Again life has gotten in the way. Blown minivan radiators, overtime at work, and Veterans Day parades that the kids are marching in have caused me to be late again. For that I apologize faithful readers. With that said, enjoy Dog World: Gone to Hell Chapter Four.
Tori Kunpai took the news better than any of the three could’ve hoped. Each had expected either defiance or outright denial of the life saving transfusion.
Instead she sat still, in her room with Michael and Joanna resting their heads on a leg. She stroked their heads as she listened to what would be needed to save Kunpai’s life. “He’ll turn,” Sutton had stressed that fact over and over. She wasn’t keen on turning anyone any more than losing a friend.
Tori brushed tears away as she focused on Sutton, Jeanue, and Demarti.
“For twelve years I’ve let that man go to wherever the Corps sent him to fight. I knew what I was buying when I married him and…” Tori’s breath hitched in her throat and tears reappeared in her eyes. “And I am not losing him forever until I tell him it’s okay to die. He’s a Marine and he’ll follow my orders or else.” She tried to smile. “We have a deal. I die first. Not him. I won’t live without him.”
“He’ll become… like Dr. Sutton,” said Jeanue. She knew she was pushing the issue to the point of annoying redundancy “Sutton is confident that he won’t become Aberration, and I’m confident in her. But when he wakes up he might be a little miffed.”
“Let him be as pissed as he wants to be. He may even hate us all forever, but I’m not going to look at our children and speak those words. You save him. You get in there and save Omi.” Tori looked at Michael and Joanna. Michael was fast asleep while Joanna concentrated on what was being discussed.
“Will Daddy be okay?” Tears trickled from her eyes, but her voice was steady
“Your daddy is going to be fine. Better than fine.” Demarti took a knee in front of her and took her hand. “He’s the toughest man I know.”
“Mommy says that Daddy is too stubborn and angry to die. She says he hasn’t gotten her okay to die yet.”
“Men like your father never die, sugar,” added Sutton, joining Demarti on the floor. “They only get meaner toward mean people and more cuddly to the people they love. Daddy’s going to be okay. I promise.” She kissed the Joanna’s head and rose to her feet.
There came a knock at the door and Bernerd’s head appeared between the frame and it. “Hey, hey,” he said, softly. “Janie wanted to stop by and see the kids. I see that we’ve come at a bad time so we’ll…”
“No, you won’t go anywhere,” said Tori, wiping her eyes once more. “Come on in, Ian. You, too, Janie.”
“We’ve brought friends,” said Janie, shuffling in behind Bernerd. Shelby and his wife, Allie, filed in with Patty between them.
“Sorry to barge in,” said Allie, hoping they weren’t being rude. “Janie insisted we come and Patty wanted to see the kids, too.”
“With everything going on, we…” Shelby paused. He had no idea where to go with what he was saying. “That is…”
“The children needed some stability. All things considered they could use the distraction.” Tori glanced at the clock. It read 8:10PM, though it felt later. “Please come in.” She shook Michael awake and his eyes lit up at once when he saw Shelby’s daughter, Patty, and Bernerd’s sister, Janie.
The children gathered in a loose circle in the living room and began talking among themselves.
“We’ve got work to do,” said Jeanue, excusing herself and Sutton from the discussion. “Come on, Paul. I’m sure you have other things to tend to before bedtime.”
Demarti nodded in agreement. The three left, leaving the parents and children to their own conversations.
In the hallway, Sutton stopped Jeanue and Demarti. She spoke to them in a quiet voice. “We’ll commence the transfusion as soon as we get to his room. Paul, I want you to be there the whole time. He could awaken as soon as the transfusion starts or not until it’s finished. The change depends on the person, but I want you to be there. In the event he reacts badly.”
“Do I need a weapon?” His concerned thoughts filled his face. “If he gets violent or worse we could be in trouble.” He looked to them. “Why am I even having this conversation? This is Omi Kunpai. He’ll be fine.”
“There’s a one in a hundred chance that he could turn out wrong. It’s been known to happen,” offered Sutton.
Demarti looked at Jeanue and she returned his gaze with unblinking eyes.
“Did you know this, Colonel?” The procedure began to worry him again.
“I’ve been briefed. Dr. Sutton will be there and ready to deal with any threat that should arise from that small chance.”
Sutton crossed her arms like she was defying Demarti to say anything else.
“Fine,” he said crossly. “Let’s get this over with.”
Clarice sang Miss Murder, making the song sound like a melodic chorus instead of a rock anthem. The Flying Walinskis, as Dolly called the collective personalities, were in the air again and they loved it.
Cotton sat in the co-pilot seat, providing back up as Clarice sang. In the passenger compartment of the Blackhawk were Tan, Zellar and a third soldier named Isling. They, along with an Apache attack helicopter flying with them, provided security against any ground-based fire.
Clarice glanced out the window as the Apache flew its measured distance from them. All three of the personalities looked at it from time to time, longing to fly the war bird instead of the combat taxi they were assigned to. Flying the Blackhawk was a small consolation, albeit an appreciated one.
What they didn’t appreciate was the feeling that something was off about the mission. Dolly or Clarice would receive a flash of ill intent from within the helicopter. It vanished as soon as either personality reached out for it. “It’s like trying to catch lightning in a bottle,” groused Dolly inside of Walinski’s mind. “If I didn’t know any better, I’d say someone here isn’t what they say they are. I don’t like it.”
“I can’t quite grasp it either,” added Clarice. “For heaven’s sake. It could even be Gloria or Carla. Neither is keen on flying with poodles even if they are friendly.”
“Don’t think I haven’t thought that.” Walinski added her thoughts to the conversation. I can see Tan fragging Cotton though. Simply on the basis of what he is, I mean. She’s got revenge issues. I don’t get anything off of Isling. He’s human.”
“That don’t take him out of the running, girl. We’ve never met him before today.” Dolly’s scowl flashed before Walinski’s eyes. She grimaced at the sight, wondering if she was that ugly when she did it.
“Don’t you ever get tired of being paranoid, Dolly?” asked Walinski. In her mind she saw Dolly grin fiendishly as she answered no.
“I do,” said Clarice, frowning. “I grow weary of being on the alert. It makes me tired beyond belief.
Walinski felt what Clarice was talking about. The fatigue was almost overwhelming and her hand shook on the stick for a second.
“We’re nearing our third check point,” announced Cotton, checking the navigational systems. “We should be receiving those additional orders soon.”
“Hopefully they’ll clue us in. This secrecy is killing us,” responded Brenda. “The surprise addition to the mission package makes me nervous. She eyed the onboard Geiger counters closely to see if they made any movement. They were outside the DC blast zone, on the safe side of the fallout, but just barely. An errant wind could blow low levels of radiation at them, which wouldn’t be so bad, but a steady prolonged gust could theoretically prove fatal. It was a theory none wanted to test out. Intense exposure to radiation would kill lycans just as surely as it would humans.
Walinski reached to Cotton, and shook him out of his reverie. He’d been looking out of his window like he’d spotted a tail.
“You see something?” asked Dolly, looking out her window.
“Nah. We’re good. I’m just paranoid. I’m not sure I trust out wingmen. We don’t know much about them.
Walinski agreed with him, but Dolly distrusted his attitude. He’d been okay when they’d taken off, but the further they flew from Detrick the more he looked at his surroundings. Clarice had brought him out with a song, but that only went so far.
The radio came to life, dragging their minds back to the mission. “Raptor three six, Sand Trap five. Stand by for Detrick Actual, over.” The voice was Shelby’s and it comforted Walinski to hear it. “Roger that, Sand Trap five. Standing by. Over.”
“Raptor three six, Detrick Actual. How are you doing up there?” Shelby’s voice was replaced by Hughes. Walinski marveled how the man could sound so confident with everything he’d been through. “Everything five by five? Over.”
“Roger that, Sand Trap. We are in the pipe. Zero contact since we’ve been airborne. It’s pretty much dead here. Over.” Dolly mentally slapped Brenda in the back of the head.
“That’s what we figured, Six.
The intelligence Hughes had given them suggested a motorized artillery battery supported by an infantry regiment was moving into position around there an hour ago. It was their scouts that Lewis’s S&R team had had contact with earlier. After the meeting Lewis had been told the gravity of what he’d experienced. It left him thanking his lucky stars that it hadn’t been worse.
“We’ve seen evidence of motorized traffic, but not a lot. If they’re out there they’re keeping their heads down and moving by the book. Zero contact,” said Walinski, looking out her window once more. Nothing stirred from what she could see. Her eyes lingered on the raging fire that had once been WashingtonDC. “I say again, zero contact.”
“Roger that,” responded Hughes. “Your new mission package is as follows. Turn to bearing two three zero, grid reference three three five, delta seven one. You are to secure a priority one package and accompanying security. Package will be marked with yellow smoke once you enter his airspace. Acknowledge.”
Walinski’s brow furrowed. “’His’, sir? Is the priority one a person, General?”
“Affirmative. It’s Secretary Dayton, Chief. We believe his position could become compromised and I won’t allow that. Acknowledge orders. Over.”
“Roger, Detrick Actual. Turning to on bearing two three zero for grid reference three three five, delta seven one. We are in route, sir.” She covered her mike, looked at Cotton and mouthed what the fuck to him.
Cotton shook his head and shrugged his shoulders.
“Outstanding. Good hunting, Raptor three six. Detrick Actual out.”
“We’re picking up the SecNav?” said Zellar over the comm. She sounded as surprised as Walinski.
“Yepper,” chimed in Cotton. His voice and demeanor was buoyed by the news. “Now we’re going to get a pay off for all this.”
“Let’s hope for a quiet extraction,” added Zellar. “I don’t know about you, but I’m not up for a fire fight.”
“Second that,” agreed Walinski.
“Just looking for payback is all I’m saying,” answered Cotton. His voice held a whine that sounded like an admonished puppy, but his eyes were alive with the prospect of action. Walinski hoped he wasn’t going to do anything stupid. As a pilot she was wary of flying with strangers and she hadn’t known Cotton long enough to be comfortable with him.
Tori Kunpai stood in front of Jeanue’s desk, watching the sleeping doctor that had just saved her husband’s life. “He’s awake and asking for you,” she said gently shaking the doctor.
Jeanue had fallen asleep at her desk with Sutton curled up on the office couch. Sutton’s cat, Dickens, slept on Sutton’s upturned left hip. With everything that had happened, Tori still thought of a werewolf owning a cat as surreal.
Jeanue raised her head and blinked her tired, red-rimmed eyes at Tori. It had been five hours since the transfusion. Sutton indicated that the effect would be noticed in as little as twelve hours so no one had expected any reaction so soon.
“He needs rest more than he needs to be alert,” muttered Sutton from the couch. She faced the couch back so her voice was muffled. Dickens stretched lazily and yawned at the sound of her voice.
“He’s thick-headed, obstinate, and a Marine. He barely listens to me. What makes you think he’d listen to two doctors?” retorted Tori.
“All due respect, Mrs. Kunpai, but your husband may need to have his hearing checked if that’s the case. I think he’s suffering from early deafness.” Jeanue stood and stretched her arms over her head.
“That’s not a problem now.” Sutton wiggled her hips in an attempt to get more comfortable. “His hearing will be better than fine. Now hush. Dickens is trying to sleep.”
Jeanue came from behind her desk to Tori. She held her right hand against her mouth and whispered, “Excuse her. It’s her time of the month. She’s grouchy.”
From the couch, Sutton raised her left hand and extended its middle finger. A low growl came from her throat as she lowered it back under the olive drab blanket.
Jeanue laughed. They were halfway down the hall to the elevators before Jeanue spoke again.
“She’s okay, Mrs. Kunpai. Doctor Sutton hasn’t slept in four days. She’s been working nonstop on refugee aid. It was at my insistence that she finally slept and that was after before she demanded to sleep in my office with that cat of hers. Ugh. Ghastly creatures, cats. Worse than dogs.” Jeanue gave a shudder as the elevator doors opened.
“And yet, here we are. We have a poodle sleeping on the couch and a cat sleeping on her. Everything’s a damn nightmare. Dogs sleeping with cats. It’s truly the end of the world.”
“Funny little world before. Upside down crazy world now.”
Tori smiled, and said nothing more.
They entered Kunpai’s recovery room, and found him sitting up, flipping through the TV channels broadcasting what varying news on the attacks. His face held a peaceful look that surprised both women.
“A thousand channels and nothing on but dog shows.” Kunpai dropped the remote on the bed. “You’d think the world was under attack by werewolves or something.” His attitude seemed to be better than they had hoped.
“How are you feeling, Major?” asked Jeanue, walking to his bed. She checked his pulse, unsurprised at its strength. “Any complaints? Headaches, nausea, ears ringing, blurred vision?” She put a stethoscope to his chest. His heart beat stronger than any base drum.
“Only one complaint. This place is running a deficit in burgers and fries. I could do with a chocolate shake, too.” He smiled and looked from Jeanue to Tori. The smile was unnerving to both. It was the smile of a piranha eyeing a potential meal.
“How’s our patient?” asked Sutton, coming through the door.
“Oh look. You brought the cat.” Jeanue eyed Dickens in the same wary way that Dickens eyed her.
Kunpai laughed. His laugh, even though it was of his usual amused variety, didn’t alleviate any worries. “Come here, kitty.” He held his arms out and took Dickens from Sutton. He stroked the calico, causing it to purr loudly. “Nice to not be allergic to them anymore.”
“Major… Omi,” began Sutton. “I think you should know…”
“I know. I got a couple pints of you in me now. It’s okay.” He dropped Dickens to the floor. She walked to Sutton, pausing to rub herself against Jeanue’s leg.
“And you’re okay with that?” Sutton picked up Dickens. The cat’s purrs increased in intensity. To Kunpai the purr sounded more like a roar.
“Why wouldn’t I be? I feel better than I ever have, I get more years with my kids, and I’m still in the fight.”
“We’re just worried, baby.” Tori sat on the bed and took his hand.
“And rightly so, babe. The effect of Sutton’s blood was questionable, but c’mon, sweets. I’m an asshole, not a fucking asshole.” He looked to Sutton and Jeanue. “You did what needed doing. Sure I’m a freaking poodle now, but it’s because of a good one. My life was saved by a friend and I’m grateful to you for it, Sue. Now… when can I get the hell outta here for a kick ass BK value meal?” He smiled again, but it was a deeply vicious smile.
Lewis, Shelby, Demarti, Bernerd and Mulcahey sat in the mess hall with Urbane and Sims. The room was silent as the soldiers ate from the tin trays Urbane had delivered. Lewis picked as his food and moved his baby carrots around nervously.
“Gotta eat, son,” said Sims, shoveling cherry cobbler into his mouth. “Didn’t they train you to eat at basic or AIT?”
Lewis looked at him, and for the first time noticed that the Master Sergeant had dropped some significant weight. “I’m not hungry, Sergeant.” Lewis stabbed his carrots with the fork.
“What’s up, El-Tee? You look like Atlas and the weight’s getting to you.” Urbane sipped his coffee. His gaze rested on Lewis’ face.
“We all have that weight on our shoulders, First Sergeant.” Mulcahey wasn’t attacking his food with as ravenous of an attitude as Sims, but he ate steadily. “Personally I’m glad to be out of the comms shack. I hate being cooped up with all the action going on. Know what I mean?”
Shelby spoke up, unable to stand the malaise at the table any longer. “We did just as much good in communications as we would standing watch with a rifle. Gathering intel on who’s what is as important as combat operations. If what we’re hearing around the globe is correct, then all is not lost.”
“Are we sure we’re actually getting info from friendly units and not Vance’s sappers?” Bernerd didn’t like speaking the possibility aloud, but he knew it would come up at some point.
“We don’t know one hundred percent, but the actions of the units we’ve had contact with are matching their words. We have to take it all at face value,” Demarti said, supporting Shelby.
“I don’t understand how you people can eat,” mumbled Lewis. “Everything’s gone to shit and you’re stuffing your faces.”
“Never pass an opportunity to eat, bucko. Surely they train you yanks the same as us.” Mulcahey smiled, waggling his fork at Lewis.
“Can’t save the world on an empty stomach,” Sims chimed in, scrapping cobbler remnants from his tray.
“Good evening, gentlemen,” said Hughes, entering the mess hall. He sat down next to Lewis and grasped his shoulder. “Hang in there, Patrick. The world isn’t lost to us. We’ve still got a lot of fight left in us.” He looked to the others. “So, who wants to rescue the Secretary of the Navy?”
All content is copyrighted 2011-1014 by Jason McKinney Reproduction is prohibited unless otherwise authorized by the author.