“Make this goddamn wind stop!”

“Of course this is my fault isn’t it Cas. I, the great and powerful Solace, commander of the wind, is doing this to fuck with you.”

Cas, in utter frustration, throws open a window in the tiny shack and fires wildly into the sky. The only evidence of gunfire is the muzzle flash, the winds completely drown out everything else. Both he and solace have to force the swollen window shut, even then there is a half inch gap.

“Are you happy now numb nuts?”

“Look keep talking to me that way and I will knock your teeth in with my gun.”

“Numb… hold on let me savor it…. Nuuuuu….. A little more….. Nuts!”

The back of Cas’s gun slams into Solace’s eye socket. He stumbles backwards two steps and hits the shack wall. There is no time to feel disoriented as Cas throws himself onto his friends and buries his fist into every part of his body.  In desperation Solace reaches down and grabs a hand full of groin, the screams from Cas nearly match the wind. While he twists in agony on the floor Solace stands and using his shotgun like a golf club, takes aim.

The door to the shack bursts open and in walks a man no taller than a bear. His long white beard blowing behind him, piercing blue eyes illuminated in the lanterns light. In one movement he takes hold of the shotgun and lifts Cas to his feet. He shuts the door walks over to the window, closing it with nothing more than his fingertips.

“Why are you two still up here?” Uncle Bart’s voice is clear now that the window is closed, and he is clearly not happy.

“You told us to wait in the shack.” Solace says, nursing his rapidly swelling eye.

“No I said cabin, pay more attention or you’ll catch a cold.” Uncle Bart bends over and grabs hold of a handle in the ground. He lifts the trap door, knocking Cas over in the process, revealing a spiral stair case. “Get up Cas, this is no time to lay about, can’t you hear the rain coming.”

“What?” is not a good response, even if you really can’t hear. Now Cas has the opportunity to meet every step as he tumbles down the stairs, Solace and his uncle follow at a leisurely pace.

This room is not much different from the twenty square foot room above apart from being larger, having beds, what looks like a kitchenette, a door clearly labeled bathroom and a large supply of canned goods. The two boys make a brake for the cans and, forgoing the search for a can opener, smash them on the floor like the highly evolved chimps they are.

It has been three days since they had a filling meal, and five since Jacob found Solace’s uncle reading quietly in the living room warming his feet by the fire. After gathering everyone Uncle Bart went told them how easy it was to find them and the creek Cas has been using to dispose of problems. After reading their ‘funny little stories’ as he always does, he thought it was a good idea to give them a hand. Within the hour he had devised a plan to properly dispose of the bodies and make it harder for any new Mercenaries to find them.

At the moment Cas and Solace are back to fighting, this time to see who is going to use the bathroom first. Uncle Bart shakes his head and goes about his way fixing supper and lighting a fire to warm the room up. Having already cleared the creek, the three are making their way back to the hide out. All the while leaving false trails to ward off any unwanted guests.

“I am very disappointed in you young one,” he says to Solace. “I thought all of our time in the woods would have taught you more than you have shown me. Like a broken kettle, you have let knowledge spill out and it was endangering the strong fire below it.”

“I’m sorry uncle, I didn’t mean disappoint you, and I will try harder to use your methods.”

“It is not the lack of trying that hurts me, it is how easily you could have gotten your friends hurt. Do you remember your trip to the amazon, how the indigenous people built their homes to protect from the black cats that stalked the night, there are many more cats in these woods waiting for you to leave your children unattended.”

“I’m sorry uncle.”

Feeling he may be bruising his nephew’s spirit, Uncle Bart hands him a cup of strong water. “Drink it slowly or you’ll end up like you did when you were sixteen, face in the dirt crying for a girl you met on the train.”

“It was bad enough I got drunk, but getting drunk and crying for her while she was sat less than two seats away was embarrassing.”

“It is good to have a fire in your heart young one, as it is good to drink deeply from fire.” Uncle Bart say tending to the fire place, adding, “But it is wise to never to add more logs than needed to keep you warm through the night.”

“Thanks.”

“Speaking of fire, I see Jacob and Patricia are back together, and there is that young couple Edgar and Allan. Cas, well he is still banned from the reservation after the incident with the Flat-Stone twins.”

“Where are you going with this?”

“Well a young man like you needs to stay away from the computer, you spend too much time on there looking at cats in hats and dogs in clogs.”

“I make my living with a computer!”

“Little Anna Flock has been asking about you─”

“No, not Anna. She use to chase me up trees.”

“One of you needed to take charge young one, I thought this was just another difference with between your generation and mine. Because when I was your age I was running up skirts not trees.”

“She tried to scalp me.”

“That is insensitive Solace.”

“No she literally tried to take my scalp off. If it wasn’t for Bill Redstone I’d look like, well like old Bill. That little chick was spookier then a Shaman talking about omens.”

“By golly Miss Molly, do not go in there.” Cas walks out of the bathroom patting his stomach and goes straight for the open bottle. “What are we talking about?”

“Why Solace hasn’t met a nice girl.”

“He’s met plenty, well I wouldn’t call them nice, a little naughty if you ask me. There was one that always wore these tight leather pants, and her purse always jingled with the sound of handcuffs─”

“She was a cop!”

“I knew a woman who could tie a mean square note” Uncle Bart says, “We used to call her the Buck Fu─”

“Fuck it I’m going in.” Solace runs into the bathroom and yells, “What in the good hell did you eat, Cas?”

“Fireflies and pixie dust numb nuts.” He looks over at Uncle Bart, “So the Flat-Stone twins, have they said anything about me?”

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