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XIII: SIGNS OF THE TRICKSTER


Chapter 6

The doctor reacted first, followed by Benoit. The old man in the white coat pulled the Count and Hélène apart. Roland sat up unharmed, hand still tight upon the pistol.

Hélène lay unresisting, breathing raggedly, having caught the ricochet square in her back.

But Angelique gasped for air, blood spurting from her neck as her uncle cradled her. Gus scrambled over, but the doctor pushed him away. “Gus, mon amour,” she called weakly.

He grabbed her hand, but could barely see her lips move through his tears. “I’m sorry,” she said faintly, blood dribbling from her mouth.

The doctor’s white jacket rapidly turned crimson as bright as her lipstick as he pressed bandages on the ragged channel the round ripped through her neck.

With one hand the doctor gestured at Gus. Nigel handed Gus the black bag, which Gus held open. The surgeon fumbled around in it. “Hold it steady, man.”

Gus held it open with both hands while the doctor pulled out a syringe. He immediately jabbed it into Angelique’s chest. Gus looked away and found himself staring at the brass small plate below the handle upon the case. It read, “MARCO FAUSTINO, M.D.”

Behind them, Jesús sat up with the help of the driver. The Count scrambled to his feet.

“Damn it,” he growled as adjusted his coat and holstered his piece. “Foolish old woman; no harm would have come to them.”

“Stupid and ill-done, Roland,” Fawkeslorne said, holding a handkerchief to his bleeding nose. Benoit looked up, stone-faced and grim.

“I am truly sorry. I certainly did not mean to shoot anyone,” Count Roland said. “It’s Hélène’s fault anyway. My gun went off when the madwoman attacked.”

Gus held Angelique close, rocking. “Don’t go, Angel. You must live, we can still –”

“Get married?” she said. “No, Augustine, dearest. I’m sorry; I could not, ever.” She coughed, blood dribbling from her mouth. “Because… you don’t…” she said with her last gasp.

“…believe,” Angelique sighed, her chill hand clenched Gus’ tightly, and fell slack. The doctor turned to the other dying woman.

Gus reached into his vest pocket. He put something small and golden in her hand. He trembled as he closed it and rest her hand gently upon her chest. The doctor covered Angelique’s face with her lacy shawl.

Gus found he suddenly had no more tears but a terrible purpose. He looked into Benoit’s cold blue eyes. They, too, were as empty as a freshly-opened grave.

“This changes nothing,” Sir Gordon said, “We’d still best be moving.”

“Move, people,” the Count commanded. “Doctor, are you through yet?”

The doctor looked up from the floor, covering Hélène’s head. “Yes, she’s finished also. Let me see to your man before we go. But I must tell you, Count, I’m not prepared for this. I came ready to take samples to test for toxicity, not to clean up these messes.”

 


 

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“The dreamer believes the dream is real.
Dreams may die,
but illusions
never bleed:
only dreamers do.”

– Jean-Baptiste Beauregarde,
Betrayers of the Red Cap, 1839

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