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Monday, September 08, 2008

Fragment - Across the Wasteland

Fragment – The Savage

Because the Savage had the sun at his back and because of the steady loss of blood from Abby’s ear used to be and out of her chest it was hard to aim. She had no time to bandage her wound while keeping her rifle on the Savage – there was just no way.

She shifted her weight in the dirt, aiming up at the ridge. She was prepared to roll if he threw another spear, but didn’t know what fuck all good it would do. The Deacon once told her that muties could pass one of their bone-tipped spears right through a body at 1000 yards. Abby didn’t know anything about that, but she knew this one threw faster than she could draw on him.

That was something new.

So was this: she’d never heard of anyone being able to pay one of the grey-green skinned savages to do anything. Abby promised to revisit the question of how Jude got this one to come after her.

A high keening noise to her right, and Abby rolled to the left avoiding another of the Savage’s spears. It buried its six foot shaft in the sand beside two feet to her right. It was reassuring to think that maybe he was having trouble seeing her from up on that ridge.

Still, him and the compadre she shot didn’t have all bad luck: Abby spat out a wad of blood onto a patch of yellow sand. The spear that lanced her lung had gone straight through, which, all things considered was a plus. But on the way in and out it’d broken at least a rib. Worse still, breathing was a bastard.

But Abby noted that this wasn’t how she planned on dying. She’d make Jude patch her up after he answered her questions and before she shot him between the eyes.

For the second time today she lost sight of the Savage. This caused Abby to run through what could be approximated as fear for her. She scanned the ridge over the gunsight: nothing moved, not even the wind. Deacon would have said even nature conspired to bring Abby to the end of her path.

Of course, for what man, woman, child, or mutie was this ever not the case?

She sniffed the wind. What came back to her: the smell of her last spent round… her own blood and sweat… the recently-cured leathers of the dead Savage lying face down100 feet away. She thought about putting another round into the body, this line of thinking towards getting the Savage’s blood up. Abby rejected that line of thinking: she’d need the bullets if and when she caught sight of the Savage again.

She knew from the westward movement of the light that she’d been pinned here for five hours or more. She’d been skewered for half that, at least. An hour more and Abby wouldn’t have the strength to hold the rifle up.

Was he just waiting on her to die? Savages not being know for their patience, Abby didn’t count on it. Still, there was some inscrutable strategy at play, and Abby was having trouble sussing it out. Abby thought she’d been told that Savages would pound the earth with their palms to attract members of their tribe.

She pressed her ear to the ground, hoping to hear the tell-tale beating… getting nothing more than the pulsing of her own heart.

Abby lay like this for a while – enough for the sun to travel further west and long enough to allow the Savage to get within five paces of her. From the surprise in his gross black eye, he obviously thought she was dead when he came upon her. Her being dead didn’t preclude him from keeping a spear poised to strike.

It was only his startlement that allowed Abby to pull the trigger those four times before he could throw. Abby lost track of how much longer she stayed there – was it even the same day? She knew the Savage’s blood was cold and sticky on her cheek. But it hadn’t been long enough for carrion birds to decide that the two of them were fair game.

She propped herself up using the rifle, but used the mutie’s spear as a walking stick. Jude’s shack was near enough. She thought maybe he should do his doctoring before telling her what she needed to know. Thinking of how she’d probably have to ask her questions, Abby thought it best to let Jude keep his hands intact for the time being.

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