Clovis' voice quivered, just a little, as he spoke. And to Samuel, hearing the slight tremor in the bartender's voice felt like a cool drink after working by a forge.
"You had better believe it since my life is on the line. Hostage taking is seen as an act of war against the City," Samuel said.
Clovis's gaze, fixed on the front entrance of his bar, was unfocused. His jaw was slack, his mouth open a sliver, and his free hand trembled.
"Boss?" one of the men working for Clovis asked. "What do we do?"
Clovis blinked and shook his head as if he just woke up. "Callie, take a look through the windows. Tell me if they have more uniforms on the street."
"Right boss," a shorter woman said from the stairs.
Samuel let his hand swirl a little in the ice-cold water before he drew it out. He rubbed his hand gingerly and tried closing his fingers. He managed to reach a claw shape before he began to see black at the edge of his vision.
"You've already caused a scene. A lot of people are heading home from work right now. The streets are going to be crowded."
"Crowds are easy to get lost in. That could make for a good escape route. It's a long way from the nearest precinct," Clovis replied.
Samuel shook his head and smiled. "Mind if I get a drink while I wait for you to come to your senses?"
"No," Clovis scoffed. The bartender then turned to the reject still on the floor, and asked, "Johnathan, are you still with us?"
"Yeah-", Johnathan managed to cough out, as he heaved air tried to sit up. "I, I just need a few minutes."
"Can't believe you let the inspector lay you out like that," Clovis said. "Callie, how's the street look?"
"Burn me!" the woman said from somewhere above Samuel. "They have soldiers out there already! With Salamanders!"
Samuel chuckled, and grinned a humourless smile. Fear gnawed at his stomach, but today that terror only seemed to focus his mind. "Have you ever seen a Salamander in action, Clovis? Do you even know what they can do?"
"They're rifles," Clovis replied. The bartender's retort was quick, but his voice was soft and lacked the focus and bite he usually had.
"That's underselling it. Angela was fond of telling stories of the drills she used to do with them. She once told me that they put holes in bodies the size of a fist, and one shot will punch clean through three people," Samuel said. "They're bad weapons for storming a place like this, since they cause a lot of collateral damage."
"That's good for us, isn't it?" Clovis asked.
"No," Samuel shook his head and stuffed his hand back in the ice. "They'll come in anyway. And a lot of us will die."
"I can handle a few Salamanders boss," Thessa insisted, her gaze fixed on the door. "Let them come."
Samuel felt a sudden chill that had nothing to do with the ice water his hand was resting in. He leaned forward, and said to the bartender, "I'm going to join the other hostages, try and keep them calm. If you want to talk, you know where I am."
Quietly, Samuel added, "And you really want to talk."
Clovis turned his eyes to the counter and nodded his head slowly. Samuel stood up, shook his wet had gingerly and made his way to the wall opposite the stairwell.
Huddled at a couple of tables in the back were nearly two dozen people. They sat with hunched shoulders and bowed heads, held hands and whispered so quietly Samuel couldn't make out what they were saying even as he sat down at the same table.
YOU ARE READING
Bitter Cold Truth: A Tale of the Everburning CityFantasy
There is no night in the Everburning City. There can never be. Fourteen people lie dead on the platform of Billows Station, killed by fire and rage. And as the perpetrator hides within the millions of people who inhabit the City, the task of findi...