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Cayo Elina 41

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The first thing Gus saw in the morning was Ricardo’s face looming over him. “Wakey-wakey, eggs and bakey!” Ricardo said softly, gesturing for Gus to keep quiet.

“Sheesh, what time is it?” Gus asked, peering around at the dim glow from the windows.

“Time? For someone running towards death with both arms outstretched, what does does time mean?” Ricardo said in a whisper.

“What?”

“Sorry. I’ll give you a moment. Get dressed, we got us some talking to do.” Gunfire rattled in the distance, no louder than Ricardo’s whispering.

Ricardo turned and strode off into the darkness, letting himself out into the hallway with hardly a sound. Gus shrugged and pulled himself up out of bed. Sometime during the night the orderly had brought them clean clothing. ‘I wonder what’s got Ricardos panties in a bunch this morning.’ Risking a peek forward Gus nodded to himself and mumbled, “Time to shit or get off the pot I guess.”

Gus dressed in the cotton t-shirt and pants, then padded barefoot after Ricardo. He didn’t find the man in the hallway and explored his options for a moment, thinking ‘This is a test.’ Turning right he made his way down the stairs at the end of the hall to the ground floor. The door was propped open with a rock, to prevent the latch from engaging and locking. Gus quietly went outside and spotted Ricardo over at a picnic table in a common area between the buildings.

Ricardo’s gaze never left Gus as the man walked over to him. Finally, when Gus was before him, Ricardo said, “Bullshit.”

With a sigh Gus dropped onto the bench across from Ricardo. “Which part of it?”

“All of it. You can see the goddamned future. In no shape or way that I can think of would dying be a better answer than living. What’s to say that a second after you die Elina gets cut down by someone else. So you kept her alive for another moment? What the fuck good does that do anyone?”

“This isn’t an exact science, Ricardo, sometimes things get moving too fast and I can’t control what happens.”

Shaking his head Ricardo said, “That’s crap and you know it. Where does this go down? This finale of your life?”

“I’m not sure of anything, but I think it happens at Max’s place.”

“You said, or implied, that only by dying could you save the person you loved. I’ve been thinking about that.”

“I can tell.” Gus said.

“You haven’t been. If you want to feed this line of shit to someone who is going to take it at face value, like Hector, then go ahead. I’m a thinker and I call bullshit on you.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.” Gus said, raising to his feet.

“No. You don’t get to just spout like some goddamned visionary-guru-Jesus-fucking-christ and walk away. I want an answer.”

“I know.” Gus said, sitting back down, “But I don’t have to give you one.”

“What if I say you do?”

“Are you threatening me?” Gus asked, deadly calm.

“I don’t have to kill you to put the hurt on you bad enough that you’re out for the next few days.”

“Why would you even say that?”

“Because I want ‘in’. Inside of this world you live in. Inside your circle of trust, just let me in and tell me what I want to know.”

“Or you’ll beat it out of me?”

“I think you’re too stubborn for that. But, like I said, I could probably remove you from events.” Ricardo said.

“What if I can’t answer you. I mean you make it sound like I’m withholding and I think I’ve already been pretty darn forthcoming.”

“Then explain to me why you think you have to die. There’s damn few good things in this world anymore, I sort of count you as one of them.”

“So turn me when I get mortally wounded.”

Ricardo’s blow caught Gus on the side of the head and sent him barreling into the weedy strew grass next to the sidewalk. Gus pulled himself up and glared at the man from greenery. “What the fuck, Ricardo?”

Ricardo hadn’t moved, “Didn’t see that one coming did you?”

Gus moved quickly, anger overriding reason, he moved to Ricardo’s side and barely pulled himself up short of the zombie, hand upraised to strike. “Shit.” He said, all the anger draining out of him.

“Yeah. I thought that might get your attention. You go on and on about how you can see the paths of the future, how you can try and direct it by doing certain things at just the right time. All of this leading to a final, cumulating event, your death or the death of Elina, I’m guessing. That will be the turning point of your life. But you just thought of it, didn’t you?” Ricardo asked, “You didn’t see me belt you in the side of the head. What else aren’t you seeing?”

“I can’t see everything.”

“Let me in.”

“I don’t know if I can.” Gus said, lowering his hand and looking at the zombie in front of him.

“Let’s find out.”

Elina found them there well after sunrise. She had gone looking for him after waking up Hector and talking with the orderly who was keeping an eye on Alban, no one knew where he or Ricardo had gone. Finally she gone down to the dining hall and spotted them outside between the buildings, talking animatedly.

Elina loaded up a couple of coffee mugs and pushed her way outside to see what they were discussing. Gus’s hair was rumpled and there was a rivet of dried blood down one cheek that had soaked into his collar. It was obvious that he didn’t notice it and Elina couldn’t find any cuts on his face or neck to go with the blood. Ricardo glanced at her as she approached and she send him a questioning look, which he either didn’t catch or ignored.

“I brought you coffee.” Elina said, placing a mug in front of Gus. He took it and cradled it in one hand.

“Thanks.”

“I wasn’t sure if you’d want any.” Elina said to Ricardo.

He shook his head, “If it was plentiful, I’d take some, no sense in wasting it on the likes of my taste buds.

“What’s got you two up so early out?” Elina asked them.

“I couldn’t sleep.” Ricardo deadpanned.

Elina looked at him a moment, then laughed, “Yeah, but what’s Gus’s excuse, yesterday was a long day.”

“Oh, I couldn’t let him sleep either.” Ricardo said, “Besides I thought his snores were going to wake you up, I was just trying to let you, Hector and Alban sleep a few more hours.”

“So you purely had our best interests at heard did you?”

Ricardo looked shocked and nodded vigorously, “You know, as weird as it sounds, that’s exactly right.”

Gus nodded, “Yeah, he’s right. We got a few things worked out and I’m feeling, well, maybe not optimistic about the future, but I’m feeling better.”

“Sometimes it helps to get a little perspective on things.” Ricardo added.

Elina gave both of them a look that indicated she thought they were both pulling one of her legs, their earnest faces made her laugh again, “Okay, fine. Be that way. I’m starving and they were making sawdust pancakes in there with real syrupy sugar stuff to go on top. Probably with more dead cow. You hungry, Gus?”

“You make it sound so appetizing. Yeah, I’m hungry too.”

“I guess I’ll come along to make sure Gus doesn’t spill any of our secrets.” Ricardo said, getting up from the table.

As the made their way over to get breakfast Elina tentatively asked, “So, what’s with the blood on Gus?”

“Hmm?” Gus asked, touching the side of his head.

“He forced me to knock some sense into him.” Ricardo said, getting the door for them.

“Oh, yeah, I didn’t know I was bleeding.”

“Seriously? That’s all I get?” Elina asked in exasperation.

“He showed me the error of my ways, sometimes love hurts.” Gus said, ducking past Ricardo to get into the food line.

Elina paused at the door and looked at Ricardo, “I know you didn’t go at it with him. He’d have killed you.”

Ricardo shrugged, “I was trying to get through to him, I think I did.”

“Good luck, I’ve been trying for months.”

They were finishing up their second helping of food, joined belatedly by Hector, when the messenger came to tell them that Perry wanted to see them, as soon as possible. The man stayed with them while they were cleaning up their mess from breakfast and led the way back to the meeting when they were ready.

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