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Next of Kin, Chapter 28: 58%


  08:07:00 pm, by Nic Wilson   , 931 words  
Categories: Next of Kin

Next of Kin, Chapter 28: 58%

Twenty-Eight, 58%

?I'm going to need to borrow your shower curtain,? I told her.
?Take it,? she said, ?It's torn.?
I used the curtain to drag Jim out to my car. My own gunshot wound wasn't healed, so every step hurt. I was thankful for it, because it was the only thing I could feel.
There wasn't any love lost between Jim and I, but I shot him. On principal, I'd always hated guns for their destructive potential. And I'd used that potential against another human being. I realized the numbness was probably itself a blessing, keeping me from vomiting on Jim as I dragged him.
He groaned as the seam between her front door and the sidewalk rippled beneath him, which at least meant I wasn't dragging a corpse.
Chase was standing beside my car, with a shit-eating grin on his face. ?You've definitely got him on assault this time,? he said. ?Probably two counts, if the lady's story can hold up. But you still don't have him on the murder.?
?I will if you can help me put him in the trunk.?
?I like the trunk part,? he said. ?The lifting sounds like the kind of thing my chiropractor would frown on.?
?How long will two counts of assault put him away for??
?Months, but definitely not years.?
?Can you live with that number??
?I've lived with worse, kid.?
?But you don't have to, this time.?
?All right, all right. You don't have to keep guilting me. But if I herniate a disc, you owe me a massage. And I only take mine with a happy ending.? We lifted, and together, the weight of him wasn't so bad.
?That's not funny,? I said, once Jim's weight was off me.
?It might have been; I imagine the weight of that much man, metaphorically, threw off my delivery.?
?You okay??
?Nervous now?? he asked.
?There was never going to be a happy ending.?
?Kid, I been in this business long enough that these stories usually end with a body in a trunk.? He slapped me on the back, suddenly deadly serious. ?And I got a feeling that what comes next will go smoother without me around- and that I wouldn't be there, anyhow.?
?Yeah,? I said, and shut the trunk. He must have believed we were at the endgame, too, since he wasn't mugging for the cameras.
It wasn't until I was behind the wheel that I noticed that my rating had peaked, and the chat was full of people doing victory laps; a surprising number of them believed that they actually helped me get to this point.
There was also a steady drumbeat from Randal demanding torture, and suggesting resources for an amateur's improvised devices.
I wasn't about to get literally medieval on him, not if I didn't have to.
And thanks to the dead zone, I didn't think I'd have to. I called Jenel. ?I'm going to need a favor. I caught Jim. He was shot in the process.?
?He's good for it, if you want us to patch him up.?
?I want something more than that. I want the reverse of what I got.?
It took her a moment to piece together what I meant. ?You want us to remove his pirate tech?? she asked slowly. ?And I assume he's not going to consent to that.?
?He was unconscious when I got him into my trunk. Hopefully this side of dead. He killed John. I know it. And tried to kill me. He might hurt have John's son and the kid's mom, too, if I hadn't got there when I did. He needs to pay for it- all of it. And I can't see to that while he's still got a head full of alternate parts.?
?You tried interrogating him??
?Yeah. Even with root access, our wares basically canceled each other out.?
?I can't,? she said. ?It violates every principal I care about.?
?Not every one,? I said. ?Because you care about people. And that's why you'll help me, because if you can't convince someone trained for it, I'll do it myself. And I've never performed brain surgery before, so I'm probably going to take some pieces he's attached to.?
?Goddamn it, fine. I'll make a call. But if I can talk the surgeon into this, you don't say a word. Not one.? She hung up.
I continued driving towards the dead zone. I was getting close, without hearing from her. Just as I was about to need to switch over to let the pirate tech navigate the dead wifi, I got a GPS location. I drove through several alleys before reaching it.
Jenel was there, with a man in white, and two more in scrubs, with a stretcher. I pulled up to them and popped the trunk. The orderlies rolled the body onto the stretcher, and cut the shower curtain away. One of them pushed fingers against Jim's neck. ?Pulse, but weak,? he said, and they pushed the stretcher inside the building.
Jenel nodded at the older man, and he followed them.
She couldn't look at me. ?Still think I'm not a bad guy?? I asked.
She pondered for a moment. ?We're all bad people, pushed into the right set of circumstances. What makes you good or bad, is what you do after. If you feel guilty over the people you hurt, if you try to use that guilt to make sure you don't do it again- that's the difference between someone like you and Jim. And if I didn't believe that, you wouldn't be breathing right now.?

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