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The Red “X”


It had been a busy night at ‘Cuffs, greeting a few new faces and relaxing with some old friends. As the evening wore on, Sky excused herself and turned in. Scottie, ever the night owl, stayed behind and kept their remaining patrons company.

When a few stragglers decided to call it a night, Scottie enjoyed a quiet walk about Port. He stopped by his bookshop, leaning against the doorless entryway and taking a few moments to recall the fond memories he’d made there with his first few friends, his wife among them. It was his first acquisition in Babbage and it still held a special place in his heart.

He walked around the shop to the air park, gazing up at the new tower as he passed by. He had to hand it to Kimika, it was a marvelous addition to Port, if he did say so himself. He continued on to Loner Lane, his first expansion in Babbage. He slid aside the manhole cover and climbed down into the underground. He knew the layout like the back of his hand by now, and even in the dark he stood before the door to the makeshift cell, staring at it through the blackness thoughtfully. Was she still alive in there? Had she burned through the candles? What demons might be tearing away at her? He hoped for her sake that she was in some sort of torment. It would show there was something human behind that icy exterior of hers.

Emerging from the underground, he slid the cover back in place and continued his walk. He passed the Square, chuckling softly to himself as he recalled the spreading green and the ensuing bonfire. The parties had been a lot of fun, and his mind started turning over the possibility of having another soon.

He finally reached ‘Cuffs again, the lantern lighting up the doorway. Funny things, doors. Even with a hole in the wall, some people will still go out of their way to use the door. He supposed after a lifetime of using them to get in and out of places, some folks were just more comfortable that way. Hell, even though Scottie and Sky preferred looking out on Port through the open wall, they still locked the doors every time they closed and unlocked them every time they were open for business.

He climbed the steps to lock up for the night when he spotted something laying on the top step. Quirking a brow, he stooped to examine it. It looked to be an old square piece of parchment with a large red “X” drawn upon it.

He looked around quickly, peering into the darkness and listening intently. A few drunks and dockworkers (and certainly a combination of the two) were all that seemed to be about right now. Returning his attention to the note, he wondered what it meant. As far as notes went, it was pretty damned vague. But then, a single piece of paper with a red “X” couldn’t be good, could it?


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