SS novice field agent
Posted - 03/01/2009 : 16:02:54
| The Night of the Penicillium Experiment
Gordon sat in his lab in front of his chemistry table. He held a small green ball in up to his eye for inspection. Content, Gordon put the ball aside and reached for his notebook. The door squeaked open but he didn’t look up.
“Hey Jim, I’ve just cooked up a new batch of knockout bombs for ya.”
“Is that so Mr. Gordon? Why don’t we test one out right now?”
Gordon turned around; the voice didn’t belong to his partner, instead it belonged to the tiny evil genius, Dr. Loveless. Before he had the chance to do anything, Voltaire pinned his arms behind his chair.
“Your kerchief, Voltaire,” Loveless drew his neck kerchief over his nose and mouth and picked up the green ball.
Gordon attempted to struggle but Voltaire held his wrists securely, single handedly. Gordon didn’t say anything but his expression was one of annoyance.
“Now Mr. Gordon, you’ll get to experience your handiwork first hand.” Loveless threw the ball down at Gordon’s feet.
Gordon solemnly watched the gray smoke rise. His head bobbed slightly then his eyes rolled back and finally the world went black for him.
West rode up to their private car. He dismounted from his black steed and wrapped the studded reigns around the handrail. He frowned upon seeing the parlor door wide open and drew his Colt .45. Cautiously, he entered the car. Nothing was out of place in the main cabin. He worked his way towards his partner’s lab. That door too, was open and he entered cautiously. One of the beakers was knocked over, making a slimy mess on the table and floor and the Bunsen burner was still on. He turned the burner off and searched the rest of the train. No sign of Artemus. West went back out into the parlor. There was a small decorative box on the table by the fake set of books. West looked around the car with his gun still raised then went outside. There was no sign of anyone so West went back into the parlor and over to the little box. He slowly lifted the lid with the tip of his pistol. Music started to play and then two familiar voices start singing. West’s face went stone cold. He holstered his Peacemaker, locked up the train and mounted his horse.
Gordon blinked his eyes and the world slowly focused for him. He tried to sit up but found himself securely strapped down to an operating table.
“Ah, Mr.Gordon. Awake at last. I do hope you are satisfied with your work.” Loveless climbed onto a platform next to the table.
“What is it now Dr. Loveless?” Gordon sighed, “the world?”
Loveless chuckled, “what a sense of humor you have Mr. Gordon. No, no, nothing like that. I was getting bored and decided to play a little game with you and Mr. West.”
“Oh? What game is that?”
“In the past I’ve always kidnapped Mr. West first and you’ve never failed to find him, even when the trail is spotless.”
“Oh. I see,” Gordon smiled. “So, this time I am hiding and Jim is seeking.”
Loveless clapped his hands together, “you’re wonderfully perceptive Mr. Gordon. But Mr. West isn’t as sharp as you in seeking so I must send him some bait. Lina dear?”
A young brunette in a beautifully fitted dress came into Gordon’s view.
“Oh she’ll do nicely,” Gordon smiled.
“I’m glad you approve Mr. Gordon. Now, while Lina is out seducing Mr. West, we are going to play our own little game.”
Gordon shifted a little in his bonds. “Well, it is a little difficult to play a game when I’m strapped down like this.”
Dr. Loveless smiled, “Oh you needn’t move at all. We’re going to play a guessing game.” Antoinette came into view, dressed in a nurse’s outfit, and held up a needle. “You are going to guess what are in these two vials.” Loveless held the two vials close to Gordon’s face.
Gordon silently glanced at the vials in Loveless’ hands and the syringe in Antoinette’s. Damn it, why did it have to be an injection? “You are going to give me a little hint aren’t you Dr. Loveless?”
Loveless put the vials down and took the syringe from Antoinette and grinned at his prisoner. “Even better. I am going to let you experience it.” Loveless shoved the needle into Gordon’s left arm.
West rode into town and dismounted in front of the local saloon. He tied his horse to the hitching post and went inside. He chose an empty table close to the wall so he could keep an eye on all that was going on. A scantily clad barmaid came over and he ordered a beer. Hopefully he wouldn’t have to wait too long for Loveless to make a move.
West nursed his beer for almost a half hour when a gorgeously appealed woman entered the saloon. Girls that lavishly dressed typically did not enter rough and tumble saloons, unless she was a contact from Loveless. Before he could decide whether to watch her some more or introduce himself, a couple drunken cowboys started whistling and catcalling.
“Wellll, lookie what jusssst blew in,” one cowboy drunkenly slurred and he tumbled out of his chair.
Another drunken cowboy stumbled up to the woman and grabbed her wrist, “My name’s Red Roy, and what’d be your’s sugar?”
“Please,” the woman tried to extract her wrist from the cowboy’s grip. “let me go. I just need to pick up something.”
Things were about to get ugly. West walked over to the lady and placed himself between her and the cowboys. “The lady doesn’t want you company,” he said as he pulled the man’s hand away from the lady’s wrist.
“Who invited you over?” The first cowboy took a swing at the newcomer but missed and received a right fist to his jaw. Suddenly pandemonium broke out and all the customers in the bar started taking swings at each other.
Lina took a position close to the bar for protection from the flying furniture and watch the fight unfold.
Finally West was the last man standing. Bruised, panting, hair out of place, he picked his hat up off the floor and turned to the woman. “You okay?”
Lina released what seem to be a relieved breath, “Yes, I think so. Thank you so much for getting that awful man off of me!”
West slapped the dirt off of his clothes with his hat. “Beautiful young lady like yourself shouldn’t come into these establishments all by themselves, especially at dusk.”
“No, my father is ill and I was sent to pick up a bottle of rum so my mother could make him a hot toddy.”
“Well, I guess you should be on your way then.” West walked around the bar, flipped a couple of bills on the bar and took down a bottle of rum, “here you go, Miss…?”
“Thank you, Lina Felistaviciute. But you may call me Lina. Mister?”
“West. James West.”
“Thank you again Mr. West. Why don’t you come back to my parents’ home with me. You will be able to clean up and I am sure my parents would like to thank you too.”
“James, and thank you Lina. It would be my honor to escort you home.”
The two of them walked out of the saloon to the coach that was waiting out front. West tied his stallion to the back and then joined Lina inside and the coach took off.
West smiled pleasantly at the lovely lady next to him, “are you taking me to Dr. Loveless’ lair?”
“Who? I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Lina fidgeted with her ring.
“Oh, I think you know precisely what I’m talking about.” West grabbed Lina’s hand but withdrew quickly. He looked at a small drop of blood on his finger then swooned.
“So, have you any guesses as to what the mystery vials contained?” Loveless grinned and rubbed his hands together.
“No, but you are going to tell me aren’t you Doctor?”
Loveless giggled. “No. I’m sure you’ll figure it out on your own. By tomorrow you should begin to feel it working you. I do hope you like your room. I modeled it after my favorite jail cell.”
“You’re too kind,” Gordon muttered and glanced around.
“I’ll be back to check on you a little later. Mr. West should be arriving anytime now and I must make sure his accommodations are ready.” Loveless exited with Antoinette.
Gordon looked around his spartanly furnished cell. He checked the metal bars and then decided to give the glass wall right behind the bars a kick. The glass didn’t break so he kicked harder but nothing happened. Hmm… the groove in the floor suggested that the glass wall in the front of the cell apparently slides aside to allow access to the cell. There was the usual lock at the front of the bars. There was also a small slot at the bottom of the front cell bars for a plate to be shoved through and a small rectangular portion of the glass wall that lifted up to allow access to the plate slot of the cell bars. Gordon reached into his inside jacket pockets and found that they were empty. Likewise his vest pocket and the inside of his hat were empty also. Not like he needed to check to know that he was divested of everything for Loveless knew him too well by now. With nothing else left to do but think, he sat down on the little cot against the back wall and plopped his hat down next to him.
What did Loveless inject into him? Outright poison? Some kind of drug to drive him insane or to try to control him? Whatever it was, it was supposed to take effect within 24 hours and the only thing he could do about it was to wait to find out.
Dr. Loveless stepped down from the porch of the abandoned house turned laboratory and waited impatiently for the carriage to stop. He motioned his two hired “assistants” forward.
The driver got down and opened the door to the coach. Lina cautiously put a dainty foot out and took the driver’s offered hand down.
“Did you bring him here as I have asked?”
Lina smoothed her dress and stepped aside, “yes, Doctor. He is unconscious thanks to that ring that you gave me.”
Loveless giggled and rubbed his hands together, “excellent Lina! You may go inside and freshen up. Sampson, Willie,” Loveless gestured toward the carriage. “Put Mr. West in his cell.”
Gordon looked up when he heard the door to the lab open and quickly jumped up at the sight. Two heavies were carrying his unconscious partner and dumped Jim on the floor in the cell next to his.
“Jim? Jim, come on buddy, wake up,” Gordon tried calling to his partner and kicking the bars between their cells to try to rouse James.
“Do calm down Mr. Gordon. I assure you there is nothing wrong with Mr. West.”
Gordon angrily faced Loveless, “what did you do to him?!”
“Oh I did nothing to Mr. West, at least not yet,” Loveless smiled and held back a laugh.
Before he could continue hounding Loveless, a muffled groan caught Gordon’s ear.
West slowly sat up on the hard ground and took a breath as he slowly stood. “Loveless. All you had to do was to send me an invitation if you wanted me to visit you that bad.”
Loveless shrugged, “well, you are here now. Does it really matter how you got here? Now you two may catch up with each other and I will leave Sampson here to keep you both company. Ta-ta,” Loveless giggled as he left the basement-lab.
After Loveless left, West turned to the glass outside the bars of his cell and Gordon’s. “Well, this is new,” West gestured at the glass.
“Yeah, not quite sure what the purpose is,” Gordon shrugged.
“Have any idea what he wants this time?”
“He hasn’t started bragging yet. He did inject something into me though.”
West grabbed the bars, “what? What did he inject into you?”
Gordon sighed, “I don’t know Jim. He wanted to play a guessing game. Apparently I’m supposed to be his guinea pig for something.”
“Well, how do you feel? What do you think it was that he injected you,” West held off voicing his more morbid thoughts, forbidding himself to even go there.
“It’s too early to tell yet, Jim. Right now I suggest on trying to figure out how to get out of here,” Artemus stretched out on the pathetic cot with his hands folded behind his head and his feet propped up on the edge of the cot.
“Yeah. We’ll have to watch for an opportunity,” West said as he eyed Sampson by the door.
No dinner was served and Loveless did not come back to taunt them. With nothing else left to do but think, West and Gordon laid down on their respective cots and fell asleep.
The night was cold and only a thin sheet was provided on each cot. Three times West woke up to the guard changing; Sampson to Willie to Voltaire back to Sampson.
Jim had gotten up with the sun and was pacing slowly around the tiny cell for an hour before he sat back down on his cot. The cells were small, his and Artie’s were separated by bars but were open to each other where a sheet of glass or something equally thick and translucent was placed around their cells. The cells had two tiny rectangular windows, too small for anyone to get in or out of even if the bars were taken out. The windows themselves were just holes, allowing the cool outside air in and telling them that they were below ground level as the windows just sat at ground level.
When morning came, Artemus woke up with a severe sore throat. He sat up on the miserable cot and swallowed experimentally and winced; it even hurt to swallow. He crossed his arms tightly over his chest and his eyes were half closed and he wore a sour expression.
“How’re you feeling, Artie?”
Gordon put a hand to his throat, “throat’s sore. No thanks to the open window.”
“Anything else? Do you have any ideas yet what Loveless injected into you?” West asked his partner’s back.
Gordon stood up and faced his partner. “Just back off Jim. It doesn’t matter what I was injected with unless we get out of here,” he said in a harsh whisper and wiped his sweating brow with the back of his hand.
Damn, Jim thought. Artie looks like he’s running a temperature. They had to get out of here fast and find the antidote to whatever Loveless had cooked up. Before he could think further upon their dilemma, the door to the cellar they were in opened.
Voltaire opened the door and held it for Lina, who was carrying a tray of two steaming bowls of oatmeal and two glasses of water. Today Lina was dressed in a simple blouse and jacket and skirt ensemble unlike the fancy gown she had worn into the saloon the previous day. Lina walked over to West’s cell and Voltaire followed.
“Move back, against the wall,” Voltaire ordered.
For the time being, West complied and he moved to the back of the cell.
Voltaire pulled a chain that dangled at the edge of the cell and a small opening was created by the bars and glass of the cell door raising no more than six inches off the ground.
West observed this and watched Lina as well, trying to sense any weakness in the cell or in the woman. “Well, if it isn’t the lovely Miss Lina. Come to give us our final meal before Dr. Loveless disposes of us? Oatmeal? I must say the Doctor usually has better taste when feeding his guests.”
Lina did not look at the prisoner’s eyes or face but kept her eyes upon the floor. She frowned and pushed the bowl and glass through the space.
Voltaire released the chain and the bars and glass once more slid back into place. He went over to the other cell and repeated the process.
Artemus did not look at Lina nor did he attempt to talk to her. After the bowl and glass had been shoved into his cell, he picked up the glass and took a sip. The water did not ease his throat in the least bit. He then picked up the bowl and sat back down on the cot to eat the warm, tasteless mush. While he was not a fan of oatmeal, the warmth of it was comforting after the chill of the night.
When the prisoners had finished eating and their bowls and spoons were removed and their glasses refilled with more water. Lina went back out the door with Voltaire following her. Not more than a few minutes later Voltaire came back and let each one out at a time to use the facilities. West thought about rushing Voltaire but the other guard had the shotgun trained on him the entire time and even if he could get away from Voltaire, he would probably end up being shot someplace vital. After both prisoners had used the facilities, they were once again left alone with the single guard and shotgun.
West was getting impatient. Where was Loveless? Why wasn’t he here gloating by now? West was a man of action and the forced inaction was wearing thin on him. He started pacing around his cell again when the door to the basement opened. This time Loveless, Antoinette and Voltaire entered the room. Antoinette was dressed as a nurse but somehow made the bland costume look beautiful and she carried a tray with two vials on it. Loveless was wearing a white lab-coat down to his ankles and carrying a clipboard. Voltaire was dressed as he always was and smiled menacingly.
“I’m sorry I have not been able to visit you gentlemen sooner, but I had some preparations to take care of that required my full attention,” Loveless said as looked between West and Gordon.
West stood in the middle of his cell, head cocked and arms crossed, trying not to look too anxious. Gordon swung his legs over the side of his cot and just sat there scowling.
“Nothing to say? Mister West? Mister Gordon? Surely you both want to know why you’re here, and what was injected into Mr. Gordon.”
West looked around, disinterestedly. Gordon continued to sit and scowl.
“You know you’re both dying to know,” Loveless giggled as he said the word ‘dying.’ “You are just pretending not to be interested but inside you’re just bursting with questions! Antoinette,” Loveless gestured her to come forward. Antoinette glided to his side with a coy smile. Loveless frowned at her and took the vials from her tray.
“I have here two vials, which contains different types of bacterium. Together, they will unleash a sickness the likes of which the world has never known! I intend on releasing this new disease on the masses of California. Only I have the cure to the bacterium and when the people of California do not receive any cure from the United States Government, the State of California will beg me for the cure and they will pay dearly. Why, the people of California will hail me as their king for curing them! Then once I have California under my rightful control, I will spread my little friends here across the land until all of the United States is mine!” Loveless giggled manically as he held the vials up for his prisoners to see. Behind him Antoinette and Voltaire started laughing and singing “Ring Around the Rosey.”
West continued to stand there, looking disinterested, but inside a pit had formed in his stomach and he was going to need to sit down soon. So it wasn’t poison or some new drug, it was an illness that Loveless was going to release onto innocent citizens and had already injected into his partner. There was a remedy at least, of course there had to be if Loveless or Antoinette or Voltaire should fall ill by it. Somehow he had to get that remedy into Artie. Maybe he could try to work on Lina.
Finally the three of them were able to stop giggling and Antoinette and Voltaire had stopped dancing round in circles.
Loveless calmed down but still continued to smile. He addressed Gordon directly, completely ignoring West. “Now, Mr. Gordon, you are my test subject. You have the privilege to be the first person infected with this new strain of illness. So, tell me, how do you feel?”
Gordon still continued to silently scowl.
Loveless stamped a foot at the lack of response, “won’t you cooperate Mr. Gordon, in the name of Science? Ohh fine! Voltaire! Put on your mask and gloves. I am going to examine Mr. Gordon!”
Loveless and Voltaire both donned their rubber gloves and masks that covered their noses and mouths. Voltaire slid the heavy glass away and opened the door of cell and when he and Loveless were inside, Voltaire slid the glass back in place.
“Now Voltaire, hold Mr. Gordon’s jaw open for me,” Loveless said as he climbed up onto the cot and stood on it next to Gordon.
Voltaire forced Gordon to stay seated on the cot and with a single hand popped the prisoner’s jaw open.
Loveless peered inside Gordon’s mouth and made a clucking sound. He then felt the prisoner’s throat with elicited a moan which allowed Loveless to see past the swollen tonsils.
“Oh my, my friends work fast! You know you already have white spots on the back of your throat? I will have to get a sample.”
Loveless drew a swab and a vial from his lab coat. He swabbed the back of his prisoner’s throat and dropped the swab into the vial then stopped the top of the vial. “Okay Voltaire, you can release the prisoner.”
When his jaw was finally released, Gordon coughed and worked his jaw. His eyes shone their hatred at his captor.
“Now last thing, I am going to check your temperature Mr. Gordon.” Loveless produced a glass thermometer and shoved it in his prisoner’s mouth.
Gordon spat the thermometer out and glared at Loveless.
Loveless stamped on the cot, “ohhhhh! What did you do that for?! Voltaire, the thermometer!”
Voltaire bought the thermometer over to his boss.
“Now, I am going to put the thermometer in Mr. Gordon’s mouth and you hold his mouth shut, Voltaire.” Once again Loveless forced the thermometer into his prisoner’s mouth.
This time Gordon had to endure the little glass tube which would tell him nothing that he did not know already.
After what seemed like an eternity for all parties involved, Loveless took the thermometer back. “102.1 already!” Loveless clapped his hands together excitedly and jotted down some notes on his pad and then motioned Voltaire to get the door.
“Ta-ta for now!” Loveless waddled to the door of the cellar, followed by Antoinette and Voltaire.
The two agents watched as their captor and his accomplices exited the room and the guard changed.
Gordon sighed and laid on his back on the cot. “So now we know what he injected into me. No wonder why I’m not feeling that great.” He said hoarsely. He shivered violently and drew his jacket closer about him.
West walked over to the bars that separated him from his partner and knelt down next to Artie’s cot. “Anything else that you did not tell Loveless about?”
“Careful Jim, not too close, I’m probably contagious and that’s just what that twisted little megalomaniac wants, is for you to catch this from me.” Gordon shook again and laid down the cot. “Look Jim, I’m going to take a nap, wake me if anything happens, okay?”
“Sure pal, rest up.” West got up and walked back over to his cot and started pacing around his cell again and reviewed the information he had just learned. So Artie wasn’t poisoned, which was a good thing, but instead he was injected with some experimental disease, not so good. From what Loveless said, the illness was progressing rapidly. He had to get that remedy into Artemus asap before any more symptoms started to show. He was going to have to work on Lina as soon as she came back with their next meal. As for the changing of the guard, that happened with every meal, always a rifle in hand if he could get free, he could fight for that rifle. Unfortunately every time they were let out of the cell, Voltaire had a grip on them.
Lina came once again with her tray, this time with bowls of soup for lunch and more water. Willie was in tow and traded off with Sampson as guard. First she slid the bowl and cup for Gordon into his cell then walked over to the adjoining cell and pushed West’s bowl and cup inside.
Here was his chance to work on getting the remedy for Artemus and get them out of here. West walked over to the front bars, “Lina?”
Lina’s eyes skirted back and forth, “I’m not supposed to talk to you.”
“Lina, you know that what Loveless is doing is wrong. Why do you help him?”
“He paid for my passage to the United States, and I do not know where to go or anybody to help me.”
“Let me and my partner out of here and we can help you.”
“Come on! The boss don’t want you flirting with the prisoners,” Willie shouted at Lina.
Without another word, Lina took her now empty tray and left the room.
West looked over at his partner still sleeping on the cot and pondered waking him for lunch. The soup would probably be good for him, and better if it was warm with the chill in the air. He walked over to the bars that separated them.
“Artie, time to wake up pal,” Jim shook his partner’s arm gently.
Artemus woke with a yawn and a grimace. He hand went to his sore throat, “what is it Jim?”
“Lunch time pal. That soup should do you some good, I’m sure it tastes better hot than cold.”
Gordon swung his legs over the side of the cot and coughed for a minute, “thanks Jim.” He retrieved the steaming bowl and inhaled the aromatic steam and almost nodded off for a second. He shook his head and dipped the spoon in. “I take it Loveless doesn’t trust us with a fork or knife. I can’t believe he serves up soup for lunch to help me get better.” Artemus grimaced, his voice was raspy and his throat hurt like the very dickens.
West smiled at the statement but then turned serious, “I was talking with Lina when she came by.”
“Trying to charm our way out,” Artemus asked as he swallowed another spoonful of broth.
“Uh yeah, but we didn’t get much time before she was told by the guard to get going. I did get out of her that Loveless bought her passage to America. I might be able to convince her to help us though.”
Gordon nodded and set the bowl and spoon and cup by the door then returned to his cot. He coughed hoarsely then leaned his head against the bars and closed his eyes. The cool bars felt good but they also made him shiver.
West placed the palm of his hand on his partner’s forehead. He knew Artie was already running a high fever, and it was sure to get worse.
Gordon angrily pulled away from the bars, “Jim, there’s nothing you can do. Now keep your distance, if you get sick too then we have no chance to get out of here.”
Even though it was still midday, Gordon laid down to take another nap and pulled the single blanket over himself. At least he didn’t feel terrible when he was asleep.
West spent the rest of the afternoon either pacing his cell or sitting on his cot and thinking of what precisely Lina could do to help him and Artie escape. With a little more work, he was sure he could get Lina to help spring them. She wasn’t in this with Loveless for the money or some other promise; she was only here because she felt she owed a debt to the little doctor. For one, there were always two guards whenever Lina was bringing them food or they were being let out to use the facilities and the guard by the door always had a shotgun in hand and a pistol in the belt. The guard that opened the door for them only had a pistol. If he could wrestle that pistol away without being shot by the other guard, they might have a fighting chance to get out of this place. He would need the guard with the rifle to be inhibited or at the very least distracted until he could get the closer guard taken care of. There was no way he was going to let Artie fight or do any distracting in his condition. If he could just convince Lina to distract the the guard by the door, he could set his plan of escape in motion.
While ruminating on how they were going to escape, Jim looked over at his sleeping partner and did a double-take. Artie seemed to be still asleep but he was shaking violently. Jim grabbed the blanket off of his cot and rushed over to his partner’s side.
“Artie! Artie, wake up! Come on pal,” West shook his partner and slapped Artemus’ cheeks in an attempt to wake up his partner.
Artemus came to with a groan and continued to shiver violently. “C-cold.”
“Here Artie,” Jim tried covering his partner with his blanket as best he could despite the bars separating them.
Once again Jim put a hand to Artie’s forehead. Artemus’ temperature was still rising. They had to get out of here and get Artemus to a hospital fast. Jim grabbed his friend’s hand to push it under the blankets but was surprised to find that his friend’s wrist was swollen.
Artemus groaned and yanked his hand away from his partner’s. Jim’s grip on his wrist was painful. Actually, not only was he freezing, but he ached all over. The pain in his wrist seemed to travel to his elbow and resided there. Artie started rubbing his elbow, trying to warm it up enough that the pain would hopefully go away.
“Artie, talk to me buddy, I need to know what’s going on.” Jim crouched down next to his partner and once again cursed the bars that separated them.
Artemus winced as he forced himself to speak despite the severe pain in his throat. “James, my boy, you’re going to have to go without me. I’m chilled to the bone and I ache all over and,” Artie broke off with a sharp intake of breath and gripped his right knee. “My joints hurt awful, one after the other and I’m so… cold… cold.”
Jim watched his friend drop back down to the cot and fall into another fitful sleep. Where was Lina with their dinner already? Artemus was going downhill fast and there was no time to lose now.
“Hey! You there,” West tried to hail the guard by the door. “You’d better get your boss here and quick!”
Willie ignored the prisoner’s shouting. There was no way he was going to leave his post and be lured over to the prisoners. He was warned about those two not to mention he didn’t want to get that bug that had been injected into the one prisoner, it sure looked nasty!
West was beyond angry and there was no way he was going to let his pal suffer any longer if he could help it. “My friend here is dying! Do you want to be responsible for his death? Do you know what Loveless will do to you if he finds out that the prisoner died on your watch and you never informed him about the change in the prisoner’s condition?”
That seemed to do it. The guard cracked open the door and started screaming for someone to come. Sampson came barreling through the door ready to fire his gun at anything that moved but quickly saw that the prisoners were still locked up.
“What’re you doin raising all that ruckus,” Sampson angrily asked as he holstered his gun.
“You gotta go get the boss! That one there’s dyin and I don’t want the blame if he croaks,” Willie frantically gestured at Gordon thrashing about on the cot and groaning.
“Hm. He does seem might bad off. Fine, I’ll go get the Doctor.”
So far so good, Jim thought. Hopefully Loveless will do something to keep Artie alive just to gloat to the two of them. Once Artie… goes… there would be nothing else that Loveless could use against him. This had to work!
In a few minutes, Loveless scurried in with Voltaire and Sampson behind him. “Now what’s all the fuss about,” he asked turning from Willie to the prisoners.
“That one thar is dyin,” Willie pointed at Gordon.
“Very well, I’ll take a look.” Loveless waddled over to Gordon’s cell and took a look at the prisoner through the glass. “Oh my, he does look bad, doesn’t he? Very well, Voltaire, put on your gloves and mask, you don’t want to catch what Mr. Gordon has, and carry him to my lab. Sampson, get the cell door.” Loveless donned his own set of gloves and mask.
“What are you going to do to him, Loveless,” West asked with an edge to his voice.
Loveless chuckled, “ohh I am going to examine my guinea pig and then do a little more experimenting with him. Oh I assure you, I’m not through with him yet, he is not going to die quite so soon, but he is going to wish for death! Voltaire!” Loveless motioned Voltaire to follow him with the unconscious form of Gordon.
West watched as his partner was carried out the door. “Forgive me partner. We’ll get through this, I promise,” he whispered as the outer door closed, leaving just him and Willie.
Loveless had Voltaire strap Gordon down to the operating table after having the prisoner’s boots, socks, and shirt removed. When the shirt was removed, Loveless winced and then took a closer look at the red lattice-like rash. He then wrapped his small hands around the prisoner’s wrists, elbows and then ankles and chuckled.
“This is going just perfectly!”
“What is going perfectly, Miguilito,” Antoinette asked as she approached the operating table in her mask and gloves.
“My improved viruses! Mr. Gordon now has the rash, the swollen joints, and uncontrollable spasms of his muscles. All in less than one week,” Loveless clapped his hands.
“Miguilito, that is wonderful,” Antoinette exclaimed as she clapped her hands.
“Now Antoinette, be a dear and give him just one dose of the cure. I don’t want him completely cured, but I don’t want him to die just yet. I want him to come around so I can have a little chat with Mr. Gordon.”
“Yes, Miguilito,” Antoinette said and waltzed over to a rack of vials on a table against the wall.
“By tomorrow morning he should be somewhat sensible again. Then we can have more fun with him and Mr. West!” Loveless laughed as he watched Antoinette give Gordon some of the cure.
West paced around the tiny cell in anticipation of seeing his partner again. Loveless made it clear that Artie was going to stay extremely sick and he would get no better but he would not die, just yet anyway. How were they going to get out of this? If, if, Artemus was given enough of the antidote to feel better long enough to fake another episode like this one, that could be used as an element of surprise. Then there’s Lina. He was sure he could get Lina’s assistance but he had to think of how best to use that assistance. He couldn’t put her in a position where she could possibly get shot. After another several minutes of pacing the idea finally came to him.
Lina finally came in with dinner and was a bit surprised to find only one of the two prisoners. “What happened to Mr. Gordon,” she asked as she slid West’s try through the slot.
“Artemus took a turn for the worst,” West said indifferently as he knelt down to pick up his dinner.
Lina put a small hand to her mouth, “oh Mr. West, what can I do? I- I don’t want to be a part of anyone’s suffering.”
“Come on, are you going to put the other tray in the cell for when the prisoner gets back or not?” Sampson asked impatiently.
This time the cell was opened for her to enter to place the tray of food where it would not get stepped on.
West casually strolled over and sat down on his bunk and pretended to eat. “Do you know where Loveless threw our coats and our other belongings?”
“Good, then here’s what you can do to help.” He ate and told Lina what to do as she placed the tray and fussed with the tiny cot.
“Stop yer flirtin and git going already,” Sampson snapped.
Without another word or glance back, Lina left the cell and exited the room.
Well, here goes everything, Jim thought to himself.
After what seemed like an eternity, Voltaire appeared with Artemus thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and deposited the unconscious agent onto the cot. Surprisingly Loveless did not appear to further taunt the agents.
Jim watched Voltaire leave then he went over to the bars that separated the two cells. Artemus appeared to be sleeping and his breathing seemed easier. His forehead was still warm, but not burning up like it was before. The swelling in Artie’s wrist had gone down some as well. For the time being, Artemus seemed to be sleeping peacefully so Jim let his partner get the sleep he needed.
Morning came around and Jim was surprised that Loveless had let them alone for so long. Lina came with the breakfast trays as usual.
“Careful eating that, and you’d better tell Mr. Gordon the same,” Lina whispered as she pushed the tray through the slot.
“The rest,” Jim asked as he bent down to retrieve his breakfast.
“There’s a loose board just outside the door there,” Lina whispered back then pushed Gordon’s meal through the slot without another word.
“Good. Drug their dinner as I said. I’ll tell you when to run for it.”
Lina nodded imperceptibly and left.
Excellent. They now had a chance.
“Artie, wake up,” Jim gently shook his partner’s arm.
Gordon slowly sat up with a groan, “hey, Jim.”
“How’re you feeling?”
“Still pretty bad, but at least not as bad as before. Hey, breakfast.”
“Yeah, you’d better eat that carefully.”
“You mean, ah,” Gordon tilted his head towards the door.
“You’re going to have a relapse. Before dinner.”
“How do you know that,” Gordon asked around a mouthful of mush.
“You just will.”
“Oh. Oh, right. Interesting uh flavor,” Gordon gestured at his bowl.
“Do you know what the cure is?”
Gordon shook his head imperceptibly.
“Do you know where Loveless keeps the cure then?”
“Yeah, I came to for a little while and the little doctor decided to do some bragging. Didn’t say what the cure was, but I saw where he keeps it.”
“Good. You need to get a hold of the cure before we get out of here. After you have a relapse, I’ll be right behind you,” Jim cleared his throat and winced.
“Uh-oh, you’re not coming down sick, are you,” Artemus asked in concern.
“Don’t worry about me, Artie. We’ll both be a lot healthier when we can get out of here.”
“Right.” Gordon turned his back to the guards and secreted the steak knife on his person. Show time. Gordon laid down on his small cot and started groaning and rolling his head as if his temperature had spiked again. After a minute he started gasping and faking spasms.
Sampson did not seem to be bothered about the prisoner’s change in health at first but when Gordon started to gasp and have muscle spasms, he yelled for assistance. This time Willie came and ran off to get Loveless.
Loveless waddled through the door, obviously annoyed that his dinner was disturbed. “Now, what is all the ruckus this time,” He looked from Sampson to Gordon rolling on the cot and apparently exhibiting muscle spasms again.
West walked over to the front of his cell and raised his voice, trying to sound angry, which wasn’t all that hard since he was angry. “What’s the matter Loveless? Your little virus isn’t as predictable as you thought?” Just those two questions caused his throat to burn and sting. If this is only the beginning of what Artie was suffering, he did not want to know more.
Loveless gave West an indignant look and then directed his attention to Voltaire. “Voltaire, your mask and gloves. Bring Mr. Gordon back to the lab.” Loveless stood aside with his arms crossed and impatiently waited for Voltaire to gather up the prisoner.
West watched Loveless and Voltaire exit with his partner. He was proud of the show Artemus had put on, at least he hoped that it was a show like they had discussed and not a true relapse. Now he hoped that Lina was able to drug Sampson’s and Willie’s dinner enough to take effect soon. His throat was killing him and he was starting to sweat despite the cool air drifting in from the tiny windows.
Less than five minutes later Sampson slumped to the floor unconscious. West got busy with the lock pick that Lina had secreted in his dinner. Right as he finished picking the lock, Lina entered and ran over to the cell to open the glass blocking West’s escape.
“Good to see you, Lina. Did all of Loveless’ personnel eat dinner?”
Lina nodded her head, “yes, but I don’t know how much they ate, be careful!”
West ran after her into the hallway and grabbed his belongings and Artie’s. “Which way to the lab?”
Lina pointed down the hall, “last door on the left.”
“Can you get past the guards to safety?”
“Yes, I occasionally go to town to get supplies. They will not question me any further.”
“Okay, good, get going! I will see you in town, now go!” West shooed Lina towards the outside door and ran down the hallway to the lab.
West burst into the lab and not a moment too soon. Voltaire was choking Artemus while Loveless was smashing all of his vials.
“Let him go or I’ll shoot!” West aimed his gun at Voltaire and cocked the hammer.
Loveless, Antoinette and Voltaire all froze and turned their attention to the angry James West.
“I said let him go!” West fired his gun so that the bullet creased Voltaire’s upper arm.
Voltaire howled and dropped Gordon, who collapsed to the floor like a rag doll. Antoinette shrieked and Loveless started running down a previously concealed passageway with Antoinette and Voltaire on his heels. Before West could reached the secret passage way, the door slid back into place. West looked all around but he could not find the mechanism to open the door.
Finally he gave up his search and turned to his partner, who was on his hands and knees scooping powder into a vial.
“Good thing this vial survived the trip in my jacket pocket. This is the cure to Loveless’ virus. Ouch!” Gordon dropped his vial and grabbed his elbow. “Jim, get as much of that as you can in the vial,” he said through gritted teeth.
West corked the vial and put in into his jacket pocket then gently helped his partner up. “Artie, we have to get to the stable and get out of here. Can you make it?”
Gordon nodded and gasped as the pain traveled from his elbow to his shoulder, “if you lend me an arm.”
“Of course,” West helped his partner to the stable and they both mounted a large, strong looking Appaloosa.
Two weeks later…
West looked up from the newspaper he was reading and flashed a smile at the nurse carrying his dinner.
“I want to thank you again Mr. West for all that you have done for me.”
“Lina, it’s Jim, remember? And you’re welcome. But it is I who should be thanking you, because without your assistance, it would have taken a lot longer for the scientists to make more of the cure and Artie and I might not have survived the little doctor’s virus.”
Lina placed the tray on the night stand and West caught her hand and drew her into a kiss.
“Ahem, don’t I get dinner?”
Lina broke away from the kiss and turned toward Gordon in the next bed over. “Of course. I think you’ll be happy to know, Mr. Gordon…”
“Artemus,” Gordon interrupted her.
“Artemus, that tomorrow you and Jim are to be released.”
“Well, that is good news! I think we will have to have a celebration dinner! What do you say Lina, James?”
Lina smiled, “and I know someone who will be delighted to join us, if you gentlemen don’t mind a forth party.” Lina rang the bell on West’s nightstand and another nurse came in carrying Gordon’s dinner tray.
Artemus grinned, “of course we don’t mind. Not at all!”
Quality Over Quantity