Episode 36 - Finding Thorny
by Camille LaGuire
As soon as Pookiterin hit the ground, Alex jumped forward to snap the padlock shut -- to keep the guards inside. Then they dragged the colonel into the space behind the next building.
The plan was pretty simple. Alex and the colonel were about the same height. They'd take Pookiterin's uniform, and Alex would pretend to be an officer newly arrived on the train. That should be enough to fool the drunk guards. He'd question them to find out where Thorny was, and send them away.
They stripped the unconscious colonel of all his clothes down to his long underwear. Silk underwear.
"Very revolutionary," said Lina.
"I'll need the sword," said Alex, as he finished changing. Lina, who'd been porting the sword around like a prize, looked doubtful.
"Why?" she said.
"Because it's a part of the uniform. It'll look wrong if I don't have a sword. And you look wrong as an ordinary soldier carrying it around like an umbrella."
"Do you know how to use it?"
"Well enough," said Alex. "But I won't need to."
Pookiterin stirred, and they paused. Lina handed Alex the sword, and took up a belt of the uniform Alex had discarded. She tied the colonel's hands, while Alex slid the sword into it's scabbard.
"Listen, I meant to tell you," said Alex. "The captain has your book. He knows it's important too, so he might have read the note."
She looked up and then back toward the inn, thinking.
"I'll help you get it back," said Alex.
"No, no," said Lina firmly. "You have to help your friend."
"All I have to do is get to the river. We've got... transportation there. I can come right back."
"Don't bother. I won't be here," she said. "I am a bandit, remember? I have my own kinchin here."
She rose and looked at him with a frank smile.
"You helped me very good," she said, and she leaned forward and kissed him, quickly.
"You're... welcome," he said, but she was already headed back to the shed. She scooped up the keys and unlocked the padlock.
One of the guards tumbled out, so Alex had to go into his act. He shoved the man back into the shed and shouted at him.
"Who are you? You are a disgrace!"
The other guard was asleep across the top of a box. Thorny was prone on the floor, and for a moment Alex feared he was hurt or dead, but then he moved. He was only tied up. Alex marched over and shouted at the sleeping guard.
"I am Colonel Sanders!" he said. "We have an emergency. Take the car which is fueling at the train station and meet Pookiterin behind the inn, by the stable. You will wait for him there."
"But the prisoner," said the first guard.
"I will take charge of him! Now, spushta!"
He chased them out of the shed, and then ran back to free Thorny.
The knots were very tight. He used Pookiterin's sword to cut the gag, carefully, so as not to accidentally slice off an ear or anything.
The old professor spit and coughed for a moment once the gag was out, and then with a dry moaning voice began to speak.
"I thought I was going to die. I thought I was dead. I thought I could write poetry!"
"You were right on every count," said Alex. He got the ropes cut, and then pulled the man to his feet. "I'll explain later."
"Is this explainable?" asked Thorny incredulously. "If there is an explanation, I'd like to hear it. I didn't think there was one."
Before Alex could explain, Lina called urgently.
"There are soldiers outside."
"Don't worry," said Alex. "We're in uniform. We can walk right past them."
"They'll find Pookiterin!" said Lina. Alex peeked out the door. She was right. The soldiers were getting close to where they'd left the colonel. "I'll distract them!"
She raced out of the shed, calling to the four soldiers on the road.
Alex wanted to call her back. Those soldiers were so close to Pookiterin, that a single moan would find him... and then Lina would be recognized.
But the longer Alex delayed, the more chance that she'd be caught. He took Thorny's arm and the pair of them marched out of the shed, and down the road.
As they turned down a narrow and steep road that went to the river, Alex glanced back.
Lina and the soldiers were out of sight.
Stay Tuned for Thirty-Seven: "Run For The River"
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