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Author Topic: Middle Ground: [Outlands]  (Read 53 times)
The Kay
bourbon st drunk

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Posts: 358


Ex Vampirius


Middle Ground: [Outlands]
« on: March 29, 2008, 03:31:53 AM »

Yet another draft of my main novel. It seems to be in a constant state of change... Anyone who's read any of the other (four) versions knows that it's subject to change at any time. This time, at least, I've hopefully found a version I'm satisfied with. Constructive criticism welcome. And encouraged.



Prelude

[Red Sam]

She shot his kneecaps first.

First the left one. The round from her Ocksen .45 double-action revolver tore through his leg with a prominent sound of impact almost louder than the gunshot itself, shattering bone. He screamed as he fell, buckling onto his side and clutching the bloody leg to him, his hat falling off to land in the dirt beside a half-eaten green apple. The man sobbed, then, dirty unshaven face buried in the dust.

The woman watched him for a moment, waiting for him to say something, and when he didn’t she adjusted her aim and shot his remaining kneecap. He howled loud enough to make her blink, writhing on the ground in agony like a snake stuck with a knife. His darkly tanned face was heavily creased with pain and stress, already ugly and made uglier by the red dust smudging it, turned to wet paste by the tears that streamed down his face.

“Vhere?” The woman spoke to him, voice laden with a heavy German accent, uninteresting and unfeeling. The inquiry was met only with open weeping, the man not even acknowledging her. She waited approximately four seconds to get his attention. It would have only taken three but she wasn’t sure where she wanted to shoot him next. She settled for his right elbow.

She waited for his screams to die down before she spoke again. It took considerably longer than she would have liked. She wanted to shoot him again just to shut him up, but it was obvious that that particular action would only elicit the opposite response, unless she were to simply kill him. And she wasn’t ready to yet.

“Vhere?” she asked again, the same word, the same empty inflection, the same exact length of pronunciation.
This time he answered her. Or, tried to, at least. Rapid words began to flow from his mouth in Spanish, his voice hoarse and strained with torment. She barely understood him, and it wasn’t the Spanish. She was fairly fluent.

As it was, what she was able to make out was nothing remotely resembling the form of the answer she sought, or any kind of real answer at all. Cries for mercy, apologies, prayers to God—all three were voiced with abundance.

Perhaps he misunderstood…

Surely another bullet wound would sharpen his hearing. His left elbow was next. The Latino didn’t even have the breath to expel a true scream this time, but a mangled wretched sound that didn’t last nearly as long as the others.

“Vhere?” A third time she asked, sounding exactly the same as the first two questions.

The man lay in a bloody crumpled heap, shudders wracking his body. Three seconds passed.

She shot his left foot. “Vhere?”

Silence.

Right foot. “Vhere?”

Aside from spasms of pain the man made neither move nor sound, his eyes squeezed tightly shut. Blood formed puddles beneath and around his body, darkened further by the shadow she threw over him, the late afternoon sun at her back.

The woman’s chest rose and fell in a sharp sigh expelled through her nostrils. With a flick of her wrist she flipped open her revolver chamber, dumping the spent shells on the ground at her feet. Then she reached to the gun belt at her hips, lined with fresh ammunition set into multiple slots, and began slowly and methodically removing bullets and placing them in the empty chambers of the Ocksen, one at a time. One… Two…

He began to move then, causing her to shift her attention back to his prone form, though still reloading her firearm. Three… He inched his arm over the ground, limply, desperately. Four… Obviously the motion was agonizing but he continued, sweeping his appendage around with all the urgency of a clock. Five… His fingers jerked, and then curled, all except for his forefinger—pointing due east.

She paused. She swept her eyes in the indicated direction, over the reddened horizon. She surveyed the empty desert plain for a moment, viewing the world through tinted sunglasses, and then nodded and glanced back down at the bullet-riddled man. “Gut.” She pressed the last bullet into the chamber of her revolver and slammed it shut with a click, leveling the gun barrel between his tear-streaked eyes. “Danke.”

The man cracked his eyes open, staring past the gun and meeting her own. He bared dirty, yellowed teeth. It wasn’t a smile. “El heron blanco…” This time shooting him to shut him up was indeed a viable action, and she did so without hesitation.
It was a method that only worked once, but the results were undeniable.

Without so much as another glance at the newly-made corpse she turned, glancing around at her surroundings. Insects had already begun to buzz around the body of the small mule the man had been riding when they’d come upon him. The creature had been the thing that gave him away. He’d been feeding the beast an apple, resting amid the cluster of large rocks within which she now stood. Her quarry had been carrying an apple, and it wasn’t like there were groves of fruit sprouting up in the middle of the desert. Where else could the man have gotten it?

The apple still sat next to the man’s head, the quintessence of the word conspicuous in this lifeless wasteland. After a moment’s consideration she turned back and took aim with her Ocksen once more. A moment’s discharge later and the fruit lay in scattered fragments on the dry, dusty ground.

That last order of business finished, the woman turned to regard her two comrades, who had stood behind her watching the entire ordeal in silence. She opened the chamber of her gun once more to replace the two spent rounds and gave them both a distant glance. “Now ve know. Ve go east.”

One of them shifted, folding slender arms in slight exasperation. “That was completely unnecessary… We’d already picked up his trail an hour ago.”

The woman finished reloading her weapon and holstered it at her left hip, glancing down as she did so. With a frown she noted that droplets of hot blood had splattered the bottom of her khaki trench coat during her inquiry. With a twitch of her slender eyebrow she reached into her coat and withdrew an almost dainty white handkerchief, unfolding it with another flick of her hand and bending down to wipe her coat free of the man’s bodily fluids.

“I vanted to be sure,” she said, straightening up again when she was finished. She calmly folded the handkerchief again, the blood spots hidden within so that it yet maintained its dainty appearance, and then tucked it back into the pocket within her coat. “It never hurts to ask for directions.” The slightest hint of amusement slipped into her voice with that remark, but was not mirrored in her face. She might as well have been cut from stone as she stepped forward and skirted around the body in her path, striding out of the rocks with a steady, determined step to venture out across the barren desert before her. She didn’t look back.

“Wir gehen  jetzt.”
Logged

Signatures are overrated.
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