|janecarnall (janecarnall) wrote,|
@ 2009-05-12 15:48:00
In The Mouth Of The Wolf: Part 3
The previous stories in this series (my Keptverse) began with The Games (six parts) and continued with The Network (one part), The Players (seven parts), The Gambler (seven parts), The Pieces (seven parts), and End-Game (5 parts).
There are parts one two, three and four of "In the Mouth of the Wolf", the sixth and final section of this story. Part five is written and will be posted after review: parts six and seven are still under development, but I do not *touch wood* perceive any MORE course-changes.
The story may be regarded as fanfic set in poisontaster's Keptverse. There is a species of cast list here.
He hadn't even been sure where this house was, but I-90 was only a few blocks away, and once on the interstate, heading into the city, he knew the route to Chicago Memorial almost without thinking about it. He had liked driving with Helen in the passenger seat, themselves the only two in the car: in the life they had led, it was rare to be alone outside their bedroom.
The van did not handle or smell like their car. He was conscious of his own hands on the wheel, of Sam strapped into the seat beside him. As they turned away from the lake, Kimble saw the cloud over the city: the plume of dark smoke from a destroyed building, licking at the sky.
Welcome to the revolution.
The chip was injected into the middle of a slave's back just below the shoulderblades. A slave's owner could take off the collar, or disguise the brand with cosmetics, if they chose, but the chip was unremovable except by surgery.There were no owners here. There was nothing legal about this.
But then, they were two runaways and an escaped convict: there was nothing legal about their continued existence.
The chip wasn't far below the skin. Tam took her shirt off and lay down on her face on one of the couches, where Kimble could get a strong light on her: it took him a few minutes to locate the chip, and a few seconds to cut it out of her once located. She bore it without making a sound: it was only when Kimble was dressing the small wound that it occurred to him he could have used a local: there were ready-charged ampules in the drawers, he'd seen them. He offered a local to Bo – but she shook her head: “I want to know it's out.”
The chip he had taken out of Tam lay in a tiny stain of blood on the fold-down table, but Kimble understood exactly what she meant. It took him less time to find the chip once he knew what he was looking for, and he showed it to her before he dressed the wound.
“Could we take out your chip?” Bo asked. She was pulling on her shirt. Kimble piled the equipment he had used together, his eyes down. Tam had perfect breasts – Tam was beautiful: and Bo was lovely. He had forgotten he could feel like this. Neither of them – none of them – had been allowed privacy of any kind, in years. He looked up when Bo was clothed again.
“I'm a convict,” Kimble said. The collar had been designed to activate if he tried to cut it off. Nobody had told him if the chip was designed to explode if removed, but it seemed like a clear possibility. I don't think you can. Either of you know anything about first aid?”
Tam had some training: Bo had none, beyond a basic notion of what to do about minor burns or small cuts.
There was equipment here there was no point in packing: but there were supplies Tam could use, or they could trade: he got them to put together a bag of bandages and dressings and aspirin, antiseptic wipes and antibacterial ointments, a box of surgical gloves and a couple of pairs of scissors. He pocketed a bottle of Vicodin for Sam.
Over on the other side, they could hear Emma and Stephanie upstairs. Standing at the foot of the stairs, Kimble was rubbing at his wrists until he noticed what he was doing, and stopped. Tam and Bo were standing close together, looking up the stairs to where the voices clamoured at each other. The house had always been silent before.
Two cartons were stacked by the front door: Kimble walked down the hall, away from the stairs, and opened the top one. There was a big bag of pasta at the top, the kind Ray liked, and underneath it a tightly packed assortment of dry food and sealed packets. The carton underneath, from the weight when he pushed it with his foot, was full of cans. He felt someone at his back and turned sharply: Tam and Bo had followed him. Bo went past him and pushed the front door open: the smell of fresh air and rain on the wind was in the hall.
Bo went outside: Tam stood in the doorway looking back at him. Kimble dropped the bag he had gathered and followed her out. There was a single car left on the gravel at the front of the house.
The outside air was chill on Kimble's face. He looked at the two girls. Bo had her hand in her pocket. Could we just go?
It was over two thousand miles to Nicaragua – the nearest country that didn't have a fugitive slaves treaty with the United States.Even if the US Marshals were busy with a revolution, even if Commerce was occupied suppressing the revolution, the girls surely wouldn't get there. Even if they didn't have collars, or chips, they didn't have cash, Tam looked too beautiful to be anything but a body slave –
Kimble turned away. Neither he nor Helen had ever bought young slaves for the household, never considered buying a body slave as young as Tam, not even when that was the fashionable age to display: they had bought for experience and polish, slaves trained to be useful in multiple roles. Tam was beautiful.
“Do you want to go?” Kimble asked. There was a pause before Bo answered, as if she and Tam were saying something to each other.
“Miss Emma wants to call home. She will, if we don't let her come along.”
“Where are you going?”
Kimble turned, surprised: Tam was looking at him, then her eyes flicked sideways to Bo. He saw she meant to convey something, in the voiceless way slaves communicated with each other: but whatever she meant, it wasn't something a slave in the dorms would have tried to communicate. He didn't understand her. He had never seen how slaves looked at each other before he was sentenced.
“I'm going to the hospital,” Kimble said. “Chicago Memorial. I used to work there.”
“Tam doesn't believe him,” Bo said. Her eyes shifted towards the house, but Kimble would have understood without that. “Even with the keys. And the gun.”
Kimble went upstairs slowly. Like ghosts that didn't see him, Emma and Stephanie came out of one of the bedrooms, both carrying bundles, and went past him, down the stairs.
As Kimble had guessed, Sam was in his room: he was sitting on the edge of his bed, his green swollen hands held in front of him. He looked up as Kimble came in.
“I can't get these gloves off.”
“I know,” Kimble said. “I'll valet you.”
He had got a clean suit and shirt out of the wardrobe, and was looking for clean socks and shorts and a tie in the drawers of the chest, when Sam asked “Why?”
The gloves looked wet around the fastenings, as if Sam, lacking anything else, had tried to open them with his teeth. Kimble glanced at his mouth, saw Sam watching him, and put his hands to the job of undressing Sam. He was no longer immaculate. Kimble's face and throat felt dry and tight and speechless. He swallowed, and went on unfastening buttons. He had peeled the waistcoat and shirt off, exposing Sam's bare chest – he had small nipples, smooth dark hair, not much of it, he had liked to play with Kimble's nipples and riffle his chest and armpit hair –
Sam's hands were gloved and burned. He could not touch Kimble with them. Kimble swallowed again, and said, dryly, finally, “I need you. To make sure we get to the hospital.” He went down on his knees to take off Sam's shoes, pull off his socks – he could smell how Sam had sweated with pain, even past the coffee that had stained into the pants –
He undid Sam's belt. Looking straight ahead, Sam shifted his weight a little, awkwardly, but making it easier for Kimble to pull off his pants. When Kimble put his hands to Sam's waist, he felt his muscles freeze.
“Why are you doing this?”
Kimble looked up. Sam's face had the same expression – focussed, frowning concentration – that he wore in bed: Kimble felt naked. He jerked Sam's shorts down, keeping his eyes on Sam's face, watching for some reaction, as he had watched for it before. Sam's mouth shut tight: his eyes seemed to study Kimble from a cave, giving nothing away.
Kimble stood up. Sam's face lifted to his. Kimble said “Use the bathroom. Before we go.” He turned away from Sam and went out, down the hall, to the unlocked cell where the clothes Sam had given him were stored. Voices, downstairs, children who had been abused and children who had been abusers, arguing as if they were friends at school. He might have bought a boy for David, if their son had lived.
Sam wanted to end all that. Kimble stripped himself. He had chinos, a clean shirt that didn't look too crumpled. He stopped in the middle of dressing himself, paused completely, caught by his own hands on himself.
His hands, touching his own body. His fingers, feeling for the chip beneath the skin. The scalpel, like an extension of his fingers, cutting with precision and accuracy. His hands, on his own skin.
“Helen,” he whispered. He had stopped thinking about her as more than a voice, a reminder, a scent he sometimes remembered. His hands had known her, his body had been hers. His own body had become something that could be used by others, opened and handled and fucked. His last sight of Helen had been a crumpled body, broken and unbreathing, dead to handle. He had lain beneath her, her mouth on his, her cunt holding his cock, her nipples hard against his, all of his flesh responding and becoming hers, all of hers his. She was gone. He had stopped.
His hands, on himself: he was touching his own body with his hands, dressing himself. The cell door could not be locked any more. Sam had unlocked all the doors.
Sam was not in the bedroom: the door to the bathroom stood wide open.
Kimble stood still, almost unwilling to answer: it felt as if in a few minutes he had gone so far away, but Sam's voice sounded as it always did: and despite himself, Kimble felt his name in that voice like a tug on his collar.
He went through into the bathroom. Sam was seated on the commode, naked, his face closed and expressionless, his hands hanging by his side. Kimble kept his eyes on Sam's face.
“I have to ask you to wipe my ass,” Sam said. His voice was level: for the first time since he had ever spoken to Kimble, it sounded effortful.
If you’ve got any ideas about how you’re going to valet me or bathe me...
Sam had suffered diarrhea. There was no sign of blood or other disorders. “Are you done?”
“Yeah,” Sam said. His voice was still effortfully level. “Emptied my gut till last week.”
“None in my gut.”
“I picked up Vicodin for your hands.”
Sam said nothing. Kimble steered him back into the bedroom. He had never dressed another adult like this before – even dressing David was something the slaves had more usually done than his parents. Sam said nothing until Kimble was knotting his tie for him.
“You should wear a tie,” Sam said. “I got a brown jacket in there, should fit you. All four of the kids going with you?”
“I don't know where else they can go.”
There was a pause: Kimble was looking through the wardrobe, finding the jacket Sam had identified, taking a plain black tie from the chest.Sam was sitting on the end of the bed, his hands between his knees, watching Kimble. “I was going to send them to this church, over in east Chicago. If they can get there safely, they should be okay. I meant to give the girl who can shoot one of Willow's guns.”
Kimble turned round and looked at him, knotting the tie. He pulled the jersey on. “Did you think I was going to kill you?”
Sam had dropped that in, as casually as if talking about the weather. If Richard killed me.
“Figured you might,” Sam said. He braced himself and got up unassisted. “What are you going to do at the hospital?” He sounded casual, curious, as if he were asking if it was raining.
Visit a friend. Open cages. Kimble shook his head. He couldn't speak if he tried to think about that. He swallowed.
“In boca al lupo,” Sam said. It was the same phrase he had used before, as they both knelt in the hall, when Kimble held his wrists and stared at his burned hands. It was the key he had told Kimble to use to unlock the house, to let the defenses down.
Kimble stared. He had seen this expression on Sam's face only once before: but Sam wasn't looking at him, his face somehow vulnerable, his eyes at a distance.
“Good luck,” Sam said. He met Kimble's eyes. “Let's go, Richard.”
There were security guards at the main entrance to the hospital, and at the emergency clinic entrance, though ambulances were going in and out. Kimble turned the van again round to the staff entrance: it was also guarded, but as if they had rehearsed this, when Kimble leaned over to open the passenger window, Sam leaned out and snapped at the guard “Medical emergency, US Marshals. Let me in.”
Sam lifted his gloved hand: “Can't get it out.”
The guard came over and peered into the car. Kimble wondered for an instant if he would recognise him, but he saw the guard's eyes fix on him for an instant and dismiss him as a slave . Sam's wallet was in his front pocket: thin, because all the cash in it had been divided evenly between the four girls. Kimble got it out, unfolded it, and showed the guard the ID card. He stuffed it back in Sam's pocket, and lifted the jacket lapel to show Sam's badge.
“Okay,” the guard said, and gestured at the other guard at the gate controls. They were in: and Kimble knew his way from here.
to part 4