Setting Out

4 1 1

James' arms burn. When he returns to Clive's garage, he's drenched in sweat. Walking a few miles is tough enough with a storm suit on, doubly so when fighting a sea of spores, but carry a forty pound badger without good to grip and you're asking for a torturous hour and a half. Even as James opens the first door, he worries Clive's already spoken to a school administrator, or whoever they hired, and secured a better paying client.

Inside the chamber, there's a rush of air as spores are sucked out, a decontamination mist, and the door clacks. James heaves the badger hoping it looks impressive, then kicks the metal door, clanging it three times. A mounted speaker says, "Hold on, will ya." The handle twists, the door opens, and Clive whistles.

"So that's a badger?"

"Yup. Where can I put it?"

"Right by the desk. Shoot, that is a thing, ain't it. That used to be alive?"

James struggles the last few feet to the desk, sets the badger down. "Not this one. Synthesized by a master craftsman. But there were once badgers, so I've been told."

"And they looked like this mean little son of a bitch?"

"I think so." James nods. "I've never seen one, but yeah."

Clive rubs his hands. "Can I touch it?"

"It's your badger."

"Shit, that's right." He strokes the animals angry head, then flinches and whistles. "Damn boy, I'm glad I took you up on this. Couple of official looking dudes showed up after you left, they wanted to go to Clayton too, and they offered to pay up front. You know what I said?"

James hesitates. "What?"

"I said I was waiting on a badger and told them to fuck off." Clive chuckles to himself. "I didn't know if I was an idiot for it, but woohee I'm glad I did."

"How many were there?"


"Any equipment?"

"Don't know," says Clive. "They wouldn't carry their shit all this way like you did. They'd have me pick it up. Heh. If you'd've played it right, I could've driven down there and got this thing myself, but you didn't. Heh! Now I don't care what it is you're doin', and I don't care whose wrong side you might be on, but these fellas look officially official, understand?"

"Yeah. We're in a hurry. I want to beat them there if we can."

"Won't be a problem." Clive laughs. "Those other runners don't have shit on me. I'm the best in the world. Already packed up and everything, son. Let's go."

Grim CurioRead this story for FREE!