Episode 9: Rabbit's Time of the Month | Scryer's Gulch

Misi had almost fallen asleep in Mamzelle’s lap, when she said, “Well?”

“Well what?” yawned the demon cat.

“‘Ow are we going to keel our masters?”

“Ah. That. Yes.” Think fast, old boy. “Yes. There’s a problem with that.”

“Eh?”

“I’m under orders...general orders...not to kill humans.” It’s even true! he thought, though it hurt his pride to confess to such a weakness. It’s so humilitating, being owned!

“Any human?” said Mamzelle in astonishment.

“Only allowed to kill humans my master wants dead,” said Misi. Annabelle had only told him to kill one man, many years ago, and there really hadn’t been any way around it; it was either him or them.

“Not me,” said Mamzelle.

“Oh? Why haven’t you killed everyone in town but Bonham? At least his family.”

“‘E would make me suffer for it, and I am under orders not to keel his family, which pains me already. I wish to scrrratch out the eyes of dat Charity very much so. No, he tells me, keel if you need to, even if you want to, but be discreet.” She shrugged. “Now and again, you just have to keel someone, ehn? So I keel someone nobody will miss--a newcomer--’ow d’you say--a greenhorn. Once a month, I go hunting--tonight, yes, I weel go! De humans think it is a giant wolf. Or a wolf-man. Mais non, ç’est moi, but I keep to de full moon. I play wit’ dem. ‘Oo knows,” she added with a mischievous look. “Maybe we do have a wolf-man.”

Down at the jailhouse, Rabbit and John stared glumly at the calendar. “Tonight?” said John.

“Yep,” said Rabbit. “I guess there’s no way around it.”

“I got company fer the night, then?” said the voice in the corner cell.

“Shut up, Aloysius,” the men responded automatically.

“I hate that cage.”

“So do I, Rab,” said John, “but I don’t know how else to deal with it.”

“Nope, neither do I. I wish I’d never been bit!”

“If wishes were horses, beggars would ride, little brother.”

The door banged open and Jamie came running in, chalk dust still covering the tops of his trousers. “Where you been, to the bakery?” said his uncle.

“Huh?” said Jamie. He stared down his front, then beat at his clothes. “Dang erasers.”

“Don’t swear, son,” said his father. “Beating erasers for Miss Duniway, huh? You must like her at least a little bit.”

“I had to, she asked me to, an you told me to do as she says,” sniffed Jamie. “I still don’t like her. She’s askin me and Georgie all kinds of questions.”

“Oh?” said John, sitting down on the edge of his desk. “Like what?”

“I dunno. She asked Georgie about if he knew who tore up the schoolyard.”

“Does he?” said John.”

“Naw, nobody knows who done it! He keeps tryin to make me confess, an Pa, I didn’t do nothin!”

“I believe you, son,” reassured his father. “What other questions? What did she ask you?”

Jamie scratched his head with the hand that held his lunch pail. “She asked me if I wanted to be an etheric engineer, if you can picture it! She asked if anyone in the family was interested in that stuff and I said, no, we’re lawmen! And that’s what I wanna be, Pa, so I still don’t know how come I hafta go to stupid Miss Duniway’s stupid school!”

“Stop right there, young man, or it’s the shed!” warned John.

“Aw, I’m sorry, Pa, don’t switch me,” said Jamie, hanging his head. He glanced up at the calendar, put down his lunch pail and walked over to his uncle, taking his hand. “Hey, Uncle Rab--it’s tonight, isn’t it?” At Rabbit’s nod, he said, “I’m powerful sorry, Uncle Rab. I wish this didn’t happen to you.”

“If wishes were horses,” smiled Rabbit. “Can’t be helped, Jamie. Say, tell me what’s going on down to the ostler’s. You been down that way today?”

As Rabbit and Jamie talked on, John fell into a brown study. That was certainly an odd question for Miss Duniway to ask. No one in the Runnels family had the sort of education you’d need to be an etheric engineer--that was clear to anyone who knew them. Why would she ask such a thing? He wondered where it fit into her game, if she had a game.

And the schoolhouse vandalism still niggled at him. It was a boy’s prank. No one else would have a motive to do it. It couldn’t have been Jamie--he was too small to have torn out those pickets. So was Harry Lockson. There were a few other children--one or two out in the minefields, a Chinese boy, and then a couple of the working girls who used to live at the Hopewell had children. The miners’ children were working and wouldn’t be allowed to come; the Chinese boy didn’t speak English; and the whores’ kids were just babies.
That left Georgie Prake. Perhaps it was time to pay a visit to the Prakes.

At the mayor’s house, Mrs Prake and Amelia stood at the kitchen table, sorting through a basket of clothes just back from the laundress. “Go through the shirts to look for mending, Amelia,” said Mrs Prake as she separated out the clothing into piles for each member of the family. “I do wish the laundress would do the sorting for us. How hard can it be, after all? She’s already seen every inch of these things. Unfolding and refolding everything like this...”

“Here’s something, Mama,” said Amelia, holding up a shirt of Georgie’s.

“Where does it need mending, dear?” asked Mrs Prake, her back still to her daughter.

“T’isn’t mending, Mama, there’s a stain on the cuff.”

“A stain? That laundress! I declare!” Mrs Prake turned around and took the shirt. There on the cuff was a splotch of black paint. “Well, what on earth--! That Georgie! I’ve a mind to dress that boy in calico shirts like a miner if he’s going to stain things like this. Where would that have come from?”

“Where did what come from?” said Georgie from the doorway. He froze when he saw the shirt in his mother’s hand. “I put that under my bed!”

“Which is where I fished it out from when it came time to take the laundry,” said Amelia with her nose in the air.

“You should have brought this to me straight away, Master Prake,” chided his mother as she scratched at the stain. “I might’ve gotten this out before it set. Oh--perhaps not! Is this paint? How did you get paint on your shirt? Have you been hanging around those sign painters again? I told you those men are drunkards and not to go near them!”

“No, ma’am!”

“Where’d this paint come from, if you weren’t hanging around those rascals?” she demanded.

A knock at the door interrupted them. Mrs Prake took off her bib apron and patted her hair as she bustled to the door. “Why, Sheriff Runnels, how nice to see you!” floated back into the kitchen.

Georgie made a snap decision: He snatched the shirt off the kitchen table and ran out the back door, leaving Amelia squeaking “Georgie Prake, where are you going?”

Comments

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... in Rabbit's skin, and Mamzelle is doing the killing? This can't be good, but makes for a nice drama buildup. Smile

I'd very much like to know what will happen when a runaway Georgie with his poisoned hermetauxite meets a demon on the prowl, though.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

said it better myself. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to take a nap

eloriane's picture

Devotee

Eee! Another chapter!

I'm actually a little worried that Rabbit is going to be blamed for Mamzelle's rampages, since he seems to be some kind of wolf-creature. Unless they decide there's another one around-- in which case, he might get blamed for biting someone else.

Also, how long until Mamzelle realizes that if she kills Misi's master first, Misi will then be free to kill her master? Misi might want to think of an awful lot of backup plans before his next visit to Mamzelle's -- she's clever.

And I'm loving the kids, by the way. They've all got such authentic kid "voices" while still being different people.

Man! I'm already impatient for the next chapter!

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

I second the bit about the kids' voices. MeiLin does a good job with 'em in the History, too. One of her talents, apparently Wink

Now why would Georgie try to get Jamie to 'fess up to the fence painting, when our current evidence indicates that Georgie did it? Methinks that splotch of black paint has a different story to tell... dun dun dun!

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Methinks Georgie is trying to get Jamie to 'fess up because Georgie honestly thinks he didn't do it. I have a feeling the poisoned hermatauxite is making him forget doing things, or else it is posessing him and he isn't conscious when he does them.

Vile wordsmith! You have tangled me in yet another web of story goodness. I barely have time to work, let alone eat, sleep, and play WoW... Ah, well. (Im)patiently waiting for next Monday's update.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Georgie doesn't have the hermetauxite. Jamie does.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

Jamie dunnit and Georgie knows but Jamie don't.

Curiouser and curiouser.

Gudy's picture

Embodiment

... mixing those two up.

Georgie: has paint smudge, has fled from the Sheriff.
Jamie: has evil hermetauxite.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Then I shall have to try harder to differentiate them! Smile

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I recommend retconning Jamie's name to "Jamie with the hermetauxite" so as not to confuse us anymore. It's very easy to do, I imagine.

Capriox's picture

Embodiment

Do we have a physical description of them yet? I went back to look at the first 3 chapters and couldn't find one there. Don't remember if you have us any details later...

MeiLin's picture

Most High

I've described him as florid, but I think no, I've let their words and actions do the describing. I'll try to give some more physical description in the next installment he's in.

Pikachu42's picture

Embodiment

Georgie is kinda...pudgie. Wears a white shirt, black pants, and suspenders. Jaime is tall for his age and kinda lanky. He wears brown pants, a blue shirt, dusty brown boots, and one of Rabbit's old jackets.

Am I close?

MeiLin's picture

Most High

Except Jamie probably wears calico shirts, and both wear suspenders. Jamie in the summer is without shoes; they're too expensive to waste on him since he grows so fast, and in the winter he wears moccasins because they stretch with his growing feet and Rab can make them for him. One of Rab's old jackets would go down to his knees, so no. When his mother was alive, she'd've cut one down for him, but she's not. Georgie isn't so much pudgy as one of those big, solid kids. If there'd been football, he'd be a future lineman. His dad has that sorta gone-to-seed football player look. Jamie and his family look more like long distance runners, spare and rangy.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

I may have missed it (I'm notorious for my abilities as a snake hunter), but what is Rabbit's real name?

How long ago did Jamie's mother die and from what?

Is Rabbit the sherriff's brother or brother-in-law? No pun intended. Ok, maybe a little.

Again, if you've already answered these, kindly point me to them and I will leave your brain be.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

1) Rabbit's real name is Robert.

2) That would be telling.

3) Rabbit is his brother.

Zandu Ink's picture

Embodiment

That would be why I'm asking. That leads me to believe that it has something to do with [Message Redacted].

Am I right?

ETA: Humblest of apologies, but the person responsible for this message has been sacked.

MeiLin's picture

Most High

...must remain a mystery for now, alas.

Amy's picture

Supplicant

LOL this is just plain fun reading IMO

MeiLin's picture

Most High

It's not meant to be epic or important, just fun and light. Thanks. Smile

Amy's picture

Supplicant

For Honesty?? Ummm you are always welcome.
For seeing the fun in your writing?? Shucks ma'am that's easy.
For loving your writing??? Let me thank you for sharing you goddess given gift with us all.

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