Chapter 38 It starts getting messy

“It's vid showtime Ben, get a fresh cup of cafe,” said Celeste. The Marshal slips into the room with more than a little trepidation and stands uncomfortably in the back corner thinking the room feels too warm. Elder Franko looking florid and pale joins him shifting his weight from one foot to the other. The Marshal leans over, “Are you alright Elder Franko?” “I'm not feeling well Marshal. If the Senior Elder hadn't demanded my presence, I would be in my bed.” Davin, pacing at the head of the long table stops suddenly. He wipes his damp hands on his robe, grabs the table edge, and leans forward loudly pronouncing. “Eauland is under attack by that godless whore from the starship. This must end.”

The roomful of old men stares blankly back at him. “Senior Elder, with apologies I don't understand. How are we being attacked?” asks weazened Elder Sims. Looking incredulous Davin struggles for words, “Can't you morons see what's happening around you. Twice now we have had a fungus growing in the tractor's fuel tank and Ungar disappears just before the second time.” “Are you saying Ungar is poisoning our fuel? Why would he do that? We all know he needs his carriage more than most,” said Transport Elder Nitz. Davin flushes with anger, “There's much more. The whore made it look like Marshal Banner stole the money. She somehow snuck into his office and used his computer.” The Elders sit speechless gawking at Davin. “She personally attacked me in the Sacred Chamber with some sort of demon. That power failure wasn't an accident. She caused it,” he screams at them in an ear-piercing pitch.

Elder Franko urgently whispers over to the Marshal, “Senior Elder or not I have to find the jakes now,” and starts to depart. Davin yells out, “Elder Franko, I didn't say you could leave. You go out that door and I will personally knife whip you to death in the square.” Elder Franko freezes with a wild panicky look in his eyes. The entire room hears the spurting gush as his bowels under pressure let loose and a large lumpy brown puddle flows out from under his robe filling the small room with its stench. Pandemonium breaks loose. Marshal Jorn's stomach flips upside down at the horrific smell as he holds his nose closed and runs from the room. The Elder seated nearest to the oozing puddle looks down at it, turns white and vomits onto the table. A second Elder blanches from the odor and pukes soaking others in the process. Davin looks stricken and flees in a stained wet robe leaving oily brown drips behind him. In frantic seconds the room empties leaving only spreading puddles of liquefied discharges.

Ben was shaking with laughter. “Celeste, I don't know if this is absolutely the funniest or worst thing I have ever seen. Maybe it's both. I will never be able to unsee it. It will take a week to clean that room and I didn't know the human body could even make some of those sounds.” “This performance will give the Elders something to talk about,” said Celeste. “Davin acted like he was losing it, and maybe he is. The downside is this might make him more erratic and even more unpredictable.” Ben considered this for a second. “I agree. We definitely need to keep a close eye on him.”

Just before first light Lora awakes and gets dressed. Picking up her broom she walks outside, heads down the street and turns down an alley. Stopping, she looks in both directions. Pushing open the door of an abandoned building, steps in and quickly closes it behind her. A few minutes later her eyes adjust to the dim light, and she carefully walks around a corner avoiding debris and sits down with her back to the wall. Lifting a loose floorboard she pulls out her tablet, turns it on and starts to read.

“There are only two loaders here today, and one of them doesn't look good. They are both sitting at their lunch table,” said Dona. Lim nods to Mora who climbs the ladder and opens the roof hatch and looks out. Scuttling back down the ladder she whispers, “There are ten bags up here. I'll drop them and someone needs to catch them.” Mora climbs back up and the women cluster next to the ladder. One by one each bag is caught and put into a pile. Mora climbs back down closing the hatch behind her. Mora looks inside one of the bags and said, “We have to hide these now.” Lim looks around and points to an empty corner. “Stack them there, and we can build a wall of boxes in front of them.” The bags are shifted, boxes are moved and stacked filling the corner in a cube. 

The Marshall sits at his desk digesting the scene he had witnessed. He had to change his clothes to get rid of the foul smell and told the cleaners to boil them. Davin at his worst has never been this unhinged and so dangerous. Some Elders had looked ill, and he didn't feel all that great himself. About a quarter of his troopers are ill and many are in their barracks. Several tractors stopped working this morning making it more difficult to get troopers to their patrol jobs. “Something is going on, I can feel it. I just don't know what it is. Could Davin be right about the starship attacking us, but to what end?” Looking up at the knock on the door his aide steps in and hands him a note. “This arrived by a messenger from the Senior Elder.”

The Marshal carefully opened the envelope and pulled out a small piece of paper. The Senior Elder had scrawled, “Have Bard shackled in the square. I will execute him in an hour. Attend personally.” The Marshal sighs and leaves his office to make the arrangements.

As he enters the square, things seem quieter than usual to the Marshal. A stalled tractor and trailer is being towed away and the typical crowds are smaller. Several street vendor stalls are closed up. Walking over to the platform he glances up at ex-Marshal Bard hanging limply between the posts in filthy clothes and glazed over eyes. “It's merciful he's still stinking drunk.” he thinks. A gilded carriage crosses the square and jerks to a stop. Davin climbs out with his knife whip, walks over to the Marshal and stares at him with yellowed bloodshot eyes. “I thought you may need some incentive. Stay and watch and then bring me, Ungar. Am I clear? Report to me first thing in the morning.” The Marshal nods. Davin climbs the platform. In three vicious strokes, it's clear Bard is already dead but Davin continues to relentlessly flay at his body. The Marshal looks over at the long lines at the public jakes. “I can wait until I get back to my office,” he mutters under his breath.