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  • Writer's pictureMark Meier

The Brotherhood #58

By Mark W. Meier

Part 58

Act V

Victory


Chapter Fourteen


Gavin smiled when he saw Amy’s jaw drop as he sauntered into the room.

“Gavin? What are you doing here?”

The hotel clerk was pleased that she’d remembered his name. “I heard you were injured and wanted to visit.”

“Why would you travel five hundred miles to visit me? And how did you even know? Nobody in Waterloo even knows I’m here.”

Gavin moved to the window side of Amy’s bed and looked toward the highway. “I have my ways.”

A nurse came in to check on Amy. “How are we doing tonight, Miss Drabbs? You have a visitor, so that must be good news.”

A befuddled Amy managed to say, “Um. Yeah.”

Gavin cast a spell to convince the nurse to open up to him. “When do you think Amy will be released?”

The nurse perused the monitors hooked to Amy. “Sorry, but I can’t say anything about a patient unless she gives permission.” She looked at Amy out of the corner of her eye.

Gavin scowled as Amy shook her head a fraction. Why had his spell failed, and why was Amy so closed to him? “Uh, well, yeah. I get that. I guess.” Then he noticed Mastema loitering outside the hospital room.

“Time to go,” the tutor said.

Amy yawned. “Gavin, I’m getting kind of tired. I’d like to rest, if you don’t mind.”

But the nurse stayed, raising Gavin’s ire. “Okay.” Magic had failed to operate, so he needed to regroup anyway. “I’ll stop in tomorrow.” He left without waiting for a response.

Once the door closed, Mastema told him, “Don’t try magick again until you’re rested.” He manifested a physical, albeit invisible, hand and forcibly pulled Gavin back from the bank of elevators. “Do you understand me?”

The hotel clerk gulped, but still resisted his teacher. “You don’t own me. I teleported us here, so I know something of magic.”

The ghostly wizard gave Gavin the superior glare the young man had grown to hate. “Have you noticed the difference between the way you say ‘magic’ and the way I say ‘magick?’ Don’t you think you’re barely touching the surface of what’s available?”

“I know enough.” Gavin crossed his arms.

An orderly walked past. “Talking to yourself? We have room available in our special wing.”

“Cell call.” Gavin pointed at his ear.

Mastema laughed. “That’s going to get old. But let’s see how much magick you can do with unresponsive hands.” He flicked a finger toward Gavin’s hands.

“Right.” Gavin sneered, but when he reached to press the elevator’s call button his hands didn’t respond. His arm lifted, but everything from the wrist outward was as limp as a wet plastic grocery bag.

Mastema’s arrogant sneer had returned. “Right. Do as I say.” The wizard pressed the button Gavin had failed to activate. “Find a place to stay, rest up, and we’ll try again tomorrow.” Another flicker of a gesture toward the limp hands. “I’ll meet you in the lobby. Something I have to do up here.”

Gavin stared and his hands, flexing them to make sure they worked again. He barely managed to slip through the doors as they closed.

***

Mastema zipped over to the nurses station. Amy’s chart was up and a CNA was making a note about the Toradol she was about to administer. She went to a dispensary and unlocked a refrigerated cabinet. When she reached for the painkiller Mastema edged her hand over a few vials.

“Nembutal should do the trick,” he muttered to himself.

***

Governor Rawlin stood at the podium in his press room. A dozen reporters shouted questions at the smiling man. His wife smirked beside him, and his son and two daughters stood off to one side of the low platform.

Rawlin raised a hand, and the room quieted a little. “I’d like to answer the allegations about having two wives. In fact, I have fifteen wives.” He gave the shocked news people a wide smile. “No, let’s make it thirty, or fifty.”

Silence answered him.

As the assembly roused into indignation, he pulled a stack of papers from a shelf in the lectern. “How about a hundred?”

Mrs. Rawlin took the documents and walked down the two steps to the front row of reporters. She peeled off a few sheets and handed them to the first reporter. Another few pages went to a second, then more to the next, and so on until everyone in the room had at least a few marriage certificates.

“They all look real, don’t they?” Rawlin said. “They’re all fake.” He glanced at Sally Shoen in the back of the room and nodded an acknowledgment. She’d saved his career in a matter of hours.

Who knew what else she could do? And all she asked was to investigate a Savannah law firm, which seemed reasonable enough. If they’d done nothing wrong, what could it hurt?

***

The nurse drew out the amount of medication the chart indicated and inserted the hypodermic into the port on Amy’s IV.

***

Austin had just turned off Skidaway onto Bonaventure when her cell phone rang. She answered via her car’s hands-free system. She didn’t recognize the number, but took the chance it wasn’t a spam caller. “Jessica Austin.”

“Jessica, Miles Archer.”

“Miles.” Austin took a moment to recognize her landlord’s name. He’d never called since she’d rented the place three years earlier. “Something wrong?”

“Well, you could say that.”

Archer’s slower-than-usual southern drawl told Austin something serious had happened. “What is it, Miles?”

“A water main broke on Fennel.”

Austin crossed over the canal and followed the road as it curved to the right. “I’m almost home. What’s happening?”

Background voices came through the phone before Archer spoke again. “Might as well turn around, Jessica. Your house is gone.”

“What?” Austin was almost too stunned to follow the soft bends on Bonaventure. “What do you mean? What happened?”

“The leaking water undercut a large part of the house’s foundation. The entire front of the home has collapsed.” More background noise. “No, don’t worry about it,” Archer said to someone on his end of the call. “I’m going to raze the building. Knock down whatever you need to.”

“Miles!” Austin’s voice climbed an octave. “I have belongings in there! Let me get some stuff out before you do anything drastic.”

***

Mastema looked in through the window as the CNA depressed the plunger on the hypodermic. He cursed as the body of the device shattered.

“Problems?” Amy asked.

“Yeah.” The nurse stared at the broken pieces in her hand.

Mastema, however, knew. The enemy’s presence in the hospital grew, and he was forced to leave.

***

Ruax blocked Archer’s cell reception, so all he heard was, “Miles! I have . . . .”

A utility worker in an orange vest asked, “Are you sure?”

Archer glared at his phone and tucked it away. “If nobody can get in there, what’s the difference if there’s something valuable?”

The utility man signaled a backhoe operator. The engine revved.

A minute later Miss Sharp’s car came into view. The roof of her home crashed into the living area, destroying everything inside.

Ruax danced.

***

Kiel’s phone rang, interrupting his evening meal. He glanced at the caller ID and answered. “Jessica, what’s up?”

“My house is gone, Ben.”

Kiel lowered his fork into the takeout container. The chicken Alfredo could wait. “What do you mean, gone?”

Austin’s voice, choked with emotion, told the story of a broken water main washing dirt and foundation material down the street. Most of her neighbors were evacuated pending inspection, but her house was already razed.

“What are you going to do?” Kiel glanced at his supper. People were more important than a cold meal.

“I’ll stay in a hotel tonight. Tomorrow I’ll collect my things from the office and head to Atlanta. No sense trying to reestablish myself in Savannah for only a couple of months.”

Kiel was speechless. Nothing like this had ever happened to him or anyone he knew.

“Ben? You there?”

“Yeah.” He ran a hand over the top of his head. “I don’t know what to say. This is a huge setback for you. Can you salvage anything?”

“Doubtful.” Anger crept into Austin’s voice. “My landlord told the utility guys to bring down the house before I even got there. Everything’s gone.”

“Well.” Kiel paused. “Is there anything I can do? My place is too small, but I have some cash if you need clothes, or luggage, or anything.”

“I just need to think, Ben. Better yet, I need to not think.” Austin went quiet for a bit. “I’m going to do some shopping tonight. My credit cards should cover my needs, short term.”

***

Ruax listened in on the rest of the conversation, but nothing of consequence was said. He briefly considered messing with Miss Sharpe’s ability to use her credit cards, but that would work against his assignment to get her out of Savannah.

Besides, he could have his fun with her once she arrived in Atlanta.

Something to look forward to.


If you appreciate this story, please consider supporting the author's ability to write more stories by purchasing The Brotherhood, available in print and on Kindle. Please share on social media, and leave a review on the page linked above.



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