Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tulsa: Epilogue

The Hotel Pacifica was still a brothel, but things had slowed down ever since that fateful day the madame was killed while running from the law. And if that wasn't enough, the next fateful day the payroll train got robbed. This meant that all the miners in Tulsa didn't get the liquid portion of their salaries. The town was dry. So the Hotel Pacifica was real quiet.

That suited one resident just fine.

Anne Clarke was bedridden in a corner room on the second floor. She had survived the same car accident that killed the madame. But she didn't survive by much, and the Caseback Mining Company refused to pay for her convalescence beyond the normal rate for the room. Something about breaking her contract with them, or something. Everyone in the know didn't figure the former Marshal much longer for this world.

The poor woman lay there on the bed, her face pale and clammy. She didn't feel hungry much, thanks to the intravenous tube that caravan medico had hooked up. The quiet let her contemplate freely. And when the pain from her injuries and from her contemplation got too great, she could press a little button with the single finger she could still move just a little, and ease everything back with a heavy dose of pain meds in the drip. She counted the minutes while she lay there, immobile on her back, floating and bobbing in waves of pain, regret and drugs.

A motorcycle drove up and stopped out front. Anne swallowed. It was beyond her conscious control, but she recognized the engine's sound. She could hear the booted foosteps walk in the dust and then climb onto the boardwalk.

Thump. Thump. Thump. The door to the hotel swished open.

Anne shivered, and cussed to herself that it was probably just ghost sensations. It was all in her mind, and if it weren't, well she couldn't move her head to check anyways.

Thump. Thump. Thump. The boots walked over to the stairwell and then thumped up the stairs quietly. Once they hit the second floor landing, they stopped.

Anne's breathing slowed.

The boots thumped down the hall to her door. The doorknob wiggled. It was locked, but she knew that wouldn't stop him. The door was still, and then the lock popped quietly.

"Annie," the man's voice was soft and genial. The door closed behind him. The boots didn't thump anymore and Anne knew that Millan was checking the room for recorders.

"Annie," he started again, "I'm so sorry to see you like this." Millan stood over her. Anne blinked and her eyes widened in horror. He smiled, "no, I can't imagine you're happy to see me. Then again, I wasn't here for you. You never did make contact with ol' Zeb, now did you? Figured you'd hide right under my nose instead. Good plan. But that Western spy, she had you pegged as a collaborator in a flash, didn't she?" he chuckled, gently stroking Anne's cheek, "probably had your face run through a whole databank. She must have filled in the blanks too."

Anne's eyes flitted a bit. She barely breathed.

"I came here lookin' for Zeb, and instead I find that he's dead, that the Spike and Spur's burned down and that you've been hiding here the whole time!" Millan's voice rose just enough to get his anger across, "Annie, I'm impressed. You almost slid through the cracks. I bet you could have gotten rid of that spy and then dropped off the face of the planet. But instead you're paralyzed, helpless and dying."

Millan had picked up the morphine button and shook his head ruefully, "honestly darlin', I didn't think you'd go like this," he whispered, "Someone who did what you did... I thought you'd got shot by a reprisal squad. There's quite a few active you know. Though I honestly thought you'd have slipped away by now."

Millan pressed the button once. Twice. A third time. Anne's pupil's dilated. She could barely hear him. Her skin burned.

"You'll be the last ... - a plan to let us all slip away ... - not Earthers...no one will find us..."

Millan pressed the button a few more times. He stroked Anne's cheek for a few moments more. When he walked out of the room, his boots didn't make a sound.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.