The Family Business

The next episode for Jamison’s Battlefields. Here are the previous episodes in order. Zilkas Asteroid Belt, Jamison’s Rescue,  Dinner with an Alien, Dibolocos Attack, Departure Orders, Homecoming, and Into the Darkness

The man commanding the small group stepped up to Jamison and put his irritated face inches from Jamison. “Whoever you are, I am going to make you suffer. I will not tolerate anyone coming into my territory and killing my men!”

“They’re not dead.” The man visibly startled. He studied Jamison, and Jamison studied him back. The man turned around and ordered the two lackies to check on the downed men, but as they turned to look the one across the street was trying to get up. It took several minutes for the other man to rouse, but then again he had been a lot closer to the gun.

When the leader of the group came back he was smiling, and much to Jamison’s surprise he handed him back his weapon. “So why didn’t you just identify yourself instead of playing cat and mouse with my men?”

“When I was here last, you didn’t need anyone’s permission to walk the street.”

This remark opened the door for the man to ask details of where Jamison had been since the great unveiling. Jamison also had a few questions. But all he learned was that the man was named Reilly and he commanded the streets for several blocks in each direction. Reilly didn’t understand the new order of life, but he refused to hide inside.

After the conversation hit a dead end, Reilly told Jamison he was welcome in his district anytime. But his father’s shop was a ways out. It was in an area fiercely controlled by the Dibolocos. With this news, Jamison headed off in the direction of trouble.

When he left Reilly’s district the streets became noticeably worse. Every building had a hole or two in it, at least half were gutted, burned out or maybe just missing. But no one or no thing tried to stop him in the streets.  As he got closer he found more and more of the shady businesses he had seen from the train.

As he approached his father’s old shop he was anxious. When he realized he had one more corner to go he stopped to steady his thoughts. He waited for his nerves to calm. They didn’t. So finally he just went ahead and looked.

The store had windows all along the front. They were covered with plywood. A nonsensical fact because they were about the only part of the building that appeared to be standing from this angle. He approached the building, walked right up to the front doors and found them standing wide.

The front wall was standing, one side wall, and the back wall. The other side, and everything from the second floor up was missing. He looked around the sales floor he had been so determined to avoid and waves of emotion threatened his composure. This visit might not have been a good idea.

There was evidence of explosions here and there, bullet holes in walls, but an awful lot of the damage was done with more primitive weapons. As he walked back he found the room which had been his father’s office was mostly intact.

As he entered the room the first thing to draw his attention was the little desk his mother had used. It was basically broken in half, splintered into two pieces and each half laid neatly over on its side. He could imagine his mother sitting there when an energy weapon did that damage. He could imagine her dying in the little wooden chair that use to be there. He tried to stop imagining it, but the image was hard to turn off.

He turned to his father’s desk. It was turned all the way upside down a few feet forward of where it had always stood. His father’s chair was sitting right where it belonged. It was a big dark red leather executive model. The back of the chair was sliced downward at an angle. It started to right of center and moved down toward the left and on the floor was the slice which had been taken off the chair.

He pictured the Dibolocos from the ship slicing its axe through his father. He closed his eyes trying to make the image stop. He grabbed his head and squeezed hard. Nothing stopped the image playing out in his mind. Tears fell to the carpet debris.

He was taking a few minutes to regain his composure when behind him a door opened but he did not notice in time. When he did, he tried to draw his weapon. Strong hands secured him before he could accomplish it. They half walked, half carried him to a wall. When they got there the wall opened up and they pulled him into a hidden elevator.

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27 thoughts on “The Family Business

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