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The Flight from Bump

((Hoping this isn’t too long or too out there for people to stomach. Keep in mind this is stuff Kristos would never reveal openly in New Babbage. Other than that, hope whoever reads enjoys, feedback welcome.))

Dr. Sonnerstein found himself waking after a short time to find a hard, cold earth floor beneath him. His wrists and ankles were tightly bound, his hair a dirty mess around him and still wearing the chinese silk pants he had worn to bed. His long ears twitched for a moment as he tried to make out the sounds entering his fuzzy mind.

There were three, maybe four men in the room. He could hear two speaking in subdued tones as they rummaged through his things. “He ain’t carryin much cash, but lookit somea this stuff.”

“Sure got a lot of medicines and instruments, must be a doc or somethin.”

He lifted his head with a wince as a sting in the right of his chest caused him pain. He lowered his head again as the two at a table looked over to him until they were sure he was keeping quiet. They had cut into him, that much he could smell and feel. A small sample they were poking at.

With his face obscured by his hair, it gave him a chance to flick his tongue down, the end forking a little as it stretched out to probe the wound in his chest. He’d been away from the reality enforcers long enough that it was slowly healing on its own, regenerating, though that also meant the slice on the table must have been doing the same. Tongue retreating back into his mouth he listened for anything that could tell him where they had brought him, breathing in deeply for any telltale scents other than his own blood.

“What you reckon he is?” 

“Other than a doctor? He’s got a few pills here.. Whew! This powder smells bitter!”

“Then don’t sniff it, idiot! Who knows what that stuff he’s carrying is. And of course other than a doctor! What the hell kind of doctor has teeth like that?!”

“Hey, Phil, look at the sample..! Somethin funny’s here.”

“Is it.. growing..?”

“This could be somethin good..! I mean, means more, right?”

“I don’t trust it enough and we’ve got no more dogs to test it on. Throw the fish back.”

Kristos worked up enough saliva to swallow past his dry mouth, lifting his head sharply. “Actually, I came to see what I could do to help your town’s situation… With the hope of avoiding your annihilation…”

“Annihilation? What! You going to poke us to death with that big iron post you carry about?” This seemed to come from one of the men by his bag. 

“No, from an aerial strike.” His brows furrowed a little, the effect of his serious expression, a little lost by the fact he’d forgotten to open his eyes.

The four were quiet for a moment as they exchanged a look between each other.

One of them stepped from the table the sample rested on and approached him, leaning down to place a knife under his chin, lifting his head. “What the hell you talking about, aerial strike?”

Kris blinked his eyes open after a moment, his expression calm as he stared past the man blindly. “The one ordered for the morning of the 13th… From New Babbage. In retaliation for harm against one of our own.”

There was the clink of one of his own scalpels onto the table beside his bag. “Why should we believe that? One of your own, if you’re from New Babbage, why would you bother to warn us? You’re just trying to get us to let you go while we run for it like fools.”

Rows of sharklike teeth gritted in frustration before tilting outwards as he opened his mouth in a hiss, earning him a nick of that blade to his chin. “Because for one, I am indeed a doctor as you hazarded to guess. I take that very seriously and do not wish to see harm to people who are quite apparently acting in desperation to survive. Secondly, I do not need to fool you in order to escape if absolutely necessary.”

“Tch.. Gag him. Either he’s flat out stupid or a liar, either way, I don’t want to hear any more of this.” This came from the one still at the table bearing the sample of that now pulsing piece of flesh. A slight bump of the table caused the dish it was on to wobble. “That thing’s moving now!”

“I’m not going near those teeth, you gag it!”

Kris smirked. “I’m an it now? Good to know my status of person holds up… As for the.. sample.. you took… Stomach acid is usually strong enough to stop it from regenerating.”

“What?! I’m not eating that!”

“Me either!” this accompanied by muttered agreements from the other two in the room.

He couldn’t help but laugh “Picky cannibals?! Now that’s amusing. Give it here then…Waste not, want not… Isn’t that what drove you to this?” He opened his mouth, extending his tongue nearly a foot past his teeth. 

There was silence for a moment before the clink of the plate being lifted from the table. It was given a jerk upwards to send the chunk of flesh arching towards his face, caught by that tongue like some human chameleon, drawing it past his teeth  to tear into it and swallow.

The four shifted uncomfortably before the one who had been previously studying the hunk of flesh dared speak up. “What the hell are you?”

Dr. Sonnerstein just smirked, considering the question for a moment. “Formerly like you… I can say that much.”

After that, there had been a subdued argument over who would keep an eye on their prisoner until they could figure what to do with him. They couldn’t use him for meat, they were too worried what it might do to them. They sure couldn’t let him go to return to New Babbage. Perhaps kill him and bury him far out in the dead fields. Could  they kill him? And what of those words of an aerial strike ordered? They didn’t want to believe him, especially after the unsettling displays that he wasn’t beyond self cannibalizing… But.. what if it were true..?

Through the rest of the night and into the morning, three took their rest while the fourth kept watch. Though it certainly wasn’t a pleasant task. Some of the things that came out from the doctor’s mouth, mad ramblings of strange worlds, eerie songs with no words that seemed to still speak volumes by their notes alone. By mid-morning he couldn’t take it any longer. The poor man tasked with watching the madman took off from his post in order to find another to replace him before he felt he would go mad himself!

Once the man on watch had stepped out, Dr. Sonnerstein breathed out a deep sigh and shifted his arms to test his bonds, turning his sharply manicured, long nails in towards the rope to pick at it. It was quickly clear that would not suffice. Though he could feel the added weight still of what he kept hidden, he had to wonder if enough time had passed for him to be able to stretch them free.

He closed his eyes, trying to take the limited time he had to focus himself with a deep breath, glad he wasn’t clad in his suit as he felt the flesh along his shoulder blades begin to split, claws emerging, dragging out a pair of shriveled wings that began to stretch and unfurl to a proper size like some leathery, morbid butterfly emerging from it’s chrysalis stage in the sun. His hands, bound beside him, were soon being pushed up by a thick, rubbery hided tail that took up a fair share of space. Though it was the horns splitting the flesh of his brow  to emerge that forced him to bite back a cry of pain, nearly biting his own tongue along with it.

A deep breath shuddered from him as he felt it all settle into it’s old familiar sensation, blood running down from his brow and back as the flesh closed around the freshly emerged telltale protrusions of his species, mingling with the sweat from the strain. His dragonlike wings stretched wide, brushing the walls with a pop of stiff joints before curling around him to grip the ropes around his ankles with sharp claws on the thumbs, ripping the ropes away and pushing him to his feet. He strode across the room to his bag in disarray as he used those wing claws to free his hands, hearing the voice of the man who’d abandoned his post outside as he approached, arguing with someone else he’d not heard before.

He hurriedly shoved his things into his bag, frowning as the scalpel and a couple other tools ripped one of his shirts in his haste. Grabbing it all up, he rushed for the door, lowering himself to ram it head first, throwing it right off the lock and hinges, not stopping as he bowled right past the two men, the thrown door knocking his poor keeper right to the floor. “Sorry about that! Hope you’ve got a good doctor!” 

He had counted on the mad dash of his visage leaving them stunned enough for him to escape without incidence. No such luck. He found himself ducking instinctively as a gunshot rang out behind him, hissing at a sting in his arm as he shoved the door at the top of the stairs open. He had expected one more room by the sounds he had taken in, finding instead the basement had opened up onto a wooden porch outside, misstepping right off of it. “Staff.. Staff, can’t leave it… Where the hell…?”

He whirled around, trying to orientate himself within the town as he heard a shout and rushed steps up the stairs just behind him. It was a rush of scents in the air and the pounding of running feet towards him, shouts of confused men and a few women who had seen someone come out of the cellar that shouldn’t have. 

A few strong beats of those leathery wings lifted him awkwardly off of the ground, one clipped by a porch overhang, sending him dropping back to the ground in a skid right through the growing crowd trying to bring the escapee under control. His tail and wings lashed out blindly in a hard shove against bodies and attempted to take off again as he clung tightly to his travel bag of belongings, getting a bit of altitude, the brush of a roof against his foot giving him a chance to partially land with the other foot breaking through the shingles.

The hum of energy from that staff was near, somewhere. And as good as it felt to flex his strength again, he couldn’t let them see any more than they already had. At a chorus of gunshots he fell back onto the roof, crashing through into it. He thought for sure one of those shots would hit his head in the short time it took him to break enough beams and slats away to free his wings to spread flat against it and lift himself out, crouching low. Spreading those wings again in a few hard flaps he lifted himself up into the air, a few shots grazed his side and tore small holes through the membrane of one wing before he got enough height to swoop back down over the other side of the building. Angling to sweep through a back street, he felt the rush of air past his ears and the hum of that iron staff guiding him to it.

A crash through the window and surrounding wall of the room where he’d stayed part of the night in landed him, crushing that remade bed right next to the staff that had been shoved off against the wall away from the door. 

He ran for the door, his rubbery skinned tail snatching up the staff with ease as he exited the room, only to be snagged by the staff as it turned the wrong way across the doorframe. The yank on his tail jerked him nearly off his feet as the door’s frame and the wall gave way to the force. Stumbling his way down the stairs into the bar’s main room, empty at the early time of day save for a couple of men quite started out of their day’s first drinks by the half naked.. creature… crashing right past tables and out the front door.

In the street he found himself sliding to a halt in the line of a number of guns, one shot nearly missing his right horn. “HEY! You could hurt someone like that!”

This, for once, seemed to take them a little aback. Wasn’t that the point? “Last warning! Get the hell out of here while you can! I know your people have done the unthinkable in order to survive and not simply out of malice. That’s why I came to warn you! There is an aerial strike ordered on this town. They are going to wipe you out unless you get out of here!”

His ears twitched to the doubtful murmurs, a growl curling his lips back from those rows of razor edged teeth. “You were too careless with who you brought down to your butcher block and it’s coming back to bite you in the rear. I wish you luck… and if you survive.. maybe you can find a better place  to make a new life for yourselves.” He couldn’t linger on. Noon already and he had to get himself to an airship port soon if he was going to make his trip to Steelhead.

The mad doctor pushed off from the earth again, the tears in his wing aggravated by the force as he made his way skyward and away from the town under a few departing shots of the more bold people of Bump. “Gods help them… This land must be cursed.”

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One Comment

  1. Mr. Arnold Mr. Arnold August 13, 2011

    You really do need to stop trying to help everyone Dr.   *Completely ignores at this point all the other details.  Sonnerstein had dropped more than enough hints over the past few months that the only surprise would have been (if he had seen this) was the wing span.*

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