Hollow Moon Part 26
- Hollow Moon Part 1
- Hollow Moon Part 2
- Hollow Moon Part 3
- Hollow Moon Part 4
- Hollow Moon Part 5
- Hollow Moon Part 6
- Hollow Moon Part 7
- Hollow Moon Part 8
- Hollow Moon Part 9
- Hollow Moon Part 10
- Hollow Moon Part 11
- Hollow Moon Part 12
- Hollow Moon Part 13
- Hollow Moon Part 14
- Hollow Moon Part 15
- Hollow Moon Part 16
- Hollow Moon Part 17
- Hollow Moon Part 18
- Hollow Moon Part 19
- Hollow Moon Part 20
- Hollow Moon Part 21
- Hollow Moon Part 22
- Hollow Moon Part 23
- Hollow Moon Part 24
- Hollow Moon Part 25
- Hollow Moon Part 26
- Hollow Moon Part 27
- Hollow Moon Part 28
- Hollow Moon Part 29
- Hollow Moon Part 30
- Hollow Moon Part 31
“Please, at least let me have my clothes, Esk. Please, I promise I won’t try to escape again. Just let me have my clothes,” Dr. Severius pleaded.
“If you attempt to run again, I will be angry, Lod. I do not get angry often, but it does happen from time to time. I am not proud of what I do when I am angry. Understood?” Esk explained.
“Yes,” Severius said.
Esk unstrapped Dr. Severius and allowed him to dress. In the meantime, Esk engineered another set of living quarters for this second human. He still needed to interrogate the Reverend in addition to getting Lod to cough up the information he had. Esk found that his head hurt with the stress of this complex situation weighing on him. He almost wished that he could trust Lod’s medical expertise to prescribe him some of the pills he said were for anxiety. Too bad he could not trust him. Esk already needed the antidote for one poison. He did not need additional trouble there.
“This way, Lod,” Esk said.
He directed Severius to the chambers that he had set up for him to live in temporarily, which mirrored those he had arranged for the Reverend. The two still did not know about each other’s presence, and Esk preferred to keep things that way. An invisible barrier was placed over the entrance to keep Lod contained until Esk could question him in detail. Now, to check on Sam.
“Esk, you gotta get in here! Look at the TV!” Sam shouted when Esk walked through the door that afternoon. “They still ain’t caught that escaped convict! Ain’t that somethin’?”
“Yes, Sam. That is quite odd,” Esk said.
If Esk had his way, the felon would never be captured or even found, for that matter. He was the perfect replacement for the Reverend, and the worst thing that could happen was the inmate going back to prison for the Reverend’s offense instead of his own. Esk was pleased with his plans so far. However, he was perturbed by the humans’ resistance to give up information. He decided he would ask Sam about that.
Before Esk could ask Sam anything, though, Sam told him all the things he had missed. For one thing, the Chief Gossip had come by Sam’s cabin.
“Yeah, she was a’rubbin’ up aginst me an’ tryin’ ta’ grope me an’ everythin’ she could think of ta’ try ta’ get me ta’ tell ‘er ‘bout’cha. I didn’t tell her nothin’, though. She’s what they call promisc’ius, I think. Wants ta’ have relations with ever’body. Maybe she’s sweet on you, Esk. Jus’ watch out. She’s no good. Stay away from ‘er.”
“I intend to stay far from the Chief Gossip Bandersnatch.”
“Good. I’ll keep runnin’ interference fer ya’, buddy. I won’t let ‘er get’cha.”
“Thank you, Sam.”
Esk felt uneasy in his recliner that night. He could not shake the feeling of doom that had overtaken him concerning the King Axolotl, Lod, the Chief Gossip, the Reverend… you name it. If it was a sticky situation, his mind was working overtime on it. Esk got up and walked to the refrigerator. Inside, he found what was called “string cheese.” He wondered about it, then decided to try some. Esk did not really care what he could assimilate at this point. He was curious.
Esk carefully opened the plastic around the string cheese, expecting it to fall all over the table in strings. Instead, he found it to be a solid stick of soft, smelly, flexible white material. Esk slapped it softly on the countertop to see if it needed to be broken into strings. All that did was cause enough noise to summon Sam to the kitchen.
“Aw, Esk. I didn’t know ya’ was hungry ‘er I’d a’ fixed ya’ a better supper. Here. This here’s a good midnight snack. Ya’ peel it, like this,” Sam demonstrated. “Ain’t that cool stuff?”
Esk almost passed out from fright. It reminded him too much of dismembering a DNA ball—his own kind—and made him rather nauseous.
“Yes. Um, cool.” Esk said as steadily as he could. “I am going to try to sleep some more.”
Sam wondered why Esk had abandoned the string cheese, but there was no use in wasting a perfectly good piece of it. Sam happily peeled away at the delicious white stick.
The Chief Gossip Bandersnatch found herself moping about in Lawrence Pritchard’s house. Bored, she ran her fingers through her dark hair, shaking her head as she did it. The throbbing in her head would not cease. She wondered where her lover kept his painkillers. Rifling through his cabinets, she eventually found his stash of ibuprofen, acetaminophen, aspirin, naproxen, and other headache-easing remedies. Jean also found a variety of other medications—prescription medications. Among them were an antidepressant, an anxiolytic, and a sleeping pill. Now she had the dirt on Pritchard, or so she thought.
The Deacon Pritchard had not been well since their shared run-in with the Reverend and his shotgun. Evidently, Lawrence had need of psychotherapy as well, judging from his day planner, which Mrs. Bandersnatch found in the study tucked underneath his well-used Bible. She pondered whether he would ever be able to perform in bed with her again. His arm and shoulder were not so much the problem. It was psychological. She was now a pariah to him.
Esk rolled over, trying to sleep but found the task impossible. His mind was too busy, flitting from one worry to another.
Where is the Council? Why did Lod kidnap them? What if the King Axolotl is dead already…again? How is the Reverend controlling the King Axolotl, or is the King Axolotl controlling him? How do the Gossips commune with their dead? Oh, I wish I had the collective consciousness to help me right now. I cannot even reach them; Lod has removed them so far from me. What about my linguistic mission? I have not yet mastered even one language, and there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, on this planet. And what is Lod’s stake in researching psychopaths, anyway?
These questions and more plagued Esk’s mental faculties. Unable to sleep, he decided to return to the moon to see if he could gain any more information from his captives.
Esk decided to keep his armor intact for the initial interrogations but considered retracting it if things did not progress as he wished. He wanted—no, needed—information, and soon.
After checking on Lod, who was fast asleep on the bed with his suit on, Esk went to the Reverend’s chambers. The Reverend was kneeling beside his bed with his hands folded and mouthing words of some sort. Esk stepped through the barrier that he had created to keep the Reverend contained. The Reverend started and looked over his shoulder at Esk.
“What are you doing?” asked Esk.
“Prayin’, son,” the Reverend said.
“You mean communing with your dead.”
“I guess ya’ could say that.”
“How do you commune with your dead?”
“Well, it’s pretty simple.”
Esk grabbed the Reverend by the collar and lifted him into the air. The Reverend’s surprised face and wide eyes betrayed his sudden renewed fear of Esk.
“Whaddaya doin’?” the Reverend asked.
“I am warning you, Reverend. I need to know where the King Axolotl is before he expires. I know you are a cannibal, and I know that you use him to commune with your dead somehow. Tell me what I want to know!”
Esk began to glow within his armor—a brilliant silver glow—and he dropped the Reverend, who crumpled to the floor. So bright was the light emanating from Esk that the speechless Reverend had to hold a hand up to shield his eyes from the light, squinting to see. Esk began to walk away, and the light faded as he stalked off down the hallway through other chambers. Questioning Dr. Severius was next on Esk’s to-do list.