Son of a Bitch
• • •
Jonathan Knox finishes recounting the past few days of his life – aside from a certain disconcerting news broadcast, that is – to Cody long before they arrive at Cody’s hideout. Cody believes every word he hears, as he know–… knew the Does, once upon a time, and luckily for Jonathan Knox Cody opts to not outright reveal why he was so relieved to hear of their demise. The only thing that troubles him about Jonathan Knox’s tallest of tales is the mysterious gunman who came to the cabin and shot it to pieces whilst Jonathan Knox was in the shitter.
“You really didn’t see the guy?” Cody asks for the third time, walking slowly as to let the hobbler keep up.
“I really fucking didn’t,” Jonathan Knox confirms. “All I saw was bullets flying and the house consumed by flames, but I’m pretty sure it was Cletus who started the fire. He showed me his pump shotgun and Courtney’s pair of automatic sons of bitches. They were all loaded with dragon’s breath shells.”
“Yeaah, the Does loved their fire ammo. Their father passed those shells down when he passed on into the veil, they were special to them.”
“Who’s father?” Jonathan Knox very quickly asks. “Cletus’s or Courtney’s?”
“Uh… doesn’t matter. Listen, can you walk any faster, Knox? We might be there by now.”
“I’m really going as fast as I can,” Jonathan Knox promises. “Honest to God.”
“Nah, not-uh, don’t you bring Him into this. Old Boy doesn’t come around these parts anymore.”
“That right? What happened to Him?”
“Didn’t abide to TICC’s terms and conditions. They excom’d Him.”
It’s quiet for a bit, aside from the general forest noises. Bugs buzzing, birds chirping, squirrels chuttering about. The leaves crunching beneath their feet, the wind blowing a sway into the trees. Serenity, in other words. Backwoods serenity. Perfection.
Then, Cody ruins the entire fucking thing by asking, “Why didn’t you think I’d believe your story, Jonathan?”
“What’s that?” Jonathan Knox asks back. Unlike Cody, he’s not used to the backwoods serenity and it hits his ears in the form of foreground noise rather than background noise.
“You said your name might be the only part of your story I’d believe. Why was that?”
Jonathan Knox smirks to himself. “I might have chosen to omit a few parts.”
“How I got to be swimming in the lake in the dead of night.”
“All right,” Cody says, “so how’d you get to be swimming in the lake in the dead of night?”
“Later on, perhaps,” Jonathan Knox avoids. “My foot throbs pretty horrorifically, I just want to focus on getting wherever it is we’re going.”
“Al–… all right.”
“Where are we going, by the way?” as he hobbles painedly along. “All you told me was you have someplace good for a ‘man in my situation.”
“That I do,” Cody answers. “It’s a little meeting place I share with a couple of guys from town. TICC doesn’t know about it, as far as I know. It’s called The Hut. Might be the only place in all of Wuester that’s not polluted with any tech.”
“None at all?”
“None,” confirms Cody. “See, the Does called themselves off-gridders, but according to your story they had some tech. The Tee-Vee and the food fabricator. I won’t lie to you, I have one of those food fabricators back at my place, but that’s the only piece of TICC tech I own. It’s jailbroken, too – I bought it on the black market out in the city. As far as I know, TICC doesn’t even know I have it.” He hocks a mean loog. “Just the way I prefer.”
“Right,” Jonathan Knox agrees.
“Anywho, folks like me and Sylvester and Cletus – the guys I work with – we’re true off-gridders. They’ve got a jailbroken food fabricator too, I helped them procure it, and they also carry a couple of closed-circuit phones for communication purposes, since they’re a team and whatnot. Other than that, not a single piece of TICC tech to be found in either of our homes. It’s really quite liberating, Johnathan, I have to tell you. Most of the other townsfolk, they care more about a microchip than they do their neighbors. We call them TICC-tacs on account of that’s how big their brains have to be for them to fall for TICC’s nonsense.”
“Amen,” obliges Jonathan Knox. “You said Cletus Doe is one of the guys you work with?”
“Hell no,” Cody says. “There’s more than one Cletus around these parts, Jonathan Knox. Wuester’s a small town, but it isn’t that small.”
Jonathan Knox nods as if Cody can see him do it, but Cody’s walking ahead of him. To Cody it seems like the hobbling forest stranger chose to keep silent. Just as well. One should be quiet walking through the woods. Might see some wildlife that way.
They don’t see a single card-carrying member of Wuester wildlife between the arbitrary spot in the woods in which that conversation took place and The Hut. The place is empty when they arrive, which surprises Cody.
“Were you expecting your boys?”
“Not exactly,” Cody explains, opening the door for Jonathan Knox. “One of them are usually here whenever I come, though. Usually ‘Vester. It’s not a big deal. Come on in.”
Jonathan Knox goes on in. The Hut is an apt name for this spot, it’s literally a hut in the woods. Smaller than the deerhead room at the Doe’s house, built from planks and plywood rather than logs, tons of natural light flowing in through the windows. They’ve got a few propane lanterns for when the sun sets, too, and a few couches for anytime, anytime at all.
“No sir,” Cody says, plopping down on the couch without a hat on his head. “The Hut’s strictly a meeting place. Being this off-grid is against the law; no need for any unlicensed weapons charges if we get caught, you understand?”
[to be cont’d]
This has been the start of the sixth subchapter of the second chapter of the book Over the River: The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox. Here is everything you need to know about it:
Over the River
The Emancipation of Jonathan Knox
Over the River is the third book in a trilogy called The Fall of the Seven Earths. I’ve also released that trilogy as a single book called The Fall of the Seven Earths. Here’s everything you need to know about it:
The Fall of the Seven Earths
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