Short stories, Flash fiction, and Novel Excerpts

New Moons (Parts 1-4, 200 words each)

In Writing on January 30, 2010 at 2:43 pm

The wooden planks of the wagon bed creaked as the horse pulled us along.  My hands, chained to the floor between my feet, were rubbed raw; clear liquid oozed from under my shackles.  I raised my head, careful not to meet the eyes of the other children; even among slaves, there was a pecking order.

I rested my head against the black pitted bars of our cage, trying to suck in some clean air.  The Master gave us no food and precious little water; barely enough to sustain life let alone bathe.  Without sustenance, I wouldn’t be able to keep up my illusion.  Just the thought of my deception being revealed was enough to make my heart race. 

My gaze drifted over to the girl next to me, and the dark blemish beneath her.  The wood, painted black repeatedly with her blood, refused to take any more offering.  Pooling, the viscous liquid ran along the narrow grooves in the floor.  The lurching stop of the wagon sent rippling waves over the surface of the crimson stain.  The Master cursed, then shouted,

“Out of the way traveler!  You block the King’s Highway!”

“Aye, I’ve been waiting for you,” came the reply.

********************************************************************* 

“There’s no profit for you here, brigand,” the slaver drew himself up, puffing out his chest.

“Ah, I see you misunderstand the situation,” I said shaking my head.  “You see, it’s not your money I’m after.”

The slaver narrowed his eyes, hiding them in folds of glistening fat.  Gesturing with the first two fingers on my right hand, I called Taji from the edge of the trees.  She padded on soft paws to my side.  Her fur, gilded by the setting sun, brushed my hand.  The slaver’s horse snorted and shook its head, but the hold on its reins kept the beast in check.

“What are you talking about?”  He demanded, smoothing his greasy hair.

I clenched my fist.  Taji bounded from my side, leapt over the snorting horse, and grabbed the slaver in her jaws.  The screaming fat man and the ominously silent dog fell with a muffled thump. I caught the horse’s reins before it bolted, while the slaver gurgled as he died in the ditch.  I looked into the wagon; dirty faces peered back at me.

A child pressed his face to the bars, croaking, “Let us out.”

Not one to be a pushover, I asked, “Why?”

*********************************************************************

I couldn’t answer the man as he absently scratched the gold and silver dog behind the ears.  Tears burned in my eyes as hope shattered like glass, cutting painfully into my soul. 

The man grimaced, threw back his cloak, and walked away.  The dog, sat staring up through the bars.  Those knowing amber orbs held me; I sat captivated, even as the iron door screamed open on tortured hinges.  I could not tear my gaze away.  Long cramped muscles, demanding surcease, tightened my body into a ball, forcing me to the floor, and into oblivion.

I awoke disoriented, with a musky scent surrounding me.  White bandages covered my wrists as I pushed a heavy cloak from my face.  I turned; searching for the food I smelled cooking, but found my savior.  He passed me a plate and I shoveled food in my mouth with both hands.

“Easy, it’ll come up if you eat too fast,” he admonished.  “Here, drink this.”

I set the plate down reluctantly. 

“Where are the others?”  I asked.

“Gone,” he said.

“Can you help me get home?”  When he didn’t answer I added, “You’ll be rewarded.” 

“Only as far as Gorstauk,” he replied after a moment.

*********************************************************************

I wrapped the sleeping child in my cloak again and set him down by the warmth of the fire.

“Am I doing the right thing old girl?”  I asked Taji.  She lifted her head from her paws and nodded.

“You sure?”  She cocked her head to the side, snorted, and lay back down.

“Okay, we’ll keep searching then.”  She raised an eyebrow. 

“Do you always have to have the last word?”  I asked, she huffed and turned away.

Turning back to the fire, I watched the boy sleep.  Curled in a ball, hands tucked between his knees, he shivered and shook his head repeatedly in negation.  Could this boy help me find the one for whom I searched?

Three months since the girl ran away from home, and no telling how long with the slaver. 

A chance remark in the last village led me to believe that this slaver was the one.  But there had been no sign of the girl. 

With the surrounding countryside war-torn, the flesh peddlers found easy pickings.  The human vultures circled around misery and death, feasting on the suffering of others. 

If I didn’t find the girl soon, my honor would be lost with her.

**************************************************************

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