Sunday Excerpt #amwriting #fiction #fantasy

Sunday has come once again.  I would have had this post up earlier but I was busy working on transcribing and fine tuning this scene a bit more and lost track of time.  This excerpt comes from Chapter four of Black Friday 2 (working title).  Karina and Marcus have been working their deep in the Appalachian Mountains, following the trail northward before the snows make it too difficult to travel.  Along their way, they pass by a small government station where hunters normally stop to check in their kills and pick up a few supplies.

What they end up finding is the scent of other therians being held captive and go to see what condition they’re in.  Seeing them caged, the pair decide to try to free them but soon find themselves meeting a couple of the inhabitants of the local region.  Things rather fall apart from there.

If this sounds rough now, you should see it in the first rough draft I hand wrote.  This version makes a lot more sense.

“Hey Bobby Ray,” he called over his shoulder, “C’mon out here. Looks like we got us s’more of them weird critters for the big guys. Maybe we can git him to fight that bird looking one so’s we can git in there to them purty ones he’s protecting.”

Another man, just as bad smelling, came into view from around the corner of the far building. I assumed that one was Bobby Ray. While his aggressive friend was lanky and on the tall side, Bobby Ray was portly.

I could see muscle under the flab but it didn’t look like much. In his left hand, he held a beer can and the other scratched at the side of his bald head while holding a dingy green ball cap. The camouflage coat and pants were old and worn though his work boots looked rather new. He didn’t look near as dangerous as his, yet unnamed, buddy.

Bobby Ray sidled up next to his friend and peered at me as if I were not worth the energy to get riled over before he spoke in a deep southern drawl, “Jimbo, leave that bird thing alone. He already hates ya. Why ya wanna go tempting him into slitting yer throat? Sides, we got orders to leave ‘em alone and not to injure him b’fore the feds get here to collect ‘em.”

It sounded to me like we had an ally of some kind in Bobby Ray. But, Jimbo had other ideas. Him, we had to watch carefully.

While the two talked and watched us, I backed slowly toward the cage. I could hear the hawk hissing at us and at the men. Marcus moved with me, glancing back at the caged pen every few steps.

“Go away, cat,” I heard behind me, “We don’t need you here.” The voice was deep and low, coming from one of the vehicles behind me. “Take yer wolf friend with ya.”

At first, I looked at my mate then I looked down where I thought I heard the voice come from. “Keep an eye on those men, Marcus. I’ll see who is out here with us.” Without waiting for a reply, I ducked down to the ground and peered under the trucks.

Under the closest one, I saw the mouse-like face of a weasel glaring at me from the protective shadows. There wasn’t much to see at that point except the sharp canines that flashed at me when the weasel growled gutturally.

“We’re here to help, “I whispered and strained my ears forward to focus on that hiding therian. “I thought it was just the hawk and the otters trapped in here.”

“I don’t need no help,” he growled back, showing me his teeth again, “I can handle this on my own.”

“I’m sure you can,” I said back, trying to remain calm and keep Hathor’s ideas from influencing me into doing something drastic. “My mate and I smelled blood while we were passing by across the highway. We thought someone was hurt.”

Ain’t none of yer business, cat,” he growled back at me, “Go away before I gut ya.”

I had to laugh at the threat. It had been a while since anyone threatened me with bodily harm. This weasel was quite amusing to me in a strange sort of way. “I would like to see you try. But, I doubt you could bring down Bobby ray and Jimbo down on your own” I said in a tone the told how amused I was with his threat.

That got him even more riled. “Hey! I can fight. Prolly fight better’n you, pussy cat!” Still, his words and defensive tone sounded amusing to me and I had to smile.

Marcus then tapped me on the back and whispered harshly at me, “Hurry up Karina. Those two hicks are getting close.”

After giving Marcus a nod of acknowledgment I scoffed at the weasel, sounding more light and amused than what I actually felt. “I have no doubts that you can fight, but you smell too new to know how to use your body’s innate abilities. We can tell you recently woke up to find out what you really are.”

He hissed at me, a sound like a the chatter a squirrel makes and an exhalation of air, and fluffed up his fur. In response, I growled back at him and flashed my own impressive canines and let him see my claws slowly extend from my fingers. He backed down first and stared at me, his eyes wide with fear and a gleam of respect, before backing up to hide deeper within the shadows under the truck.

“Stop right there weasel,” I then said with more patience than I felt, “We can help each other. Right now, we’re all in the same predicament…” the thought was cut off when I felt Marcus’ foot touch my side. A single glance over my shoulder told me why.

Bobby Ray and Jimbo were only a few feet away and they had picked up weapons, a rod each, on the way to threaten and possibly hurt us if we decided to fight. They had every intention of capturing us one way or another. Neither would get that far if I had anything to say about it.

Irritated at the delay and the fact the two men were far too close for my liking, I hissed, “Look,” then I rolled onto my side, “Get your furry ass out from under there and get your friends out of that cage fast! My mate and I will take care of these two humans.”  No time was wasted waiting for an answer for our two tormentors were too close for comfort. Quick as I could, I scrambled to my feet and prepared for a fight, or at the very least make a break for it to draw them away from the cage. We had to protect our captured comrades-in-fur some how.

Both of us kept our stances relaxed but we were ready to move as soon as they did. Though nervous, I showed no teeth or claws to either man. I wanted them to make the first move. Only the swish of my tail and raised fur along my shoulders and head betrayed my agitation to them. Though I was sure they knew the terrain well, I wanted them to show me just how well they knew their obstacles and how to fight. The less they knew about the clutter we were in, the better it would be for us. It was my sincerest hope neither had worked among the trucks.

Rocking from foot to foot and flexing my fingers, I waited for them. Marcus moved slowly backward toward the pen along with me. We watched hit their hands with the metal rods and try to twirl them as if they knew something about armed combat. Thankfully, Jimbo proved to be all thumbs when he twirled his and ended up dropping his weapon once. Though Bobby Ray kept a hold of his, he showed no grace at all in his movements.  Neither hick would be a challenge for Marcus, or me. Or so I thought. Just trying to visualize them failing made me smile, even to this very day. We knew we had to be careful; experience told us this much.

Without warning, I heard the skittering of clawed feet slipping on the gravel strewn concrete as the weasel took his chance to go help his friends. I whirled to look and when my attention was off the two humans, they made their move with a loud, “Get ‘em!” from Jimbo. That was soon followed by the heavy thump of boots as they rushed us.

I was caught with my back turned. Marcus was there to intervene but the weapons were what we needed to be wary of. Sadly, my mate was occupied with Bobby Ray’s attempts to hit him with the steel club. It was everything he could do to keep from being battered in such close quarters.

Jimbo, on the other hand, was free to rush me. As I started to turn back after hearing their charge, I saw him out of the corner of my eye and the motion of the metal rod going up over his head. His expression as I spun looked like a mix of anger and hatred tinged with ignorance toward me and my people. He moved pretty quick for an overweight human and managed to catch me with the first blow.

Caught on the upper arm, I screeched in pain when the bar hit my bicep. If I hadn’t tried to turn when I did, he would have hit me in the head and the fight would have been over. It was, however, more than enough to knock me off balance; both from the pain and the strike, and I went to the ground. He gave no time for anything except to react from my vulnerable position.

Holding my wounded shoulder, I dodged his attempts by rolling to one side or the other. In those few moments, I felt the knot forming in the muscle but the bone didn’t feel broken, but I couldn’t waste the time to really check as I moved this way and that to keep from being hit. First chance I could see, I rolled under the closest truck to escape his wild swings and close company. With enough space to roll around easily, I knew my escape wouldn’t stop him for long and needed to think fast.

The clang of metal on metal let me know how narrow my escape really was. While he missed his swing, his foot caught my tail. With pain climbing up my spine, I yanked it free of his heavy boot then ducked out on the far side of the vehicle only to find him rounding the front of the truck and yelling like a wild man at me as if that would scare me into panicking. The tactic didn’t work quite the way he wanted it to go.

He had surprised me at the very best with the yelling. Startled, I jumped back and tripped over a piece of wood, stumbling onto my back. Jimbo took that chance to pounce, landing on me heavily and knocking the air from my lungs. He brought the bar down, which I could barely block with my arms and proceeded to beat at me with it while I struggled to grab it from his hands. The man had strength few humans knew about. Too bad he was too ignorant to use it to his benefit himself in better ways than brawling.

Over the din of my pain filled groans, blood rushing in my ears, and Jimbo’s wild laughter, I heard the chain link of the cage rattle as the door was ripped open then the louder clink of the lock striking the door of the truck near me. That sudden sound and the sight of the lock clattering on the ground gave me just the chance I was needing to escape the beating I was getting.

Jimbo paused to see what made the noise. While his attention was diverted, his grasp relaxed then I was sinking my teeth into his arm; biting as hard as I could. While I tried to kick him off, a feathered shadow came up behind him then struck with a sharp yellow beak at the man’s thick skull. The hollow sounding thock made the even more angry hawk smile as well as a rigid beak would allow.

My new avian friend had struck Jimbo again as I pressed the man back then shoved him aside. A few more strikes from the both of us knocked the man out. Him, we left unconscious and bloody on the ground. Then, I fell back, weakened and in pain from being hit so many times with the metal bar and fists.

I hurt. I hurt bad. At no time in my life had I been hit so hard except by the demons I ran into when I first met Nick. Not even then had I been beaten so badly. All I could do was listen to Marcus fight with Bobby Ray.  In the back of my mind, I could hear Hathor urging me to get up and go protect my mate. There was no energy to get up with or I would be at his side. All I could do was manage a hoarse whisper, “Help… Marcus… Help him…”

My vision started going black with the effort that took to say. But, before I passed out, I saw the hawk lean closer then the weasel’s face loom over me and say something.  It all sounded garbled to me as I slid down to the ground.  After that, consciousness left me.