20. An Inch Away
Posted on August 4, 2011
Sweden’s feet pounded the dusty earth. It crossed his mind that this may have been the same fate that had befallen his brother. Gritting his teeth he pushed himself harder. This was not going to be where he died.
The two remaining cavers bounded along behind him. They were unaware of the fate that had befallen their smaller cohort and were joyously running down their quarry.
Sweden swerved to his left and quickly zigged back to the right. One of the cavers crashed on to the dirt having launched itself at the point it had expected him to occupy if he had continued to the left. The second caver checked itself and corrected its course, not waiting for the other to get to its feet and continued the chase.
Within moments the caver had closed the gap and with a deft flick at his ankle it sent Sweden sprawling to the ground. Laying a thick grey claw on his back it pinned him in place. Sweden struggled vainly to free himself but the caver pressed harder, bringing more of its weight to bear on him. He let out a cry as he felt the sharp stabbing pain of one of his ribs snapping in his chest. He stopped struggling as the fight left him along with his breath. The caver, sensing this, released the pressure and flipped him over, lowering its massive head to meet his.
“Giving up so soon?” It hissed in his face. The stench of rotting flesh on its breath made him wretch.
“Perhaps you won’t be of interest to the queen, she prefers a little more sport from her…”
The caver never finished the sentence. The tip of a sword burst through its jaw, stopping an inch away from Sweden’s eyes. He stared in disbelief as crimson blood began streaming down the blade and splashed into his face. He shoved the caver to the side and rolled away as its limp body slumped to the ground. He pushed himself up into a sitting position wincing in pain as his rib protested against the movement.
“What manner of creature is this?” Antigua asked as she braced herself against the cavers head with her boot and pulled her sword free from its skull.
Sweden stared in disbelief. His was a deeply patriarchal society. He had never seen a woman carry a sword, much less wield one with the casual familiarity with which Antigua held hers. She was also dressed in very unusual clothing. Clothing that had more in common with the garb worn by women attempting to impress themselves upon a man than he felt comfortable with. At least, that was his first impression. The longer he stared the more he got the impression that the clothing was more than just decorative. He began to suspect that, while it was certainly figure hugging and immensely attractive to look at, it also served a very definite defensive purpose.
“It’s a caver.” He replied through clenched teeth. Speaking was painful. “What are you doing out here? The wasteland is no place for a woman.”
“No place for a woman?” Antigua parroted, raising an eyebrow. She bent close to his face and brought her syringe gun to his neck. Sweden spasmed sharply as the needle bit into his neck, flooding his system.
“You are the second man I have rescued from certain death. It seems it’s no place for you either.”