One Last Job

The band of heroic ruffians approach the dilapidated farmhouse. The farm is small with two horses in a pasture and, no doubt, a few more in the barn. The oldest, Case, gets this look on his face like he is returning home, but the rest of his friends are tired from traveling. One man, if you could call him that, is supported by a much taller and thicker man on one side and a normal sized teen on the other. The sickly man’s face is a milky-yellow color and his limbs fall limply whenever he moves. Leading his unlikely group to the door, Case rings the doorbell. After a few seconds a panel slides open and a pair of dark blue eyes stare at Case’s light brown ones. “Brylee,” Case smiles, “could we come in? This is Leroy,” Case points to the taller man, “this is Simeon,” Case points to the normal sized person, “and this is Peter. He is hurt badly and, well, no one knows medicine like you do.” the panel slides closed and the door swings open.

“Set him on the table over there,” Brylee has short, disheveled black hair and a few black smudges on her face and arms. She has stained jeans with a splattered green tank top and black boots. A little, silver sphere hovers around Brylee’s head, but she doesn’t seem to notice, “What happened?” Brylee asks the question as more of a statement.

“A knife, we got into some trouble up on the Dark Mountain,” Case replies as the two other teenagers set their friend on the table.

“The Dark Mountain, Case? Are you serious?!” Brylee calls on Case’s stupidity.

“It was part of a job!”

“A job! You nearly got your friend killed because of a stupid job!” Brylee tears off Peter’s sleeve to get a look at his wound. It is a deep, two inch long cut with green pus and inflamed flesh around it.

“Since when do you have a problem with me taking jobs?!” Brylee ignores Case and concentrates on Peter’s arm.

“How long has it been like this?” Brylee asks quieter.

“About two days,” replies the taller of the remaining two people. The little, flying robot circles around Leroy’s head,

“Don’t mind Fizzle, he’s harmless. Alright, I need some cold water, some alcohol, some cloth, a needle, string and a vile from my cabinet that says ‘Detox with repellent’, now hurry!” all three boys leave.

“Am I gonna die?” Peter asks after a few moments of silence.

“Not if I can help it and I am very good with medicine,” Brylee gives Peter a smile that she only gave to people who need hope. Leroy, and Case come in with the detox, alcohol, needle and string.

“Thanks, where is the cold water and cloth?” Brylee uncaps the alcohol and pours it onto the wound while Peter stifles a scream and groans. The smaller teenager rushes into the room with the water and cloth, sloshing water onto the floor. Brylee grabs the cloth and water,

“You two, go into the other room. Case, stay with me and hold him down,” Brylee says as she pours some of the detox onto the cloth. Case holds Peter’s arm fast to the table and Brylee says,

“This will only hurt a little bit,” then she put the wet cloth onto the wound. Peter let out the most blood-curdling scream that Case had ever heard. Brylee tries to ignore it as foam gushes out of the gash. She pours some water on it to wash away the foam before dribbling the detox directly onto the knife wound which unleashes another gut-wrenching scream from Peter. Case works hard to hold down Peter as Peter thrashes and begs Brylee to stop. More milky foam oozes out of the gash and Brylee pours more water to wash it away. Peter keeps screaming and more foam comes bubbling out. Finally, Peter’s screams reduce to groans and the foam stops flowing.

“Sorry, I lied,” Brylee says as she washes away the foam again. Peter looks at her as if trying to remember what she said before the pain started. Sweat had broken out all over Peter’s body and he was breathing hard as if he had just run a marathon. Maybe a marathon would be kinder. Brylee brought out the needle and string and Peter paled at the sight of them. With Case still holding down Peter’s arm, Brylee makes neat, straight stitches all along the wound. Before she bandages it with another cloth, Brylee pours another splash of alcohol over the stitches.

“Leroy and what’s your name, you can take him to the spare bedroom upstairs, it’s the first one on your left,” Brylee calls into the next room. She grabs Case’s arm, causing him to wince, and the bottle of alcohol and drags him into the kitchen. She sits him down in one of the wooden chairs and takes out a box from a drawer.

“I don’t know what the hell you thought you were doing at the Dark Mountain, but I can’t always be doing this,” Brylee had Case lift up his shirt revealing various cuts and bruises. Brylee did not act like this was the first time this had happened.

“I told you, I was doing a job,”

“And what job was that?”

“I had to save Peter; he is our only chance at beating them once and for all,”

“Peter? Peter is our salvation?”

“I know, wouldn’t believe myself either, but he is — Ow!”

“You seem to forget who holds the needle sometimes,”

“I know, but there is no need to cause me any more pain,”

“Then stop getting yourself cut up, one day I won’t be able to patch you back together again,”

“But I will be long retired when that day comes.” They share a smile like they had years ago; like old friends with a shared secret. Brylee finishes stitching up the last big cut and takes out the gauze,

“I thought you were dead,” she says.

“What?”

“You heard me, I thought you were dead. Some government agent guys came by the house and they told me you were dead,”

“Wait, agents came by your house?! Did they find out about the safe house?”

“No, I wouldn’t tell them-”

“What else did they do to you?” Cases voice was grim which causes Brylee to stop bandaging his ribs. Brylee looks away,

“They, um-”

“They didn’t interrogate you? Did they?” Brylee nods, still not able to look Case in the eyes. Then he saw it, he saw a couple of fading bruises on her neck and arms, some scars that hadn’t been on her skin and he saw a tear roll down her cheek. Brylee ties off the bandage and Case let his mud-covered shirt down.

“I can’t die and do you know why?” Case takes Brylee’s head in his hands and holds it gently close to his, “because we haven’t had our first date yet,” Brylee couldn’t help but laugh, “and we haven’t had that future we planned yet. I told you that this was my last job and I am staying true to my word,”

“It’s just this particular job entails saving the world,”

“That’s right, I’m gonna save the world and then retire.” Case smiles at that. Case is no older than eighteen and nor was Brylee, but in a world like this, people who did jobs like Case didn’t live very long. The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs causes Case to drop his hands and Brylee to close the first-aid box and put it back in the drawer.

**********************************************

Brylee had made dinner and the boys wolfed it down like animals.

“I forgot what real fruit tastes like,” Simeon says as he takes a huge bite of an apple. Peter even joined them and despite him being pale and weakened, he laughed and joked with the rest of the group. Brylee had not smiled like she did at the diner table for a long time. She didn’t even complain when she cleared and washed the dishes. Brylee showed her new friends to the spare rooms she had upstairs and went back to the kitchen. Under the staircase there was a cupboard for people to put coats and brooms and, like everyone else, Brylee used it for that reason. She opens its small door and crouches inside. Behind old leather coats and cleaning supplies there is a little drawing of a blue bee on one of the planks of wood. It is small and faded and looks like it was drawn by a three year old. Brylee turns to her right and swivels a brick from the foundation of the house. The wooden wall glides down to the floor and with the sound of many gears turning a staircase slides down into blackness. With each step Brylee takes a light illuminates above her head. Once her foot touches the floor the whole workshop lights up with lights (including some strands of Christmas lights). A large, cluttered drafting table dominates the room. The walls seem to be made of metal bits and pieces so the logical clutter at the edges of the room look like they are attached to the house itself. Brylee takes a deep breath of metallic, greasy air. She is at home. Brylee hears the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs and recognised them instantly. Case wrapps his arms around her waist and a jittery energy spreads throughout her entire body until a clot of sadness nestles itself in her stomach. She turns around causing Case to drop his arms.

“What’s the matter?” Case asked.

“I thought you were dead,”

“Brylee, its okay-”

“No, no it is not okay! I was in the middle of grieving, Case, until you knocked on my door!” She felt the tears start to form behind her eyes.

“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” Brylee punches him in the arm, “Ow!”

“Sorry, I don’t really have the right to be mad at you, do I?”

“Well, sort of, but I am just going to play it safe and say no,” Case smiles and places his hands on her waist again. This time Brylee doesn’t pull away and hugs him. She didn’t cry, but let herself feel the strength of Case’s hug. Somewhere off to their right an old, slow dancing song starts to play,

“Good job Fizzle,” Case says and there was a happy whir from the hovering robot. They stay in a hug, but step with each other around the spare space in the workshop.

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