Here is part two of my five-part series this week, called The Mission. You can read part one here.
It is based on prompts from the site Describli. There’s an explanation on the previously mentioned post. Short version: each day is based on a different prompt, so there could be some interesting twists. 🙂
Exciting. (At least I think so.)
Today’s prompt: Driven to violence.
He sat down, took his hat from his head. His hand clutched it, though it rested on the table.
Lena broke the silence that had descended. “Where are we headed then?”
He leaned further back into the seat and scratched at the rough, black growth on his chin. “Reckon it’s not a place you ladies know. Just know it’s dangerous, and you’ll find what you’re looking for there.” He spoke with a drawling accent that made every word sound like an effort to say.
Zinna folded her arms. “How far when the train stops?”
“Not far.” He cocked his head to one side. “You’re not like the others, are ya, darlin’?”
Lena cleared her throat. “You don’t need to know anything about us. No questions, remember? Just the deal.”
The desert blurred by the window. Darkness dropped down over the land. It seemed sudden, like it was falling too fast.
The train screeched to a halt. Perplexed, the man said, “Well that’s not right.”
“Why?” Zinna was upright in her seat, defences raised.
“The sun should rise again before we stop.” He got up. “S’pose it’s pointless to suggest you ladies wait here?”
“S’pose it is,” Lena said as she rose.
She and Zinna followed him down the carriage. The door was closed. No station platform waited for them outside. “This really ain’t right,” the man said.
Drawler, Lena decided to call him, as no names were to be traded.
The dust settled outside, giving a clearer view of their surroundings. Zinna peered out of a window. “There’s nothing for miles,” she said.
A noise above them made them all look up. It sounded like someone was on the roof.
Drawler’s hands went to his hip, mirroring Lena. She met his gaze. How to get up there?
Zinna forced a window open, and started to clamber out of it, the heavy clothing impeding her usual graceful movement. Question answered. Lena followed, and Drawler followed her.
Wind blew at her, trying to push her down onto the desert floor. Dust stung her eyes. She blinked and tears rose in them, trying to wash them clean.
A figure stood at the end of the carriage’s roof in a classic western pose, the kind Lena had seen in images from old human films. The stranger from the platform. He’d shadowed them. But why reveal themselves now, here?
“Now who do we have here?” Drawler said. He sounded as relaxed as he had down in the train.
Lena was trembling, her mouth dry not only from the dust that coated it. She tightened her grip on her gun’s handle.
Time stood still. No one moved.
Then, a blur of movement. The figure moved. Its hand whipped a gun from a holster hidden beneath its coat, and the person ran forward. The gun rose, aiming at all three of them, one them?
Zinna sprang forward. Lena whipped her gun out. Drawler did the same.
A shot rang out. No one went down. It had missed.
Another rang out at the same time that Lena fired her laser. Old and new melding together.
The stranger dropped to his knees, then fell onto his front.
The three of them surrounded him or her.
Zinna knelt, pulled off the hat and scarf to reveal a man’s face. Scarred. Bearded. A mark on his forehead.
“Not surprisin’,” Drawler said, crouching down on the other side of him.
“What’s not?” Lena asked.
Drawler pointed to the mark. A symbol that looked something like a fork. “Trident’s man.”
“Should I ask?”
“Dangerous,” he said, then got up. “Time to get back inside, I think.”
Zinna caught his arm. “Will more come?”
He hesitated. “I guess they will. Best stay alert.” He shook her free, then started to saunter away.
Lena caught Zinna’s eye, and saw the wariness she felt reflected back at her.
A loud buzzing shook the air, something stirred the dust up, obscuring Lena’s vision. Her whole body shaking with the sound, she looked up towards it. Something like a solid cloud hovered above them, a dark shadow on the night sky. Then a light flicked on, a beam shining down, blinding her.
This story is connected to my previous short story that was my first foray into sci-fi, Escape.