Want to hear something funny?
When I was writing my last post, I was also thinking about what to write for my next…this one. And I was going to write about all the things a self-published author needs to do while working toward some semblance of success, and how difficult it can be to find time to do it all. Guess what happened.
I couldn’t find time to write it. That silly life outside the things I love got in the way this week. It happens sometimes. I did manage to find time to write a guest post for Writers Get Together, and if you need more of me (bless you for that), you can read the interview Fiona McVie did with me at Inspiration Forums. Please don’t feel neglected; I still have three other blogs I volunteered to write a guest post for that I haven’t managed to get to yet (sorry Mac, et al).
To make it up to you, I’m posting an excerpt from “On Unfaithful Wings”. I hope you enjoy it.
The tip of the knife waggled in the air, gesturing for me to continue. I stared at the point of the blade, at the man’s fingerless glove and the way he’d chewed his fingers until they looked painful. Beyond his arm, I thought I saw a smile hidden in the darkness beneath the hood.
I sighed, a shuddering breath lamenting how little my wallet contained for them to steal as much as it did the fact they were stealing it. The man behind me snatched it away before it cleared my pocket, his nails raking my wrist, and rifled through the meager contents. He snatched the three bills it contained, made a face at the fifteen bucks, and then took the VISA card I’d fought so hard to get after ruining my credit a few years back. Joke’s on him if he uses it, they’ll probably ask for a payment first.
He showed the sparse loot to his partner.
“Fifteen bucks? That’s it?”
“Look at this.” He’d dug out my driver’s licence. I knew this would happen. “The guy’s name is Icarus Fell. Icarus, like in the Iron Maiden song”
“Yeah,” I said. “The guy who named me didn’t like me much. Call me Ric.”
“Sure, Icarus,” the guy holding the knife said in a schoolyard-bully lilt. With a name like Icarus Fell, I’d heard that tone enough to recognize it. He stepped toward me, blade extended to within an inch of my face. I wanted to take an equal step away, but knew his partner wouldn’t like that, so I stood my ground, hoping to look more brave than stupid.
“What else you got?”
“Nothing. That’s it.”
“Check his pockets. He put something in his pocket.”
The man tossed my wallet onto the grass where it landed with a mucky-sounding splat. He advanced on me and this time I moved. He grabbed my arm, pulled me toward him. “Don’t do nothing stupid.”
Why didn’t he tell me that twenty-five or thirty years ago?
He patted my pants pockets first–the most action I’d seen in a while–then moved to the pockets of my suit jacket; the right hand outer one produced a hollow, plasticky thud.
“Nothing,” I said inching away. “A game for my kid.”
“Give it up.”
“Guys, really. What are you going to do with a video game?”
His fingers dug into my bicep. “Give it to me.”
“I already missed his birthday. Can’t you let me keep it?” I yanked against his grip knowing I shouldn’t–people got killed for less–but I couldn’t let Trevor down. Not again. “Take everything else. I won’t tell anyone.”
“There is nothing else. Give it to me,” the knife-wielder demanded.
I wondered what Rae would tell Trevor when he didn’t get a present from me again. Probably that, since someone else was his ‘real’ father, I didn’t care.
Adrenaline flooded my brain, but it didn’t heighten my senses the way they describe in books. Instead, it made me stupid. Before I realized what I was doing, I swung at the man holding my arm, my fist contacting his nose with a satisfying crunch. The move surprised both of us and he lifted his hands to his face.
It took a second to comprehend that he’d let me go. My heartbeat quickened, pulsed in my ears. I ran, or attempted to: dress shoes aren’t made for sprinting on wet grass. Both men jumped me before I got going, riding me to the ground like they were the cowboys and I was the calf. A knee pressed into my back, an elbow in my ear as my cheek sank into soggy lawn knocking breath from my lungs and hope from my heart. My clothes soaked instantly, plastering cloth to skin, the smell of wet earth filled my nose, literally.
“You stupid bastard,” one of them said, but the mud in one ear and elbow in the other precluded me from identifying which one. “Couldn’t give us the stupid game, could you?” He yanked it out of my pocket.
The pain of the knife’s tip pushing through the flesh of my lower back into my kidney hurt more than I could ever have imagined. The shock of it made me suck a mixture of cold air and dirty rain water through taut lips and expel it all in an agonized howl. The knife rose and fell again, then again, perforating my internal organs, each stab more painful than the last. Each time it pulled free, I prayed to a God I didn’t believe in that it would end, that I would get up and hurry on my way to see Trevor.
My body jerked and spasmed beneath the men straddling me, my bladder let go. After the fourth time the knife entered me, my flesh went numb. It may have pierced me a few more times, but I lost interest in counting. I gasped air in through my mouth and the breath tasted like the black crud scraped off bread left too long in the toaster. And blood.
“That’s enough. Let’s go,” one of them said, presumably the one not engaged in shredding my bowels.
Their weight lifted off my back and my mind told me to roll over and sit up, defend against further attack, but my muscles would have nothing of such a proposal, so I lay on the wet grass doing the only thing I could: bleed. Maybe I wept a little, too, but who can tell in the rain?
“I guess Icarus really did fall, didn’t he, Ric?”
Their laughter didn’t sting nearly as much as the knife, and it dissipated much more quickly as they ran off. I was used to being teased but couldn’t say the same of being knifed. After they left, my ragged breathing and the sound of rain pattering around and on me became my world. I never realized how much noise rain hitting grass made until my ear was pressed to the ground with no choice but to listen.
My stomach knotted as the gravity of my situation set in: after eleven on a Wednesday night, bleeding on the lawn outside an empty church in the kind of downpour that convinced people not to venture out for a chat with God.
Did I mention I was bleeding? A lot?
Water pooled in my ear canal until the unnaturally loud plop of rain drops splashing into the tiny pond drowned out even the sound of my breath. Not steady, metronomic drips like I imagined a water torture would be, but an uneven patter that, should I live long enough, would likely prove equally effective at driving me crazy.
In my head, the single word came out a scream, shaking trees and rattling windows, attracting the attention needed to save me so I could see my son again, even if it was for the last time. In reality, it was more of a peep. I closed my eyes and sucked dirty water through my nose then coughed it out my mouth. The pain it induced in my back and side hurt worse than the original stabbing, like someone stood over me with a hot poker pressed to my side, except I was cold and wet and bleeding to death, too. A hot poker didn’t sound so bad.
“Help,” I peeped.
Excerpt fom “On Unfaithful Wings”