Agents of the Vault – Part 24
Part 24 of The Agents of the Vault is here! Trinity fallout! Who survived? Who didn’t? What happens next?
If you want to subscribe to the Grantcast, you can do so with iTunes, or by using this feed in your favorite podcatcher. Enjoy! And let me know what you think of the story in the comments here, as we go along.
Also, if you prefer a PDF version of this part to read, CLICK HERE for that.
Finally, if you’d like to support my projects, visit www.patreon.com/saturdaymorningmedia
Agents of the Vault
By Grant Baciocco
“I’m on a boat.” Was the next thing Charlie remembered thinking to himself. “How did I get on a boat?” His body was slowly rocking back and forth. “Am I dreaming?” He tried to focus his thoughts but they were cloudy. His eyes were closed but in his mind he saw the single star shining through the smoke. The last thing he saw after Jane was engulfed in flames.
As he focused, his senses slowly returned. His body was rocking back and forth but he was not on a boat. It was far to bumpy to be a boat. His chest hurt badly. The more he thought about it, everything hurt badly, but it was as if his chest was the epicenter of the pain. He wanted to open his eyes, but he felt that that would cause more pain. Every twitch of his fingers or wiggle of his toes seemed to cause lightning bolts of pain to shoot everywhere in his body. Every jostle or bump from whatever vehicle he was in caused him pain. Inhaling deeply, he opened his eyes.
The blue sky of dawn above the prairie greeted his gaze. He got lost in the blue for a moment. It wasn’t until he felt something pulling at his chest that he began to look around.
Without raising his head, he looked to his left and saw the wooden slats of the side of a wagon. That explained the bumps. He was in a wagon, not a boat. He moved his eyes up to look above his head and saw two men driving the wagon. He could see that one of them held a shotgun. Neither of the men looked familiar, but all he could see was their backs.
Looking to his right he saw a man sitting next to him. An older man with scraggly white hair and tiny, horn rimmed glasses perched on the end of his nose. He wore a white shirt, with he sleeves rolled up under a black vest. He was set about his work, pursing his lips as he did. It took Charlie a moment to realize that the work this man was working on, was him.
Charlie inhaled and tried to form the word, “What?”
The man working on him gave Charlie a sideways glance. “Morning kid.” He went back to his work. “Just stitching you up now. Removed that bullet. Nasty sucker.”
Charlie had heard the words through the pain ringing in his ears. He took a few deep breaths. Then inhaled and formed the word, “Who?” weakly.
The man continued to work, bandaging Charlie’s freshly stitched wound. “Doc Harvey.” The man replied. “I work with the Agents of the Vault.”
At the mention of the words “The Vault,” everything came flooding back to Charlie. The Vault, the gunfight, Jane, Grisom, the desk, the fire. Images and words poured into his brain as if suddenly snapped back to reality. He instantly had a million questions but knew that in his current state, one word was all he would be able to get out.
At the mention of her name, Doris’ head popped up to Charlie’s right and she gave out a low whistle. Smiling made new pains make themselves known in Charlie’s body, but it was a pain he gladly accepted knowing that Doris was safe. Doris nuzzled her head up against Charlie’s and Charlie’s eyes closed with relief and, again slipped back into the blackness.
The next time Charlie opened his eyes, he could instantly tell that the pain that had overwhelmed his entire body had subsided. In its place was a deep, body wide ache. He quickly decided that he could live with that ache. He was inside now. A wooden room with the walls painted white. Slowly propping himself up on his elbows to look around, he realized that the room he was in, though brightly lit by a few lanterns and candles, had no windows.
He was shirtless and, looking down, he could see his chest, where Jane had shot him was bandage. The skin peeking out from under the edges of the bandage was bright pink with hints of bruising beginning. He sat all the way up and at the sound of doing so, Doris came scrambling into the room. Her claws clicking across the wooden slat floor as she ran. She let out a long whistle as she closed the distance between the door and the bed. Charlie saw her and held up his hands, causing his whole body to ache.
“Easy!” he shouted, his voice dry and crackled from not being used. “Easy girl!”
Doris leapt into the air. Charlie braced himself, but she landed gingerly on his bed without touching him at all. Charlie opened his eyes and got a big, lick that smelled of sulfur. He reached out and scuffled her ears, ignoring the deep ache in his chest. It was just so good to see her.
“You’re awake.” A voice at the doorway said, it was Doc Harvey. He crossed to the bed grabbing a chair that was against the wall and brought it bedside. He sat down on it and took out his glasses, hooking the ends of them over his ears. “Let’s take a quick look at that wound and we’ll get you up and out of here.”
Doc began pulling the bandages from the wound. Charlie decided not to look down and examine it himself. He’d prefer not to pass out.
“You had a bottle of Whittenmore dirt on you.” Doc said as he looked closely at the stitches holding the bullet wound together on Charlie’s chest, giving them a gentle poke here and there with his index finger. “You get that from Grisom?”
“Yes, sir.” Charlie replied. “He gave it to me right before the final showdown.” Charlie suddenly turned to Doc and grabbed his hand, “Girsom! Where’s Grisom, did he make it?”
Doc looked up at Charlie and sighed, “No kid, I’m afraid not.”
Charlie was silent. Doris, who understood what was being said, scooted herself under Charlie’s arm. He squeezed her tight.
“The Whittenmore dirt is powerful stuff but it doesn’t work miracles.” Doc said, beginning to reapply the bandage to Charlie’s wound. “He died defending a piece of history, that was his job.” He added matter of factly.
Charlie looked down at Doris, trying to not let Doc see the tears forming in his eyes. “So, the desk made it?”
“Oh yes,” Doc said. “Came through just fine. You did a fine job keeping it safe.”
“It was Grisom.” Charlie replied. “I didn’t do anything.”
Doc stood and wiped his hands on his vest. “Don’t sell yourself short kid. If you hadn’t been there this could have all gone differently. Because of you the desk is here in The Vault. And as an added attraction, we now know of not one but two Prairie Fires—“
“No.” Charlie immediately cut him off. “The Prairie Fires don’t belong to The Vault. Doris is mine and Pahaat needs to be returned to the indians.”
Doc laughed, “Of course. If you were listening to me I said, ‘We know about two Prairie Fires.’ I didn’t say we now have two of them. We have no plans on keeping them and would prefer returning them to the wild.”
Charlie nodded, still shocked at the news of Grisom’s death.
“I have to ask.” Doc continued. “What did you do to Jane? We found her, burnt to a crisp.”
Charlie searched his memory of the night in Trinity and it was fuzzy. The last thing he saw of Jane, she had burst into flames. He turned back to Doc. “The Prairie Fires. They got her.”
Doc looked over at Doris who was now on her back, paws up in air, loving her belly being scratched by Charlie. Doris looked up at him and gave him an upside down smile. Doc shook his head and let out a whistle, “They can be vicious if they want to be.”
Charlie nodded. “So what’s next?”
Doc sighed, “Well, we’ve been talking a lot about you here kid. With the reports that Grisom sent back about you and the way you pulled through two nights ago, well, we figure you’d make a right fine proper Agent of the Vault.”
Charlie turned and looked at Doc. “But, I don’t know nothing. Outside of what Grisom ever told me.”
“Well, of course not, but you’re here now, in the The Vault. We’d tell ya all you needed to know.” Doc said, “You and Doris could go out on missions, you know, if you’d want to. We’d love to have you.” Doc reached into his pocket and pulled out a small piece of folded leather. He tossed it to Charlie. Charlie opened it up and saw Grisom’s badge. “Whether you decide to join us or not,” Doc said as Charlie ran his finger over the silver badge, “I think Grisom would have wanted you to have that. If you decide to join us, feel free to consider that your badge.
Charlie nodded, then looked up from the badge in his hands. “Could my first mission be returning Pahaat to the indians?”
“I don’t see why not,” said Doc, smiling. “Sounds like a good place to start.” Doc turned to leave, “You just rest here and when you’re feeling up to it, we’ll set you up and send you out.”
“Thank you,” Charlie said.
©2015 Grant Baciocco/Saturday Morning Media – www.SaturdayMorningMedia.com