Leonis, 1:12, 2:15 - Roach Hotel - Bugging Me To Death

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"Okay, Gerald, you want me to push the button?" Kate asked from behind the steering wheel of the steamobile.

"Not yet. Just give me a sec, this ain't exactly a Studebaker."

"A stew day baker? What kind of odd occupation is that? Do they have a night shift or something?"

"A Studebaker is a car not a job...oh, never mind. I'll show you when we get home," Gerald said producing a weak smile. "Go ahead, hit it."

A cloud of heated water vapor erupted from the rear of the steamobile as its engine roared to life. "Okay, climb in and we'll get go...hey, did you know that there was a cat in a bag back here?" one surprised Gerald asked upon hearing the calling of the feline from the rear of the vehicle.

"Oh, I nearly forgot about the poor thing," Kate said. "Well, when and if we can find some way out of this hellish city and to someplace safe, we need to stop and let it out. Only a dummy would try to keep a cat in a bag."

Gerald navigated the steam-powered car around obstacle after obstacle, from collapsed sections of building to dead horses, yet, never once did he run into another steamobile like the one he was driving.

Kate ran her hand along the leather-covered dash and up to the brassy gauges. She tapped the fuel level gauge. It was nearly full. "What year do you think this is, Jerry?"

Kate was the only person Gerald would let call him 'Jerry', even Cameron. The reason was that the Marine would do it to get under Gerald's skin. "This vehicle or the year, year?" he asked in clarification.

"The year, year," she replied.

"Gotcha...you know, I can't even venture a guess, but it's definitely a different timeline than either of our multiverses," Gerald said looking through the front windshield at a large silvery blimp gliding through the gray sky just above a factory in the distance. It appeared to be dumping water on the remains of a fire, the telltale columns of smoke still rising skyward.

"Hey stop!"

"What is it?" Gerald asked.

"Just pull over," Kate said and pointed at a small store on the side of the road. All of the businesses around it were gutted by flames, however this one looked pretty well intact, minus the broken storefront window. Kate opened the passenger side door and then ran over to look inside. She lifted a boot and carefully stepped through the opening, glass crunching beneath the sole of her boot.

"Gerald? You are not going to believe this," Kate yelled from inside.

"What is it," he shouted over the noise  of the rumbling engine.

"Hang on, let me just grab a few more things." A minute or so passed and Kate finally emerged from the store with two stuffed brown paper bags in her hands and a newspaper tucked under one arm. She leaned in through the open car door, set the bags in the floorboard, and handed Gerald the paper. Kate tapped the front page. "I got what I could find for supplies, plus this. Check it out."

Gerald excitedly scanned over the tan colored paper with a raised eyebrow. "So, April, 24th, 1899...or sometime around then. I guess that sort of makes sense," the Secret Service agent said and glanced around the car. "It's an advanced 1899, though. Just look at this thing."

"I saw something else when I was coming out of the store. It looks as if they have radio communication tech and it's public use. Apparently this civilization said screw the wires and just went straight to wireless." Kate said and pointed at a metal and glass paneled box with an antenna jutting from its pointed top. Around the upper edge of the structure, a sign read, "°42 TeslaLectric Vocatranceiver."

"Five Shills Per Two-Way, huh?" Gerald added, reading the lettering painted on the front glass. He pursed his lips and began to nod. "Yeah, definitely not the 1899 I imagined. Well, now that we know when and where we are, too bad we don't know when the next full moon is."

Kate tilted her head and popped the back of the newspaper in Gerald's hands. "Yeah we do, as long as this paper isn't too old."

Gerald read the section called, 'The Almanac Lunar Report', folded the paper, and scanned over the smoke-laden city skyline. He noted the blimp once more. "If tonight is the 25th, then we need to get as far out of this town as possible or we may not be able to see any moon even a full one. Or, we could always hitch a ride on one of those."

"Let's not get carried away, Jerry," Kate replied with a grin. "Even though I know you are itching to ride in one of the damn things."

"Hey, I can't help it. It's the kid in me," Gerald said and returned Kate's smile. A few seconds later, he watched the humorous expression disappear from Karen's face. "What is it? You see something?"

"Yeah, 9 o'clock." Kate pointed at a couple of soot-covered men eying the car from across the street. One of them wore an eye patch, shadowed just beneath the brim of his black derby hat. He was tapping a metal pipe in his palm repeatedly. With a whistle from the man in the derby, the thugs stepped away from the wall and approached the steamobile in unison. "We need to go, now!" she said and checked the setting on the remaining energy pistol.

Gerald pressed down on the accelerator, generating a cloud of steam from the singular exhaust port at the rear of the machine. He heard something thud against the metallic skin of the vehicle.

"There's more of them and they're throwing bricks!" Kate yelled. "These guys must not have firearms."

"Thank god!" Gerald said.

"Oh, shit, lookout!" Kate yelled.

Gerald quickly turned the steering wheel and drove up on to the sidewalk to avoid another thug in tattered clothing running out to stop them. The man smacked the car with the wooden club in his hand.

The steamobile's front left wheel narrowly missed the Vocatranceiver booth and sailed between it and an overturned bench. With one more correction, the car bounded out into a cross street and Gerald cut the wheel hard to the right. The machine's tires squealed as its rear end skidded around to line up with the center of the road. Gerald straightened the wheel and prepared to floor it to get he and Kate far from danger, but there in the road stood a horse-drawn metal wagon surrounded by at least a dozen men, all wearing the same hat, and all holding some sort of blunt object.

The Secret Service agent turned to look behind them and shifted the steamobile's transmission into reverse. More men. He glanced over at Kate and then down at the pistol in her hands. Gerald narrowed his eyes as he heard one of the pipes smack the rear end of the car followed by a roar of laughter. "Turn that thing up to max, Kate. These guys have bugged me for the last time..."

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