The Fallowing – The Fourth, Part XVI

by Steppen Sawicki

Novel: Occult Adventure

I convinced her to go out and bring us some food before she left.  After all, we didn’t have much of a chance at winning on an empty stomach, and she wouldn’t want her customers dying on her right after receiving product, right?

“You know,” I said, taking the bag.  “I think you’re okay, for what it’s worth.  I don’t think you’ll use that other watch against Sam.”

She tossed her head to the side and suppressed a smile.  “I think you need to be less trusting.”

“No, I can tell.  You’re a good person, if a little stuck up.”

She frowned.  “And you need a brain-to-mouth filter.”  She glanced at Sam, still asleep in the bed.  “There’s so much more I could tell you.  I think I even should tell you.  But perhaps you shouldn’t hear it from me.”  She sighed and turned, waving as she walked down the corridor, as I stood there puzzled.  “And besides, you have nothing else I’d want in exchange for such information.”

I watched her enter the stairwell, then looked down at the watches in my hands.  The rough bare-bones one was stopped; I had only to wind it to reactivate its link to Atsel.  The other was black as pitch, with a single leaf embossed on the cover.  I opened it.  The second hand ticked its way around the roman numerals.

***

Twelve hours passed before Sam woke in the middle of the night.  By then the meatloaf dinners Gin had brought us back from the diner were long cold and the sauce a bit congealed, but Sam downed it like he hadn’t eaten in days, which he sort of hadn’t.  Only after he finished off all of his plate and the remainder of mine did he speak.

“Well, let’s see it.”

I handed it over, and he looked at it sternly for a long moment, watching the seconds go by.  He still looked peaked, pale, shadows around his eyes as if a little older.  But then I supposed he didn’t age, did he?  His hair was a tousled mess.  I combed at it a bit with my fingers.

“Aren’t you going to try it?” I asked.

“It’s better if I don’t,” he said.  “If I used it now, Atsel might sense it.  He doesn’t yet know I have it.  I should surprise him with it.”

“But Gin said there’s a learning curve.”

“Nonsense.  All I’m doing is pressing a button.”

Maybe it’s best I got this other watch after all, I thought.

“What?”  Sam was looking at me, his eyes still stern, as if daring me to contradict him.

I was caught off-guard by his astuteness, but only for a moment.

“We need to have sex,” I said.