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A train to Bump

As soon as he had heard the news that an order of attack on Bump had been signed, he had flown to pack his bags and catch the next train to the town from New Babbage. Though the ride along the tracks was already beginning to show him what he had wanted to know approaching the town. Desolation. The countryside surrounding Bump was more than just left fallow for a time. It was dead.

Dr. Sonnerstein frowned deeply at what he percieved outside of the train window passing by as it slowed. If this was the case, surely they had done what they had to to survive. But he couldn’t permit such a decimation of a town if it were in his capacity to prevent it. The question was.. would it be more merciful to allow it. As the train pulled up to the platform, he picked up his bag and the heavy iron staff he had brought, cursing himself at how rediculous it probably seemed to the other passengers. “I really need to get a proper cane… You’re too conspicuous and dated looking, old friend.” But a means of defense was a means of defense.. Not that he didn’t have a few tricks up his sleeves, or really down the back of his coat, he just didn’t wish to reveal them, as easier as it was so far from New Babbage and all it’s reality enforcers, the Old Quarter’s barriers especially.

It was like being struck by a bleak wall of misery and desperation when he stepped off the train to the conductor’s protests, so overwhelming Dr. Sonnerstein’s senses that he didn’t even seem capable of hearing for a moment as the man behind him shook his head at what he no doubt thought a doomed man as he slid the door shut, the train starting to pull away from the small platform. For a moment, his usual perceptions were failing him, so taken by what his other senses were picking up now that he could breathe in the air for himself, that he had to lift his hand to the sign just barely within reach above the platform steps to feel along the letters “Welcome to Bump”.

“Hm, very welcoming…” He picked his bag up again and stepped down from the platform, aware of hungry eyes staring at him as he used his staff to prod the ground ahead in guidance while he waited for the ringing and buzzing in his ears to subside. It was always disorienting the first couple of hours far enough away from town to readjust to the clarity of the senses he had grown up with. Even operating down in the Vernian it was muffled by the devices above.

He found himself pausing, uncertain of his next step, though he had left late on the Thursday afternoon and it was now getting on past 11 at night, he wouldn’t be able to find many people to question or speak with until morning. A day… If he could find a place to rest for the night and start fresh at the earliest light of day, hopefully it would give him enough time to find out what was going on in this town and leave before nightfall again, before the aerial strike Saturday morning. And perhaps, convince the people of Bump to evacuate…

Late as the hour was, there was at least the mumblings of a bar heard not far up the street and making his way to it, stepped inside to the expected sudden silence that greeted him.

“Good evening, gentlemen. I’m looking for an inn to stay the night.” He put on his friendliest smile, quite aware of what they were no doubt assessing in their own minds.

“Lookin? Ya don’t look like yer kin do much lookin with those eyes.”

A few snickers cut short as Kristos turned his head directly towards the speaker and turned his eyes towards him, staring right through blindly. “I do just fine by my big ears. You, fine fellow. Can you tell me where to find a place to stay the night?”

“Er.. There’s no proper inn.”

His ears twitched towards another voice, behind the bar. “I rent a room or two above the bar here for the right price. What’ve you got?”

“Ah, I can compensate well for the inconvenience.” Kristos smiled in the bartender’s general direction, his ears picking up a muttered “big as he is, I bet he can” nearby.

He tried not to let a frown falter his smile as he crossed the room with a bump here and there against a table as he made his way to the barkeep. The crusty, stout man gave a glaring glance to the fellows at the tables as he turned to lead Kristos up the stairs off to the side of the bar.

Once he was shown to the room he thanked the barman and shut the door, noting the lack of a key in the lock on his side of the door. He smirked and slid a chair from a corner of the room to prop under the knob to help block it. At least it would give him warning and slow anyone who tried to come in down.

He looked to the bed and leaned over onto it, testing it and sighing at the realization it wouldn’t hold his weight. That much was evident to him by the creak of the boards underfoot. Another damn drawback of leaving the vicinity of the reality enforcers, the weight of what he kept hidden began to count instead of simply fading more from reality as it did in town. With a sigh he dragged the straw stuffed mattress onto the floor along with the sheets and propped his staff beside the door before readying himself for bed, finding himself drifting off to sleep easier than he expected, feet hanging well off the too short mattress.

As he had expected, he was woken in the early morning around three by the scrape and the clatter of the chair being shoved away from the door. What he hadn’t expected was his heavy solid iron staff getting knocked down on top of his head with a clang, grimacing as he lifted a hand to his head, reeling as he tried to sit up.

“Hah, he’s a bigun. But you sure he’s safe? Lookit those ears. They’re just costume right?”

“We’ll find out one way or another if he’s safe. I don’t know if they’re costume! Give em a tug and find out yourself! Look, he’s trying to get up, pick up that stick a his and give him another thump.”

“Cor, I can’t even lift the thing! What’s it made of?!”

“Use the chair then, hurry it up!”

The doctor shoved himself up to sit, grabbing for the face of the closest one before he felt that chair slam into the back of his head, breaking over him, sending his head reeling again. “Hur frml…” *THUD*

“Well, that was easier than I thought. Get Mick in here, we’ll need help with this one.”

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    • Kristos Sonnerstein Kristos Sonnerstein August 13, 2011

      Sir, I would rather die by treason than stand by and watch people senselessly annihilated.

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