Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Tuskers. Chapter 21

As before, a rough first draft.  Be generous.

Chapter 21

Barbara woke up with the sun in her eyes.  She’d gone to sleep without closing the curtains, like she normally did.  
Why’d I do that? She wondered.  Did I hit the sauce last night?
A bolt of pain up her leg brutally reminded her of what had happened.  She groaned and rolled out of bed.  She tested her footing.  The leg was swollen.  She could feel the pounding of her pulse, and it was painful, but she used the trick she had learned of pretending the pain was happening to someone else and stood up.
She fell back into bed with a cry.
She immediately pushed herself up and tried again.  This time she’d stayed standing.
Now if rampaging swine weren’t surrounding her house, she probably would have allowed herself bed rest.  But these were no ordinary pigs.  She’d seen that look in the smart one’s eyes.  The mean one.  Unless she missed her guess, he was probably trying to figure out how to get in.
She made it the bathroom and too a pain pill.  Just one, because she wanted to be alert.
It was time for her to figure out what her vulnerabilities were.
She hobbled into the living room, and immediately saw the giant cracks.  She had an old plate glass window, illegal now.  But it seemed to her the glass was clearer than shatter glass and she’d connived to get some installed.  No one could get around the law better than a career law enforcement officer.  Which why some of them became corrupt.
Her ethical failures were small ones, petty ones.
One more blow -- however they’d managed that -- and that window was going down.  She went to the garage and started hauling the scrap lumber into the living room.  She had just enough to cover the picture window but that wouldn’t take care of the smaller windows.
She pulled one of her picture frames out of the wall.  The backing was plastic.  Strong enough to hold out for a short time.  Better than nothing.
She got to work.  The more she hobbled about, the more functional her leg became. She’d no doubt pay the price tonight, but it needed to be done.
By the time she was finished, her house looked half empty.  Much of the wood furniture had been broken apart.  The pictures on the walls.  The bookshelves.
It looked like the insides of the house had exploded and attached themselves to the walls and windows.  But it looked pretty secure to her.  The little monsters would probably be able to get in eventually, but not all at once and she still had thirty-six bullets.
She went to the closet and pulled out her leather jacket.  The electricity had gone off during the night, but despite the sweltering heat, she put the jacket on.  Then, as long as she was being silly, she pinned her old badge in its old spot. 
Now she was ready.
She poured herself a stiff drink and sat down and waited.


A crash woke her up.  It had come from the bedroom.
She hadn’t planned it, but in addition to her gun, she reached over to the magnetic knife rack and picked the biggest knife she had.
A pig had managed to get its head through one of the wooden slats she’d nailed across the window. He was squealing, unable to get in or out.
She examined it for a few moments.  Just a pig, one of the dumb ones.  She ran the blade across its throat, and the squealing was muted and then silenced.  She left the head hanging there.
“Next?” she called out.  “Which one of you bastards wants it next?  How about your leader?  Is he too much of a coward?”
I’m off my rocker, she thought.  It wasn’t the danger; that was making her feel alive.  No, it was the loneliness.  That’s why she was having a conversation with pigs.
“Come and get it, you little bastards.  Come on!”
There was a thump in the living room and she turned and strode purposefully toward the sound.  A smaller pig had squeeze through a gap, but a bigger pig was still trying to get in.
She pulled the gun and shot the one running around the living room.  Then she walked over and slit the throat of the bigger one.  Again she left it hanging.
That’s one way to fill the gaps, she thought, and giggled.
Yep, completely off my bonkers.
And then they were trying to come in from every direction and she was too busy to giggle or tell herself she was nuts.  Too busy killing.
By nightfall, she was covered with blood.  Almost too late it occurred to her that she had no light.  She managed to find time between battles to search for her old flashlight.  She found it with the rest of her police stuff in the closet.  It still had strong batteries, and its heft was reassuring.  She’d never actually had to wield it in action and she had always been curious.  She slammed it against the next intruder, and it had landed with a satisfying thud, and it still shone bright.
Not bad, she thought.  Again she chuckled, and that’s when she knew the frequency of attacks was diminishing.  She was finding time for thought, for humor. She found some candles and lit them in every room, well away from the walls.  She always had the fixings of a fire in the fireplace, though she almost never lit it even in the coldest winter nights. (Which by Crook County standards, wasn’t cold at all.)  She hated cleaning it up afterwards, but she liked the look and smell of the wood.
She took some papers off the table, and set them on fire.  (Wait, wasn’t that her driver’s license renewal?  Oh, well.  She’d be lucky to be alive, much less driving around.)
The fire was soon roaring, and it was atavistically satisfying.  The attacks came less and less, almost as if good old-fashioned fire was driving them away.  She checked her watch and was astonished that both the day and the following night were almost over.  She’d been besieged for almost a full day.
Boar heads stuck out of every wall, as if she was some kind of mad great white hunter.
“Bwana,” she said, out loud.
She heard a scream from outside.  It sounded like the most pissed off animal she’d ever heard.  Surprisingly human sounding.  
And somehow, she knew she’d won.  That the enemy was giving up.  That his dumber followers were defying the leader.
She checked her ammo.
And she still had five bullets.

No comments: