Tuesday, April 3, 2012

A Little Tease on This Tuesday

Another short little snip from my as yet untitled fantasy.  Enjoy!

They come for us while it’s still dark. The clomping of their boots on the hard-packed earth outside as they rush at our little shack jolts me awake, instantly alert. In the Time Before, Mama used to laugh and joke that a herd of wild hendlings trampling through the village wouldn’t wake me. That might have been true back then, but now, I always seem to hover just at the edge of wakefulness, constantly on guard—for what I do not know, only that it will be somehow worse than anything I’ve seen before. And, it’s always worse.


This is one of those times. I know it even before the door is thrown open.

Chaos reigns down. Guards flood the already cramped space as they kick their steel-toed boots. Bodies flop and scurry as the others all hurry to evade contact with the hard leather kicks. The only light that is shed comes from the tops of the guards’ hats, beams of overly-bright white that hurts my eyes when they splash over my face, making me cringe. They only stay put long enough for my pupils to adjust to the onslaught before flitting away to focus on something else and then plummeting me back into the blindness that only the night can bring.

Across the room, there is a scream, and I instantly recognize the voice behind that wordless plea. Nita. My best friend back in the Time Before. I don’t know why or even how, but now, we barely speak. She is both screaming and sobbing at the same time, a hysterical sound that cuts through my ears and makes my brain want to bleed.

Latching onto one another, Leda and I curl into the tightest ball we can manage, sinking back into the shadows of our corner. We want no trouble. While the others are racing about, we remain still as statues.

Nita is still shrieking. Two women race over to her. One of them catches a boot to the stomach. With a low grunt, she collapses. The guard who kicked her turns his attention to someone else who is frantically crawling across the floor. He barely notices the crunch of breaking bones as he walks over the unconscious woman’s hand.

Some of the officers are laughing as they trade kicks for open-handed slaps to the face and fists to the stomach. We are all dropping like flies, even as Nita continues her banshee wails.

A shot rings out, the loud crack bouncing off the walls and pounding into our bones. We all go still, panicked eyes and hands searching our own bodies and those near us to see who was hit. The air thickens with our petrified silence. It is too quiet, and I know without having to look or even be told.

That bullet belonged to Nita.