With a begrudging sigh and a curse at the open blinds, solace opens his eyes. This is not the Patchworth hut. He sits bolt upright causing his right knee to scream, the covers hide what he is sure is a horror movie special effect without the latex appliance. He sighs with relief when his toes move.

It is a painful operation to slide his legs over the edge of the bed, allowing them to hang though doesn’t feel as bad as the bandaged make it look. Still, the prospect of walking seems farfetched. There is a conveniently placed cane at the foot of his bed. Along with his clothes, his gun and notebook sit patiently on the chair next to him.

After unhooking a tube and a bit of rummaging solace finds fresh wraps and cleaning solution. The sight of his injury unsettles him. It looks like the raw stich work of fabric. He works fast, the less he has to see it the better. Once he is fully clothed and leaning on his new walking stick he can fully appreciate the hybrid bedroom/recovery room. A bookcase filled with romance novels doubles as gauze and tape storage, a coat rack is used as saline stand.

He stands in front of the paisley door wondering if he is up for another post medical conversation with his friends. He doesn’t have to worry since the rest of the house is empty. The only thing he can find showing his friends were here are a couple of paintings Andy made. The log book on the kitchen counter says he has been the only patient in the past three days.

With the slightest of glances at the fridge, his stomach gives a magnificent rumble. He doesn’t open a fridge, no it is a portal to the land of food. Cake, pudding, banana crème pie, and meat things. Then again, no one will notice the single apple missing from the bottom tray. After finishing the apple and washing his hands, he makes sure to leave the faucet discreetly dripping.

The small town waiting outside is, apart from a few dogs and a chicken, empty. The dogs are friendly enough but he keeps his gun out in case the chicken decides to attack. Apparently whatever they gave him hasn’t worn off. The cane helps him walk but holding a gun in his left hand is uncomfortable, his forearm is fatigued from overcompensation in his grip. It gets so bad he decides to just holster the damn thing.

He stops in front of a house with a sign reading mechanic and a familiar looking topless SUV on the front lawn. “Do I know you?” he asks the vehicle.

From here he can hear screams coming from down the street. He pulls his gun back out and walks closer. Its sounds like a large fight, a fight he can’t win in this condition. Looking around he finds a guard tower behind a building with a Bakers sign. Luckily there is a local pool with a way to get to the tower without having to walk anymore then he has to.

Standing at the foot of a ladder is no way to make it shorter, but solace does this for a full minute before tucking the cane into his jacket like a sword and beginning his slow climb. He falls onto the landing, he has stretched the stitching to near braking. There is no trace of blood on his pants but with anymore strain there will be.

There is a very inviting cot inches away from him but miles away from his ability stand up. He pulls out his cane and bashes at the cot in frustration. “Fuck you,” he says to himself. “Stand up, stand up.”

He makes it to his feet and lands heavily on a chair. Trying to get his mind off the pain he surveys his surroundings. He can now clearly see where the screaming is coming from. At the far end of the town there is a park filled with people watching some sort of game. He looks around for a pair of binoculars but finds none. Surprisingly he finds a broken rifle scope under the cot pillow, after flipping the whole thing over. With a closer look he sees his friends playing dodge ball on the field.

“What is this feeling?” he asks himself.

“Sadness? Maybe anger.”


“They left you alone.”

“I’ve been alone before.”

“By choice, they didn’t want to be by your bedside.”

“Can you blame―”

“Son, if you’re going to be crazy please do it somewhere closer to the ground. You wouldn’t want to have a fall now would you?” a woman’s voice comes from underneath him.

Solace looks over the edge and sees a woman, no older than him, starring up at him. The stern expression on her face gives her the air of an authority figure. Her long black velvet coat and corset just confuse him. He looks back at the ladder and drops his head.

“Take the pole numb nuts.” She points to the metal street light.

“I have a bad leg.”

“I have a wooden leg and I do it all the time. Don’t be a girl.”

Putting the cane back into his jacket and curses as he leans out and grabs hold of the pole. It may have been slow going and terribly ungraceful, but he eventually makes it to the ground. He dusts himself off before leaning on the cane again.

“Fun, isn’t it?” She holds out a cigarette, “you look like your could use one. My name is Talia Rio, and I’m the mayor of Kal.”


“The town your friends brought you to when you got sick.”

“I don’t remember.” He says as she lights his cigarette and takes one for herself.

She smiles with the understanding of a school teacher. “You were knocked the hell out. I wouldn’t be surprised if the pit-gator fight isn’t completely in focus.”

“I think I remember that, but it just blends with a car ride.”

“Come with me, I think I know who can help you.”



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