Under the Rain Shadow

1 year, 1 month ago
7 months, 26 days ago
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Chapter 8
Published 7 months, 29 days ago

Explicit Violence

Perturbed by the lack of any rainfall for months in the Central Grasslands, one conspiracy theorist stormchaser bunny starts to seek the truth for himself.

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Held to account

Calhoun's wrists ached. They'd been jammed as tightly into cuffs as he'd been jammed into the corner of a tiny, bare room opposite the entrance. He didn't grace the two soldiers on the other side of the room with his gaze, sitting with his head down in stony silence, and they returned the favor.

The calm did give Calhoun the opportunity to listen out overhead for any rumbling or bumbling in the ducts. If he was still up there, he certainly wasn't stirring—that awful fluorescent hum was louder. Stealing the CCTV tapes wasn't so much to protect himself (he was already well caught), but to protect Gonzo. As far as Calhoun was concerned, Gonzo was exactly how he appeared: a curious kid who didn't deserve the time served or the fine paid over something as trivial as being curious. The law disagreed.

The soldiers parted in the doorway. Calhoun peeked his head up to find the top brass, a cougar in a green suit coat, looking down at him. He held a manila envelope in his big, broad, plain colored paw, not that Calhoun could tell the significance.

"James Calhoun." The cougar's voice was cutting, sneering, full of grit without much body. He pulled out the chair across from Calhoun, setting the envelope next to him on the metal table.

Calhoun remained expressionless, though his eyes followed his movements.

"For what it's worth, the convoy to come pick you up will be here in a half hour, 45 minutes or so. Ah, Lucas, you called for the convoy, right?" he asked, looking back at the doormen. One of them, a diminutive, jittery prairie dog, seized up and gave a half-hearted nod to his superior.

The cougar adjusted himself in his seat, staring daggers into Calhoun. "Did you come here alone?"

Calhoun nodded without hesitation. "Yeah, I came alone."


"...Nothing in particular."

"Nothing in particular? So it wasn't a revenge plot? You didn't—" He paused to lean over the table. "—Come in expecting to murder two service members today?"

Calhoun cocked an eyebrow, genuinely curious. "Revenge? What makes you think revenge? I'm a private citizen."

The cougar folded his hands in displeasure, taking a deep breath. "Do you think I was born yesterday, Calhoun? Do you think I don't know who you are?"

"James Calhoun. You read my driver's license, big deal."

"Oh, I read a lot more than that." The cougar grew a smirk of his own, drumming his fingers on the envelope. "I heard a lot about you back when you served."

Calhoun sat quiet for a beat, ears back, looking down at the envelope as if he could see inside. "You know I served?"

"I know a lot about you."

"I wasn't stationed anywhere around here."

"It was big news! Folks all over the country heard about it. Tiny dick bleeding heart sticks it to the man by—mildly ruining a few planes on an empty airstrip."

Shuffling in his seat, Calhoun looked down and grimaced. "Couldn't have been that tiny dick if everybody heard about it."

"It was fixed in two days." The lieutenant was intent on rubbing it in now, smiling big and gesticulating with his chunky fingers. "Come on, it's obvious! You wanted revenge for how wronged you felt when you were discharged, so you broke into the base and used the equipment to murder military personnel. It's a good gag! Just—not one I would've done myself."

He hadn't quite realized how his reputation preceded him, nor how any of this would look had he gotten caught, but Calhoun still wasn't stirred. "I didn't feel wronged about the discharge, no. I didn't know they taught storytelling in the military."

"Imagine the headlines! 'Disgruntled veteran commits terror attack on base'. Imagine the quotes from their family as they remember their loved ones, lost because of what you did. It prints itself."

"You'd have to tell the world about your bison mind control project. You're not gonna do that."

"Who said it was bison? Could've been a fertilizer bomb. We could make you the next McVeigh tomorrow morning, how about it?"

The deck was stacked against him. Of course, the entire government against his party of one, playing the one game they knew best—lying to people. His biggest enemy in the world right now was a general very vengeful indeed over the sudden, violent death of a few of his best men. In the middle of the night, in the desert, in a secluded base on the edge of a town of 100, whose word was stronger? Calhoun was starting to think it wasn't his.

There was a flickering fluorescent ceiling tile in the far corner of the room. Calhoun's eyes rested on it. "I want a lawyer."

"Fuck you, you want a lawyer."

"It's my constitutional right."

"You're a scumbag!"

The cougar's yell was cut off by another crash in the front lobby of the base, an even heavier stampede than the last one. One of the door soldiers peeked his head out and ran into the hallway, drawing something on his belt,, and his superior ran after him. The prairie dog held his position.

"I-I didn't call for that convoy..." he whimpered before catching himself, puffing out his chest, and glaring sharply at Calhoun. "I'm watching you!"

"Lucas!" came a frazzled cry in the distance.

"C-coming! Coming!"

Suddenly alone, suddenly wide awake, having forgotten that he scheduled two pheromone blasts to fire on the base, Calhoun relaxed some in his seat—at least, as much as he was going to with his wrists tightly cuffed.

"Hey Gonzo, you up there?" he called into the vents. "Come get me free, will ya?"

Author's Notes

I'm sorry this took so long. I didn't want to half-heart it and have it come out bad. There was a lot of heavy tonal stuff in my head that I had to balance and work through first.

The last two chapters will be significantly easier to write. I'm not stopping here.