Protecting Bedlam: Now, It’s Personal Part 1

Previously on the latest tale of Cassidy & Lloyd.

(If you want, buy their previous rampages for $2 by clicking on the covers below.)

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

Cover by Jon Hunsinger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Parked atop a hill outside of Columbia, Missouri, Cassidy and Lloyd stare at the horrific scene before them. The landscape is dotted with crosses, all of them marked with blood and hooked up to strange boxes by black wires. Dune buggies drive among the metal structures, the soldiers wearing bronze stars on their back and wielding military-grade weaponry. Crows circle the area in search of scraps, the birds in a fierce competition with the large rats that roam the ground. There are still some patches of flowers on the edge of the area, but they are steadily being overtaken by weeds since there is nobody to tend to the garden. Lloyd nudges Cassidy when he spots a rainbow-colored scarf on one of the crosses, the garment waving in the wind until a passing soldier angrily yanks it down. The man sets the clothing on fire and stomps on it until the colorful fabric is smeared with mud.

“Please tell me this is freaking you out too,” Lloyd whispers as he goes back to the jeep. He sits on the hood and goes back to looking through the binoculars. “I can only imagine what’s going on down there. Well, crucifixion is the obvious thing. On the bright side, nobody is on a cross, so maybe it’s just for show. Kind of like Vlad the Impaler did to scare his enemies. Only he used dead people and went on to be played predominantly by men with incredibly shiny hair, which doesn’t help us here. There’s a pretty big star on the map over this place, so we need to do something.”

“I could snipe a few from here,” Cassidy suggests while she stares through her scope. Her fingers rub the trigger and she sticks out her tongue to taste the faint wind. “That would only cause trouble. A big city like this has to have a big operation. Just wish I had some clue as to what’s going on. There’s those Bronze Stars too. I saw them on Nigel’s screens, so Custer is certainly active here.”

“Maybe, but him and his daughter didn’t strike me as the biblical punishment types,” Lloyd says, his attention drifting away. A loud bang jolts him out of his looming trance and he looks down to see a soldier picking up a dead crow. “At least we know they’re a little trigger-happy and have no concern about wasting bullets. You know, these guys don’t move or act like military people. We’ve run into those types before and there’s a . . . tallness to their movements. Not sure how to put it, but the serious soldiers we’ve met always seem a few inches taller than they really are. The fakes, like these guys, are more brutish and move with a weird slouch. Almost like they’re ashamed of the game they’re playing, but love the attention and automatic respect too much to give it up.”

Suddenly realizing that her companion is still talking, Cassidy turns back to shoot him a quizzical look. “Sorry, but I missed a lot of that. Kind of focused on what’s happening down there. Looks like somebody is coming out of the city. Want to get over here and take a look or should I leave the wise sage on his mountain?”

“If I’m the mountain sage, are you the luckless guy with the big nose?”

“Son of a bitch.”

“More of a sarcastic married couple fan?”

“Get your ass over here, dumbass.”

The edge on Cassidy’s voice causes Lloyd to take the situation more seriously and he hurries to her side. Following her line of vision, the serial killer sees a pair of jeeps from the city meeting with a prison bus. He immediately recognizes Grymer, the red-nosed advisor wearing a large trench coat over his ratty clothes. The man is followed by another Pinworm, whose face is more angular than the original. With a growl, the obedient servant scurries away from an unfamiliar figure stepping out of the jeep and moving to stand alongside Grymer. The barrel-chested man looks like a statue come to life, including his soft face reminding the serial killer of squishy clay. Carrying a rocket launcher, the local warlord is dressed in a light grey suit that is adorned with crosses on the front and a bronze star on the back. Still confused by his partner’s burst of anger, Lloyd takes a closer look at the jeeps and spots a stabbed rainbow drawn on the hoods. He is about to ask about the meaning when the prisoners begin getting off the bus, all of them shackled and wearing a shirt that reads ‘abomination’ on the front.

“Holy fucking shit,” the serial killer whispers, putting down his binoculars. Reaching out to Cassidy, he carefully removes her finger from the trigger. “You have a right to be angry, but we need to have a plan. Probably more prisoners in the city, which means we have to get inside and cause a jailbreak. I’m really amazed by this. Not the hate, but how it’s being waved around like a mark of pride. They’re not even trying to hide this one, which is fairly sickening. You going to be okay?”

“The man’s name is Chris Tanner,” Cassidy hisses like a cornered serpent. Gripping her sniper rifle, she is on the verge of firing when she covers her mouth and screams. “My mom ran into him about five years ago. He was leading a gang that claimed to be saving those who fell from the path. She was on a rescue job and it brought us to Tanner, who had kidnapped the person she was looking for. He claims the man joined him willingly to be free of his sins, but that was a lie. I don’t know much more beyond that and he was targeting the LGBTQ community. I thought she’d killed everyone. At least, she said they wouldn’t be a problem any more. There are only a few jobs that my mom didn’t talk about and Chris Tanner was one of them. It changed her. Made her more cold and scared me, which is why I made sure to find his picture and memorize it. Just in case he was still out there.”

“Well, it isn’t like we aren’t already on a revenge mission,” Lloyd points out with a crooked smile. He is surprised when his friend tosses him her keys and jerks her thumb at the jeep. “What the hell is this? This isn’t a time to break up the band. We haven’t even reached the point where we set a bus on fire. Okay, we have done that before, but not by accident. Look, kid, I know what’s going through your head. You want to kill that guy, but he obviously has an unhinged army behind him. This isn’t something you do alone. Besides, it’s very rude to hog all the killing.”

Fighting the urge to laugh, the mercenary rubs her forehead scar and leans on her sniper rifle. “I promise to be okay. My plan is simply to kill Grymer and wait here for Tanner to arrest me. He wants to convert more than kill, which means he’ll take me alive as soon as I tell him I’m a lesbian. You’re going to take the jeep and get out of sight until nightfall. Then, you sneak inside and cause a mess that I can use for a jailbreak. It’s a risky plan, but it means we get a look at the operation and I get within reach of Tanner. This is me finishing a job my mother left behind.”

“Here I thought we were done with you lurking in her shadow,” Lloyd mutters while trudging to the jeep. Getting into the driver’s seat, he sticks his head out and whistles for Cassidy to turn around. “I’m going on record as hating this plan. The instant things look like they’re going wrong, I’m saving your ass. Don’t care how often you zap me, kid. Losing you doesn’t sit well with me since nobody else in this wasteland knows the way I like my pizza.”

“Hot and meaty, which I have to say when ordering because it makes you giggle like a schoolgirl,” Cassidy replies before adjusting her aim. She watches her target move behind a vehicle, which leaves only his rear visible. “Don’t leave until I take the shot because I want to put my rifle in the jeep. It would suck if I lost this baby. Just open the passenger side window and I’ll stuff it in after one shot.”

Not waiting for an agreement, Cassidy follows Grymer and waits for him to step back into view. The mercenary fires as soon as she sees his head, but the man is already bending down to tie his shoe as she pulls the trigger. Pinworm takes the bullet in the chest and flies back against the prison bus, his body leaving a bloody smear as it falls. The captives are rushed into the city by the soldiers while Chris and his bodyguards head for the hill. Knowing she only has a minute or two, Cassidy leaps to her feet and shoves the sniper rifle into the jeep. She smacks the back bumper like the departing vehicle is a horse, the dust trail quickly settling while she kicks and stomps at the tracks. By the time the soldiers arrive, the mercenary is standing with her hands in the air. She slowly turns around to reveal the handguns under her denim jacket, the safeties having been clicked back on.

“You expect me to believe a girl like you made that shot with a pistol?” Chris asks as he approaches. He pulls out a cattle prod that he holds an inch from the mercenary’s face. “Well, I’ve seen stranger over the years. It doesn’t explain why you did it. That creature wasn’t really human, so were you auditioning for my army? Not sure we have any need for a girl who does trick shots.”

“I was aiming for Grymer,” Cassidy proudly admits. She leans away when the cattle prod sparks to life, her temptation to grab her stun gun making her fingers twitch. “My plan was to kill that fat bastard and then take you out in the confusion. Heard you declared war on my people, so I wanted to put an end to you. Guess luck wasn’t on my side. Missed the target and there wasn’t enough chaos for me to run away.”

The warlord cautiously eyes the woman and raises his hand to signal for one of his men to come forward. “Take her guns, jacket, and boots. We’ll have the doctor examine her to see if she’s telling the truth. Always hard to tell if these women are really lesbians or are simply in it for attention. Wait a second. That tattoo and forehead scar are familiar. I think this is the one Grymer and Elaine Custer warned us about. Still, best to confirm with the doctor. Remember that anyone who manhandles her will be put on a cross and enlightened until they learn that such things are unacceptable. Improperly touch an abomination and you risk becoming one.”

“Don’t forget about me!” Lloyd shouts as he runs up the hill. Wearing only boxers and a shirt that shows a blonde-haired warrior standing on a rainbow bridge, the serial killer staggers the last few steps. “I want to turn myself in, sir. Been hiding in the wilderness where I only have the animals to talk to. I’m bi, so that should get me taken as a prisoner too, right?”

“If this girl is who I think she is then this one is the lunatic,” the warlord says as he heads for his jeep. He takes a moment to watch the prison bus leave, Grymer clearly visible in the open door. “Nobody in their right mind would claim to be bi. Again, we’ll have the doctor confirm everything. If either of you are lying, we’ll put you on a cross. Death or enlightenment are your only paths at this point.”

“What do you think you’re doing?” Cassidy hisses as their hands are bound. Ropes are tied to their cuffs and they are forced to jog behind their enemies or risk being dragged. “I had everything under control. Sure, I didn’t expect him to recognize me since we’ve never met before. Not to mention there’s this mysterious doctor. My point is . . . Who am I kidding? I’d rather have you by my side on this one. Can’t believe you said you were bi.”

“I wasn’t lying.”

“You aren’t bi, Lloyd.”

“Bi-murderous. I kill people of all genders.”

“Good one, you crazy bastard.”

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
This entry was posted in Bedlam Series, Protecting Bedlam and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Protecting Bedlam: Now, It’s Personal Part 1

  1. L. Marie says:

    Oh my goodness, Charles. Cassidy and Lloyd continue to amaze. But they both point to you. Wow. Your imagination is incredible!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Protecting Bedlam: Now, It’s Personal Part 2 | Legends of Windemere

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