Rustles – Chapter 16


William and Silver just pulled him on his feet and handcuffed him. They headed back from the way they came from while Tony stayed with her and Jameson in the tent.

She was massaging her nose root. This was not how she planned their first meeting. She had had a very simple plan, a working one – they never met or saw each other.

Jameson didn’t move. Instead he leaned against one of the metallic posts and waited, explained impression on his face. Tony kept staring him down, but with no success.

“I really need to know your official cover story.” She said to Tony.

“There is none.” He said and kept staring at him. “Who is he?”

“Jameson Jakobs, he juggles with devil sticks and works with animals.” She introduced them. “Sergeant Isley… something.”

Jameson choked on laughing, but he still took several steps ahead and reached out his hand.

“Hi.” Jameson reached out his hand and sergeant responded with quick shake.


She pulled her jacket closer to her body. Jameson was supposed to be asleep, not tending the horses.

“Don’t worry. Circus folk know how to keep a secret.” Jameson said with curt smile. Sergeant nodded. “I won’t even ask what it was.”

She coughed lightly. This was too much.

“I thought you said you work at the zoo?” he turned to her instead. He was frowning.

“I’m serving Godfathers, Jellybeans, Kamikazes and Dirty White Mothers to never ending customers, who think they’re so clever with their witty drunken humor! Yes, I’m working with a zoo!”

He cracked a smile. “You really love your job?” he asked with sarcasm.

“Oh yes, dream of my life.”

“And this one here?”

“Was one of the customers?” she offered. “You wouldn’t believe what they do after sniffing some fairy dandruff.”

“Then why did you warn Hunt about some panther?”

“I’m sorry, I wasn’t that quick thinking. We caught the guy, we’ll have to go back now.”

“Good for you. Will you come back later?”

“Like when?”

“Tomorrow. Aunt Mag still believes you’re hunting a panther.” His eyes fell on the riffle Tony was supporting on his chest.

“His name…” she paused, thinking for once during this long night that perhaps this was one lye too much and she shook her head. “I’m sorry, didn’t want to tell him I’m after some lunatic.”

“You should have.” He scolded her. “To start with, he wouldn’t have got me up to check on Miss Becky and Sir Mad House over there!”


“Tigers.” She said sadly to Tony and went past them to go after William and Silver.

Jameson stopped her with his reached out hand and he hugged him gently against his side. “I’m glad you’re ok.”

She reached out and kissed him on his cheek. “Me too. Junkie is a good cover-up, by the way.”

He grunted. “Thanks!” He let her go and stuffed his hands in his pockets, watching her go.

Tony followed her out to the car waiting next to the ticket boot. Only Hunt and the watchman were standing there besides the crew and were whispering between each other.

“Sorry, Hunt.” She said when they got near hearing distance. When she stopped next to Hunt, he reached his right hand out and snapped his fingers at her forehead.

“You should trust me, Margaret!”

“I do!” she soothed her forehead. “I promise, next time I’ll tell you we’re hunting a junkie!” she paused. “I’ll see you later. Bye.”

She sat back in the car and Tony cramped her in before pulling the door shut.

“What else should we know about your past?” he asked after they had driven off and Nat was in charge for the driving.

“Shouldn’t you check on your man back there?” she asked instead.

“He’s sedated.” Silver turned herself on the front seat.

She felt like a fish in a tin with stork staring right at her to have her for lunch.

“We know each other hardly a week!” she protested, back to the original question.

“We thought you were a simple barmaid!”

“A cat doing tango on hot tin roof is simple! It’s a living – not my definition. Besides, you haven’t told me your life stories either, why should I tell you mine?”

“We are secret military unit! We don’t need publicity! Yet that Jameson guy seemed to know a whole a lot about you!”

“Because he’s my brother! I don’t tell him what I’m up to and he grills me and chills me until the meat on my bones fall off!”

“So you tell him everything?”

“Of course not!” she screamed, thinking herself what would happen if they really knew she already did. “I told him I was helping to catch animals!”

“You did, huh?”

“How would I explain the blood on my clothes when I got home? He would have dragged me to police and told them I killed someone?”

“Huh, some family!” Silver snorted and turned around.

That was it! She had taken some grilling before, but her family was one thing she did not like being screwed with.

“He is my only family!” she yelled and leaped forward to offer a strong blow against her left arm. “We watch out for each other!”

“Ow! What’s wrong with you?”

She couldn’t say. Suddenly she was upset and so angry she could have taken rhinoceros up in a box ring. She landed back on the seat and clenched her fingers together and open, trying to understand why she was so angry.

“We’ll take him back first and then Nathan will get you home.” Tony said, fasting her seatbelt he signaled Twin to give him over her.

She hid her hands under her elbows and sat there, trying to look at any direction that didn’t involve another face. Finally her eyes rested on the cabin light under the roof. It was nice and round with lots of zigzag pattern that prevented anything from mirroring back.

They reached Ellinger street  in fifteen minutes. At first she thought she wouldn’t even get out of the car, but Tony released her seatbelt and she knew she didn’t have much choice.

Judith would check her over, he said and led her inside back to the back room and she landed, now gratefully, in the already familiar sofa. She slid her shoes off, pulled her jacket off and sunk deeper in the softness, her feet firmly on the warm carpet.

She felt a thud coming from downstairs. She didn’t want to respond. Instead she pulled her feet up and hid them under herself on the sofa. Besides, she told herself, she hadn’t taken time to learn his cipher yet.

“Hmh, didn’t learn your words today, teacher.” She grunted, but felt bad for it.

He was putting too much hope on her shoulders. How could he ask her of that? Help to get them free? Jameson was right – they should all be here, hidden away forever until their hour came and she should be contempt with that.

Only she wasn’t. The emptiness that ruled in her heart was moved just a little, when she realized that it was Alex. She felt sorrow, when she thought of him – she had no one in this town but some friends and circus coming in every few years. If he was in his situation for long, he might not have many to turn to either. He picked her out. That counted for something, didn’t it?

“So I like helping whales!” she sighed and lifted her feet back on the floor, hitting the floor once with her heel.

She immediately got a response of two knocks, pause and a knock. She didn’t reply, just waited, imagining how he stood there, hand against the ceiling, right under her feet. She brushed the carpet with her toes and felt his hand follow her movement. She felt better, knowing there hadn’t been any change between them.

After waiting for a while and with Judith not even in site, she rose and wondered away. She left her shoes and jacket there, going bare feet. The moment she got up, she sensed the activity raise under her feet, like they got exited. She felt his hand follow her feet, sensed the scraping of his fingernails against the concrete with other hands joining in now and then. Like snake nest was turning itself under her feet and she smiled suddenly, realizing that she just imagined herself like some Celtic priestess with power over thousand snakes that could hiss and bite every living creature she decided on.

Her joy disappeared. The only problem with these snakes was, she had no power over them and they gladly took her as their prized victim.

She stopped on the threshold and took time to feel the excitement rising from the cellar. She raised her left foot and felt how the snake pit changed its focus to her right foot. She raised her right foot and walked down the corridor to the kitchen. Everybody she knew was gathered in the living room with no one looking her way.

She used it to slip through the kitchen and quietly open the door to the cellar. The lamps were on and she doubted if they were ever turned off. She waited, knowingly waiting for their attention, hand against the wood. Soon she felt them scrape it through the bars, their fingers scratching the metal.

One step at a time, she told herself, breathing hard. Going back down was scary, probably hard to explain them, too, what she was doing back here.

“Studying them,” she whispered her response to the unasked question.

She reached downstairs and walked to the table in the middle. It had some blue aerosol canisters on it. There were six of them still packed away and two empty bottles knocked over.

She picked one of them up and read the chemical compounds from it, but they made no sense to her besides the fact that they were in those bottles. She smelled sweet crispy scent come from it, it reminded her a bit of glass cleaners.

“Put it away! This thing is catchy!”

She tossed it back on the table, pressing her hands clean against her sides, backing away.

“We need to hurry, they’ve started spraying us again – it will eat through me soon…” he paused. “Are you ok?” Alex voice was full of concern and she guessed it was because of the bruises and hand marks on her back.

She shook her head, examining her hands to see if there were any residues on them.

“I heard what Scott did,” his hand reached out and rested down on her back. “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be, I said they were monsters.”

“Only when they stay here.”

She closed her eyes, feeling his other hand found the way on her shoulder. It hurt and she winched. Perhaps if he massaged it a little, she thought. Yes, that would be nice.

“I can make it better.” He said, deliberately touching her bruises.

“How?” she was so irritated, it echoed in her insomniac voice. “By licking my wounds?”

“No.” she felt being pulled closer to the bars.

“Wasn’t that what werewolves did? Or was it vampires – I don’t know anymore.”

He pulled her against his jail and hugged her through the bars, pressing her as close to his chest as he could and resting his temples against her hair.

Her emotions wanted a passage out, but she didn’t dare to cry. Instead she hugged his hands and pressed them closer to her body.

Her eyes flew up and landed on the camera.

“You just betrayed everything on camera.”

She felt him shook his head against her hair.

“This one doesn’t work.” She relaxed a bit. “It’s surprising what people tell, when they think you don’t understand.”

“You have a good medicine.” She agreed, accepting the hug, but pulled away, hearing someone open the door on the stairs. The steps were heavy, belonging to soldier boots.

“I know you, don’t I?” he whispered, still holding on her elbow, not letting her go. He didn’t sound at all sure, more like picking through his mind to find anything.

“From another life, perhaps,” she said with a smile. He released her hand and disappeared right in time, when Twin appeared.

“We are looking for you! What are you doing here?”

She blinked. Packing her hands on her chest, she immediately shook her head. “I don’t know.”

She quickly looked around in the cages, but not one of them was in site. Alex was far away, sitting by the wall so far he should have used transporter to get there so far. She had been daydreaming, she realized.

“You should be home, sleeping it off not getting new ideas here!”

“I’m not getting new ideas, I’m…” she sighed. “You’re right.” She agreed and pressed past him, out of the cellar.

He blocked her way.

“You should never come here unless someone asks, do you understand?”

She nodded, not even looking up. He was right – she should get some proper sleep and rest.



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