Friday, July 10, 2015

Story Seed - Missed the Boat

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I drove down Exchange Street slowly, my eyes darting from the road to the wharfs and the ships moored there. My destination only partially known from a torn scrap of paper I had found in Dr. Ziegfreid's lab. The scrap said "ranean S" which wasn't much to go on, but if there was a chance I could intercept the doctor before he fled the country I might yet gain some measure of justice for his victims.

The weather wasn't cooperating. Thick gray blankets of clouds blotted out the sun making mid afternoon feel more like the hour of dusk before true darkness. Rain drizzled down as well, not hard, but enough to obscure my view even further. Luck broke my way (as it always seemed to) and I saw von Braun, the not-so-good doctor's Frankenstein monster of a lieutenant. Even in the dim and rain it was easy to make him out. The man, if one could call him that, stood nearly seven feet tall and was prodigiously strong. Strong enough that he could easily lift a crate that would need a team of three to maneuver.

von Braun was carrying such a crate up the gangplank of a steamer. I jammed on the breaks and my eyes darted to her prow where I read "Mediterranean Star." That fit well enough to my clue and von Braun's presence sealed it; Ziegfried was here, and he was preparing to flee back to Europe.

I quickly pulled the car over and checked my revolvers under my coat; both of the modified Colt single action army pistols were loaded and ready to go. I shut the engine off and shoved my hat onto my head; the rain was getting heavier and I saw the sailors loading the Mediterranean Star start to scurry a little faster as a shadowy form watched from the ship's deck.

I was barely out of the vehicle, turning to close the door, when a bolt of lightning hit it. The thunderclap concussion flung me through the air like a rag doll, which probably saved me from being electrocuted. If I hadn't known better I'd have been stunned by the seeming coincidence of the strike, but the bolt had not come down from above, but instead had traveled laterally from the direction of the ship.

I rolled to my feet, my guns drawn with barely a thought, and snapped a quick shot off in the direction of the lightning's source. My aim was true enough and I winged the brute von Braun, causing him to recoil. The weapon he carried discharged again, this time a white-hot lance into the sky thanks to my efforts. The thunderclap sent a handful of sailors either to their hands and knees or over into the cold harbor waters.

Blinking away the bar of purple afterimage I made for the gangplank, snapping off shots as I was able, hoping to maybe find some weak spot and end von Braun's unnatural existence, or destroy the weapon. I succeeded at neither and by the time I made is across the street and down the length of the wharf the brute had his foot on the plank. Sailors were cutting lines with short, sharp knives, and which a heave that probably amounted to very little effort indeed, von Braun kicked the gangplank away from the ship.

I skidded to a halt, arms corkscrewing to keep me from tumbling ass over teakettle into the ocean. A belch of diesel and the ship began to pull away. That shadowed figure standing at the stern, watching me. I knew it was Ziegfried, I could see the blue electric glow of the prosthetic eye that replaced the one I had destroyed so many years before.

His brute strode to his side and raised the weapon again, I got a good look at it as I sighted down the rails of both my guns. It looked a lot like the somebody had mounted a series of Tesla type coils of descending diameter onto a large rifle with a ball of copper at the very end. I wasn't eager to see it in action again and fired with both pistols until they ran dry, perhaps five shots. I was rewarded with a bright flash followed by the sight of the weapon being dropped overboard. As a secondary bounty I saw the larger of the two Germans stagger back, though I doubted sincerely that the big man would do more than shrug it off.

As the boat pulled away into the storm I stood, shoulders slumped, rain cascading down from my hat in near sheets and cursed Dr. Ziegfried's name once more. I mentally added three more to his tally, a register of death that now counted well over a hundred souls, and the luckiest of which had died quickly. What foul experiments he had conducted here in Baltimore I could not fathom, but three souls had had their brains cut from their skulls in the name of his twisted brand of science.