The Good Doctor's Tales Folio Six

BOOK: The Good Doctor's Tales Folio Six
13.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

The Good Doctor’s Tales

~
Folio Six ~

Randall Allen Farmer

 

Copyright
© 2012 by Randall Allen Farmer

 

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this work, in whole or in part, in any form.  This is a work of fiction. All characters, events, organizations and products depicted herein are either a product of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously.

 

 

 

The Good Doctor’s Tales
~ Folio Six ~

Author’s Introduction

This novella length document is a collection of short pieces, stand-alone and otherwise, related to “No Sorrow Like Separation” (Book Five of the Commander series).  As with the extra features common to DVDs, the various parts of “The Good Doctor’s Tales” are not essential to the story “No Sorrow Like Separation” tells; instead, they add to it.

 

Rebellions are Made of Dreams
(1964)

Dreams.  Dreams and fears of death, not only of herself, but
also of her people, clouded Tonya’s mind.

“Ma’am, the dogs have the Monster’s scent again,” Bobby Harper said.  Tonya broke herself out of her reverie and nodded, thrusting away those
disturbing dreams and fears.  She looked down to her right at his two dogs, who pointed and strained at their leashes.  Then she followed their point with her eyes, down toward the strip of forest following the Lockatong River, here little more than a wide creek.  Willows overhung the water, and damp fallen leaves formed a carpet over the soil.  A frog hopped into the creek at the sound of the dogs, and she heard the rustle of some bird escaping the chaos of her arrival.

Beautiful.  Peaceful. 
She shook off the urge to run as fast as possible in the other direction.  A sour taste filled her mouth, and butterflies her stomach.

“Shall we?” Tommy said, after Tonya didn’t respond.

This was what they were here for, all six of them.  The Monster they tracked had come out of Trenton four months ago, still holding on to its human shape.  In four months, the Monster would have warped into whatever final shape it would wear for the rest of its accursed and misbegotten life.

Tonya didn’t like dogs, not at all – they wanted far too much affection,
too much leaping and sniffing and licking.  They served one important purpose when Tonya and her crew hunted, though – the dogs wouldn’t give chase to any of the true carnivorous Monsters, the most dangerous Monsters of all to physically confront.

Yet, the reports that had led them down into this bottomland near Cherryville, New Jersey, had stated the Monster they were chasing had developed a taste for cows.  Tonya expected trouble, one of the larger carnivorous Monster variants – but the dog didn’t spook.

“I don’t trust this,” Tonya said to Tommy, her head of security.  Tommy scanned the surrounding trees warily, rifle held ready in his arms.  Monsters seldom gave much warning before they attacked.  She took a deep breath, and calmed herself again with her same inhuman charismatic capability she expected to use, soon, on the Monster.  “Let’s not loose the dogs, yet.”

Tommy nodded, and motioned them forward.  He kept on Tonya’s right, and Sam Cooke, another of her hunting crew, stayed on her left.  Sam raised his rifle to the ready, and they crept forward into the trees, attempting quiet.

Dense underbrush filled this forest, different from the rocky upland rhododendron-covered forest they had walked through three hours earlier.  This Monster was moving, and had been ever since they first found its scent this morning.  Now it veered away from the river.  Did the Monster know they were tracking it?  Some Monsters were quite canny, and some were fully capable of hunting those who purportedly hunted them.  No longer human, and no longer able to talk, didn’t mean no longer able to think.  Many had managed to make a mockery of the canniest big game hunters – but Tonya had an edge.  Her inhuman charisma, a result of her transformation.

The dogs stopped
in a small meadow and sniffed at the ground.  Curtis, the taller of the two Luke brothers, the last two of her six man hunting crew, bent down to look.  “Ma’am, tracks,” Curtis said.

His brother Floyd, who wasn’t a Transform like the rest of them, squatted down
at the edge of the clearing, eight feet to their right, puzzling at something.

“What sort?” Tonya said, her voice a quiet whisper.

“Nothing I’ve ever seen before, Mom,” Curtis said.  To the Transforms who had been with Tonya the longest, she was their allegorical mother.  “A foot long, and narrow.  Five toes.”

Tonya stepped forward and bent down to look at the tracks herself.  This was the first set of good tracks they had gotten from this Monster
, clear and sharp in the moist earth by the rotting trunk of a fallen dogwood.  Yet another thing bothering her about this hunt.  Normally, you started with tracks – Monsters were uniformly larger than the normal wildlife in the eastern United States, save for the bears.  When she saw the tracks, a chill ran through her body.  She had seen tracks like these only once, on her second Monster hunt three years previous.

A
Rat.  To be more specific, a rodentoid Monster, one of the rarer Monster forms.  They were in grave danger.

“Back!” Tonya said, a firm command.  “Out of this…”

Too late.  Floyd turned to her from what he was examining and the ground underneath him gave way.  He tumbled out of sight with a blood-curdling scream, and then hit something sodden.  Rip!  Curtis whipped his rifle up, toward the noise, and fired blindly into the air.

A weighted net made of vines and stolen rope fell down, covering them.  Tonya readied to leap, but one of the weights clipped her on the shoulder and she dropped to the ground.  Tommy and Sam fell beside her,
on her, caught in the net as well.

After a single bare moment of quiet, Bobby screamed, dropped the leashes on the two dogs, and flung himself toward Tonya
, to try to rip the net off her.

The dogs gave chase into the tangled underbrush, growling and snapping.  One yelped loudly, and then went quiet.  The other growled, snapped, and then went quiet. 
Still on the ground under the weight of the net, Tonya inhaled a scream and concentrated.  The Monster should be close enough to metasense.  Yes, there it was, less than fifteen feet away and behind a clump of wild blueberry, filled with bad juice so foul her metasense shied away.

Tonya
tapped Tommy’s shoulder, and pointed.  The net over them wasn’t well made, just enough to be a bother and slow them down.  Tommy followed her eyes and nodded.  He twisted within the net, raised his rifle, and shot.

The Monster ran at them from out of the underbrush, motoring forward
impossibly quickly on its hind legs with a knife in either rattish hand.  This foul offspring of Transform Sickness was on Curtis before he even noticed it coming, slicing him with the knife, and ripping at his throat with its incisors.  Curtis screamed and died, and his death sent waves of agony through Tonya via her linkage with him.

Which she had to ignore.

Tonya sought the Monster’s eyes, tears of pain and fury streaming from her own, fighting back her white-hot anger.  As she hoped, when the Monster finished with Curtis, it turned toward them.  Toward Bobby Harper, the last of the six not under the net.  Bobby stopped sawing at the net with his knife, and reached for his bayoneted rifle, ready for the charge of the rodentoid creature.

He didn’t have to worry.  “Bitch, I’ve got you now,”
Tonya said.  She had the Monster with her charisma.  Since she had locked eyes with it, she didn’t even have to speak to freeze it in place.  She licked her lips, tasting sweat and her own fear scent, and silently cursed.  She thought she had mastered her fear of these abominations, and it sickened her to realize they had gotten to her, again.  Her own charisma, a result of her own Focus transformation, made Tonya see herself as much of a Monster as the now motionless rodentoid.

Nevertheless,
Tonya could speak.  She was as human and as beautiful as it was humanly possible to be.  She was superior to the Monsters, dammit.  Fear of anything idiotic enough to have lost the ability to speak was ridiculous.

Bobby fired once, then twice, and the Monster fell, its brains blown out the back of its skull.

Then, and only then, did Tonya let the white-hot agony of Curtis’s death affect her.  The death of one of her household Transforms, this close to her, felt like someone had ripped the skin off her arms.  Gutted her.  She hissed through clenched teeth, channeling her pain into anger, while Bobby finished sawing the net off her, helped by Tommy and Sam.  They helped her to her feet, but she shook both of them off, angry, and rounded to face Sam.

“You did nothing,” she said with a voice of frozen air, meeting Sam’s gaze.

“Ma’am?  I…”  He dropped her arm and backed away, half stumbling over the torn net. 

He was hers, one of her Transforms, a veteran of three
bounty-hunting missions.  In none of them had he been of any use, and she was tired of his useless behavior.  She let loose her full anger, letting her charisma that had frozen the Monster in place reach into Sam’s mind.  “You are off the team, you sniveling coward!  For this, you deserve to be wearing a dress and scrubbing toilets.”  She let her harsh judgment smash down into Sam, and he fell over, crying like the useless baby he was.  Satisfied, the anger left Tonya – punishment was fine, but she didn’t see any reason to overdo it.

“Let’s clean this up, people,” Tonya said, meeting Tommy and Bobby’s eyes.
They carefully avoided looking at the curled figure of the weeping man on the ground. Tonya tried not to think about the work required to clean this mess up, and the need to inform the authorities about the Luke brothers’ deaths.  Tried not to think about how she had lost another two household members while hunting Monsters for bounties.  Tried to keep her blazing emotions in check until she found somewhere private so she could let loose her rage and grief.

Like with her enhanced charisma,
her Focus transformation enhanced all of her emotions, and no one pitched fits the way she could – and those fits remained private, private private.

 

“Mrs. Biggioni, can I speak to you now?” the reporter, Phoebe Shanks, asked.  Tonya nodded.  Phoebe was waiting for her at the small parking lot where Tonya and her crew had parked their cars, a couple of hundred feet from the Lockatong River by way of a short trail to a scenic overlook.  Marty Fenner, her logistics person and driver for today had been waiting here with Rhonda Ebbs, her personal secretary.  She sent them to help with the cleanup as soon as she reached the parking lot, Marty to help, and Rhonda more to keep her away from the reporter than for whatever help she might be to Marty.  Marty would take the pictures, get the Monster scalp, and help Sam and Bobby cope with extracting the bodies of the Luke brothers from the kill scene.  Tommy she kept as a bodyguard.

She needed the distraction, and she had invited Phoebe along specifically for
discussions about Monster hunts.  The reporter was trying to put together a long article on her, and Tonya always appreciated good publicity.  There was certainly enough bad publicity out there, about Transforms, to make up for it.

“Focus Biggioni, please,” Tonya said.
  The sun beat down on the parking lot and raised the temperature a good 15 degrees over the cool forest.  She wanted to pace, to work off her anger with physical activity.  The situation didn’t permit.  Instead, she led the reporter back to the small pavilion and the cluster of four chairs within.

“Ma’am?”

“You’d asked earlier about the dangers of Monster hunting?  Well, two of my people died, today, and I’m on edge.  As you well know, I’m a Focus, with the power and responsibility to keep over two dozen Transforms alive.  Among Transforms, I’m termed Focus Biggioni.”

“Focus Biggioni then,” Phoebe said
as she sat, to Tonya’s eye a little flustered.  “I apologize.  I know hunting down Monsters is dangerous, but I hadn’t realized the job was
this
dangerous.  Makes me glad you talked me out of going in there with you.”

That was because I beat you about the head with my Focus charisma, you obnoxious charisma-resistant reporter, Tonya thought to herself.  Charisma resistance was a well-known trait of established reporters, politicians and used car salesmen.  “Despite the infrequency of Monster opponents, Monster encounters result in about a third of all law enforcement deaths,” Tonya said. 
She took a breath and attempted to bring her temper under control.  An interview with a reporter called for her best public face, calm, capable and competent.  “We’re not law enforcement, we’re more experienced, but we’re not perfect.  We’ve lost people before, but not often.  We’ll likely lose more in the future.”

Beside the four chairs, the pavilion
held a table piled with maps, a couple of coolers of food, and a trunk of medical supplies.  The medical supplies wouldn’t be sufficient this time.  Tommy took his position at the edge of the pavilion, shifting from place to place to see around parked cars and other obstacles.

“What was different this time, Focus Biggioni?” Phoebe said.  She was a petite woman, about five three, with brown hair and green eyes.  She had wanted to bring along her own photographer, but Tonya had refused.

“We were up against a rat.  A rodentoid Monster, to be more specific.  The rodentoid and anthropoid Monsters are the most dangerous of the lot to hunt, because they are more intelligent than the others – and because they have the potential to be tool-users.”  The first rodentoid Tonya tracked down, years ago, had a cache of pistols.  Being shot at by a supposedly dumb Monster had been a wake-up call, and had shaken free many of her preconceptions.

Phoebe scribbled shorthand, and looked up
, watching Tommy’s alert wariness with the corner of her eye.  Tonya suspected she hadn’t previously understood how important Tonya’s bodyguards really were.  The reporter’s face showed her anxiety as well as her true sympathy; as with many working women these days, she only had a job because of the existence of Transforms.  Outside of the medical and law enforcement occupations, still closed to women, most men refused to deal with Transforms of any variety.  Phoebe held down the low-status Transform beat, and in Tonya’s opinion, did the job well.  “I’d thought the pure carnivores, the wolf Monsters and feline Monsters, were the most dangerous.  At least that’s what the police say, when I’ve interviewed them on the subject.”

BOOK: The Good Doctor's Tales Folio Six
13.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The Family Man by Elinor Lipman
Darkness Hunts (DA 4) by Keri Arthur
Acid Lullaby by Ed O'Connor
Settlers' Creek by Nixon, Carl
The Flame Trees of Thika by Elspeth Huxley
Quarantine: A Novel by John Smolens
Lying Together by Gaynor Arnold