Week 5.4&5 – Twain’s Story

Previously: Digger and Twain went to the Traveler’s Tavern to borrow gas money from Jill, where they encountered detectives Merrick and Grayson. And now…

Jill’s mouth opened, but she couldn’t make any sound come out. And at the same time, she couldn’t stop blinking, as if something deep in her brain had short-circuited, making her lose control of her body. Finally, she managed to say, “Why would you need money? You just robbed a bank.”

“I had to give that to the kidnappers,” Digger said. “I’m broke, and we need to get to New York.”

Jill was pretty sure that she would be able to stop the blinking in just a few seconds, if only Digger would say something that made sense. “Kidnappers? What’s going on?”

Digger turned to Twain. “You’d better go get the van started,” he said over the sound of approaching sirens. He turned back to Jill. “I don’t have time to explain. It’s just, you’re the only person I know who would trust me even if you had reason not to. So please, whatever you can.”

Jill shook her head again as she reached under her counter for her change bag. At least the blinking was coming under control. “I don’t know why I put up with you,” she said. She pulled out two bundles of fives and a bundle of tens. “Here’s a few hundred. I don’t know if it’ll get you all the way, but it’s the best I can do. Are you sure you’re doing the right thing? How do you know you can trust that guy?”

“I’m pretty sure I can’t trust him, but he’s my only link to the truth.” Digger let his fingers touch hers just a hair longer than was absolutely necessary as she handed him the money. “Thanks, Jill. I’ll…”

“Don’t say you’ll pay me back,” Jill said. “We both know you don’t have a job. And I’m out a mirror and a bottle of Scotch.”

“Call Davey Lopez,” Digger said as he headed for the door. “Tell him how much you need and that I’ll owe him a favor. Talk to you soon.”

And then he was gone, leaving behind the smells of gunpowder and Scotch, plus two groaning detectives on the floor. The sirens were growing louder. Pretty soon, she’d have to answer all kinds of questions. She considered telling them that Digger had robbed her at gunpoint, but no. She wasn’t a good enough liar, and she had better ways to make him suffer.

Like cutting him off until he paid his bar tab.


“Okay, finish your story,” Digger said to Twain once he was back in the van. “Why does the Cobalt Czar even care about me?”

Twain pulled out quickly, driving away without even a glance back to see if any police were following him. He drove completely without concern, as if he were sure the police would never stop them. “Not a lot to tell, really. When I came to, I was in a dark cell with a dirt floor. They fed me this nasty gruel with greasy rice and stringy meat that might have been dog, might have been rat for all I know. And every couple of hours, they would pull me out and ask me questions.

“I told them I was an archaeologist searching for the City of the Moon. They didn’t believe me, so they beat me up. Broke both my arms a couple of times.”

“How long ago was this?” Digger asked. Twain didn’t look as if he had a mark on him.

“Few days ago,” Twain said. “They had a healer who would fix me up when they broke me too much.”

“That’s not too bad, I guess,” Digger said.

“You ever had an arm force-healed in just a couple of minutes?” Twain asked. “Hurts worse than breaking it. And it always left me dehydrated and weak after. I’m pretty sure I would have died in a few more days if I hadn’t gotten away.”

“How did you?”

“They asked me about you, and I said that I knew you,” Twain said. “Next thing I knew, they ran me through a shower, gave me fresh clothes, fed me real food and left me in another interrogation room. And then he came in.”

“The Cobalt Czar?”

“Yeah. He asked me if I knew you and I said yes,” Twain said. “Then he says, ‘Digger. Everyone’s hero. Saved the planet while the world watched. Everybody knows him. Everybody loves him.’ Then he slammed his hands down on the table and said, ‘I hate him.’”

“What did I ever do to him?” Digger asked.

“You made him look bad,” Twain said. “His people stay in line because they know he can’t be beaten. But man, when you appeared everywhere and stopped Hell on Earth, you changed things. I mean, nobody’s rebelled or anything, but everyone has that look.”

“What look?”

“Hope,” Twain said. “So I told him he was preaching to the choir, and then he started asking me about how I knew you, and if you had any weaknesses he could exploit. And when I told how I’d run rings around you before, he got really friendly and offered me a deal. I help him disgrace you and he brings me back to America and lets me go. He was even going to throw in a cash reward if I did a good job. And I’ve got to admit, I did a pretty good job.”

“If you and he are such buddies, why’d he strap a bomb around your chest?” Digger asked.

“Incentive,” Twain said. “He apparently studied business management here several years ago, before he turned blue, so he’s got all kinds of half-assed ideas about how to motivate people. He was supposed to take the bomb off once I delivered you. But instead, he just let me go and said he’d release it remotely after a week.”

“You believe him?” Digger asked.

“Not now,” Twain said. “Which is why I’m helping you.”

“And what exactly do you think I can do to him?” Digger asked. “I’m not really in his league.

“You’ll see.”

What is Twain’s plan? What will happen next? Find out next week as we continue Run, Digger, Run!

To read from the beginning, click here

Or to read the next episode, click here!

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