Agents of the Vault – Part 20

Part 20 of The Agents of the Vault is here!  Was anyone hit in the opening gunfight between Jane and Grisom?  Listen and find out!

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Agents of the Vault
Part 20
By Grant Baciocco

Charlie scanned the street outside for signs of Jane but could only see her horse.  In the gunfight, she must have bailed off of it and it now stood still in the middle of the street.

Seconds later, Grisom came stumbling into the room, gun in hand, holding his belly.  Charlie could see a red stain spreading on Grisom’s pale linen shirt.

“Grisom!”  Charlie said, crossing to him and helping him sit on the edge of the bed.  “Is it bad?”

Grisom winced and for the first time, pulled his hand away from his wound and looked down.  The blood flowed faster now that he was not applying direct pressure.  He quickly placed his hand back over the wound and pressed down hard.

“Kid,” Grisom said between winces.  “Gut shots ain’t ever good.”  Grisom took a deep breath.  “Fetch my bag over there.”  He indicated his saddle bag which was next to the trunk that held the writing desk.

Charlie crossed the room, snagged the bag and quickly brought it back to the bed.  Charlie flipped it open and look expectantly at Grisom.

“There’s a small vial in the bottom.” Grisom grunted.  “Filled with dirt.”

Charlie rooted around in the bag as Grisom lie back on what was left of the bed.  Charlie’s fingers found a small glass vial at the bottom of the bag and held it up in the dimming sunlight.  It was filled with dirt as Grisom had said.  Charlie looked at Grisom who was hoisting up his shirt, exposing the gunshot wound.

“Take the top off the vial and hand it to me son.” Grisom said breathing heavy.  Charlie followed his directions, tossing the lid to the vial onto the floor and handing it over to Grisom.  Grisom took it and bunched his shirt up to get a better view of his wounded stomach.  Charlie stepped back, nervous, but ready to help if he could.  “You ever hear of Samuel Whittenmore kid?”

Charlie, perplexed at the sudden change of topic, shook his head as he watched Grisom slowly begin to tap out little flecks of dirt onto the pulsing gunshot wound.  “Whittenmore was 78 years old when he fought in the Revolutionary War.  He caught some British soldiers returning from the opening engagements at Lexington and Concord and, all alone mind you, took some shots at them.  Killed one redcoat with his rifle, pulled out his pistols, killed another and mortally wounded one more.  The British rushed him and this tough son of a bitch pulls out his sword to fend them off.”

The vial was now empty, a small pile of dirt on the wound was soaking up the blood making it a dark muddy brown.  Grisom threw the vial aside and began rubbing the dirt into his wound, gritting his teeth with every movement.

“What happened?” Charlie ask, instinctively crossing to the corner of the room where some discarded bedsheets lie.  He began to rip them into strips to form a bandage.  Charlie didn’t know much about medicine, but everything about rubbing dirt into a fresh wound seemed absolutely wrong.

“The British laid into him.” Grisom replied.  “Shot him in the face.  Bayonetted him repeatedly.  Left him for dead.”

Charlie crossed back to the bed and began helping Grisom bandage the wound best he could.

“Hours later, when, Colonial soldiers found him,” Grisom continued.  “Whittenmore was, amazingly, still alive.  They took him to a doctor who said there was no hope of his survival.”  Grisom let our a pained chuckle, “Tough old bastard lived another 18 years, finally stopping at 96 years old.”

“Sounds like a tough old man.” Charlie said, binding the bedsheets tight around the wound.

“He was.” Grisom said, attempting to catch his breath.  “There’s not doubt he was tough as nails.  But he had also happened to fall into patch of dirt there that the natives use to use as a healing area.  Legend had it that the dirt in that area had healing powers and it’s said to have kept him alive.”

Charlie nodded and helped Grisom tie off the knot of torn bedsheets now circling his midsection as a makeshift bandage.  “And that’s what was in that vial?”

“Yeah,” Grisom replied, with a slow measured exhale.  “Theres another vial of it in that bag.  You might as well take it and put it in your pocket, just in case.”

Charlie picked the bag up again and rooted around inside of it until he found the duplicate vial.  Feeling the cool glass in his hand, he regarded the small flecks of dirt tumbling within for a moment and then slipped it into his pocket.  Putting the bag down he walked over and helped Grisom sit up on the edge of the bed.

“That dirt going to heal you?” Charlie asked.

“Heal me?” Grisom said with a cough.  “No, but it might just keep me alive until someone gets to me that can.”

Charlie nodded and the prairie silence filled their room.  There air was still.

Suddenly sensing an absence, Grisom whipped his head around and scanned the room.  “Where’s Doris?”

“She took to ground, right after you left.  She heard something and took off.”

“Charlie, if anything happens to her—“

Charlie held up his hands, “I know, Grisom, I know.  But she had it in her head to do something and she went to do it.”

“Dammit.” Grisom said, wincing and grabbing his side as he did.  He sat quiet for a moment then turned towards Charlie, “You trust her enough on her own?”

“I do.” Charlie said, nodding.  Confident he was right.

Grisom smiled weakly and then winced, putting a hand against his side.  He let out a long slow exhale.

“What do we do next?” Charlie asked.

“We wait and see what Jane does.” Grim grunted.

©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com

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