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And Lightning, With Its Rapid Wrath

by on September 8, 2015

The bandits had reduced life to basic essentials. Either people who came down the road had stuff, or they did not. If they did, you took their stuff, and killed them. If they didn’t, you killed them anyway on account of the disappointment. You hoped the people carried food, or useful things. Sometimes what they carried was weapons. That complicated things. The bandits had to work out how many weapons the people might have, and judge how good they might be at wielding them. If it looked to be anything more than a short, easily won scrap, the bandits held off, grumbling. They would hit the next group. There was always a next group.

They couldn’t have said why exactly there was always a next group. The bandits were a generation or two past economic principles. They didn’t know that this road was the primary trade route to the south, mainly because it followed the old interstate system. What they knew was that people came regularly down the road during the warm months, less so during the cold. And when the people came, the bandits took their stuff.

The leader of this particular group of bandits, a sturdy man known only as Red Sam, was on watch one cool morning when he saw two people walking down the road. One was a tall woman with white hair, whom he immediately discarded as a threat. The other was a shorter, younger man carrying a sling. Slings were dangerous, Red Sam knew. A sling-holder could shoot rocks at a distance, or use it in close combat to crack heads. Rocks were a ready supply of ammunition. Red Sam hesitated, for a moment. The man looked like he had practice. But he was only one. Red Sam had….a lot more than one.

He gave the signal, a sharp whistle. Immediately his followers charged down the hillside towards the road, waving sticks and yelling like furies. The man with the sling jerked in surprise, but managed to get off a shot towards the bandit in the lead of the descending pack. The bandit went down hard, but his companions kept coming. Red Sam watched safely from his post on the hill. When you were a bandit chief, you didn’t have to be in the front lines.

He had overlooked the woman. All the bandits had. Even the sling-holder wasn’t really watching her as he scooped up another rock and set himself to start whacking at heads. Then, quite suddenly, she spoke. “You had all better back off,” she said. “One chance. That’s it.”

The bandits didn’t listen. They surged forward towards the two companions. The woman sighed. “I didn’t want to do this yet…. ”

“Do what?” her companion asked.

She raised her left hand. It glowed, a bright fiery yellow. The bandits skidded to a collective halt. Red Sam had just enough time to realize that he really should’ve paid attention to both of the potential victims before he and his entire company disappeared in a terrific blast of light.

Merrick, dazed, staggered to his feet, the sling lying forgotten on the ground. “You… you’re her!” he blurted. All this time, and he hadn’t known.

“Yeah,” Margaret said wearily. “I’m her.”

\

I’m working on a Hero’s Journey type serial for Yeah Write. previous entries included Between the Fire and the City, and A Better Place Than This. I think we’ve moved into the Initiation element now. We’ll be here for a bit. 

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From → 8. The Megverse

12 Comments
  1. I loved her weary tone when he recognized her. Great good over evil story.

    • Thanks! I figure anyone might be a little weary after blowing up a hill-full of bandits. 🙂

  2. First of all, I started reading this yesterday and didn’t get through the first paragraph before I told myself “NOPE! Can’t read this now!” because I was afraid it’d be too good and I wouldn’t be able to write my piece. I’m all weird and insecure like that.

    So today I read it and LOVED it! This is great. This is definitely good serial building material. Also loved the lead in – very scary to know there are roads out there where the bandits don’t even know why they’re being evil thieves, they were just raised like that.

    • Honestly, I don’t usually read the other entries until I’ve written mine either, for the same reason. So you’re not alone. 🙂

      My thinking on the bandits was that these guys are at least a generation or two past the apocalyptic event, so they haven’t really had an abundance of schooling. No one told them about the interstate system Eisenhower got going or economics or anything; they just work things out in their post-disaster world. Which is definitely scary. And it’s probably not going to improve as the serial goes on….

  3. Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

    Never ignore the woman with white hair! 🙂 I love the tone of this–the humor is still there, but subdued, as it would be in this kind of world. Great choice to tell the story through Red Sam’s eyes, as well. Five stars for the title.

    • I borrowed from St. Patrick on the title, I will admit. 🙂

      • Jennifer G. Knoblock permalink

        Nice. And now you’ve opened a new line of research/reading for me…

      • It’s Nate’s fault, really; he picked up on the Madeleine L’Engle references (which I hadn’t quite intended but apparently came out anyway), and so with this story I decided to go straight for St. Patrick’s Rune, quoted by a L’Engle character in A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

  4. Guilty. Your characters are so blase about their otherworldly powers, Michael. It makes me laugh.

    • I figure you can get used to anything. Even being able to blow up a hillside with atomic manipulation of matter.

  5. I’m enjoying your exploration of the Hero’s Journey. Looking forward to the next installment.

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