?

Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Jul 16, 2008.
  1. ValienceInEnd - Solder Robbers

    3 vote(s)
    30.0%
  2. dscott25 - Those Eyes and the One Who Survived

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. FlakeandFins - The Barn

    4 vote(s)
    40.0%
  4. Tsukuru - Lethargy

    2 vote(s)
    20.0%
  5. daemon3 - New Sumer Came

    1 vote(s)
    10.0%
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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Voting Short Story Contest 24 - Theme: Survival Scenario

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jul 9, 2008.

    Short Story Contest (24) Voting Theme: Survival Scenario

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned.

    Voting will end 16th July 2008. It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not strictly in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone.
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    ValianceInEnd - Soldier Robbers

    Soldier Robbers
    Word Count: 1,766


    Carter lifted his head up from the sand and coughed harshly. Blinking several times and squinting from the sun shining right in his face, he looked around to find his position. The last thing he remembered was a grenade landing near his company, an explosion, and then this. He planted his hands on the ground to try and lift himself up but found that his leg wouldn’t move. Looking down at it he discovered his leg was twisted at an unnatural angle; it was broken. Painfully rolling over onto his back he inspected the rest of his body for injury, only finding a few minor shrapnel wounds on his chest and legs.

    All around him lay the corpses of various soldiers from either side of the war. He didn’t hear any sounds of battle, just the wind and silence of the dead. Checking his watch he saw that he had been out for four hours, long enough for the battle to have already moved on. This war was that way, becoming infamous for how short and varied the battles were. Casualties were enormous on either side nonetheless, and he could definitely see how the death toll was rising from the piles of dead bodies.

    Already a foul stench of rot was beginning to hang over the air. The blistering desert sun was quickly working its magic on the dead. Grimacing, he put his hand over his mouth and looked around to get a better view. He recognized some of the bodies. Some were just faces, others were friends. Swallowing hard, he held back the tears of realization. He knew they were dead, there was no helping them.

    Lying ten feet away he saw the body of a medic. Still attached to the man’s vest was his field first-aid kit and Carter knew he needed it for his leg. Dragging himself with all his might, he clamped his mouth shut as his leg came alive with the pain of being forced across the hard ground. Movement by movement, the medic came closer to him. Several times he nearly passed out from how exhausting it was, but rigorous training in the military had taught him to tough it out. Survival was his main goal here. After what seemed to be longer than ten minutes, he felt his hand rest firmly on the medic’s chest. Rolling back over, Carter took long, strained gasps for air as his body went limp from the sheer exertion of moving.

    Bang

    He heard it, loud and clear, the thunderous roar of a gunshot ringing across the air wavering in the distance. Leaning over, he saw past a group of corpses men dressed in white robes walking through the field. Quickly pulling back to be hidden from sight, he took a deep breath. He didn’t want to be seen. He knew who they were. It was said that local bandits would follow the battles from place to place, waiting for them to subside and then going into the fields to steal from the dead. He remembered how they were also known for killing the injured and wounded lying amongst the fields, left behind.

    Bang

    If they found him, he knew they’d kill him. Whether it was out of mercy or hatred, Carter didn’t care. All that mattered was that he got away from them before they got to him. Moving with new found strength, he unlocked the first-aid kit and forced open the hatch. Grabbing from it two small planks, he set them on either side of his leg.

    Bang

    Then from the kit he grabbed a white roll of bandage. Wrapping it around his leg several times, he tied it off at the top and cut off the remainder of its length. Pulling out a small metal cylinder, he placed it at the bottom of his foot. Pressing a button, two metal arms with needles on the top came from either side and extended out to the length of his knee. Jabbing into his leg, they began pumping morphine and stabilization fluid.

    Bang

    Struggling to raise himself up on one foot, he managed to use the medic as a brace. Standing one-footed like a flamingo, he tenderly lowered his other foot to the ground to test its ability. He hissed in pain when he put his weight on it, but found it was again at least useable. It wouldn’t allow him to run, but basic movement was possible.

    Crouching low to the ground, he snuck up to a group of dead bodies and lay low amongst them. Looking over the helmet of a fallen comrade Carter saw a lone robber walking amongst the bodies only fifty or so feet away. The robber lowered to the ground and began fussing with pulling off the necklace of an unfortunate soldier. Not too far away, another soldier suddenly moved, moaning in pain. Without time to as much as blink, the robber flipped around and shot the soldier in the chest twice with his rifle.

    Waiting until the robber was turned around and again engaged with removing the necklace, Carter quickly dashed toward another group of bodies and slid to the ground. Looking up again he saw the robber was still busy. Crawling on all fours up a small hill, he stopped at the top and again looked back at the robber. Nothing, he still had all his mind fixed on the necklace. Turning back, Carter tried to walk over the body of a sixteen year-old boy when he suddenly felt unbelievable pain shoot up from his bad leg. Stumbling he fell with a large crash onto the remains of an ACP.

    Carter lay on the heavy metal door of the broken ACP, gritting his teeth as his bad leg had spasms. Pulling from his vest another morphine shot, he jabbed it directly into his calf. Stifling a loud scream Carter grabbed it and massaged it. It stopped hurting and he dragged himself off the remains of the ACP. He stopped to take a breath, when he heard the muffled foot steps of an approaching visitor. Moving away from the ACP, he approached a small group of three bodies and half-buried himself in the sand with them. Closing his eyes and opening his mouth, Carter imitated the appearance of a corpse.

    The robber shot a glance up toward the hill, hearing something move on the other side. Lifting his rifle up, he slowly advanced toward the hill, trying to come around on the side of it. Poking his head past the hill, he saw a destroyed vehicle and various unmoving bodies. On the side of the hill near the vehicle he saw prints in the sand of a man who was just moving there not to long ago. Approaching the site carefully with his rifle raised, the robber kept his head on a steady swivel, looking for any sign of life. He walked up to the corpses and stood right above them.

    Carter didn’t move an inch as he held his breath. Only two feet away from him was the robber, his finger on the trigger of his assault rifle. He hoped that the robber would not just suddenly decide to shoot each corpse as a way to check if they were still alive or not. No matter what though he would remain still for as long as humanly possible, because he knew he had to get out alive.

    His acting would have been perfect, but at that time a small and insignificant fly saw Carter’s face as the perfect spot to rest. Landing on his face, Carter instinctively wrinkled his forehead to shoo the fly off. Looking directly at him, the robber screamed in his native dialect and pointed his rifle down at Carter. Carter sat up with incredible speed and drew from his side-holster a pistol.

    Two shots rang in the air, and the robber fell flat on his back. Carter stood up and looked over the hill. Several bullets drove straight into the hill as the other robbers began running at his position. Pulling back behind the hill, he re-holstered his pistol and grabbed the dead robber’s assault weapon. Running low with the hill behind him, Carter looked back over his back periodically to see when the others were within sight. He saw another small hill over to his left and jumped behind it. Leaning out slightly to the right, he looked down the crude iron sights of the weapon.

    One of the white robed bandits came straight over the far hill, yelling at the top of his lungs and firing at random. Taking a deep breath, Carter placed him in his sights and pulled the trigger three times. Two bullets punched straight into the man’s rib cage, expelling blood from the wounds and causing him to fall over. Another dashed out from around left, his rifle at the ready. Aiming in front of the running target, Carter popped four shots, one of which tore through the man’s leg and another straight into his head. A third came following the first man over the hill, and Carter made easy work of him with his rifle.

    Carter heard the roaring of a car engine and looked over toward his right to see a large jeep with several robbers careening in his direction. Picking up his weapon, he dashed the opposite direction of the jeep. Ignoring the pain in his leg, he looked over and saw a fourth robber come from the hill on foot. This one fired several shots, one of which hit him directly in the arm. Raising his rifle in defense, he fired several shots back which hit the man in the stomach and caused him to fall over.

    Looking over his shoulder, he saw the jeep was only about one-hundred feet away from where he was. A mounted machine-gun on the back began hailing bullets in his direction. Carter heard the lead pounding into the ground on all sides of him and he hoped to God none would strike him. Then suddenly he felt one of the large bullets slice into his left shoulder. Retaliating in pain he lifted his rifle with one hand and blind-fired directly into the jeep. Dropping the rifle he drew his pistol and fired what was left into the jeep. It still kept coming at him, the machine-gun didn’t cease firing. Another bullet cut into his stomach. He leaned over and coughed up blood. Running toward a ditch in the ground about five feet off, he leapt in, falling on his face. The members of the jeep inspected him, and found his acting to be perfect.
     
  3. Gannon
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    dscott25 - Those Eyes and the One Who Survived

    Those Eyes and the One Who Survived

    - 503 Words


    They were dark, almost black but with rings of silver. They glittered in the night and shone brightly in the day, forever watching as the innocent walked on through the world, never suspecting that an evil more deadly than even the deadliest war lived among them, an evil that caused the wars, waiting and watching for the moment to strike yet again.

    The ones that weren’t innocent, that knew about those deadly eyes of evil, lived in terror that one day, those eyes would look upon them and consume their soul, as only those eyes could, for they were the eyes of the devil.

    No one was safe but those that didn’t know lived in blissful ignorance.

    One day on a beautiful spring morning, when the dew was still glistering on the leaves and the grass was yet dry; those eyes watched the little girl play in her yard, hungry and thirsting for the soul of the innocent.

    The girl halted, her hand paused above the puppies wiggling body.

    The puppy stilled, its small eyes alert and searching the trees and brush nearby.

    The little girl’s small frame froze, as if she knew of the danger that was only a foot away. Her mouth trembled with fear, her eyes sliding over to where her mother was on her knees, planting flowers by the front door.

    She opened her mouth, to warn her mother about the danger, but no words came out. It was as if something had squeezed her windpipe and she could barely breathe. She struggled, her mouth opening like a fish, a dying fish that had suddenly been thrown out of water.

    All of a sudden, a breeze brushed and touched her heated face, cool and refreshing as it sliced through the trees and leaves. The invisible hand left and the girl gasp, falling to her knees as she sucked in the life-giving oxygen. The puppy wined by her side, licking her face.

    Her mother remained unaware as the child coughed, her tiny hand on her aching throat. As the girl glanced up, the feeling of evil passed.

    She glanced over at her mother planting her flowers, oblivious to what had just happened. Oblivious to the evil that would one day return.

    The girl stood up, her hand still on her sore throat. Her legs trembled and threatened to collapse beneath her. She took a deep breath that had her coughing again and walked over to the trove that was for the horses. She saw her pale face and fear-ridden eyes but the thing that made her believe, that made the tears fall and cause the ripples in the water, was the dark bruise around her throat, the bruise that had the shape of long fingers wrapped around her throat.

    No one knew how it had happened and the girl couldn’t explain it. But she did know one thing.

    She was the one who had survived the beast and she could feel his rage at her.

    Rage that she had escaped.
     
  4. Gannon
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    FlakeandFins - The Barn

    The Barn by. Fitz Smith
    Word Count: 1,514


    Private Dwight Mulberry raced towards the barn as the bullets neared closer. Dirt sprayed up behind him as hot lead struck the ground. He could hear the Germans yelling. As he closed in on the barn his pace quickened, squeezing his body for every last bit of energy he could muster. Reaching the threshold, Dwight leapt inside and rolled on the ground. He was breathing hard and sweat ran down his face and blurred his vision. He could here the pinging noise of bullets hitting the ground inside the open barn. Dwight quickly got up began closing the large wooden door. Bullets riddled it, making odd “thunking” noises as it absorbed shot after shot. Wood began to splinter into Dwight’s face as the gunfire increased. He finally managed to close it, and he slid a large plank of wood in the handles to keep it shut. He had brief moment of relief that was interrupted by a stinging sensation on the back of shoulder. A bullet had penetrated the large door.

    “Sunuva…!” Dwight yelled. “Dang that hurts.”

    His lip quivered a bit. His shoulder felt like it was on fire, the pain seemed unbearable. Dwight reached back and touched the wound. A pain shot through his back, he winced and some tears escaped his eyes. “That stings something fierce,” he muttered to himself.
    Dwight moved away from the door and sat on a bale of hay. The barn looked as if it had been there for ages, and Dwight silently questioned its integrity to withstand an all out assault. It was large and old, and the summer heat made the place feel well over 100 degrees in temperature. The ceiling had holes at various spots that allowed for rays of sun to shine through, revealing floating dust and swaying cobwebs. Ladders lead up to the very top, where there was a single window that looked out on the wheat field outside.

    The wheat field, Dwight shuddered at the thought. The Thunderfist Battalion had previously responded to reports of German activity in Epa, a small farming town in Holland. It was only after the all clear that the devils sprung their trap. Dwight’s comrades fell under a blanket off bullets. Those left alive were either taken hostage or ran for the wheat fields. It was useless though. Lines of bullets mowed down soldier after soldier, until Dwight was the last man in his unit not captured or dead. Now he was trapped in an old dilapidated barn. He knew it wouldn’t be long before Germans crashed the place, and he’d be dead if he didn’t think fast.

    After concluding the ladders would support his weight, Dwight began to climb to the top of the barn. Once he was there he figured his luck had just turned. A dead German soldier lay sprawled out in front of the window, his sniper rifle still tucked to his shoulder. Dwight rolled the dead man off the top floor, and his body hit the ground like a sack of rocks. After cleaning blood from the rifle, Dwight put the scope up to his eyes. Perfect! He thought. The Germans were still a reasonable distance away. He took aim at the closest and pulled the trigger. Blood sprayed behind the soldier and he stumbled to the ground. When the soldier didn’t get up, Dwight set his aim on the next one and fired. The soldier fell backwards as if he had been clotheslined by an invisible wire. Dwight fixed his aim on the next German, but before he could fire he dropped the ground. The rest followed suit. Dang, thought Dwight.

    He quickly scanned the field, and shot at any slight movement. The hard breeze made it harder to pick out where his enemies were. Dwight caught a hint of grey against the yellow wheat and he fired. Pieces of rock flew up into the air as the bullet struck the rock. Before Dwight had time to aim again, a large explosion erupted in front of the barn door, blowing it open. Then a bullet hissed by his ear and struck the ceiling behind his head. Dwight ducked immediately. He crawled on his belly towards the ladder and made his way down. He had barely gotten a few rungs down before he spotted a grenade rolling into the barn. Dwight closed his eyes and held his breath. The grenade exploded, sending shrapnel throughout the barn, peppering the area with hot metal. When he opened the eyes, he could see the Germans filing in and screaming at him. Quickly he raced back up the ladder. Before he could get to the top a barn rat poked its head out of the rafters, spooking Dwight. He screamed, and jolted while holding the ladder. Suddenly it was standing on its two legs and slowly teetering. The Germans all stopped and watched in confusion. The ladder fell backwards. Dwight had enough sense to grab hold of a rafter as the ladder crashed to the ground.

    “HELP!” Screamed Dwight, tears streaming down his face.
    “Crud!” Yelled one of the boys.
    “Go get Dwight’s ma!” Yelled another.

    One of the boys ran out of the barn and back towards Dwight’s house. The rest of them grabbed the ladder to help, but it was broken. Dwight’s palms were sweaty and his breathing was short and labored. He looked around trying to find something he could grab. His grip slipped a bit and he screamed again.

    “Don’t let go Dwight!” His friend yelled.
    “You’re momma is coming don’t worry!” Yelled another.

    Dwight got a hold of the rafter and slowly pulled himself up. Once he was high enough, he swung his leg over it clung to the long piece of wood. As he did this, Dwight’s mother and older brother raced into the bar with one of the boys in tow, explaining what had happened. Dwight’s mother screamed and began to cry. She hurried the boys outside of the barn and his brother made his way to the tool bench.

    Dwight’s mother rushed back in. “What if the rafter breaks?”
    “It won’t break ma,” the brother said. “If it’s strong enough to hold the barn up, I think it can hold a 50-pound boy.”
    “I told them not the play their games up here,” she cried. “I knew this would happen!”
    “Hush ma.”
    “Oh Dale,” cried the mother. “Hurry!”
    “Dangit momma I am!” Yelled Dale. “Go get those boys.”

    Dale grabbed a long piece of rope. He tested the sturdiness as much as he could and then tied it into a noose. He looked up at Dwight. He could hear his little brother moaning and sniffling, adjusting his grip every time he slipped. Dale bit his bottom lip and swallowed his emotion. He knew if he was going to get his brother down he’d have to have ice in his veins. The boys’ mother came back with the boys and Dale motioned for them to follow him.

    “Three of you stay down here.” Dale said, as he and the other three climbed up the ladder. He tossed some rope down to the boys on the ground level. Then he swung and threw the rope up and over the rafter. “You boys down there grab that rope and hold tight!”
    “Dwight, you’re gonna have to get your foot on that loop and hold that rope,” Dale yelled. “We’ll lower you down.”
    “I can’t!” Dwight cried out.
    “Damnit, Dwight you’re gonna fall off if you don’t do as you’re told!” Dale shouted.
    “I can’t move Dale!” Dwight yelled back. “I’ll fall off if I do.”
    Dale breathed deeply and then looked back up at his brother. “C’mon Dwight, you can do this,” he yelled. “Just inch closer, nice and slow.”

    Dwight nodded and did as is brother told. The boys and his mother encouraged him along the way. The rope was within reach and Dwight grabbed it. On Dale’s instruction, the boys offered some slack, and Dwight slowly put his foot into the loop. They offered some more slack, but he wasn’t expecting it. The sudden drop surprised Dwight and caused him to wet himself. He began to cry. “Don’t worry about that Dwight!” Yelled Dale. “We won’t tell anyone.”

    Dwight nodded and slowly eased his body off the rafter and clung to the rope. Dale and the boys lowered the rope inch by inch until Dwight was safely on the ground. He ran to his weeping mother.

    “I’m sorry momma!” He cried into his mothers shoulder.
    “Don’t you ever play up here again!” She yelled at him. “You almost died today!”
    The hysterical mother held her son tighter.
    “You boys can go home,” Dale told them before joining his mother and brother in an embrace.

    The boys walked single file out of the barn. All were silent as they made their along the dirt path down the field and past the Mulberrys' house. They knew they wouldn’t be playing here for a long time. They also knew they wouldn’t be seeing Dwight for a long while, either. Just another casualty of War.
     
  5. Gannon
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    Tsukuru - Lethargy

    Lethargy by Tsukuru
    Word Count: 3,280

    ---Prologue---

    Bird calls reverberated throughout the valley, a sign that it was a bad time for the wrong type to be there. Vetrick Renson was of that type, a man of mostly average build, yet at the same time slightly overweight. He heard the calls, knew their meaning, and worked lazily through the underbrush in the opposite direction. For a brief moment he considered that his crew of thieves and outcasts would notice the disappearance of their leader, but soon remembered that they knew he had no knowledge of how to make bird calls. He had had numerous opportunities to learn them, being born to the thieves’ guild, but his constant lethargy prevented him from ever mastering a skill of any kind. He’d never before worked hard at anything, except keeping himself out of anything that required hard work. That was why he decided to work with crews, he could send them to do the dirty work and act as a mastermind behind the action. Meanwhile, he would have his men leave behind a token of his personage, allowing him to have a certain infamous identity among the cities.

    I’m sure my men can handle themselves, Vet told himself while retreating through the underbrush. Well, at least as well as the other five groups I’ve left in prison, he continued, laughing silently. He knew very well that the incoming bounty hunters or soldiers, whichever this particular raid consisted of, would quickly slide right through his few men, and quickly catch up to him, unless he found the trapdoor he’d had the first group create as an escape route. He’d been sure to keep this trapdoor a secret from each sequential crew, after he had locked the first one out of it. After their latest escapade, each man in his current group had a price on their head. His, however, had stacked up over time, each crime adding on to the one prior to it, making the bounty enough to live on from birth to death quite comfortably. He’d left behind so many tokens of his identity, including some paintings, that he would quickly be identified, and then either killed or taken prisoner, more likely the former than the latter.

    Finally, the underbrush broke and revealed a clearing, one of the trees marked with a red dye. That was the sign that within this clearing was the trapdoor to safety. All Vet had to do now was find it, a task made all the more difficult by his need to have it camouflaged so well, as well as his failure to help construct it. Darn, he thought, I should’ve taken more of a part in buildin’ this darned thing so it wouldn’t be so darn hard to find. He kicked aside fallen leaves, and quickly he noticed that the sound of battle had come and gone ages ago. He drew his sword, hardly lethal in his hands, but he hoped his adversaries would overestimate him and be scared. Vet listened carefully, listening so deeply that a squirrel startled him and he jumped as he heard it jump from one branch to another.

    “Heh, the most infamous man in the world is startled by a mere woodland critter,” a man said, leaning against a tree on the opposite side of the meadow, the tip of his sword in the ground. He wore soldier’s armor, and a cap to match. The insignia on his tunic matched that of a nearby castle.

    “Well,” Vetrick responded, his knees trembling nearly as fast as his heart. “If it ain’t me ol’ pal Ricky. I didn’t know you’d joined the army.”

    “After you abandoned us, we didn’t just up an’ die,” Ricky responded, picking up his sword and standing up straight. “We were conscripted, and told that capturin’ you would earn us our amnesty. A’ course, this army work ain’t so bad. I reckon we should just kill you for abondonin’ us, get it over with, and save you the public humiliation.” As he said this, four other men walked out from the trees, all in a circle around Vet, barring escape.

    Vet’s eyes began to dart wildly, his heart sped up to the point that he couldn’t count the beats, and his knees began to tremble so far inward that they buckled, dropping him to the ground. His eyes slowed, eventually coming to a complete stop, rotating themselves to stare straight ahead at Ricky. He threw his sword down, still staring at Ricky, and moisture began to drop from his eyes. He looked up, focusing his gaze on Ricky’s eyes, and then his throat began to lurch as he tried to find the power to speak. “Ple-ease,” he cried. “Do-don’t k-kill me.”

    As Vet knelt on the ground, tears flowing from his eyes, Ricky walked toward him. “Finally, I'm rich,” he said, right before he swung his sword. There was a sharp pain as the blade connected with Vet’s skull, and after that he felt nothing.


    ---Chapter One---

    Vet ran through the darkness, stumbling in his maddened haze. He had been set free. He had escaped through the help of someone he would never have expected. The price, he thought. It was all he thought, a phrase he repeated, adding on the words “of my freedom” every now and then. He heard dogs howl behind him, knowing that the only way to lose them was to cross water. He was a drunkard on an obstacle course, barely seeing obstructions in his path and making no attempt to cover up his trail. All he wanted to do was get away, as far away as he could possibly get as quickly as he could manage. All rational thought had long since escaped him, gone with his ability to understand why he was free. Finally, during his run, all obstacles were gone, his path clear. He had found water. Beneath him. His free-fall was left unbroken until he was finally halted by the water of the river, knocked unconscious by the collision.


    He awoke, back in the jail from which he had escaped, sun at the same height as it was on the day of his prior entry, brought in by the same capturers to the same officials. No, it couldn’t be reality; everything was too exact, too similar to before for it to have happened again. But wait, it couldn’t be the past. There was one change in detail that could not be overlooked. The persecutor had not turned around in his chair and presented himself as William Renson, father and mentor to Vet, in the previous venture to the courthouse.

    William opened his mouth, and a calm, booming voice echoed forth. “Vetrick Renson, you have disgraced this nation, yourself, and those who once called you family.” All of a sudden, the people in the jury, before only blurs, cleared in Vet’s vision and appeared as his mother, his two brothers, and various cousins, aunts, and uncles. “This disgrace can only be punished by death in prison, many years from now, as well as excommunication from your family and the Thieves’ Guild.”

    Just as the look of shock and horror crossed onto Vet’s face, the court room disappeared, along with the images of his family, dead and alive. They were replaced by numerous stones and pebbles, some still wet from the lowering tide. Vet worked his way up, only to slip and drop back down on the slippery rocks. It would be an understatement to say that every bone in his body ached, and a lie to say he was happy to be alive. He struggled through the mist that was his memory of the previous night, trying to pick apart what had happened.

    Certain details were vivid, such as the sharp pain in his head as the flat of Rick’s blade had struck Vet’s head, a pain he still felt. Another clear image was the room itself, painfully revisited in his sleep; the faces of his former crew members, and Rick’s face outside his cell and the key he left in the cell’s lock. There were pieces, however, that he could not seem to give a clear image, no matter how hard he focused. Questions formed around them. Why did Ricky set me free?,Vet thought. Clearly for the money of capturin’ me again... but it still don’t make sense. He says he’s gonna give me my share o’ loot, but can I trust him? I’ll have to keep away from ‘im for a bit till I figure it out.

    With that matter resolved, he worked his way back up to his feet, which wasn’t as hard now that his mind had cleared. He checked his belt. He was further astonished by the discovery that his belongings were there; his sword, his surprisingly refilled flask, and most importantly, a pouch of coins. After taking a few swigs from his flask to ease the pain he felt, he resolved to walk along the edge of the river until he found somewhere he could climb to the top of the ridge or somewhere safe to sleep. He began to walk, focusing all of his brainpower on his questions, thoughts flowing in circles and leading nowhere. It all just returned to the one thing he had to celebrate. I’m free. He then continued his circle, reminding himself of the costs and dangers, the men Rick would surely be sending after him, and the why. From there he progressed to the point when Rick rescued him, and felt a sense of elation rush through him. I’m free.

    His circle of thought ended as he came upon a cave beside the river. He glanced at the sun. It wasn’t quite evening yet, but he was sore and felt like he could use the rest. He gave in to the urge to relax and sleep, and entered the cave. He spent a moment to explore it, noticing a few bones from dead fish, as well as a single man’s skeleton, missing a few ribs. He walked up to the skeleton and searched the belongings, extracting some flint, a dagger, and a net he could use for fishing. Having finished his search, he went to a portion of the cave hidden from the entrance by a few waist-high rocks, and laid his cloak down on the ground. He removed his belt and belongings, laying them down beside the cloak just before he himself dropped on top of it.

    He awoke at some time in the night, the sound of water bubbling against rocks potent in his ears. He picked up his flask and finished it off, then rose, stomach begging for something. He grabbed the net and worked his way outside, setting it up in the river, using his now empty flask to float on top of the river and mark where his net was. He then returned to the cave and laid back down on the cloak, awake. I can’t trust Ricky, he decided. He thought back remembering Ricky’s proposition once he freed him.

    “Meet me outside of the town right down the river a week hence,” Ricky had told him. “I’ll bring you your share o’ the money if you agree to let me bring you back a few times fer’ more. We can keep it up for awhile and soon we’ll be rich, plenty o’ money to pass on amongst the crew. Whadda’ ya’ say?”

    At the time, it had seemed like a great plan, because it let Vet out of the disgusting prison; away from the smells, the people. Looking back, he realized that Rick would never give him the money. He would just keep on sending him back to the jail, until his greed was satisfied and he let Vet hang for his crimes. His mind dangled on his choices for survival, until he finally dozed off.

    He came back to life in the morning; reminded of how sore he was now that the alcohol’s effects had faded away. He got up, stretched his muscles a bit, cracked his back, and left the cave. He gathered old driftwood, set high up on the shore where it had had time to dry after being put there. He carried it back to his cave, making a pile. He kept one stick aside, saving it to roast the fish on. He went to his net, checked it, and found three fish in it, all lacking in meat. He brought them back to his cave, and put them on the end of the stick. He used the flint and the fisherman’s dagger to get the fire started, and once he’d gotten the coals heated up, he roasted the fish. He ate and relaxed, resting against the wall. He then decided that it was time to move as it got dark. He had five days before he had to meet Rick at the Ferry, and he planned to be far away by then, somewhere Rick would never look for him. The woods. He gathered his belongings, including the net and his flask, and began to walk farther up the river. Night fell in full force soon after, the only thing separating him from pitch blackness being the few stars he could see through the canopy at the top of the ravine. As he walked, he heard howling. It seemed to come from every direction, both above and in the ravine. He drew his sword, and it reflected the starlight into the area around him. He still walked, but paid far more attention to his surroundings than he had before. The distance between the bottom and top of the ravine seemed to have reduced, and Vet allowed himself a momentary celebration. He was going the right way.

    All of a sudden, he heard a thud in front of him, followed immediately after by several sequential thuds in front and behind him. He glanced both ways, but in the darkness he was having trouble making out what the splotches were. His ears, instead of his eyes, answered the question. The splotches growled at him, and he recognized that the howling had ended. He pulled out the dagger, and prepared to fight. These animals couldn’t reason with him for his life. He wouldn’t survive by getting on his knees and begging for mercy. He would have to scare them away, or die. He charged forward, stabbing at the splotch that had been in front of him. It moved, he missed, and it jumped at his neck. He threw his shoulder back and punched it in the ribs, throwing it over him into another splotch jumping at his back. He opted to go where they couldn’t follow his scent, and jumped into the river and tried to swim, but the current pulled him backwards. He worked his way to the other bank, but numerous rocks blocked his path. The wolves had not attempted to follow him, but a new threat occurred to him. He could lose all his progress. He worked with new strength, pushing himself across the river until he made it to the other side. He worked his way up, and he discovered that he had traveled backwards on the river for about half of the distance he had gone that night, and the sun was almost up. He planted the net and soon after dropped himself to the ground and slept, not bothering to remove his belt. He awoke, then emptied fish from the net, cooked and ate them, then continued his trek. No more wolves appeared that next night. He continued in that fashion for three more days, until he found a path that led him into the woods. He had made it, but had only one more day until Rick started looking for him, and he hadn’t even gotten to the ferry that he had agreed to meet Rick at. He decided to work backwards, going away from the ferry instead of towards it, hoping to buy some time before Rick’s men had a chance to search him out.

    He spent his last few days before the heat was on to get out of the ravine and double back into the deepest part of the woods. He decided to risk a trek through the mountains, deciding that he might as well work to survive than give up and die. He looked at them in the distance, and he guessed that the distance was too far to make it before he was found. Well, it’s my only chance, he thought, so I better stop wasting time and get outta here.


    ---Chapter Two---

    A week later, Vet stood cornered, filthy, and much thinner than he had been in his more prosperous days. He had made it to the mountains, but the steep wall of rock blacked his path through. His hair was now down past his shoulders, his beard far beyond unkempt. He held in his hand something that had once been useless to him, turned into a weapon once Vet lost his fear of its use.

    “Come on, Vet. Y’know this’ll benefit us both,” Rick coaxed, holding his sword loftily, showing complete disrespect for Vet’s skills with a blade.

    “How so?” Vet retorted. “How can I be so sure you won’t just leave me in ther’ to die next time?”

    “Cuz’ the more times you escape, the more money I git’ for catchin’ ya’.”

    “And you’re gonna split it up evenly?” Vet spat at the ground in front of Rick’s feet. “Yeah right. You got no reason to pay me when you can just let me get hung, and catch me when I run.”

    “Come on Vet, you’re out o’ the necessities,” Rick said, smiling. “I can tell by lookin’ at ya’. You lost that protective layer o’ weight you coveted for so long. With the rewards on your ‘ead, we can afford to split it with you easy. We do this fer’ awhile, we could move someplace we ain’t even ‘eard of. Whadda’ ya’ say, ol’ pal?”

    Vet’s eyes began to glaze over, and his mind wandered. He though of how nice it would be to have a nice meal, a bath, and finally get off his feet for a day or two. Some part of him that had long been locked away then rose, reminding him of the last two weeks. He had been hardened by those weeks, his fear had gone, and he had become stronger. He was no longer who Rick and his men expected him to be. He just needed to know one more thing…

    “How long hav’ you been thinkin’ o’ this?”

    “Since before I knocked you out the first time.”

    That’s what pushed it over the edge. If Rick had known then, he wouldn’t have needed to knock Vet out. He tightened his grip on his sword, and drew the dagger with his other hand. That was his final response.

    “Alright then,” Rick stated, shrugging. “If that’s ‘ow you want it, that’s ‘ow you’ll git’ it. Boys, lemme take care’ o’ this one.”

    Rick stepped forward, his hand still loose on his sword. He twirled it a bit, then firmed his grip. He walked toward Vet with the point facing the ground in front of him, and then as he got into arms reach he swung, only to be blocked by Vet’s dagger. Vet ran him through with his sword, but he had forgotten the other men. They saw their leader die, and did not hesitate to act. There was a sharp pain as a blade connected with Vet’s skull, and after that he felt nothing.
     
  6. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    daemon3 - New Sumer Came

    New Sumer Came

    The hot sand awakened him and the adrenaline brought him to a sitting position. As he leaned on the small hill and tried to gain some sense of direction, he held his head, trying to rid himself of his deaf and ringing ears. No time for that! Get up soldier! he screamed in his head.
    Then he noticed the smell of burning rubber, which, on duty, was all too familiar. Rising to his feet, he swayed a bit (mainly from fatigue and fear), but looked over the edge of the small hill. What he saw both confirmed his suspicions and turned his stomach: twisted metal and pitch black rubber, once a beautiful fighter jet, now lay in the sand, smoldering away.
    It was real! “Mayday! Mayday!” “Eject, Heron!” The loud orders. The rushed motions. The strobed images. They rushed his mind. Was he really still alive? Could it be? How did he eject? When did he eject? He had seen many friends, and heard stories from friends, who had been involved in dog fights. Some returned; most didn't.
    His training was revived and his mind went into survival mode. What do I need to survive? He hurried over to the burning rubble and pushed through the heat of the fire to find any helpful items. GPS: completely destroyed; radio: he'd have better luck with smoke signals. He closed his eyes a moment, trying to think clearly. He may be safe here by the rubble, and the U.S. Army could look for him here. Still...
    What about scouts! He heard about them all his military life. Whenever an enemy was shot down, Islamic terrorists would send scouts, and they weren't going on a nature hike, either. He could either let the enemy take him in waiting to be rescued...or he could take his chances in walking through the unmerciful Iranian desert. He quickly took off his pack and hurriedly rummaged through it. He had an Afghani map, a pistol, and a few more survival supplies. His water would barely last a day.
    He needed some sense of direction. Knowing he was in Iran, he knew the map wouldn't help him much. Yet as he wondered about where he was in Iran, his heart pounded, seeming to chant , “Sur-vive, sur-vive, sur-vive...” Once more, he calmed himself and tried to get some sense of direction. He figured it was afternoon, so he headed north--by the direction of the sun--where he reckoned Zanjan, one of the major cities in Iran, would be. He'd always hated guesswork, he was in no mood to be scientific, knowing he just looked death in the face. Survival was the only thing on his mind. Don't get shot. Don't dehydrate. Don't even think about dying!
    He started off, weapon poised for any movement: a bird, an insect, the enemy...He hurried across the desert dunes, knowing he was running out of time, and knowing he was a target.
    “Sam, I'm doing this for you,” he grunted to his wife. She was expecting a son soon, he remembered. The thought that he would never see her again was troubling. Oh, but his wife's beautiful face, that optimistic personality... Thankfully she wouldn't hear about this incident unless he... “Unless I survive,” he corrected.
    For miles, all he saw was gray-orange sand, and, at times, he thought of sucking any moisture out of the sand instead of drinking his rationed water. He kept his mind on his wife, the only thing he believed kept him alive. He felt like he was naked on broadcast television. He knew terrorists had satellites. Even though he was a simple fighter pilot, he knew he had valuable, U.S. information. The question ran through his mind whether he could stand up to torture. On that thought, dying in the desert might be better...
    A large rocky hill lay ahead of him. He knew there was a possibility a camp could be on the other side. He slowly crept up over the hill and soon saw about seven tents with men and women (mostly men) milling about. Some had weapons. Still, he tried to devise a way to kill, or steal to get some supplies. He only had ten bullets, so he'd have to be accurate and silent. He pulled out his pistol, in case that would be the course of action. Stealing seemed to risky unless he removed his armor to not seem...
    Sift, sift. He whirled around and pointed his gun at three men, now wishing he would have taken his chances out in the desert. Two of the three had machine guns, and the third in the middle didn't seem to not have any weapons.
    With his pistol still poised, he tried to make sense of the picture. Iranians...definitely. Muslim...definitely. Although he knew not all Muslims were terrorists, the large machine guns didn't help pretty the picture. He kept his hand on the gun, pointing from one man to the other. Were they going to kill him? Were they cannibals? Then, out of complete surprise, the two men with weapons left. The third without a weapon simply looked down at him for a few seconds and followed the others.
    Were they trying to get him to follow them? They didn't kill him...yet, but his instincts told him they were his best chance of survival. They could poison him...or even drug him into giving them US plans in the Mid East. If he ran, they'd most likely shoot him; even if they didn't shoot him, the desert would have him. He needed to take a chance and follow the men.
    The soldier rose to find that they were prodding him to enter a red and yellow striped tent. A bench on which to rest? the unarmed man motioned. He accepted politely, and bowed as if to say “thank you.” A servant girl came out with water, and, though shocked upon seeing an American in her household, proceeded to serve him water. She served the weaponless man water as well, and he drank it deeply as if to say, “It's okay...it's safe to drink.”
    The wanderer took a sip, testing the water. It wasn't as good as even American tap water, but it tasted like a milkshake to him at that moment. The sips turned into gulps, and he looked sheepishly at his host as if to say, “I'm sorry.”
    The Iranian man simply asked the servant girl to get him more water. Then he asked, “Thirsty?”
    The solider was too shocked to answer. “You speak English?”
    “A little. Tell me your name.”
    “Jack. May I ask yours?”
    “Mohsen.”
    “Why would you do this? Aren't you our enemy?”
    Mohsen leaned in closely, as if to tell a story to a son. His speech was slow and thick with an accent, but understandable. “My brother killed an American. No remorse in his eyes. I used to follow what he believed, too. Interesting, though. The American had our version of the Khoran.”
    “The Bible?”
    He nodded. “First story I read was the story of the good Sumatran. It took a while to read, but I finished. Just like when the Good Sumatran saw the traveler hurt and gave him care, we saw you thirsty and we gave you a drink.”
    But weren't they Islamic extremists? He was afraid to ask, but his curiosity, and desire to live, prompted him. “I apologize, but aren't you ex...” he left the word off.
    “Extremists? My household used to be. Yet we have found many Americans who don't believe in Islam who are very kind to us. We wondered how we could follow a religion of hate against people who treated us kindly.”
    Jack chewed on that fact, and it even made him feel guilty for the way he thought of Iranians. “I don't like to be rude,” he said, “but my base is looking for me now.”
    Mohsen looked at him inquisitively.
    “My people want me back.”
    He smiled, understanding. “You need a...radio?”
    “A secure one?”
    He smiled and nodded again. “Only you and your friends.” Mohsen stood and led Jack into another room with a radio, left him alone, and let Jack tune to the right frequency. Only then did the kindness of the situation strike him. Jack, the strong soldier that he was, broke down and cried, amazed at how kind these enemies were. He told the base as little information as possible, but eventually agreed on a rendezvous location.
    Jack rose and informed his host of his leaving. Mohsen turned to give him a kiss on the cheek, the Middle East sign of a brotherly greeting. Jack gave the American handshake. “You are a good man,” Mohsen managed to say. “I hope you are able to defend your country, and the good people in ours.”
    “And I hope to repay you Iranians some day,” Jack said with a lump in his throat. With that, Mohsen helped him with directions to the Zanjan, the rendezvous point, and Jack left the tent. Although he was American, and although that meeting was short, part of his home was in Iran now.
     
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