Tattoo: The Books of Glory

a webserial about people who are not like us

Tattoo Book 3.14

Posted by harmony0stars on April 12, 2009

Gil nonchalantly wandered over to where the wires lay in the wet leaves. Picking them up, he examined the ends and looked around as if trying assess where the battery might have gone. Professor Scott scrutinized him for several seconds, and Gil hoped he didn’t look too guilty as he dropped the wires and stared out into the barrens.

“I got a call from Professor Jacoby that you’d defected Gil.”

Gil looked up genuinely startled. If the professor had been warned, why had he let Gil back into the group. Thinking fast, he replied, “But you didn’t believe him, did you? I mean, no offense Professor Scott, but I just spent a month with the man and he’s… well…?”

“Not wound too tight,” Professor Scott finished, nodding. “I know. He needs to calm down or he’s going to end up getting himself committed.” He sounded regretful. “Please don’t let this get around Gil, but you could say that Professor Jacoby is uniquely suited to hunting mythos creatures. He married one.”

At Gil’s dumbfounded expression, his teacher waved a hand dismissively. “He didn’t know it obviously, but his ex-wife’s family came from Innsmouth. I’m sure you’ve heard of the place?” At Gil’s uneasy nod, Professor Scott continued. “She took their daughter when she left him, and he hasn’t seen either one of them since. We felt that if we allowed him to continue working, it might help to distract him from his troubles, but that obviously is not the case….”

“That… that’s kind of why I had to leave him. I don’t know what Professor Jacoby told you, but he just completely lost it while I was trying to question someone about Mike and Gozala. I mean, up until that point, I was willing to go along with him, even if he was starting to make me as cra… as high strung as he is, but he started yelling racial slurs in the middle of the street. That kind of makes sense now that you told me about his ex-wife, but when he threatened to leave and then threatened to flunk me when I didn‘t jump to follow him…. That was just too absurd. I decided I’d be better off without him.”

The professor sighed, rubbing his hands as if they hurt him. “I figured it was something like that. I got a call earlier that he had a similar episode on the highway.”

“I was wondering what all the traffic was about. I just thought there was an accident or something and went around.”

“Which leads me to my next question… how did you know where to find us without Professor Jacoby?”

“Oh, well, the woman I was questioning had let Gozala and Mike stay with her overnight. She said Gozala had mentioned the barrens and a couple towns, and without Professor Jacoby, I didn’t know what I should be doing, so I rented a car and just drove around until I found you guys.”

Professor Scott shook his head. “Do you realize how incredibly dangerous that was Gil? You didn’t even have any protection. We lost two men out here the first time we encountered Gozala and her… parent, three if you want to include Mike, and they had a starstone. That’s why everyone in the group is carrying one, and we brought extra just to be safe.”

Gil hung his head. Professor Scott was right. What the heck had he been thinking, coming out here without some kind of protection, even if he wasn’t exactly playing for the home team any more. He should have asked Glory for something. Then he mentally kicked himself and rubbed his eyes. Magic… now he was starting to think just like everyone else. Charms or starstones, what was the difference?

“Do you want me to go look for the battery too?”

“No, stay with me. The others have assigned partners. They know to search in pairs. I don’t want anyone off by themselves.”

“OK…um,” Gil paused, unsure of how much he should share about what he now knew. And perversely annoyed that no one had been concerned when he went off to the van by himself to deposit his box of bones. “Professor?”

“Yes, Gil?” Professor Scott looked up impatiently. He had removed one of the long bones from a box and held it delicately in his long fingers. Gil was no expert, but he suspected it was human. Maybe a leg bone.

“I know you all said that Mike was being mind controlled, but… Glory, that is the woman I was questioning, she said that he was sick.”

“Sick how?” the professor queried, suddenly very interested.

“Well, I don’t know. I didn’t see him. But, she made it sound like he was… that he was… close to death.”

“Hmmmm,” was Professor Scott’s only response.

“Do you… do you suppose that he’s not being mind controlled after all? Maybe he’s helping Gozala out because he’s sick, and he thinks she can cure him.”

The professor slowly shook his head. “I know you and Mike were friends and of course you’d want to think the best of him, but I think Mike would be smart enough to know that if she could cure him, she would have done so by now. I know I‘d rather think that he‘s being controlled than that he’s a collaborator. At least then there’s hope we can save him. On the other hand, maybe this sickness is what allowed Gozala to get control over him in the first place even when we had her isolated in the lab. No one was affected but him because she had already infected him when they met…” He considered a moment, then asked, “What about this woman you met. Glory? Was she ill or strange in any way?”

That actually made Gil laugh out loud. When his professor gave him an odd look, Gil explained, “Sorry professor, but lately I’ve been thinking I’m the only person who’s not a little strange.”

Professor Scott snorted, and Gil continued. “She didn’t seem sick to me at all. I don’t know about strange. I only spent maybe fifteen minutes with her.”

“Hmmm, well, it may be that she didn’t spend enough time with the creature to come under its control.” Gil doubted that was the case. He’d seen some of Glory’s tattoos when she showed him the star sign on her shoulder. No doubt she had other kinds of protection as well.

Some of the other students began trickling back into camp. None of them had found the battery, and it was starting to get dark. Professor Scott looked up into the twilit sky and shook his head. If he was any judge, the light wouldn’t last another hour. He looked back at the cave opening and then to the expectant faces of his students. “Alright everyone,” he shouted loud enough to be heard by the students still searching the surrounding area. “Let’s gather at the van. I don’t want to be too close to the entrance when we make camp for the night.”

His declaration was greeted with groans and muttered complaints as several of the students who had found seats on rotting logs and a few moderately sized boulders got back to their feet. The professor pulled out his phone as they walked towards the van, but he’d known the battery was low an hour ago. He’d been hoping to charge it once they put the battery back in their vehicle and were on their way. Now he was on his last bar. The barrens seemed to suck the life out of everything, including cell phones. He hoped the battery from the van would still have a charge in the morning… if they managed to find it come daylight.

“Gil!” he called out, and Gil stopped in the midst of the grand egress to wait for his professor. “How far away is your car?” he asked as he caught up.

Instead of answering, Gil looked up at the darkening sky. “I don’t think we’d reach it before dark, professor.”

Blowing a puff of air from his pursed lips, Professor Scott flipped open his phone and called his superiors to tell them of their setback. If worse came to worse, someone could at least come around the following day to unstrand them. They would hook up Gil’s battery to the detonator at dawn and hopefully be on their way when their backup arrived. At the same time, he would tell his peers that his phone was nearly dead. At least they wouldn’t panic when he didn’t show up and they were unable to contact him in a few hour’s time. Even if he turned his phone off to conserve the battery, he suspected it would still drain down to nothing by dawn.

to Book 3, page 15

Advertisements

4 Responses to “Tattoo Book 3.14”

  1. here2read said

    I like this story.

  2. Darkthorn said

    Uh, there appears to be something wrong with the link to page 15 of this chapter. It’s sending me to
    http://www.angelfire.com/de/poetry/COB/COBArchive.html

    If that’s correct, please excuse me.

    • harmony0stars said

      Grrr! I don’t even know how that happened! That’s the second weird link this week!

      Thanks for letting me know, and I’ve fixed it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: