keeps this site and its author alive.
Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 72: Kondor 24
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 71: Hastings 25
Kondor told himself that it was just a trick. There was some sort of spring-rigged trap, and lifting the Vorgo from its pedestal had triggered it. But his feet didn't care; they carried him up six stairs in two steps, and across the grass out onto the road in three more. It was near a hundred yards to the gate.
The ground was writhing, and things were crawling out from it. They were disgusting monster movie things, skeletal, rotting corpse-like creatures or machines or whatever they were, looking every bit like the bodies of dead people; and they were digging their way out of the ground, and starting to close on the road. Tucking the Vorgo under his left arm like a football, he drew his pistol with his right hand and made the longest touchdown run he could imagine for the goalposts on either side of the open gate.
Fortunately the things were not fast. They had to struggle to get out of the dirt, and they seemed disoriented and confused at first. Many of them were having difficulty standing; but these started to drag themselves across the earth toward the road. By the time he had traveled half the distance, he was leaping over bodies, running around opponents, breaking free of holds on his legs and ankles. With twenty yards still to go, he bowled over one skeleton, put two bullets into another walking corpse at point blank range, and tucked the ball tighter. He didn't know what the speed record was for a one-hundred yard touchdown, but he was willing to bet he had broken it with this run.
But he cleared the gate, breaking into the sunlit road, and yelled to his companions. "Come on, let's get out of here." They were ready, but they stood, staring, looking quite pale. Kondor stopped to get them moving; they had his food and his medicine, and even if he were to decide they were too much of a liability to take with him, he wasn't about to give up his survival gear.
But still they stood, staring. He looked back, and was astounded by what he saw. There were already scores of creatures, all appearing as human bodies in various stages of decay. They walked up to the gate, and stopped, staring outward. Something like drool mixed with mud dripped from putrid rotting faces, but although more crowded along the fence and stared with often empty eye sockets, none came farther.
It made no sense; but nothing was making too much sense at the moment. Kondor took the opportunity to pull the pack off his back and drop the Vorgo into it. Then he lifted it back in place, and walked over to his men.
"Snap out of it, man," he exclaimed, clapping his hands in front of their faces. They startled. "Yes, they look horrible; yes, they look like nightmares come to life. But at the moment they aren't coming out of that gate, and if we hustle we can get back to the castle before they start following us. Let's go!"
They grabbed the gear, and started walking.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #47: Character Routines. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: