Thursday, August 22, 2013


By Travis Perry - 

Zana’s mechanical left arm grabbed at the right arm of the man, who must have been Mons, who had wrestled her to the ground and had her pinned to her back, his hands pressing down on her shoulders. “You’re a woman!” he exclaimed in a surprise barely audible as the dust storm whooshed around him.

Her only answer was to vice down her hand grip on his arm. He grunted in pain as she squeezed but without hesitation rolled off her to her right, using the torque of his body twist to pull his arm free from her steely grip. She rolled onto her own right side, reaching after him with her left arm. But Mons no sooner tumbled away than he rolled back. With both hands he shoved her left hand into the ground, then her left shoulder, pushing her face down as he rolled himself back over top her body, pinning her under his greater weight.

That made Zana angry. She thrust her left arm behind her back and grabbed the first piece of his body she could reach and squeezed as hard as she could. Her mechanical side had some tactile sense, not as good as her right, but she perceived a bone breaking—which she realized was Mon’s left humerus, the bone of his upper arm. He screamed in her ear, but his credit, made no move away from his dominant position, his weight still pressing her face-down into the ground.

“Leggo!” he managed to shout. And now she could feel a cold steel blade along the right side of her throat. “Leggo, sweetheart! Or I’ll gut you like a fish!”

Zana paused for a moment, something in her wanting to tell him to go screw himself, something in her willing to die for the privilege of defying him. But something else wanted to live, if nothing else because she couldn’t stand the thought that she would die while her father still lived. She let go of the arm, the whirling dust storm surrounding them, the man’s weight crushing her face against the ground. She turned her head left to be able to breathe. The ground pressed back at her fiercely, several fist-sized rocks strewn underneath her—Ernsto was clearly a lot bigger than she was, his weight easily dominating hers.

“Jax, you idiot!” shouted Mons in pain. “Come here!  I need your help.”

The wind suddenly shifted again and seconds later died as it sometimes did, utterly unpredictable. The sky still hid itself behind high clouds but the dust storm was coming to an end nearly as fast as it had begun.

At that moment, she heard Cotton’s feet scrambling over rock. He’d somehow made it up the rock ledge and now his furious barking fast approached.

“Back him off,” growled Mons, pressing his knife a bit harder to her throat.

Zana turned her head right, the direction of the barking—Mons accommodated by backing off the knife a bit. “Sit!” she snapped, “Stay!” Cotton whined, but she could see in the dimness that he obeyed. “Good boy.” Cotton barked in frustration.

“Good move,” said Mons pained voice in her ear. “It’d be hard for me to kill a dog with only one good arm. Don’ get me wrong, I’m sure I’d still kill it. But it’d be messy. Painful—mostly for it.”

“Him!” Zana snapped back.

“Him then,” answered Mons.

“What the hell!” exclaimed Jax’s slightly slurred voice. “There’s a dog and that woman and…what the hell happened?”

“You celebrated your kill too much, that’s what happened!” Mons snapped. “Come over here and help me tie her up. And my arm is broken, I’ll need you to splint it!”

In this short time, a gap had cleared in the sky, greatly increasing the ambient light. Her head turned right, human right side of her face up, she heard Mons gasp as Jax stumbled close to help him. “By the angels,” Ernsto exclaimed, “You’re beautiful!”

“You bastard!” she shouted. She would have spat on him if she could have.

But then the two of them lashed her as she lay on the ground, using a lot of extra rope on her left arm, and then took her rifle and survival gear. Some time passed before Jax finished with Mon’s arm, before the two of them stumbled out of the area. Cotton obediently but frustratedly sat for her the entire time, barking regularly.

“Come here, boy, help me,” she said as soon as she estimated that Mons was out of rifle range from her dog. How dare he call her “beautiful”—she would escape these ropes and hunt down Ernsto Mons if was the last thing she ever did. She hated no one more than him at that moment—not even her own father.

1 comment:

  1. Grace suggested I ask you if there's been a previously determined length of time for a spaceflight to Avenir. I'll be sending some characters from Sheba to Avenir, probably as supercargo on a freighter.