o’clock. Does that work?” I raised an eyebrow at him.
“You’re not meeting with Dallas, Wolf.”
“Excuse me. Who’s the gang leader here?” I half expected to be struck down in a moment of News’s divine wrath right there.
Bad News’s eyebrows touched the edge of his fedora. He peeked over his sunglasses brims at me. It was quiet for a second. “Exactly how much information do you have?”
I frowned at him, “Enough.”
“You didn’t tell us a date or place.”
I scowled at a mountain in the distance.
“You don’t know that bit yet, huh?”
Quiet for a few seconds, then News gave a permissive shrug. “As long as you don’t have the vital bits, I guess it’s okay. Just meet with me afterwards.”
I muttered something not very nice under my breath. Bad News nodded and sat back in his seat.
A couple of clicks and the adjective song came back on.
I had a few adjectives of my own for my passenger right now, but I kept them to myself.
News flattened his tie back out on his chest and turned his head to look at me. “I did get ice cream requests before we left, too. Mint chocolate chip, cherry . . . and cookies and cream, I think.”
Oh, back to the ice cream conversation now.
Fat lot of good that distraction did me.
News looked back out at the pine trees we were passing. “So, yup. You can drop me off to do the shopping while you have your meeting, if you want.”
I dug my fingernails into the steering wheel.
“As long as you don’t maroon me.” He still didn’t look at me, but his voice hit a note that prickled my arms with goosebumps.
For the rest of the drive, I had plenty of silence to contemplate the deeper meaning of the phrase “bad luck”.
What does Bad News have in mind to bring Wolfgang’s memory back? Is what he’s going to tell Dallas actually useless?
We shall find out next week.
Now I’m off to write the next parts.
Which are quite honestly making me a tad bit nervous.
But hey, we’re on the roller coaster now, so buckle up.
See ya next week, and please comment!